Heavy hiking boots aside, the woman sort of tiptoes past Lilian as if she wanted to be quiet in her interruption. She was hooded, soaking wet, dripping on the floor and leaving mud where she stepped.
“Please,” Lilian gestured to the bathroom near the backdoor, “let’s get you out of those clothes. I will bring you some.”
Lilian led her into the bathroom and closed the door behind her, grabbed a pair of sweatshirts, clean plain light blue underwea–granny pantiess, gray wool socks, and a hooded sweatshirt and lightly knocked back on the bathroom door without telling anyone a stranger had arrived to their house. She heard them in the kitchen, laughing, talking, not making out any words just jovial sounds. Her instinct was to help, nurture, ground on Earth. She was a Cancer. She was a mother. The woman stood on the bathroom rug dripping and Lilian saw the rug was ruined; the pale blue now caked in brown. The hardwood leading to the bathroom linoleum was dotted with muddy footprints. They could clean this place before leaving Sunday.
“You can catch pneumonia.”
The stranger took her hood off and stared at Lilian. Shivering, her eyes were wide, a little terror in her stare but glittering. The woman was pallid yet stunning. Even dripping wet, she was the mutt picked first, Lilian thought.
Setting the clothes on the top of the toilet seat, she stated, “Please take a bath or shower. Whatever you prefer.” Lilian opened a small closet next to the towel rack to pull out two big fluffy white towels. “For your hair too.” She set those on top of the toilet seat. “I’m gonna make a pot of lemon tea.”
The woman stayed silent. Is she in some kind of shock?
“I will come check on you if you want. Otherwise, we will be in the living room.”
The woman nodded. Lilian left the bathroom and David was coming towards her.
“What’s up?” he said, half smiling.
“I’m going to make some tea. Would you like some?”
“I have to piss,” he headed towards the door.
“No, go upstairs. There’s a woman in there.”
“I let a woman inside from the rain. She was soaking wet and pale. She can catch pneumonia. She must have got caught hiking. She was wearing hiking boots and clothes.”
They heard the shower turn on. David looked at her with surprise.
“You let a strange woman in here without telling us?”
They could hear Marisol and Jack from the other room, still giggling, the tab of a beer opening.
“I am telling you now. She was going to catch pneumonia.”
“Lilian, we are in the middle of the woods,” his eyes moved over the hallway footprints, seeing, believing her.
She shrugged, “Yeah. We are.”
She moved past him without saying another word and he heard her say excuse me and he heard some dishes clanking and he heard the stove click, preparing to light the burner. He looked at the footprints. He listened to the shower run. He let his body undulate with warmth as the acid kicked in.
“You can’t be sure about anything, his friend has said to him the first time he took it. Only a half a tab then too. “When you take psychedelics just find a way to remind yourself you’re on drugs. Don’t believe everything you hear or see.”
He could see the footprints. Lilian wasn’t lying. He could hear the shower running and feel his stomach churn a little; that first wave of nausea that hits when you ingest a foreign chemical. His guts rumbled. Too much beer. Fuck.
“Guys, he yelled.
He heard more dishes clank and imagined Lilian, preparing the intruder a snack. Fucking dumb bitch. “There’s a stranger showering in our bathroom.”