The clacking of Matsuko’s shoes on the metal steps reverberated throughout the small stairwell. Nami hummed tunelessly as she half-skipped her way up. Ameya stared at the concrete walls, thinking of how different this place was from what she imagined ‘heaven’ to be like. There were no halos, or angel wings, the light didn’t paint everything a crisp golden color. The streets weren’t paved in gold and no harp music flowed from above the cloud line. Instead, Ameya could feel the chill from the night outside still clinging to her arms as she climbed the small stairway to the sister’s apartment.
“Come on.” Whispered Matsuko, pushing the door open. Ameya followed the sisters down a long hallway, until they stopped at door 137475.
"Here we are!" Nami informed her.
Ameya watched as Matsuko pulled a silver key from inside the pocket of her dark coat. She pushed it into the lock and turned, and the door swung open revealing the space inside.
The walls were painted a dark grey and picture of strange objects hung on the wall. Instead of doors, long purple curtains hung from doorways and the whole place was lit with lanterns which emitted a warm orange glow.
"Well here we are then," said Matsuko, removing her black boots. "You can take your shoes off there; Nami will let you borrow some pajamas."
"I will?" Asked Nami,
"Yeah, go show her your room."
Ameya removed her hospital-like slippers and padded after the ever-cheerful Nami, who was practically bouncing along.
She followed the girl through a purple curtain and down a small hallway, which was painted a similar dark grey like the living room. As Nami pulled back another set of curtains, a flood of bright light shone through the crack.
Nami bounded into the room, which Ameya assumed was her bedroom. Everything about this new area was in stark contrast to the rest of the apartment. The light yellow walls and pink-polka dotted bedspread didn't seem to much the rest of the place at all. It was as if she'd stepped into a very young girl’s room.
Nami flopped down onto the bed and kicked her feet up. "Aaahhhh today was so long. I'm really tired!" She said with a yawn, sitting up again "I bet you're sleepy too."
Ameya stood in the doorway as Nami opened the drawer if a large green dresser. She rifled through it, pausing to hold up several different nightgowns for Ameya.
"Oh, uh, I’ll wear the blue one I guess." She decided.
"Alright!" Agreed Nami, handing her the soft blue cloth, "The bathroom it right next to this room. You can change in there! Oh, and if you look in the drawer under the sink there's an extra toothbrush too."
Ameya thanked her and headed over a room to the bathroom.
Closing the door behind her, she set the nightgown on the counter, next to a picture frame. It was a picture of Nami and Matsuko, both with their hair done up with multiple flower pins and pearls. The photograph was black and white, Ameya noted, and it seemed very old.
She then turned her attention to the mirror over the sink in front of her.
Her hair was a complete mess of tangles and snarls, and her green eyes were bloodshot. She noticed a small cut on the right side of her neck, and the crisp white collar of a hospital gown. The pocket on the left side of her chest said something, but was backwards in the mirror. Squinting, Ameya found it read 'North Recreation Center’ in red thread.
She removed the hospital clothing, and slid the blue nightgown over her head. Surprisingly, it was a perfect fit. Ameya turned around to the left and right, examining herself from every angle. Even the freckle on her right shoulder was there. No matter how hard she looked, she couldn't find a thing out of the ordinary.
Sighing, Ameya bent down over the sink. She washed her face with the cold water from the faucet, and ran her fingers through her mid-length auburn hair. She was halfway through untangling a particularly tricky knot when a soft knock on the door made her jump.
"Are you okay in there?" Nami’s voice called.
In the distance she could hear Matsuko, "Leave her alone, Nami."
Ameya sighed and pushed the door open.
"Oh there you are!" Chirped Nami, "I thought you might have fell in, heehee."
Matsuko appeared at the end if the hallway, sipping tea from a mug that read "Sal’s sandwiches and cheeses".
She took a sip and wiped her lip with the edge of her dark purple robe. "Sleep good, okay? Come get me if you need anything Ameya, and feel free to kick Nami out of the bed if she gets too wiggly." And with that she gave the two a wave of the hand and disappeared around the corner.