This is taken from chapter 1. Unedited WIP ahead!
1 – Party’s Over
Best warn you now, this entire story is so depressing it could compete in Cannes—and win the Palme d’Or. The days of glory are far gone; our heroes are aging, crumbling under the weight of routine and responsibility. They struggle in vain against the inexorable passing of time as existential dread sets in. This, dear reader, is the story of how I turned twenty-seven, became an adult, and March got his first gray hair.
The thing about adulthood is that you don’t realize it’s catching up with you until it’s too late. It sank its fangs into my jugular on a Friday morning in July, while I was sitting on the toilet. Adulthood, however had no idea who it was dealing with: I wouldn’t go down without a fight. Ignoring the erratic pulse in my temples, I flushed, washed my hands, and dried them with the blue washcloth that was specifically destined for such base tasks—and that I would need to replace with a clean one before the love of my life returned from Geneva in the evening.
I took a deep breath and exited the toilets with the solemn gravity of those who have stared death in the face. And I went to grab a Strawberry Mini Milk from the freezer for breakfast, because March wasn’t here to badger me about eating healthy—you’d be surprised how much he cared about personal health for a former hitman. He was the kind of guy to recommend you watch your cholesterol level with an app before shooting you. Strangely, ice-cream didn’t taste so good without him to suggest I ate a bowl of oatmeal instead. We’d been living together in New York for almost seven months, and it was the first time March had been away for so long—two weeks, an eternity when you’ve gotten used to have a boyfriend to latch on every night. Daily vidcalls just didn’t make up for the lack of chest hair in my life right now.
Five years ago, I would have been walking on sunshine at the prospect of having an entire penthouse overlooking Central Park to myself for two weeks. I would have used the pillows of our recently purchased couch to build a fort, ordered pizzas and cupcakes every night and gone on an anime and video games binge—curled in my fort. Also, my clothes would have been lying everywhere, and I would have challenged the household gods on a daily basis by drying my plates with the green washcloth—the one strictly reserved for hands.
I did all that, the first weekend. Joy and I went to see the Cost of Rica movie at the AMC in Times Squares like in the good old days, then we spent the night talking about life, work . . . and sex. But Sunday morning came, and with it, a brutal hangover. Joy had gone home to Vince-the-cutest-photographer-in-the-world, and I felt alone, vaguely nauseated at the sight of the pile of dishes in the sink and the mess of cushions and pizza boxes in the living room. Overwhelmed with guilt, I cleaned everything before March’s scheduled call. Come to think of it, maybe adulthood was already closing in on me back then.
So, on that fateful Friday, I showered alone for the fourteenth day in a row, carefully wiped the glass walls and wrestled the mess of wet auburn falling on my shoulders into a ponytail. Like every morning since March had left, my gaze lingered on the lonely chrome stand holding his razor and shaving brush. I stroked the soft hair absently, while in the mirror, a twenty-six-year old girl who refused to admit she’d turn twenty-seven in two months looked back at me.
Twenty-seven sounded like thirty already. Like being old and responsible, I brooded, picking my kitschiest Powerpuff Girls t-shirt before I slipped into a pair of worn denim overalls. No way. I would stay twenty-six until the last possible second, taste and enjoy every bit of my youth. At thirty-four, March was enough of an adult for the both of us anyway. He was the one who liked doing his taxes and inspected our bathroom joints regularly, looking for any sign that they needed to be redone. He was the Henry to my Punky. No wait, that sounds terribly wrong. More like John and Aeryn in Farscape. Except I would be John. Because I too went to space—but that’s another story.
Anyway, John Crichton—that’s me—made the bed, closed the doors to her side of the walk-in closet, which had been installed specifically to conceal her mess from sensitive eyes, and trotted down the stairs to take care of the third wheel in her relationship: a five-foot depressive orange tree named Gerald.
I crossed the living room and stepped onto the terrace where he awaited me, bathed in early morning light. Glaring at me as usual, flaunting a couple of greenish, shriveled lumps March was kind enough to call oranges.
“Good morning to you too . . .” I mumbled, grabbing the sprayer and aiming at his pot.
Gerald had been March’s roommate and confident for nearly five years until I barreled into their lives. He welcomed my arrival in March’s penthouse with tepid enthusiasm at best, and things didn’t improve over the next seven months. I was sometimes awakened by the ominous rustling of leaves at night, and his oranges would often inexplicably fall off when I was in the room and roll at my feet, like a silent warning . . .
I sprayed some Yay Gro on his mulch with a sigh and return to the living to take my tote bag: time to go to work!
. . . on the floor below.