Tuesday afternoon, March 2nd, 2017.

Brisk spring air met her as she stepped out of her car, the blue door clicking shut behind her. Fallon took a deep breath. Filling her lungs with slightly salty air, she could almost taste how close the beach was. The scent of sea and earth calmed her nerves. Driving through The Bay has been a challenge there was no major highway, leading to the small town nestled within rolling hills and glittering seascapes. The route consisted of mostly winding two lane highways leading deep into the hills. A good hour away from the bustling city of Newcrest.

“Okay girl, you can do this…you CAN do this”, she breathed. Turning and opening her rear driver door to retrieve two mid sized suitcases. She stacked them on the ground beside the car, eyeing them before thinking better of carrying them all the way up to the front door. I better not unpack everything at once. I  haven’t seen Lorena in… she scratched her chin thinking pensively, it had been two years at the least.

It pained her to think back to that time in her life, two years ago was when her mother passed, near destroying her entire world.  Ugh, no need to think about that. Just focus on the task at hand Fallon, she reassured herself. Her eyes closed as she took a deep breath, willing away the lingering worry in her chest as approached the steps to her ex-friends house.

It was a cute solitary mobile home, with a large wooden deck. Beyond that was what she could only assume was a oversized unused backyard. Trees and shrubbery covered the entire lot, making the home seem as if it were the only one for miles. Glancing down at her cell phone she double checked the address, 872 Pinewood Drive, Brindleton. A dingy white mailbox stood a few feet away from her, confirming that she was in fact at the right space. However the strangeness of it all was starting to get to her.

Moving to Brindleton Bay had been the last thing on her mind. Then she got a phone call that put her life on the fast track. A company in Brindleton Bay extended a job offer to her, a very lucrative job offer. After almost a year of replying to company after company with no luck, Commonwealth Integrative Pharmaceuticals gave her a call for a Clinical Pharmacist position. Without hesitation Fallon agreed, it was her dream, and this had been one of her top choices. All that hoping and wishing and praying for a call back paid off. They wanted her to start within the week. And so with one thousand simoleans in her pocket and a chance of a address she set off for the seasoaked town in the hills.

Her friend. Well. Ex-Friend lived in the Bay.

Once and only once, several years ago she got a letter from Lorena. It was right after mother had died. Still too raw, Fallon wasn’t able to respond but kept the letter. Finding it in a rush of packing and worrying about where she would stay with such short notice was like a miracle. Lorena’s old-timey, swoopy and very rounded handwriting invited her to visit her anytime. No questions asked. With some guilt Fallon considered Lorena her only option. Knowing that a hotel stay for two weeks or more would be out of budget and sleeping out of her car again for days on end, was not going to be an option.

Now she was here, bags sitting neatly beside her car as she nervously approached the home. As she took to the steps of the porch she heard a soft “meow” coming from the seating area to her right. An orange and white colored cat greeted her with a sniff and request for pets.

“Oh hi sweety!!!” she said to the kitty, stroking its lustrous hair. Hopefully this all goes well and I can pet you all the time, Fallon mused, then turning around and approaching the large oak door.  

Her anxiety was growing exponentially. She hadn’t spoken to Lorena in so long. What would she say when she asked her why there had been no contact? Fallon has no excuses other than she simply couldn’t. Her mother’s death had been hard, and everything that reminded her of her mother made her spiral even worse. Plus, at the time, talking to Lorena meant slipping back into old horribly destructive habits. Already on the edge she couldn’t risk going down that road again. But now that she had aged out of her group home, she had nowhere else to go. Hopefully time had begun to heal the wounds between them.

Her arm rose and her knuckles knocked loudly against the pale green oak door, her heart pounding while she waited for an answer.

At first, nothing happened. Silence on the other side of the door promising nothing but an empty home and a lost opportunity.

Just as she was about to make her way back to her car disappointed, Fallon saw the top of a brunette bun and a green set of eyes appear in the glass window pane of the door. They looked confused and tired. Hearing low mumbling, the sound of a lock turning caught her attention.

Lorena opened the door widely, taking a pause before speaking bluntly. “Hi Fallon,” her words were flat, and lifeless. Her green eyes gave Fallon a once over, then glanced over to the blue 4-door sitting in the yarde eyeing two suitcases stacked next to it neatly on top of another. With a sigh she motioned to the patio table on her right, “Let’s sit”.

They sat underneath the fluorescent porch light in the darkening evening sky. “First lemme just say I am so. Sorry for just…popping in like this,” Fallon started.

Lorena didn’t respond. So she continued “I’m sorry I haven’t–spoken to you lately. Things have been difficult. To say the least.”

“I can understand that,” Lorena replied with a look of concern on her face. “But I was worried about you. You fell off the face of the earth and after 2 months of trying to contact you I just gave up.”

“I know. I’m sorry. There was just too much shit I couldn’t deal with. I still….” Fallon trailed off, looking at the table deciding that now was not the time to rehash old memories. This was not the past. They had both grown out of who they were then, so no need to relive any memories. “Uhm, I was wondering if you had room…you know for me to crash on your couch for a bit—Just a week or so until I find a place.”

Sitting there expressionless, Lorena’s tired eyes seemed to be boring into Fallon’s soul. This face was all too familiar to her although now, it carried lines of worry and life troubles that she couldn’t imagine. That calculating despite the blank expression, it was the same as it had been years ago. Her worry spiked again as her ex-friend sat across from her, mulling over her request in silence.

To fill the air Fallon spoke, the silence sending her nerves into overdrive, “I know its imposing on you, I am sorry I shouldn’t have…” she started. Her hands fidgeted in her lap, her fingers itching to pick at her already chipped nail polish. Lorena was sitting across from her blank faced. It was like she was staring at her with no empathy whatsoever to Fallon’s plight. It was such a stupid idea to think that she could come here and request such a favor such as this. But she was desperate. Living in her car in Willow Creek was not living in her car in Brindleton Bay, where most of the city consisted of small two lane roads bordered by varying amounts of trees, greenland and occasional pockets of populations. The town was small enough that she would be noticed loitering in some nearby park at night. In defense of her job, she couldn’t use a P.O. Box, so come two days from now, if she didn’t have a physical address she didn’t have a job.

Her eyes rose and she looked her friend in the face, before one one last attempt, “I have nowhere else to go Lorena. I’m sleeping out of my car right now. It will only be for like a week or two, soon as I get my first paycheck im out of here.”

Lorena sighed, rubbing her neck. Regret was written all over her face, but her words came differently, “Sure. I have a guest room so. Don’t worry about sleeping on the couch. Stay as long as you need. Alright?” a small weary smile played on her lips as Fallon’s excitement grew.

Jumping up from the table she ran over to Lorena’s side of the table hugging her hard,” Omg, thank you so much.”

“No problem, get settled in and we will go over the house rules when I get off work. The room is down the hall on the left” she stood and walked back into the house with Fallon right behind her.