Back in the fifth floor apartment of the Tower of Cell 5, Mali Lian fluffed out a new set of sheets, preparing to re-clothe their now naked bed.
It had been about an hour since Karia had left. The message she’d sent was still up in front of Mali’s face… The sight of it seemed to imbue her with newfound vigor and pep each and every time, vigor and pep that flowed through her entire body, starting at her heart and radiating out like the wave of heat You get from drinking something warm and tasty, like the coffee this morning… Or the champagne from last night.
“I knew she’d take a while picking the wine.” Mali said to no one in particular. “She always does, even when its as simple as soup: The cheapest champagne, we won’t notice it anyway, after all of those other drinks.” She picked the empty bottle out of the stark white vase in the corner, reading the label. “She is always one to splurge, for a special occasion.” And then, she saw her ring, the one she had only begun wearing last night.
The round stone was set in a platinum bezel, with only a few smaller stones set around it: All clear, and all bearing the princess cut she loved so much. Not overstated… but not understated, either. “She knows me so well… I hope I got everything right for her, too…”
She then scowled a bit, to herself. “Talking to Yourself, again, eh, Mal?” She spat with disdain. “You know that they can hear You.” A look of recognition ran across her face like makeup in the rain, tinged with the sadness of realizing You haven’t yet learned from Your mistakes. “How did that song go, again?”
She tentatively hummed out a quick bar or two of an old folk song, letting her ears taste test her attempt for her. Her recognition faded as she remembered her recognizance, the one she’d undertaken with some… friends… years ago:
No more talking to Yourself, when alone.
Too much of a chance someone might overhear.
You might let something slip, or worse.
Sing, or hum, or something instead… Keep Your thoughts in Your head!
Her unbroken habit tamed for now, she hummed to herself as she stretched the boldly red sheets across their mattress. She stuffed the pillow in its case, and threw the other blankets expertly over-top the whole bed, fixing it as necessary. It’s getting pretty late, isn’t it? She thought, chewing softly on her tongue ring. The time flashed up in front of her, along with the rest of the info she still had on screen. Still have 10 minutes ‘til I need to head out.
Then, her eyes caught that message Karia had sent after leaving:
Mali: I do. <3 Haha! The ring is lovely (Reminds me of You in more ways than one!). Thanks for it and the Sweetman’s… I’ll make sure to save some sugar for You, too, later tonight. ;) -K
She read it to herself, silently, one last time. Then, she closed it, walking through the place one more time to make sure everything was as clean and neat as she wanted it to be. She grabbed her bag, checked the mirror (and made a few last minute adjustments this way and that), and headed out the door.
I am so lucky to have her… And its like a dream; In a week or so, we’ll be together for good! Her thoughts felt… yellow, to her, as she walked down the stairs in a happily hazy huff. Her smile was as big as You please (perhaps even a bit bigger, if You would allow it) as she palmed open one of the front doors of the Tower and stepped out into the day.
Visions of all the wedding fantasies she’d had in her life accompanied her on her brisk walk to work: That arch was the one from the books, the old-style wedding where a man and a woman took their vows, ‘til death would they part. Those mannequins in the window were two teenage lovers, ones who’d checked the absolute limit of the laws and arrived that very first day to the registrar (telling their ‘parents’ they were out at the shops down the road).
The woman hunched over on the side of the road, waiting for someone or something, suddenly became Mali at 15 as she questioned just who- or rather what- she wanted in life… Wondering if she’d be able to admit to herself that she just didn’t like men in that way, struggling with her identity. A red haired lady came, helped her get on her feet, and on with her life… Just as Cherise had done for Mali.
That young couple there, with the nearly matching spiked purple hair, haggling with the corner shop owner, were obviously shopping together for their rings and clothes… Almost like we will be come tonight! She thought with a happy chortle. And then, her daydreams turned to Karia and her… One thing was clearer to her than any phantasm born from books and stories and youthful (over)zealotry towards that romantic ideal:
I’m so glad that I am sharing this with her.
She bounced her steps all the way down the three blocks to the Cell 5 Datumary. She palmed herself in, and greeted all of her co-workers with a smile and a warm platitude, leaving a trail of astonished sympathetic happiness in her wake. She entered her classroom, activated her board, and faced the students she was in charge of today.
“Alright, everyone, settle down. I know we were having a test on the merits of good citizenship in a Stuttgart community today…” She spoke in a much more terse tone than she does out of class, her face a mask of authority and intellect. Inside, however…
The Saturday kids always get the BEST tests… She shuddered internally. “But that’s been postponed…” Until AFTER the wedding, at least! She dragged her finger across her board. “…to next week, as of now.”
This announcement was met with several sighs of relief. “Instead, we are going to be studying something new today, as an extra credit assignment: Wedding Clothes through the last 100 years.” A few hands went up in the pregnant pause she left there.
“Any culture is fine, any gender is fine… and You do not have to participate, if You don’t need the credit.” The hands went down, with a few huffs from the kids in the back. “We have four hours together today; Presentations will start one hour from the bell. No presentation: No credit, remember!” She said, with a smile to her desk.
“Oh, and I expect everyone here to pay attention while people are presenting. It’s a matter of respect.” She said this while calling up her own, private desk to do her own, private research. “Everyone can get to work. And work hard! Some of You may want to use this information one day.” She opened a file, syncing it with her personal files. She said the next line under her breath as she began taking notes.
“I know that I will be.”