“What?” Marisol yelled from the kitchen.

David headed upstairs to use the second bathroom without responding but could hear Lilian.

“I let a woman inside who was dripping wet on the back steps. She looked like was going to catch pneumonia. She is showering to dry and then we can figure out what to do.”

David continued upstairs, trudged loudly in fact and slammed the door shut. It wasn’t out of anger but confusion. They had all just ingested tons of drugs and Lilian was the only sober reliable person here. He flipped up the lid and avoided looking at himself in the mirror. How can he trust himself around this stranger? It was an issue of ego, pride. This weekend was slowly being ruined and he felt to blame.

“I shouldn’t have invited her,” he watched the wall in front of him.

He slammed the lid shut and didn’t want to wash his hands. He didn’t want to look at the mirror in front of him. He didn’t want to watch the distortion and he felt nauseous. Should I throw up? He walked out of the bathroom before answering himself. At the top of the steps, he heard the kettle, an amicable exchange between his three friends and the shower stop. Four steps down he heard the chatter of his friends stop. Seven steps down he heard footsteps walk into the living room. As he rounded the corner, the tenth step down, he heard dishes clank again. He heard nothing more from the bathroom. On the last step, Jack smiled.

“You want to continue the game?” as if nothing unusual had begun.
“Seriously?”
“Yeah,” he sort of smirked, “a stranger may be a welcome addition since we have heard all of our stories.”

Lilian was placing a bottle of honey on the wooden dinner tray and had her back to everyone. Marisol was getting sugar from the cabinet. Is everyone crazy? Lilian finished setting everything on the tray and brought it to the living room, not saying a word to David, who appeared skeptical, brow furrowed, tight lipped and unwavering in her way. She set everything on the table and Jack continued to drink a beer. It was if this woman was invited to their party. David peeked around the corner to the hallway to see no one had cleaned the footprints yet when the door swung open.

She walked out with hesitation, slowly, pausing just a step outside and locked eyes with David. He turned all the way to face her and she was disarming. No change in facial expression or posture, she stunned him with her stature which was unassuming, possibly frightened, a look of dilemma, fear, confusion on her face. She is in a house full of strangers in the middle of the woods, David. Lilian’s clothes. She was wearing Lilian’s clothes. The gray hood was up so he couldn’t see her face that well, just her eyebrows which had a bit of aristocratic lift to them and her eyes, wide, and a bit of hair, brown, past her shoulders. From this distance, he couldn’t make out any color on her face but she seemed refreshed, a little rosy from the shower. That made her less threatening. She didn’t appear to need immediate medical attention although Lilian was going to make a big deal about this. Don’t scare her. With that thought, he lowered his head and turned back towards the living room giving her a sidelong glance to invite her to enter.

The woman didn’t move right away. She waited, possibly until the tall man blocking her passage moved ever so slightly so she could enter the living room without feeling like she was passing through a guard at a gate. He took a couple steps to the left and she took nine feet to get to the living room. Marisol was just sitting  down next to Jack when they all saw her; Lilian settling back on the green armchair and David standing near the floor lamp and window, trying not to stare but suddenly entranced by the situation. He no longer felt uneasy but admired Lilian for handling the situation. What could have been a crisis, averted. She was warm, showered, standing inside of a shelter as the rain raged on.


“Hi,” she held her hand up.
“Hi,” the choir began.

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