Upbeat music plays around an undecorated bedroom from a chrome silver portable speaker perched on a dusty windowsill. A young woman dances around the room, carefree and happy, as she unpacks the three open boxes that sit randomly placed on the floor of the room. Her light brown hair is tied back in a messy ponytail that sways behind her as she dances to the beat, a short stack of books in her hands traveling to the tall bookcase in the corner of the room. Stone grey yoga pants and a sky blue tank top cover her thin body, though goosebumps still rise up across her arms from the slight chill of the previously empty room. The sunlight that filters in through the single window becomes her spotlight as she strikes a dramatic pose with the end of the current song, an innocent smile spread across her lips. She tames herself as the next song begins, unpacking her box of books and notebooks onto the bookshelves and small dresser beside it. The second box is full of clothes and shoes, which she unloads into drawers or neatly on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. The last box is full of the miscellaneous, including all of her toiletries, her “weird” bead curtain, and a single framed photo of her and another young girl, the words Happy Birthday Mars! scribbled out across the corner in black sharpie. As she pulls the photo from the box she chuckles at the written nickname, short for Marley.
A sudden hectic crash and slam of the front screen door makes her jump to her feet and towards the sound, which is now just a pained groan coming from her friend and roommate. The other girl from the picture sits awkwardly sprawled out across the linoleum of the kitchen just inside the front door, a large bag with its contents spilled out across her chest accompanying her there. Marley stands the few feet that her bedroom doorway is from the front door and chuckles as her friend lets out a defeated sigh.
“Having issues?” The sarcastic question earns Marley a scowl as her friend shoves things off of her and rises to her feet.
“Nope. Not at all. Just wanted to make sure the floor was as solid as the landlord said it was.” She tugs the wrinkles out of her shirt and brushes off some dust before beginning to put things back into the bag. Marley joins her, even though she gets a half-hearted frown for it. She smiles back, tossing a bunch of silverware into the bag. For the past few days, the girls’ roles have been switched, Marley taking to being more positive for Jamie’s uncharacteristically sour mood. The stress of moving out has the both of them more snippy than usual, but they always make sure to be on level ground by the end of the day.
“Lunch break?” Jamie suggests through another sigh as she drops the bag onto the kitchen counter and heads for the fridge. Marley chuckles to herself and hops up onto the counter, dangling her legs over the edge as she watches her friend.
“Hotdogs, hotdogs or, well, I guess we have hotdogs?”
“I’ll go with hotdogs.” Both girls share a playful look as Jamie pulls the remaining pack of hotdogs from the fridge and puts them all on a paper plate that Marley supplies from the cupboard beside her. She cringes slightly as Jamie opens the microwave to reveal the stained interior, making it look like a constant spaghetti covered mess. She’d spent nearly an hour yesterday making those stains fade to a light orange color from the angry rusted red it started out as. She supposes that’s what they get when moving into a low rent place.
“How close to done are you with your room?” Jamie leans forwards onto her elbows that are propped against the counter and look to her.
“Only one box left. You?” She scoffs and shakes her head.
“I have at least five boxes left.” Marley gives her a sympathetic smile as the microwave beeps. The two girls scarf down their respective hotdogs in silence at the counter, Marley grabbing the small bottle of ketchup from inside the fridge door. Jamie finishes first and rinses the bit of grease off of her fingers before motioning to the bag of kitchenware.
“Would you mind?” Marley nods and shoves the last of her food into her mouth, rinsing off her hands and drying them on her yoga pants before starting to empty the contents of the bag onto the counter. Her eyes dart over all of the contents are her mind begins organizing things on its own, her body going into autopilot as she puts everything away in their newly designated drawers and cabinets. Jamie comes in with another few boxes full of things for her to unpack before she disappears into her own room to unpack. An hour and a half passes before she resurfaces, her dark hair a little more frazzled and her lip bleeding from a small tear.
“I’m gonna lose my mind if I have to unpack another box.” She grumbles, walking into the small bathroom and coming out with a piece of toilet paper folded and pressed against her lip. Marley sighs and pulls her arms out from the last kitchen box.
“Movie time?” Jamie’s eyes light up a small bit at the suggestion and Marley takes that as her que. She closes up the box and walks into her room, grabbing her laptop from the corner of her bed where it sits plugged in and then the small movie disc binder that’s beside it. She opens it up and pulls out Mulan, putting it in the disk drive and starting it up.
“Do you want any tea?” She scrunches up her nose a little at Jamie’s question.
“Unless we have sweet tea, no thanks.” She continues setting up their movie, closing up a moving box and setting her laptop up on top of it. She turns the volume up all the way and pauses it as soon as the window pops up on the screen. Jamie comes in with two cups, one warm sweet tea and the other black tea.
