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From: emmalammadingdong@gmail.com
To:smithholyoake.bryn@vassar.edu
Subject: Time Flies and other Local Fauna


Dear Bryn,

Greetings from the City! Just got my closet, aka room, set up to my liking. I've got two roommates this year, but I think I can handle it as long as I've got a space to retreat to. (My brother told me to invest in a coffin. I told him to go dip himself in glitter and crash a slumber party. I'm worried that he might take me seriously.)

I can't believe it's been a year since everything went crazy. I hope you and Annie haven't run into nearly as much trouble since. It's going to be a little scary, going to school without the Pages. Oh, sure, Juliet is just an hour away, Fantine is right in the city at Julliard (but swamped, absolutely swamped with classes), and Zoe is fanatical about videochatting (ever since somebody showed her how to use the computer, she's been a little obsessed), but it's not the same as passing notes to Julie in homeroom, or calling up Zoe and letting her navigate my latest hopeless crush, or Fantine...being Fantine all over the place. At least you had Annie when you started! I've just got my stupid brother and his stupid friends and his stupid crush of the moment and his stupid interdisciplinary major. (Urban studies? Concentration in folklore? Why did he need to go to college to study that? We live it!)

Gosh, I need to stop whining. Tell me about Vassar, Bryn! Is it still living up to expectations? Have you found Narnia in any of the wardrobes? Hogwarts? And what is the best fictional reality, and where do you think I can find it?

Just in case things get too overwhelming here.

Yrs,
Emma


***

Alternate realities start to look really good when you've caught your fifth roach of the day.

Especially when your roommate refuses to spray for bugs.

"That will just make them worse." Frieda scrunched up her nose in horror while examining the contents of a makeshift bug ambulance, "Subsequent generations grow immune to the poison, and six months from now we'll have a race of uberroaches partying in the bread drawer. Trust me."

Thing was, I did. Trust her, that is. Frieda was short and curvy with a razor-straight hipster haircut, black-framed glasses to match, and a wardrobe that spoke of better times in the past, when plaid roamed freely through the streets of New York and jeans were so tight you had to be zipped into them by a ladies' maid or underclassman. She had the slightly standdoffish air of a former misfit, but once we got into a conversation (usually about bugs, the weather, what kind of weather drives the bugs inside, or how much to tip the barista), she had this crazy archivist-mind thing going on. I'd swear up and down she knew everything in the wall of books that accompanied her to the University that I was too shy to ask to peruse.

Frieda and I were the first to arrive; our roommates were due in the early evening. Beyond our scintillating conversation, Frieda had worked steadily, unpacking boxes (mostly books) and hanging postcards (mostly foreign), along with a strange kung-fu movie poster with some white-haired girl whose eyes followed you around the room. I shuddered inwardly every time I passed it, but since she had turned a blind eye to my alphabetized spice rack, bowl of exotic fruits, and well-thumbed copy of the Veganomicon left wherever I had been browsing before remembering there were more important things on the to-do list, I said nothing.

"One more of us, right?  Theodora from Chicago. I looked her up on the school network, she seems innocuous enough."

Innocuous was fine by me. After saving the world in just one summer, I was happy to retire to a future of term papers, activist rallies, and nights curled up with a good book and/or the internet for company.

"One of the neighbors is a cellist. She's brilliant." Frieda nudged a pair of non-existent glasses up her nose, looking confused for a moment before groping for the pair. "What is that thing with the tentacles your brother dropped off?"

"It's a Buddha lemon." I was happy to change the subject to something I was good at; I'll take cookery over socializing any day.

"It's kind of like a citrus fruit, and kind of like an elder god."

"You candy it, I think."

She spotted my giant green cookbook, grinned at the name, and plopped down at the kitchen table to peruse. "You're not going to scream and call PeTA if I make pierogies, are you?"

I shook my head, "PeTA's full of ass-souls anyway," Frieda grinned, "Just like, don't hunt down local wildlife and skin and eat it in the bathroom without cleaning really well, okay?"

She smiled. It wasn't as frightening as I thought it would be. "But that's the most ecologically viable practice of all, Emma. I'll try not to, though. Not without asking Theodora first, anyway."

"You never know, she might be some hippie chick who's all about growing her own sprouts and watering houseplants with her--"

There was a knock at the door before I could finish that thought. Judging by Frieda's expression, it was better that I didn't.

"Theodora?"

"Yeah!"

"Come in!"

I opened the door, a good move considering the new girl was bogged down with bags and rolling luggage (in fetching shades of brown and pink, I noted). The hands clutching her duffle were long with thin fingers; the swish of ponytail I could see was apricot colored.

