Writing Clash

Unexpected Guest

The next morning I was woken up to the sound of screaming. One look at the clock and I realized it was only four minutes until my alarm would have gone off. I switched it off and hurried out of bed, nearly tripping over my own feet in the process. The sheets twisted around my legs dragged onto the floor as I half-ran, half-fell over to yank open the door.

Mary Lou was standing in the small hallway with an empty cup in her hands. The contents of the cup -- what looked like juice that would stain -- were scattered over the linoleum in a purplish puddle. Someone had turned all of the lights on. It took my brain and eyes a few moments to adjust.

Mary Lou didn't look at me, but instead pointed a shaking finger towards the front door. I followed her finger with squinted eyes. I was strangely unaffected when I saw an unfamiliar woman standing near the entryway with her arm still raised towards the light switch as if she had been frozen in place.

"Lo ciento, lo ciento!" she muttered hurriedly and began to turn away. "Very sorry!"

I recognized the cleaning supplies strapped to her waist as if they were weapons. I almost laughed at the hilariety of it all. "Wait!"

The woman froze once more. She brushed a strand of long black hair over her ear and shook her head. "I didn't realize this apartment had been rented already. It's been empty for so long..."

I sensed Mary Lou was upset behind me, so I went to gather her into a hug. I rocked her back and forth while she chewed on her fingernail. I couldn't help but be a little irked at the interruption. "We did come a bit earlier than planned. You must be the custodian?"

"Yes. Maya Campos. Is she yours?" Maya nodded towards Lou. The younger girl turned her head into my chest in response to being mentioned. I placed my hand over her hair.

"No. Yes. She is my sister; we're five years apart. I am only twenty two."

The woman -- Maya -- put her hands on her hips. She pursed her lips as if considering. Then she smiled brightly. "Well. Anytime you need help, I am living down the hall in 8. Sorry again!" With that she left with sharp steps and closed the door behind her. I breathed a heavy sigh. Of relief, or exhaustion, I didn't know. Probably both.

Mary Lou appeared to have forgotten about her scaring already. She licked a bit of the grape juice from her arm and stomped her foot once in the purple puddle. I cringed. "Come on, Lou. What would you like for breakfast today? We've got eggs and bacon. Just like daddy used to make."

"Daddy..." Lou mumbled, but followed me into the kitchen nonetheless.