Catherine surveyed the room, little pink feathers, bits of duct tape and other hot pink detritus covering the room, Lady GaGa blaring from the speakers, “So you’re ready then?”
“Yep,” Cate grinned from amid a pile of pink tissue paper. The shiny, pink paper bow was in danger of slipping off when she cocked her blonde head. “Think she’ll be surprised?”
“Oh, she’ll be surprised,” Catherine agreed. April would be surprised by her friend in her living room, surprised by the redecoration, but she wouldn’t be pleased by the mess that Cate had created. Cate had driven in that morning, sure to arrive after April had gone to work, and Cate had landed like a hurricane. From her car she had unpacked the hoard of shiny paper and bright duct tape, feather boas, and a binder of CDs from the late 2000s.
“Just like college,” Cate beamed, looking around at the decorations.
Catherine very much doubted that even in college April had kept her living area this cluttered and colorful. The April that Catherine knew was neat and tidy and quiet, enjoying a cup of tea and a book at their bistro table in the kitchen on her days off, whose idea of a party was the two of them, a movie on tiny TV screen, and a bowl of popcorn.
“Okay, well,” Catherine said, “I’m going to leave you to it. She should be home in a bit.”
“Stay,” Cate begged. “We’re both her friends. She’d want us both on her birthday.”
So Catherine stayed in the room decorated in plucked, pink boas and fashion duct tape. Cate sat there like a present, glancing every few moments at the door, while she told Catherine stories of April in college, stories that didn’t sound like April.
Cate was telling her about the time that she, April, and a friend named Lianne had snuck out to decorate a friend Ruby’s car with sticky notes when the lock turned and Cate gasped and spun toward the door, staring at it with all the eagerness of a child towards the ice cream van.
April opened the door.
And she stopped.
And she stared.
Cate leapt up and emitted a noise that oughtn’t to have been audible, the bow falling off her head.
April echoed her.
Catherine had a quick glimpse of her bright grin. She clearly wasn’t distressed by the mess at all if she had noticed it around her friend.
And then they were hugging in the middle of the living room that had been transformed into a pink mess.
“Happy birthday!” Cate squealed, and April, hugging her, began to bounce up and down, and Cate joined her.
As they broke apart, April turned to include Catherine in her smile, and through the neat and orderly April that Catherine had lived with these seven months in her slacks and button-down top, Catherine saw the April that Cate described, chaotic and beaming and ready to pull a late-night prank, and Catherine realized she still did not know April as well as she would like. She wondered if she should hide all of the sticky notes in a top cabinet and maybe all the duct tape too.
Links to all of the legal theft stories can be found here.
Also, to Bek at BuildingADoor, whose birthday is coming up. I wish I could show up with duct tape.