"Emma? Frieda?"

"Present and present." Frieda grabbed for a bag, and Theodora's face greeted us with a wide but shy grin. "Your room's at the end of the hall, Emma grabbed the tiny one for us like a good sport."

I shrugged. "I'm a tiny person. The ceiling's nice and tall, and there's a view of the brownstones' backyards."

Frieda's eyes lit up. "So you can see what's going on?"

"Nothing too interesting--honestly, nobody who can afford those places while we are. What school are you in?"

Theodora blew a whisp of hair out of her eyes. "Liberal Arts. Undeclared. How about you two?"

"Frieda's history, but I haven't decided yet, either. My advisor keeps trying to talk me into doing Classics, but I don't think I want to be a professor or a barista..."

The new girl grinned, and set her bags down. "I don't have a lot to unpack, I travel pretty light. Did you know there's a girl next door that plays the cello? She was in the elevator with her roommate, who's the tallest girl I've seen in this lifetime. I think they're dating or something."

Frieda raised an eyebrow, but I was distracted by the Theodora's scarf, a hand-knitted work of art with blobby jewel-colored bits of wool and little plastic dinosaurs woven onto a background of intricate black lacework, shot through with pink ribbon.

She caught me looking, and grinned. I hoped she didn't think I was staring at her chest. (When you're my size, sometimes you don't have any other option.)

"My friends and I made it, because we all ended up on different ends of the country."

"I get the dinosaurs and the blobs, but where does the pink come in?"

Theo shrugged, "It's a very glamorous tarpit, according to Tegan." She sighed, and turned to her boxes, kicking them to the den while the room's mood plummeting about ten degrees. "Wow, who brought all the books?"

"They're Frieda's!" I was happy to give her the built-in bookcase; most of my permanent collection was either stashed in the kitchen or piled onto my dresser. Frieda had opened a cabinet only to get bonked on the head with La Dolce Vegan but she just laughed and said it made her feel at home--what that meant.

"You can call me Teddy, if you like." New roomie had made her way down the hall, and was already setting things up from the sound of various bangs coming from her general direction. I peeked in one of the bags she left behind--it was the Yarn Motherload! I unconsciouslly reached for a fluffy Peep-colored ball, but Frieda shot me a look that sent me halfway across the kitchen.

"My friend knits," she whispered, "That handspun's worth as much as one of your textbooks."

I drew my hand back.

"If you're good, maybe she'll let you fondle her yarn," she smirked.

I, annoyingly enough, blushed. Fantine will tell you I fall in love with every girl I meet, which is totally untrue; ever since Bryn and Annie helped us save the world I'd stuck to fictional characters and the occasional salesgirl at the anarchist bookshop. (One better than 'Tine herself; she was in love with all of them and had kissed half the staff.) But Teddy? She might have exquisite taste in craft supplies, but totally not my type--which tends to broody intellectuals, not wholesome apple-cheeked types that probably grew up herding cows and llamas in the flyover states.

"She's from Chicago. I don't think they raise too many llamas there."

Damn. I'd thought that last bit out loud.

The door slammed open. A wild-looking girl with a fluff of squash-colored hair was attached to it, blinking at us through her glasses. We blinked back.

"You won't believe what's happened outside."

"And HELLO to you too." I scowled, but Frieda had one hand on the rolling pin and another on my cheese grater. Note to self: don't let my brother sneak up on her. Or anyone, really, unless I wanted to find out what she'd do with the grater.

"I'm from next door. Corner suite. That's a crazy fucking lemon you've got there. You need to see what's outside."

"We don't know you!" Frieda was looking increasingly desperate. I got between the neighbor and the rolling pin.

"Calm down. What is this that you want to show us?"

"Telling would ruin it. Come outside and see it?" She bounced on her heels impatiently, still clutching the doorknob and blithely ignoring the fact that we were a half second from beaning her fluffy red head,

Well. Life is more fun when you say yes. I stood up, brushed nonexistent crumbs from my shirt, and followed her outside, to the courtyard and our shared destiny.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
rrie_selavy
Nov. 3rd, 2009 03:29 am (UTC)
Have you ever read the God in Flight? It's a ghey Victorian romance where women basically don't exist and everything is purple as can be.

I aim to do the same, except instead of Harvard it's NYU, and instead of guys it's chick-loving chicks and assorted genderqueers.
stargazzy
Nov. 3rd, 2009 01:39 pm (UTC)
Hahahaha... love it.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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