The walk from the subway station to my apartment was rather entertaining. The icy wind was trying it’s hardest to rip the poster board from our arms; we had to hold onto it for dear life to keep it from being carried away by the breeze. We were scrambling around like two of the three stooges. When we finally pulled the heavy door to 87 Harper Place, the corners of the board had become hopelessly crumpled.
We wordlessly shuffled up the stairs and into the apartment. The warmth oozing from the space heater we had placed next to the doorway was exactly what our frozen toes needed. So we just stood there for a minute or so, defrosting. “I think my stepmom is home. Or at least she should be, today’s her day off.” I peeled off my heavy coat, scarf, mittens, hat, and boots—revealing a plaid shirtdress and lacy tights.
We emptied the shopping bag filled our supplies onto the living room floor, getting to work almost instantly on out sparkly poster. I took a bright purple magic marker and started to write out our introduction in chunky bubble letters, “Carbon dioxide is the byproduct of many chemical and biochemical reactions. Fossil base fuels and other organic materials such as wood can burn and produce a large amount of carbon dioxide.” “You have really cool handwriting, it reminds me of like graffiti or whatever.” Cassidy pointed one glitter glue-covered finger at my lettering. “Aww, thanks.” I tucked the marker behind my ear.
We finished the experiment and poster in just under three hours. About halfway through, Tish walked in—groceries in hand. She had offered to bake us chocolate chip cookies and make hot cocoa, an offer we had accepted gladly. Now we sat, with our feet perched comfortably on the coffee table, watching one of those trashy reality shows where a mob of ex-strippers with raggedy hair extensions fight for the love of some has-been rapper. We took sips of cocoa from hand-painted mugs that Zach had made in art class, making jokes at the expense of a contestant named Tryxxxii who had popped a breast implant.
Zach wandered in after we broke into an especially loud fit of laughter. “Farraaah! Mommy! Who is that?” He pointed one stubby finger towards Cass. I rolled my eyes. “This is Cassidy, she’s going to be sleeping over tonight.” He scrunched up his face into an adorable pout. “Mommy! Why don’t I get to have sleepovers?” Tish answered from the other room. “Because Zachary, you still wet the bed.” That comment seemed to shut him up.
“Hello Cassidy, my name is Zach. I have a bunny named Captain Canoodle. I am going to play my Legos now. Would you like to play with me?” Cassidy politely declined.
We spent the rest of the afternoon stuffing our faces with cookies and making fun of whatever came on the TV. Tish ordered us a pizza, which tasted like heaven. When ten o’clock rolled around my parents shuffled off towards their bedroom we decided to switch the channel over to one that was playing Roman Holiday. Cass grabbed a blanket from my room and threw it over our laps.
We were sucked into the film within seconds. Audrey Hepburn was just so fantastically lucky; of all the creepy Italian dudes that could have found her sleeping on that bench and she gets swooped away by some fantastically handsome American journalist. Why was it that the leading men in old movies were always journalists? I’d never really thought of it as a terribly sexy career. In my mind there were only two jobs I equated with sex appeal: the bass player in an indie rock band, and a librarian. The second one probably has more to do with my bowtie fetish though.
Cassidy was staring dreamily at the screen. You could just tell she was imagining herself as Anya Smith, cutting her hair off and exploring some fantastic European full of fountains on a vespa. When the film ended and gracefully slid into a commercial advertising pilates tapes we decided to call it a night.
I let Cass have the couch. Which meant I would be snuggling up with a pillow on the floor and wrapping myself like a burrito in one of the blankets.
I was woken up at 3:14 in the morning by an odd noise. At first I though my brother’s pet rabbit had gotten out of his cage again, so I started walking in the direction of Zachary’s room. I stopped, however, when I reached the bathroom. The noise was coming from behind the door. I pushed the door open ever so delicately, and discovered a scene that made my blood run cold.
Cassidy was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, a pair of scissors in her hand. She was crying her eyes out, absolutely bawling. Tears were pouring down her face. She was in the process of chopping off massive chunks of her perfect blonde hair. As I attempted to close the door and sneak back off towards the living room, she noticed me. We stared into each other’s eyes for a couple of seconds. An hour could have passed, though, and I still wouldn’t even be able to comprehend the amount of pain playing out behind her eyes.