New Winslow S7E45
The next morning, Cleo was still a little hungover as she pulled into what she hoped was a legal parking space outside of her building in Brighton. She turned off her car and hesitated before opening the door. Now that she was actually here, she didn’t want to go inside and face Edie. It was tempting to just turn right back around and go back to Andrew’s house, spend another night there, then another, and then never leave.
Which may have been part or all of the problem here, wasn’t it?
She’d stopped by the Fitchburg storage unit on her way back and spent half an hour tying her mattress to the top of her shitty car. By some miracle it hadn’t flown off halfway down the Mass Pike and now she had to get it inside along with the rest of the parts for her bed. This would be a lot easier with two people, but she wasn’t about to ask Edie to help her with it.
Thankfully, she was in front of her building instead of two blocks away as she untied the cords and slid the mattress off of the car. It fell onto the dusty sidewalk, nearly landing on top of her. Cleo leaned it against the car, then opened the gate on the chain-link fence and awkwardly steered it over to the stoop, stopping there to catch her breath.
A kid from the downstairs apartment was smoking a cigarette in the small patch of grass between the house and the fence. “Want a hand?” he asked.
He was probably seventeen or so, nearly as tall as Cleo, with piercing dark eyes. She was about to refuse, but he’d already snuffed out his cigarette and was hurrying over to take an end of the mattress. “Which floor?” he asked.
“Second,” Cleo replied as they moved up the stoop and inside toward the stairwell. “Thanks.”
“Yeah, anytime,” the kid said. “I’m Davi.”
The stairs were narrow, but significantly easier to navigate with another pair of hands. Davi steered the mattress up from the bottom while Cleo took the top, reaching the front door much faster than she’d anticipated. “Thanks so much,” she said. “You probably saved me an hour.”
“Of course,” Davi said with a smile that made him look even younger. “I live in One A with my grandmother, so let me know if you need anything.”
“I will,” she said, unexpectedly touched.
Davi disappeared down the stairs and Cleo braced herself before opening the front door. She wasn’t sure if Edie would be there right now. Maybe they were at work or rehearsal. She hadn’t spoken to them yet and could still hope for some more time before they had to have an actual face to face conversation. But that hope was snuffed faster than Davi’s cigarette when Edie came around the corner and into the living room, stopping across the room. “Cleo,” they started.
“I’ll be right back,” Cleo said, pushing the mattress toward the small bedroom.
Edie went to help, but Cleo was already moving across the hardwood at an unnecessary speed, sliding the mattress onto the worn industrial rug of her now-bedroom. It slid smoothly, with a worrying creaking sound as she did her best not to look at Edie.
The room was already filled with boxes they’d stuck in there to unpack later, as well as their various instruments. Cleo managed to wedge the mattress in just beyond the door, but she wouldn’t be sleeping in here unless those instruments and at least half the boxes were out. And for now, her head was pounding, her mouth was dry, and she wanted to chug a gallon and a half of Gatorade before doing anything else. Including talking to Edie.
When she got out in the living room, Edie was there waiting for her. They looked nervous as they stood in the center of the room, fidgeting with their hands as they looked at Cleo. “Hi,” they said.
“Do you need help bringing anything else in?”
“No, it’s just the bed frame pieces, it’s fine.”
“You should have asked me to help with the mattress. I would have done it.”
“The kid downstairs offered.”
“Oh,” Edie said, glancing at the door like Davi might still be standing there. “Oh, I haven’t met him yet.”
“Nice kid,” Cleo said, looking beyond Edie at one of the abstract framed prints on the wall behind them. “I’m going to get the other parts.”
“You don’t have to do it tonight,” Edie said. “I’ll take the couch.”
She was tempted to take them up on it. And more tempted to beg them not to do this at all. But the petty, prideful part of her was against both of these things. “It’s fine,” Cleo said.
“I’ll help you bring things up.”
“I said it’s fine!”
The words came out way sharper than she’d planned and Edie took a step back, eyes wide. And now Cleo was crying again, and she wasn’t going to stay in here and cry in front of Edie. So she hurried downstairs to where her car was definitely illegally parked, wiping uselessly at the tears as she went.
Two hours and too many breaks later, the room was just cleared enough and the bed was built. Edie had offered to help again, but Cleo refused again. She couldn’t handle Edie right now, she needed a hangover cure and an afternoon of sleep before anything else. So she was going to finish this, then climb into her newly made bed.
But now she had to do the next part, getting her belongings out of what was now Edie’s room. Because if she didn’t do it now, it was going to be even more painful tomorrow.
“I’m sorry about this,” Edie said softly from the end of the bed as Cleo pulled her clothes out of the shared closet, draping them over her arm with the coat hangers dangling and bouncing off each other with each new addition.
“We made our decisions,” Cleo said simply.
Edie looked like they wanted to argue, but there was nothing to argue about.
Cleo was alone in the apartment when she woke up the next morning. Edie was working the morning shift, she’d completely forgotten. And Cleo was signed up for an evening delivery shift, so she was alone for the day.
Her guitar was sitting at the end of the bed, leaning against a cardboard box filled with winter gear. She picked it up and strummed it, tuning slowly as the notes rang out, gradually sliding into the proper pitch.
Cleo played absently, picking out melodies until something caught her attention within it. She repeated the measures, like she was dusting off an artifact buried deep in the dirt. The sound rang out, bouncing off the beige walls of the tiny room. She kept going, elaborating across chords and playing with the different scales, nothing in particular in mind as she went.
This happened sometimes. A four bar melody gradually revealed itself like dinosaur bones, eventually building into an entire song. As of now, it was nothing, just some litter in her subconscious. But in this second, the music was important. Work, cleaning, unpacking, it was all forgotten and Cleo lost track of time as she played.
Her phone beeped with an incoming text, breaking her out of the zone a while later. It was nothing, an ad for a pizza place in Fitchburg doing a sale. But as she set down her phone and went back to the melody, throwing nonsense lyrics into it, it was actually starting to become something.