She rode over hills, around curves in the road, past houses and businesses and then fields. In a neighbouring town’s discount retail store, Arwen purchased a plastic pail and a gallon of dish soap so she could finally wash the dirty dishes piling up in her home.
The young woman also found a very inexpensive old fashioned stove. It was delivered later that day, installation not included. So far, she hadn’t figured out how to make it work. Well, that was tomorrow’s problem; now, dishes awaited. As she scrubbed, she daydreamed about dishwashers and butlers — a world so out of her reach, it was funny.
The “magic” stick, its little pillow and their ugly box were relegated to the kitchen floor, next to some rusty buckets, forgotten for now.
For now, survival trumped fun, and Arwen had started planting all the seeds she found on her land.
Every morning she would tend to her growing garden, watering, weeding and eventually harvesting. This would be a much needed source of free food. Dining out was a serious drain on her meager finances.
Every three days, bills were delivered to her mailbox. She had to pay them or risk losing her home.
Until her garden was ready for harvest, she sometimes went a few days without eating. She could have interviewed for jobs, but she had no qualifications, no experience, a criminal record and, perhaps most importantly, she would rather die than have a desk job and answer to a boss.
Every day, she scrubbed a new part of the house clean. The bathroom was her first objective. That room was nastier than many public washrooms.
The old shower was also prone to breaking and Arwen learned how to replace thread seal tape so it would stop leaking.
This was exhausting work, but rewarding as well. Arwen relished in her independence and being so autonomous brought her great pride. Thankfully, her apple trees soon yielded delicious apples to fuel her active body.
She explored her surroundings and found out she lived next to a criminal organization.
They left their fence opened and had some unattended produce she started to harvest (Hey, no one’s picking it up, no one will miss it!). There were also some dumpsters behind the building and, after a few dives, Arwen found a few helpful items that she could use or sell.
This was how she found a washer and dryer.
However, this was not for the faint of… stomach. The smells and sights often stayed with her long after she returned home. Heave ho.
One beautiful morning, Arwen stepped out to enjoy the sunrise on her skin. The air smelled better in the morning, somehow. She was then startled to realize a few wild horses were grazing on her lawn. She tried to approach them without much luck. They were skittish creatures.
Having spent most of her life in urban settings, Arwen was spellbound by the beautiful and graceful animals. She sat in the grass, admiring the clouds drifting by. She felt lazy. She had been working so hard and felt she deserved a day off, perhaps a night of partying too. She remembered a handsome red-head, what was his name… Hank. He’d seemed confident, but not too cocky. He had a sexy smile…
Arwen pulled out her mobile and Googled the town’s online phone book. After a while, she found Hank; he was the only Hank in town. Her finger hovered over his phone number. He face felt hot… would he even remember her? She shook her head, feeling like an idiot. She let out a deep breath, staring at his number on the screen as if she could will it to dial. Closing her eyes, she quickly touched the number with a finger and felt her armpits get sweaty as she heard the dial tone.
Through the first four rings, she hoped he wouldn’t answer because she didn’t know what t say. After seven rings though, she found she wanted him to answer.
*Beep* “Hi Hank! It’s Arwen… I don’t know if you remember me…. Anyway, I’d like to go out for a few pints tonight and I was wondering if you could recommend a place. I mean, I’d like to go with you. I mean, if you’re not busy… Uh, here’s my number.”
Her face crimson, Arwen left her phone number knowing he would never call her after such a pitiful message.
Embarrassed, Arwen stuffed her phone in her pocket and went out for a walk. At first, she was fuming, mad at herself for leaving such a pathetic message. After a while though the scenery distracted her. Sunset Valley was a beautiful town, small enough to explore in one day. By early evening her stomach reminded her she needed to eat. She turned around and walked back toward a small bistro, the aroma guiding her as well as her memory.
Then, a voice brought her back to reality…
“Hey, you! Miss Joie de vivre? Do you have the time?”