Inside a cedar closet — you are hiding there on purpose; the smell and the closeness is soothing. There are blankets and pillows in there; it’s like a safe little nest. The door is slatted metal — you can see out, if you try, but nothing can see in because of the angle of the slats. There is a pink ribbon affixed to the inside of the closet door so you can pull it shut, even tie it shut if you need to. You have three cookies and a mouse (real or fake, up to you).
If I didn’t choose your setting this go around, be aware that I plan on weaving several of your settings into the story as it progresses. Be on the watch for yours!
And so it begins…
I ignored Meera as I continued to click away on apartment listings.
Too expensive. Too small. Too ghetto.
She was getting closer. It was just a matter of time before she would reach my room, but I continued to hope my silence would fool her into thinking I wasn’t home.
“Seriously, Kate, I know you’re in there.”
I held my breath, slowly closing my laptop to ensure that the glow of the screen didn’t creep through the metal slats of the closet door.
“There are three cookies missing from the counter. Unless there is a really large rodent in this house with a penchant for gluten-free carob chip cookies, you are in here.”
I let out an intentional squeak.
Meera let out a sigh as she flopped on my mattress, the springs matching her with their own aged sighs. Recognizing she wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon, I nudged the door open with my foot. Meera was lying on the bed, her head hanging upside down over the edge, staring in my direction. I threw a cookie at her head and watched it crumble as it smashed into the bed frame.
“What’s the deal with these anyway? It’s a cruel trick. Carob chips? Gluten-free? Next thing you’ll be telling me there’s no butter.”
Meera shook her head. “There isn’t. David’s on a special diet. He’s coming over later, remember?”
I threw myself back into the pile of dirty clothes that overflowed from my laundry basket. “Ugh. What man doesn’t eat a decent cookie? I’ll tell you what; any man I marry will never deny a proper baked good. Can’t trust a man who doesn’t eat butter.”
“So says the girl with her head in a pile of dirty underwear.”
I shrugged as if I didn’t care, but slowly sat up while Meera continued. “Looking at apartments?”
“Yeah. My big mean roommate is getting married and kicking me to the curb. Oh wait, you knew that.”
Meera rolled her eyes, then smiled. “Glad to see you handling it so well. Not hiding in the closet or anything.”
I smiled back. “You know it’s my thinking place. It doesn’t mean I’m hiding.”
“Unless you disappear with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s…”
“…or a bottle of wine.”
Meera hopped down from the bed and sat next to me on the floor of the closet, sliding some shoes out of the way. She took a deep breath, inhaling what remained of the scent of cedar, then ran her hand along the one wall that wasn’t covered in shelves or obscured by hanging fabric. It was covered in our handwriting with poems, favorite quotes, and other doodles; reminders of the time we spent sharing the townhouse and building a friendship over the last seven years.
“Still haven’t painted over it, huh?”
I grimaced. “It’s the absolute last thing I will do before I move out. Can’t I just cut that piece of drywall out and take it with me?”
“Somehow I think that might hurt the resale value.”
“Meh, value, shmalue.”
“I promise we’ll save you a whole wall to scrawl on in the new place .”
“With all the room you’ll have, I expect at least that.”
She blushed slightly. “Of course.”
Meera was moving to a huge estate, one of David’s two properties in California . They had been discussing whether they should make the house on the vineyard their permanent home or the one overlooking the rocky coast, a conversation that debated the virtues of waking up to the smell of rosemary or salty ocean air, being close to the family’s winery or their yacht moorage.
“You know,” Meera spoke slowly, “if you need help getting started in a new place, I’m happy to…you know, whatever you need.”
“I know. It’s ok, though. I’ll be fine.” Knowing the financial disparity that was only growing between us with her engagement to David was an awkward topic, I quickly changed the subject. “What are you making for dinner?”
“Yes. With zucchini noodles and soy cheese. It’s really good.”
“Sure it is. It’s just not lasagna. Are you sure David isn’t a terrorist?”
Meera choked on a laugh, “Because of his diet?”
“Yes. I’m pretty sure that diet is the beginning of some sort of subtle attack on America.”
She tossed a shoe at me and continued to laugh as she pushed herself off the floor. “I’m going downstairs to make the ‘not-lasagna’.”
“I’ll be up here looking for ‘not-living’ spaces, then.”
I watched her shake her head, smiling as she left the closet and then my room. I opened the laptop again, my smile quickly fading as I stared at the hopeless listings. Reaching out for the pink ribbon attached to the closet door, I pulled it shut and buried my face in a pillow, contemplating whether I wanted to wake up to the smell of pungent curry or day old egg foo young.
Alright, folks, here’s your next assignment. Remember, the story is still in the early stages, so it could be any kind of story! (Well, not ANY. Don’t expect glittery vampires to show up anytime soon.)
Kate needs a place to live. How does she find it? What is the new place like? Feel free to answer one or both questions in the comments!