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Lockdown had been the strangest of times for Rory. On the one hand it was nice to see the news of carbon emissions lowering, wildlife coming back into cities and actually having a chance to re-connect with friends and family in a really authentic way. On the other hand it was boring as hell to be stuck in her little one bedroom flat in a quiet suburban street in London. When she had been told that she wouldn’t need to come to work and would be put on furlough it had seemed like a lottery win, to be paid to stay at home and watch tv and play video games but after the novelty wore off she found herself listless without any human companionship and only her dog for companionship.
More than ever she noticed her neighbours watching them in their little daily routines, hearing snatches of their conversations as they went about their lives. One couple took her interest though, the males voice always seeming to catch her attention and when she saw the woman he was with Aurora was captivated. She was slim, with a short trendy bob and delicate features. Aurora had caught her on more than one occasion rolling her eyes as her – she could only assume boyfriend – ranted on. She had a unique sense of style and Aurora had no idea what this girl was doing with this up tight loser of a man.
Weeks ran on and time started to bleed into one another. Aurora tried to maintain a yoga practise and had tried to start running but sacked it off after three days realising she had no passion or interest for it. Following an outdoor yoga session she sank into an old patio chair in her front garden, admiring the pinks and oranges as they streaked across the sky, her feet up on an empty plant pot. She was about to drop into a tiktok hole when the sound of a wheelie bin grating across concrete made her jump. Looking up from her phone she saw that beautiful woman across the road, struggling with the bin. Pushing herself to stand up she watched her with interest only to call out, amusement in her voice. “…you’re way too fit to be taking out the bins!”
Lucy looked up from where she was holding the bin lid, surprised at first to hear a voice at all. “Maybe tell my boyfriend that,” She teased, her eyes rolling, though there was an edge to it. “The trash doesn’t take itself out,” she lamented, dusting off her hands over a tight, bright blue skirt. She hadn’t stopped dressing up in lockdown: she dressed for herself, even if Payton took next to no notice. “Though I wish it would.”
Rory stood up and walked over to the wall of her front garden, leaning forward to rest her elbows on it. “…I mean I would. Payton! Get off your butt and take the bins out… know your place!’ she called out, but kept her voice down so he wouldn’t actually be able to hear. Her lips tugged into a smile as she laughed quietly to herself. “…much too fit to be handling bins.”
Lucy was surprised she knew her boyfriend’s name. She burst out laughing at that false call, casting a glance over her shoulder at the window all the same. “He’s got a lot of lofty ideas about his place,” she teased, biting into her lip as she walked to the edge of her wall, too, looking at her across the street. “What about you? Do you take out your own bins?”
“I live alone… so I have to do all of the gross stuff unfortunately,” Rory smiled and shrugged her shoulders. “But there are benefits to living alone so it balances out quite nicely. It’s just a bit weird at this point in time because I really am alone you know?” Tucking her peach coloured hair behind her ear she smiled at her. “…I’m sure being locked down as a couple is interesting too.”
“Can you train your dog to take the bins out? He jumps the gate enough,” Lucy teased with a smile, eyeing her curiously. “I think I’d take the alone time, if you want to swap?” She murmured. “I think a pandemic lockdown is the real test of a relationship.”
Rory laughed, surprised that Lucy had noticed her too. “He is a menace,’ she admitted and rolled her eyes. “I mean we could swap and I’ll whip your man into shape if you’d like?” she winked.
Lucy laughed to herself, rolling her eyes. “I mean … he looks like he keeps you on your toes,” she smiled, only to shake her head. “He’s pretty immovable on most things.”
“You’d be surprised what the threat of physical violence and the loss of treasured items will do for someones motivation,” Rory winked and waved at her. “I”m Rory by the way.”
Lucy grinned a little at that. “I’ll have to keep you on speed dial,” she joked, only to nod. “I’m Lucy.” Raising her hand she gave an awkward wave, it feeling weird to not be able to get close to someone and shake their hand.
“I already knew your name… I hear him calling it from my flat,” Rory admitted and laughed quietly. “You should get out of the house more if he’s doing your head in.”
Lucy started laughing. “Right, we have so many options right now,” she said, shaking her head. “Guess I could take an eight hour walk,” she joked.
“I – yeah the situation isn’t ideal… but there’s an option to get out even for thirty casino oyna minutes for a walk,” Rory hitched one shoulder. “Better to walk a mile than to stab someone in the chest forty nine times.”
Lucy burst out laughing at that, shaking her head. “I – wow. I mean, he’s not quite that bad,” she said only to pause, adding darkly: “most of the time.”
“It only takes once,” Rory winked and pushed herself to stand up straight again, adjusting the strap of her vest top where it had slipped down her slender arm.
