My feet hit the pavement as I hurry through the park. It's quiet and all I can hear is the sound of my feet and the pounding of my heart. I'm quite sure why I'm hurrying when I'm not in a rush. I guess leisurely just isn't really my pace. There's always something that can be done and walking is a waste of time.
A rain drop smacks into my face and I slow down. Others around me speed up, trying to get to their destinations before the clouds break and release water over the earth. Yet I slow down as the sprinkle turns into a warm drizzle. The smell of water mixing with dirt and turning to mud fills my nostrils and I breathe it deep. It is the only time I can breathe this deeply out of doors without my eyes swelling and my nose getting itchy. I have always loved the rain for this reason and it is times like this that I wish I had been born with the ability to manipulate water rather than earth.
I continue down the path walking at a slightly slower pace than I had before, speeding up only when I get to the road. The fast pace of the city and the muddy splash of cars zipping by sends a chill up my spine reminding me just how unpleasant it is to be wet for too long. I turn down the road toward Lydia's Boarding House. Thankfully it isn't far and I jog the last few feet up the path and onto the porch. The house smells like coffee and cookies when I open the door and I quickly remove my wet shoes and roll up my pant legs to keep from tracking water throughout the house.
I race up the stairs to the poorly decorated room that Lydia has so graciously allowed me to have free of charge. After 3 years of living on the streets it still seems strange to call anything mine. And despite Lydia's kindness I cannot help but feel like it won't last. I have done everything in my power to keep the truth about me from her in the hopes that if she doesn't know she will accept me and allow me to continue to stay here. But after 19 years of living with these abilities and 3 years of living alone on the streets optimism is becoming harder and harder to come by.
There's a knock on the door and I finish pulling on a dry shirt before calling out to whoever is at the door. It's Lydia and I smile hoping it looks more genuine than I feel. It's been awhile since I've had a reason to smile and even longer since a laugh ever bubbled forth. Thankfully Lydia doesn't seem to notice as she takes a step into my room, she's holding a plate of cookies and a mug in her wrinkled hands. "I made cookies, I thought you might like some and maybe some hot tea to warm you up. I know how you prefer it to coffee."
I take the mug from her gratefully and take a cookie from the plate though I know I won't eat it. I don't eat anything with milk or egg in it though I haven't had the heart to tell her. "We're having a game night tonight in the community room. I thought you might like to join us. It will be a great way to get to know some of the other boarders."
Though the idea of spending an entire evening with a bunch of strangers seems far from appealing to me I can think of no other reason to say no. I have been avoiding meeting the others for the past 6 weeks always coming up with some excuse. But let's be honest I'm jobless, friendless, and up till 6 weeks ago homeless. I have no life. Besides the last thing I want is to make her mad and send me away. She has been so kind as to let me work for my room and board rather than setting a monetary value.
"I actually do have a free night," I say as I take a sip of the tea.
She smiles causing little wrinkles to form around her mouth and eyes. "Wonderful! I'm sure you'll enjoy it, a great group of people live under this roof. You'll make friends in no time."
I swallow and take another drink of the tea. She doesn't seem to notice my discomfort as she's too distracted by her own excitement. She turns to leave the room forgetting to close the door behind her. I cross to close the door and pause with my hand still on the handle. My gaze falls on the nasty scar that stretches from my thumb to the inside of my elbow. This and the bubbly scar tissue on my shoulder and chest are the two constant reminders of why I don't make friends. As kind as Lydia has been to me she is not above betrayal.
I toss the cookie in the garbage and finish off the tea before flopping down on the bed. I have until tonight to think of an excuse to bail. Even if I go for a short time I know I cannot stay long enough to make friends as Lydia hopes.