8 soooo much hmbrgr hlpr by: Elizabeth V Aldrich
She goes and talks to her friends on a voice chat on some seedy Discord server. Someone is talking in French. Another girl gets pissed and yells, “FUCK OUTTA HERE WITH THAT SHIT, WE DON’T SPEAK CROISSANT!!” Arabelle wonders how she got away with yelling at people in Russian, but then remembers she’s dating the group’s main drug dealer so everyone’s nice to her.
Then someone has to bother her. Or something. The real world.
“You look, like, sick, honey,” the first guy says.
“Thanks,” Arabelle says, rolls her eyes, signals to the bartender for another drink. She can down maybe three more martinis before her bus gets to the stop just outside the bar, and if she can have three drinks, why the fuck shouldn’t she?
“No,” the second guy says, maybe his brother, same hair color, same build, same eye color if not shape. “Seriously. You wanna eat something? You might pass out.”
“You might pass out, if you keep talking to me,” she spits.
It’s really out of character, to be honest.
She’s not this girl. She’s nice.
Her parents raised her right.
Well. They tried, and that ought to count for something.
She didn’t get fired, she maintains, every time she tells the story (roommate, girlfriend, father’s answering machine, father). You can only be fired if you communicate with your superior. She ran out of the shop, immediately got a new phone number, and swears to go out of her way to never be in that part of town again.
Her roommate, who shouldn’t really be asking anyone any questions because she is, for a ‘living', ‘writing’ a ‘short story collection’, asks thoughtfully when they’re playing around at the playground in the middle of the night, on loads of antipsychotics that really shouldn’t be used recreationally, “Why did you leave, again?”
“Panic attack. I told you I didn’t want to talk about it,” she says coldly, rehearsed.
“No, you said—“
Arabelle is about to get that look in her eye that everyone calls her a psycho for. “I think I know what I said.”
“I think you know literally nothing; are you for real right now? You are wearing two different shoes.”
“They’re the only ones that didn’t have toothbrushes in them."
“Do not even talk to me. Just. Yes, keep spinning, stop talking.”
It’s not a typical, whatever, ‘healthy’, living situation.
They don’t pay rent, don’t have electricity, and their water is only hot because all the tiny shitty little houses in the community belong to a HOA that pays the water bill.
Arabelle would be more than happy to live on her own, but Josie was there first, and anyway, Josie goes from innocent little sweetheart to vicious berserker in less than five seconds, on average, when provoked, which has proved useful exactly five times when the house has been broken into by other, bigger, more male squatters.
And three times at three separate clubs that they’re now banned from.
And once at a church bake sale.
They weren’t banned from the church, but Josie, who is a lapsed Catholic, told Arabelle that they probably came very fucking close.
Arabelle isn’t at all like Josie.
She is, for the most part, nice.
She swears, sure, and yeah, she drinks and does drugs, like, of course, she’s fucking alive, isn’t she?
She’s just trying to have a good time, and that’s okay, isn’t it? Life’s so short and all that?
She never tries to hurt anyone. Her parents managed to gift her that value, at least. The value of human life.
She’s not going to murder anyone, or hurt anyone, physically or emotionally.
She’s not like that.
“You’re saying that you want me to tell your ex you’re not into her anymore?” Josie asks, raising an eyebrow at the muted phone Arabelle is holding out.
“Yeah,” Arabelle confirms, leaning in the doorway of Josie’s room. It’s full of scraps of paper and empty bottles of booze and dirty underwear and books that have been on loan from the library since before Arabelle even moved in. "But say ‘them’ because—“
“I definitely will not,” snarls Josie, who studied English for less than a full semester but is still a fucking snob.
“Okay, just talk, please? I can’t. I need to get stoned. Did you call your guy?”
Josie shakes her head absently, taking Arabelle’s phone off her. “I lost my phone.”
“At the bar last night, when I gave it to someone.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Why not?” Josie shrugs and then, into the phone, “Listen, Pat, it’s just not going to work out. No, she hasn’t met someone else, what are you, insane? She never leaves the fucking house, when would she meet anyone?”
Her dad flies into town on business, just for the day, and they have lunch.
It’s brief, but pleasant, until he asks, “So, Ara, have you found any luck on the job front?”
Arabelle excuses herself from the table to go to the bathroom and get fucked up.