Lucy nodded, her eyes rolling skyward. “What do you think the art programmes are like in prison?”
“Probably terrible,” Rory laughed and shrugged her shoulders. “Are you an artist?”
Lucy shrugged. “I like painting,” she said honestly, her eyes on her. “Crafts generally. I don’t know if I’d say artist.”
“What do you do for a living then?” Rory asked curiously.
Lucy shrugged. “I’m an illustrator for kids books,” she admitted. “And I have a shop. But calling it art is another thing.”
“That’s so cool! What kind of characters do you create?” Rory asked curiously, her lips spreading into an easy smile.
Lucy smiled. “They’re pretty … whimsical? Almost Tim Burtonesque,” she said with a shrug. “What do you do?”
“That’s cool. I love Tim Burton, I work in a coffee shop.” Rory had always been interested in creative people as she was terrible at art herself, the closest she came to any kind of design was mastering latte art.
Lucy tipped her head, her short uneven blonde hair tipping to the side with the movement. “Really? Which one?”
“The Attendant? In Fitzrovia?” Rory replied. “Have you ever been?”
Lucy arched an eyebrow but smiled fondly. “The converted men’s toilet?” She teased.
“I – ” Rory laughed and nodded. “The one and only,” she smiled and shrugged her shoulders. “It’s nice in there. Peaceful.”
Lucy smiled. “I’d hope so. It’s underground,” she teased only to nod. “I like it there. I haven’t seen you, though.”
“How often do you go in?” Rory asked curiously, not having noticed her in there before and knowing she definitely would have noticed. Lucy was beautiful from afar and Rory could only imagine how gorgeous she would be up close. Her cheekbones were delicate and her lips were full, if it weren’t for her petite stature Rory would have thought she could have been a model.
Lucy shrugged. “I used to go a little more,” she said. “Maybe a year ago. Maybe we missed each other.”
“I only started six months ago when I moved here,” she smiled. “I worked at Workshop before that when I lived East.”
Lucy nodded slowly at that. “Shame I missed you,” she murmured. “I thought I’d remember you.”
Rory fluttered her eyelashes at her and feigned being bashful even as her heart genuinely raced at the idea that Lucy thought she was attractive too. “I know I would remember you… sounds weird but I’ve been watching you the past few weeks…”
Lucy’s eyes blinked at that before she just shook her head barely, wondering what that even meant. “Well, there’s not much on Netflix…” she joked. “And Payton’s loud.”
Seeing Lucy’s reaction Rory laughed. “Sorry – I know that sounds creepy. But you’re right. His voice just catches my attention so I see you two coming and going.”
Lucy shook her head a little more at that. “No. It’s not creepy,” she assured her. “Just … I imagine we’re entertaining,” she mumbled, knowing that their fights were less than subtle. “Popcorn worthy.”
Rory made an eek face and she shrugged her shoulders. “Every relationship has ups and downs right?”
Lucy just laughed, but there was a sadness to it as it exhaled in a sigh. “I guess so. So it’s just you and – what’s your dogs name?”
“His name is Benny… he was a rescue,” Rory smiled fondly.
Lucy smiled. “Can I meet him?”
“Uh sure, he’s probably just sleeping,” she smiled and turned to walk into the flat. “Bennnnyyyy…” she called and there was a pause before a red sable cockapoo came bounding out and jumped up at her excitedly. “Here he is,” Rory smiled and hooked her arms around him to sit him on the wall.
Lucy melted a little as he came running up, laughing softly at the energy and he watched her take hold of him. “Good thing,” she murmured with a wink. “I’ve seen him wrangle his way out a few times.”
“He is a menace it’s true,” Rory laughed and rolled her eyes. “But he’s adorable.”
Lucy smiled. “Forgivable, then,” she said, eyeing him fondly. “I’d love a dog. He’s sweet.”
“They’re a lot of work but they’re worth it,” she smiled and waved his paw at her.
Lucy smiled. “Payton’s not a fan. But maybe I can pupsit sometime.”
“Just find one. What can he do? No one can turn away big puppy eyes. He doesn’t need to know you went out of your way..” Rory laughed softly.
Lucy laughed. “I mean … I don’t know. I think if anyone could, it’s him,” she said as she eyed Benny over. “It’s almost like he has no soul,” she teased with a wink.
Rory paused for a moment, unsure canlı casino of how to react as she definitely had opinions on Payton from afar. He always looked so moody and she frequently saw him snapping at Lucy as they walked up and down the street and that was separate to the fights she had overheard. “I mean I get that vibe but I don’t know him.”