“Your magic is once again appreciated.” She smiles and hands her the cup, taking a seat beside her on the bed. They both pull a pillow up behind their backs as they lean against the wall and watch the movie as the sunlight slowly fades from the widow. Tea mugs are set on the floor near the foot of the bed as they finish, and slowly Marley falls onto her side and fades off to sleep. Jamie chuckles and turns off the movie, ejecting the disc and shutting off the laptop as the first of small snores leave her friend’s lips. Moonlight illuminates only the slightest outlines of the furniture in the room, but she mainly has to navigate it by touch as she exits and walks to her own room. Moonlight illuminates only the slightest outlines of the furniture in the room, but she mainly has to navigate it by touch as she exits and walks to her own room. As she steps through the doorway, a slight bit of a shadow crosses in front of the light from the window as a rough furred cat jumps onto the untended flower bed outside of it.
The smell of cooking eggs and clatter of careless morning Jamie rouses Marley from her awkward sleeping position. Her hair is a tangled mess from her restless sleep as she gets out of bed and makes her way towards the kitchen. Jamie darts between the kitchen and her bedroom rapidly, each time coming out in a different state of disarray.
“Want some help?” Marley’s voice is scratchy from sleep, but a welcome sound to Jamie and her rush.
“Please?” She motions towards her room and Marley responds by walking in and starting packing up her friend’s things. They both know better than to let her near any cooking device, especially after the last time she tried to make hard boiled eggs. Luckily most of Jamie’s stuff is piled on top of her small desk and just needs to be put into her bag. She grabs a few extra pencils and drops them in there as well before closing up the bag and taking it out into the kitchen, along with a hairbrush for Jamie to use.
“You’re a blessing sometimes, you know that?” Marley just winks and trades her the small plate with two eggs on it for the hairbrush. She quickly pulls the snarls out of her short hair before taking both the plate and the bag from Marley and rushing towards the door. She barely gets a chance to turn towards her bed again before Jamie lets out a half-hearted curse.
“Coming.” Marley turns and walks back to the front door and next to Jamie. Just outside the screen three messy furred stray cats lay sprawled out across the front step, not even in complete sunlight. The screen door opens with a squeak that wakes up all three of the cats. Marley crouches down and holds a hand out for them to sniff, each in turn. It takes only a couple of quick whiffs for all three to yowl and run off with their hackles raised and their tails puffy and high. From her crouch she motions dramatically for Jamie to exit.
“Thanks, Mars.” She winks and walks out and to her car, leaving Marley crouched in their front doorway with a fading smile on her face. The cats are nowhere to be seen as she turns her back to the outside world and retreats back to her room, stripping of her clothes on the way there. They’re all discarded to a far corner of the room as she falls back onto her bed, naked. She sighs as her mind wanders back to home, back to her brother. She’s been avoiding texting him since she started moving in here, mainly because she knows that if she texts him she’ll have to text her mother, and she’s not sure if she’s ready for that yet. She lets out an exasperated groan before sitting up and walking to the bathroom to shower. The water only gets as warm as room temperature as she washes herself off, and the mirror is barely fogged as she steps out. She pulls a towel out from their place under the sink and wraps it around her torso tightly as she walks out into the kitchen and towards the cupboards for a drink. Work for her starts at two, so she has no reason to be dressed and ready for the next few hours at least. She takes a while closing all of the blinds, shutting out the light, as well as any unwanted eyes as she roams the house. She closes Jamie’s bedroom door before walking to her own room and releasing the towel from her body, instead wrapping it around her hair. She aimlessly searches through her newly filled dresser drawers until a black tank top seems appealing enough to put on. She grabs some skinny jeans as well, pulling all of it on lazily before going to the bathroom and getting ready there. She takes a single glance at her makeup and shrugs off the idea, only brushing her hair and teeth.
A loud cat’s meow catches her attention and she walks out of the bathroom with her toothbrush still in her mouth to see a bright orange tabby sitting just outside their small kitchen window, staring straight at her. She walks over and taps on the window, seeing if it’ll go away easily, but the small feline just meows again and swishes its tail more impatiently. She grumbles around her toothbrush and spits the paste into the sink, then proceeds to rinse out her mouth slowly in hopes of losing the cat’s interest. It just stares at her, its tail swaying beside it, as she finishes.
“Go away.” She finally grumbles, making a shooing motion with her hand. It doesn't even blink. She crosses her arm and makes a face at it. It meows again. Her entire face scrunches up as it places a single paw against the small window, focused solely on her. It's irises are a sunset orange, even in the shadow of the house, and its tail seemingly hasn't stopped swaying. Her mind begins reeling a slight bit as the small feline raises its second paw to the window, pressing both to the glass and sitting back on its haunches. Its toes remind her of small pink lemonade jellybeans in front of her and the slightest curve of a smile curves her lips. She raises a finger to the window, poking each paw from the other side of the glass before shrugging to herself and turning her back.
A slight feeling of happiness warms her chest from the interaction, seeing as most creatures were less than fond of her. She's always known why, having to always be reminded of that reason nearly every day by the town strays and frequent yard dogs. The happiness is fleeting as these thoughts overtake her mind and she scowls, irritably turning back towards the window and giving her hand a violent flick through the air. From across the kitchen, the blinds flip shut, rattling harshly against each other with the force. Her mother's words echo through her mind as they always do when the thoughts surface too much; "You are part witch, part wolf. There will never be a place for you in our worlds."