A Taxing Situation (FF)
Science fiction author Joan Howell's whole world is consumed by interplanetary visitors. When she needs her taxes done, she meets Darlene Rogers, a very conservative CPA who doesn't believe in extraterrestrials.
The women soon find they have even more divergent points of view. Will Joan's quirks pull them together or force them even farther apart?
"You were right," Darlene told Sandy the next day. "She wasn't harmful at all. She even took me out to dinner afterwards, said it was a Russian, or something, tradition seeing we hadn't killed each other."
Sandy laughed. "And I bet she kissed you after you got home."
"Yes! And what a kiss! I had to sit in my car to recover until she'd driven away."
"Yup, that's Joanie."
"It took me quite a while to recover from it."
"Yes. Did she tell you that was another tradition from outer space?"
"She didn't say anything. She just kissed me, got out of the car, and left. I didn't know what to think of it."
"Oh, dear. You might have her stalking you next."
"Yes, but don't worry. She won't do anything. Did she bring a bottle of Moxie to you?"
"Yes. And you were right. That stuff was horrible. I don't know how she can drink it."
"I think to her, Moxie is a courting gift."
"A courting gift?"
"You didn't say you liked it, did you?"
"Of course not. I said it was different."
"I was trying not to hurt her feelings."
"If you'd said you liked it or you hated it, that would have urged her to continue."
"Then I'm glad I said what I did. I'm not familiar with intergalactic, or interplanetary, or whatever the hell she wants to call them, courting rituals."
"I think she makes them up as she goes along."
The doorbell rang.
"Oops, hold on a moment. There's someone at my door." Darlene went to the door and looked through the peek-hole. A delivery man stood outside. She opened the inner door.
"Delivery for Darlene Rogers," he said. He held a massive package.
"This is for you. Want me to bring it inside? It's kind of heavy."
"Yes, just set it on that chair."
She held the door open as he walked in and placed it where she'd indicated.
"I need a signature."
He held out the radio pad, and Darlene signed her name.
"Have a nice day," he said as he left to go back to the Regal Flowers van parked out front.
Darlene closed the door and turned to rip open the covering on the package.
Inside was an enormous display of cacti plants. She looked through it carefully, but there was no card.
"Good heavens!" She called out as she went back to the phone. "Tell me," she said to Sandy, "Joan wouldn't have a strange sense of the romantic, would she?"
"What did she send?"
"A gigantic arrangement of cacti plants. It must weight thirty pounds."
"Yup. That's her." Sandy laughed.
"There was no card, but it had to be from her. I don't know anyone else who would send something like that. This may have gone too far."
"Probably not." Sandy chuckled. "If I were you, I'd expect something every day."
"By the way, how many plants were there?"
"Three, I think."
"Were they all in one flower pot?"
"That's good. You should only get two tomorrow, and three the day after."
"She'd keep adding one every day?"
"Oh, no. You wouldn't be that lucky. The fourth day you'll get five."
"Unless she started with three. If she did, you'll get five tomorrow and eight the day after."
"Eight? What happened to four, six, and seven?
"That's Fibonacci. Joan thinks in the Fibonacci series; one, two, three, five, eight, thirteen, twenty-one, et cetera."
"How do I put a stop to it?"
"Don't respond. She'll get the message."
"You think? But are you certain?"
"Yes, she'll lose interest in a couple days or so, or some alien will take up her time. Maybe the owl will come back."
"Good God, Sandy, you didn't tell me this was one of the things I'd have to put up with."
"Let it ride. She'll go away."
"I'm not sure I have room for all her gifts. I hope you're right about her being harmless."
"She hasn't killed an earthling in over two years."
"What?" Darlene almost screamed.
"I'm kidding you. I told you, she won't harm anything. It's against the Alliance Prime Directive. She does have ethics."
"Now you sound like her."
"Yes, scary, isn't it?"