Lucy shook her head. “I shouldn’t be saying this. He’s – he’s not all bad, really.” As much as she felt the words were true her Mom had always told her never to bad mouth your partner.
“No… but you just look like you’re not very satisfied right now,” Rory said, shrugging her shoulders as she cuddled Benny to her chest.
Lucy shrugged. “I’m not. But I chose him, right? Thick and thin. It’s hard on everyone right now.”
“Yeah it is… but you’re way too fit to be taking the bins out… and you deserve to be happy,” Rory pointed out, repeating her first comment to try and lighten the mood on what felt like a souring conversation.
Lucy smiled, her eyes on hers for a moment. “I’ll let him know,” she said, knowing full well she’d say nothing to confirm it as that would mean saying it out loud and then having to do something about it. “You’re also too fit to take out your own bins.”
Rory laughed and rolled her eyes at that. “Benny isn’t going to do it so it’s me for now.”
Lucy shook her head. “We’re both being cheated.”
“Maybe we should just move in together and employ a cleaner,” Rory laughed, setting Benny down when he started to wriggle.
Lucy laughed. “That sounds like a winning combo. And I can share Benny. We all win.”
“Exactly. He gives the best snuggles,” Rory smiles and bit into her lip, wondering how suggestive to be. “Well. The offer is always open.”
Lucy’s brows wiggled and she nodded. “Even during a pandemic?”
“Just makes it more illicit right?” Rory winked and smiled. “I’m not going anywhere so it’s not like we’re spreading.”
Lucy was a little taken aback by that, knowing she shouldn’t but she felt a rush of relief at the thought. Eyeing her over, she nodded. “I’ll take you up on that.”
“I look forward to it,” she murmured and, eyeing her over and gave her a wink. “Sooner the better.”
Lucy glanced up toward the flat only to pause. “Now?”
Rory raised an eyebrow and nodded. “I can make you breakfast?”
Lucy glanced up at the flat and she nodded. “He’s not gonna wake up for a while,” she said. “What’s on offer though?” She teased.
Rory paused in thought and shrugged her shoulders. “I’ve definitely got eggs… we’ll have to see what I can rustle up.”
Lucy nodded. Glancing back at the flat she doubled back to close the door before crossing the street, unsure of why her pulse was spurred to life. She barely got there when Benny was throwing his little frame up against the gate to say hello. “Well, hi,” she smiled as she leaned over to pet him, trying to keep him back as she opened the gate. “I’m going to steal you,” she stage whispered, leaning down.
“Oh you can take him,” she laughed and opened the gate, holding Benny back with her foot. Eyeing Lucy over she smiled and wandered inside her flat. “Any allergies or preferences?”
Lucy picked Benny up when the gate was closed, laughing as he licked her face and it was the first time in a while she’d felt that tense bubble around her break. “Nothing,” she said as she followed her inside curiously. “I’ll eat everything. Can I help?”
“I’m good…” Rory pulled out a chair for her to sit down. “Tea or coffee?’ she asked as she glanced in the fridge to see what was on offer.
“Tea,” Lucy smiled, watching her move to the fridge and she sat down. “I can’t remember the last time I ate breakfast,” she admitted, still snuggling Benny.
“What? Why?” Rory asked as she filled up the kettle and then took out some chorizo and eggs from the fridge. “Don’t you like breakfast?”
Lucy shrugged. “I make it for Payton? But I don’t really eat it,” she said. “I can’t really be bothered half the time.”
“But if you’re already making it why wouldn’t you have it?” she asked and handed her a cup of tea once it was brewed.
Lucy shrugged. “I don’t know. It kind of loses its appeal when you make it sometimes?” She said, taking the tea and she eyed her over, appreciating her for a moment. “Thanks.”
“Yeah that’s true,” she smiled and chopped up the chorizo with a red pepper in the pan. “I’m the same. I mostly just eat avocado on toast.”
Lucy nodded. “See? You get it. The novelty goes away,” she said, pressing her face to Benny’s fur as she watched her and he sighed. “He’s perfect.”
“He is until he rolls in fox poo…” Rory smiled, making dagger eyes at him for a moment only to add eggs to the pan, stirring it all around. “So what art do you do for fun?”
Lucy ruffled his fur. “So he gets a lot of baths then? He’s so soft,” she laughed. “We all have our vices, right?” She joked only to shrug. “Mostly abstract paintings I guess.”
“Not portraits? I can’t commission you?” Rory kaçak casino asked with a chuckle.
Lucy smiled at that. “I’ve done portraits,” she said. “Self? Or Benny?”
“Self.” Rory smiled and pushed the food around the plan. “I always liked the idea of immortalising what I looked like as a young perosn.”
Lucy tilted her head at that and she nodded. “Okay,” she nodded. “When?”
