Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for violence.
Rusty Heia Deonne-Anderson wasn't a person to be pitied - well, except for the day she moved into that dingy apartment. She had had to haggle with the landlord to give her a one-room for a lower price than usual.
As long as you put your goods out there, she thought to herself as she turned the key in the lock to her front door, you could get whatever you wanted. Of course, this advice was only applicable towards those who met the beauty standards.
That sentiment didn't ring true with her husband, well, her ex-husband.
She could drop 'Anderson' - strangely, that felt refreshing. She pushed open the door with her shoulder and graced her humble abode with her presence. At least it was..tidy. The former owner had been some germaphobe or something.
The smell of Clorox tinged the musty air. She wrinkled her nose and lugged her groceries onto the kitchen countertop.
Christ, she'd forgotten what she'd even bought. All she remember was sweeping a shelf's worth of little containers into her cart. Were they soup cans? She sure hoped so.
Funfetti. They were Funfetti cans. White, pink and blue frosting galore. And Grey Goose.
Well, at least she'd bought some plastic spoons. With a sigh, she undid her hair from its messy bun and popped the top off a can.
This. This was the epitome of a bad divorce, on full display. Thankfully, no one had to see it.
The kids next door to her seemed nice enough, though they seemed to always be working on those podcasts. Rusty wasn't into those - they seemed to take so much time to make, with such a high demand from subscribers.
The girl was cute, though, she seemed to be too young to be living alone. She had a baby face, which was only made more apparent with her big, brown eyes. The boy probably had girls falling all over him, with those big blue eyes and that freckled face.
They were probably together.
That theory was debunked a few weeks later when she brought her wrinkled, sweatstained clothes downstairs to the little laundromat in the basement. All of her designer clothes were still packed away in what little boxes she had.
That's when she caught the boy - she thought his name was Mars, kissing another guy. He was sat on a dryer that was filled with clothes, still going through their cycle.
She let out a little gasp - not intentionally. But they heard it, alright. Like two deers in headlights, their faces went pale and they scampered upstairs without a word.
"They always come down here to make out. Don't feel bad for spooking them."
Rusty whirled around to face the girl, Minnie, who had a basket of clothes held against her hip. Her long, dark hair was pulled into a high ponytail. In the light, Rusty could see the white streak that ran through it. She was dressed pretty nicely, in a little floral dress that was cinched at the waist with a leather belt.
"So you two really aren't together."
Minnie shook her head and her ponytail bounced along with her. "Nope."
"Well, aren't you dressed nice? Have you got a hot date?"
The girl's pale cheeks burst into flames. "It's just..a guy that I met at a bookstore." She hopped down the few remaining steps and set her basket atop an empty washer.
"Ooh, a hot librarian." Rusty felt her lips split into a smile. "That could be nice. You could discuss bestsellers over some red wine."
She laughed. It was a bright, tinkly little laugh. "Maybe, I'm not so sure about that."
The conversation moved to books, then TV, Netflix lists, and fashion. Rusty dreaded hearing the tinny ringing of her dryer as it went off.
"Have a nice date." She told Minnie, who nodded with a little twinkle in her eye. As she turned around, a hand rested on her shoulder. She turned around, and was met with a little slip of paper, folded in half. "Here's my number if you want to go out for coffee one morning, if you're free."
"Oh, honey. You're so sweet." Rusty grinned. "I'll take you up on that offer when I get settled in. Feel free to drop by whenever you want, my door's always open."
The last thing she expected was for that offer to be taken up so soon.
It had to be at least midnight when the banging on her door woke her from her booze-infested slumber. She got up from her pink suede chaise and shoved her feet into her bunny slippers. At her door stood Minnie, shaking. Her hair fell down her back in matted tangles, and the lacy strap of her dress was being held together by her free hand. She was barefoot. The Keds she had been wearing earlier were gone.
"He wasn't a very nice guy." She looked up at Rusty, globs of mascara were running down her reddened cheeks.
"We should call the police." Rusty pulled her inside and slammed the door behind her. "Sit down, sweetie. I'll get you some water." She sat Minnie down on her chaise and threw a fleece blanket about her shoulders.
She said. "He stole my phone and purse. He was a con artist."
"Alright." Rusty pulled her phone from her pocket and just, stared at it.
This poor girl. The tears plopped down onto her screen, blurring the numbers she tried to type in.
9-1-1, what's your emergency?
"Yes, I need to report a robbery.." Rusty whirled around to face the girl, who was holding the Time edition with Serenity Donahue on the cover, yellowed with time.
"Don't touch that! That isn't me, that's my mother!" Her voice became shrill as Minnie bolted for the door, blanket flailing as she jiggled the doorknob wildly.
Madam? Is everything okay? Do we need to send the poli-
She pressed the end call button and tossed her phone on the countertop. She took in a deep breath and set a hand on the girl's shoulder. "Please, please stay. I need to explain this..it, to you. Please, Minnie, don't be afraid, honey."
Minnie's shoulders slumped over. Her heaving chest dropped and she fluttered to the ground, out cold.
Rusty set her on the chaise and spread the blanket out over her limp form.
"I promise, I'll make this all clear. You just have to listen." She whispered as she sat down by the chaise, crosslegged and straight-backed.