“Whenever you’re free?” Rory smiled and put the egg scramble onto two plates and came to sit down beside her. “Only if you want to?”
Lucy shrugged. “I’d like to,” she said, settling Benny down as he stuck his nose in the air to smell the food. Tucking into the breakfast she groaned. “This is so good. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Rory smiled and dug in herself. “I am pretty much just learning to cook during lockdown.”
Lucy glanced over at her. “Really?” She smiled. “Might be a natural.”
“I don’t know about that… but I can definitely make eggs,” Rory smiled and covered her eggs in cholula. “Picked up any hobbies in lockdown?”
Lucy shook her head. “Mainly just been focusing more on painting. Started gardening a little,” she said, her eyes on hers. “What else have you practiced making?”
“I’ve made cakes… tried a wellington and that went horribly,” Rory laughed and rolled her eyes. “Started a tiktok account too. I’ve been very bored,” she laughed, sipping her own tea.
Lucy laughed at that. “What’s your TikTok handle?” She asked, finishing up her plate and sipping her tea. “Now we’re onto the interesting stuff.”
“Oh I’m not sure I should share that… it’s full of thirst traps,” Rory murmured and cleared their plates, dumping them in the sink and sinking down next to her, crossing one leg over the other.
“You absolutely should share it. I’m all about girls feeling themselves,” Lucy said honestly with a smile. “So what kind of tiktoks do you do?”
“You want to watch girls feeling themselves?” Rory asked with mock wide eyes.
Lucy paused only to start laughing. “Maybe?” She teased with a smile. “I just like to see the confidence.”
Rory smiled and nodded. “Well I sometimes have a lot of that,” she admitted, tying her peach hair up into a ponytail. “I mean you should get in there. Viral in seconds.”
Lucy laughed. “Mmm, doubtful,” she said. “I don’t have that thirst trap
Confidence,” she said, eyeing her over. “Or a body like yours.”
Rory rose an eyebrow at that and shook her head. “You’re insane. You have an amazing body…”
[18:38, 04/07/2020] Kezia: Lucy laughed. “I have the body of a twelve year old boy.”
Rory shook her head and rolled her eyes. “I won’t hear it. You dress amazingly. And have a beautiful face. Can you throw it back? Probably not. But still!”
Lucy grinned. “Hey, there might be more ass hiding under this skirt than it looks,” she pointed out.
“Well exactly. Proving my point,” Rory laughed as she topped up their tea. “Have you always lived in London?”
Lucy shook her head. “I was born in New York, but we moved here when I was five. I’ve been here ever since.” She paused. “How about you?”
“I’m from here,” she nodded and smiled to herself. “Never lived outside of London.”
Lucy smiled. “Do you wish you lived somewhere else in lockdown? I feel that itch sometimes.”
“Yes… my Nan lives in Cornwall and I wish I was there,” Rory nodded. “So much space.”
Lucy sighed as she took another sip of her tea, enjoying actually being around someone who wanted to talk to her for a change rather than ignoring her existence. “Not tempted to escape?”
“My Nan is shielding so I can’t unfortunately,’ Rory said with a soft sigh. “But I’ll see her soon.”
Lucy nodded. “But you’re not tempted to just rent a place?”
“Definitely tempted but I’m on furlough so I definitely can’t afford two places,” she murmured and shrugged her shoulders. “It would be great though.”
Lucy shrugged. “I think I’d do it if I could, too.”
“Would Payton want to go?” Rory asked, smiling at her over the rim of her cup.
Lucy crinkled her nose, her head shaking. “No way,” she said before taking a sip. “He hates the country.”
“How can anyone hate the country?” Rory asked and shook her head.
Lucy shrugged. “He likes the city. The pace,” she said. “It’s always been him. He’d go crazy.”
Rory tutted and shook her head. “Sorry. I feel like I’m just bashing on your man which isn’t cool.
Lucy paused, biting into her lip. “It’s fine. I just don’t know if I’m unfair.”
“What makes you feel you might be unfair?’ Rory asked, tilting her head to one side.
Lucy shook her head. “He hasn’t always been bad. Maybe it’s just the test of lockdown.”
Rory nodded and reached out, resting her hand over Lucy’s gently. “it’s tough on everyone.”
Lucy glanced down at their hands at the warmth of her touch and he shook his head. “I just feel like I don’t even like him sometimes.”
“Maybe you don’t?” Rory pointed out. “…when was the last time he really made you laugh?”
Lucy’s eyes batted before her head shook, a little bewildered. “I don’t remember.”
“I – that’s a little worrying don’t you think?” Rory asked, giving her hand a gentle squeeze only to take it back.
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