Over at Harmony House, a brand new resident arrived to fill the spot vacated by Clara when she suddenly married. The newcomer was dropped off at the curb in the middle of the night and told, “Go on in; they’re expecting you.”
No one was awake when she came in, but Martialis jumped up, got dressed, and rushed downstairs to greet her. “Hello,” he said with his bright smile, “I’m sorry no one was awake to welcome you.”
“I’m sorry about the time,” the new girl said so quietly, he almost didn’t hear her.
“It’s all right to speak up a bit,” he assured her as he sat down at the table. “I’m glad you found something to eat. I bet you’re starving–I know you’re starving. Forgive me, I’m such an idiot!”
“But don’t you worry,” Martialis continued, “we are going to take excellent care of you here. Our House Mother, Zaida, is the best cook, plus I’ll get you hooked up with some protein shakes and get you fit and healthy and strong.” He followed with a strange, enthusiastic growl sound. Then he laughed and added, “When you’re ready, after the doctor says it’s safe.”
The girl nodded and finally introduced herself, “My name is Varvara, but my friends call me V.”
“I’m Martialis, Head of Security. If you have any problems–even outside of Harmony House–you just tell me and I’ll take care of it. You will be totally safe here, and I’m sure you’ll come to think of us as your new family, in time.”
“I’ll give you a quick tour before you get to bed,” Martialis offered. He led her along the corridor at the back of the house and pointed out the main floor bathroom and television room. “And this is where we post all the important rules and notices, schedules, and all that stuff. Plus some empty boards for hanging up postcards or whatever. Those two boards are for residents to hang stuff.”
Just then, another resident came down the stairs.
“This is Thandi,” Martialis introduced them. “Thandi, meet Varvara–or V, whichever you prefer.” To Varvara, he said, “Thandi got a job in the intelligence agency, so she has to be up pretty early to get ready for work!”
He continued the tour and showed her the Games Room. “Everyone loves video games and we do have a few computers here, but this is where we can play chess and cards. Do you like cards? Knights and Knaves is a big deal to some people in this town, like Shinzo Yamada!” Martialis chuckled and Varvara stared blankly.
“I am talking entirely too much, aren’t I?” he asked. “Thankfully, I know when to shut up and let a lady get her beauty rest. Your bedroom is right at the top of the stairs, if you’ll just follow me…”
“You do have the room all to yourself for now. We try to take people into the home in pairs so everyone gets an instant buddy, but you’ll do fine. Pick whichever bed you want. There’s the wardrobe where you hang your clothes. Use the computer however you like, except no online shopping and no hacking.”
Finally he stopped talking and actually left Varvara alone in her new room. She was far too sleepy to think about everything she’d just experienced, and didn’t even have the energy to form an opinion about Martialis–the only other person she knew in the District so far. She was more eager to become acquainted with her new pillow than to think of all the strange things happening in her life.
As she climbed into bed and felt how soft it was, and how smooth the sheets were, she had a strange feeling of fear. She snuggled against the wall for reassurance, but it didn’t take her long to fall asleep.
She slept for a few hours before sounds of activity throughout the house woke her. She got dressed and went downstairs to eat, and that’s when she met Ariadne Stavros. “I love your outfit!” Ariadne complimented her.
“What, this?” Varvara was skeptical if Ariadne was being serious or mean. She chatted with Ariadne for a moment and the purple haired girl seemed very nice. Behind them stood another resident, Dustin Hughes, who was positively in love with Ariadne. Watching her be so kind to the new girl made him love her more… from afar, of course.
As soon as Varvara went into the kitchen, Dustin approached Ariadne to start chatting with her. “I wonder if they’re talking about me?” Varvara wondered as she tried to hear. She gave up trying to listen and silently convinced herself that they were talking about her and that they must be saying she’s a freak or a loser.
She ate her brunch quickly and went to check out the Study as the House Mother, Zaida, told her, “I’ll be taking you to your doctor’s appointment in an hour, so don’t get too involved in anything.”
As promised, they went out together in an hour. Varvara was examined quite thoroughly by the doctor, but the worst part for her was the blood tests.
Zaida took her to enjoy a community cook-out afterward. “You did great, V,” Zaida complimented her.
Varvara needed a bathroom break, but quickly joined her companion and some other neighborhood ladies at the rest stop. She sat down and grabbed one of the delicious, juicy hamburgers.
“You should eat another one,” said the woman with bright pink hair.
“What was that?” Varvara asked.
The pink haired woman got up and went around to the other side of her table, ignoring the question.
“Hi there,” she boldly approached the pink haired woman. “What was it you wanted to say to me?”
“Eat a hamburger, girl.”
“I did eat one–it was so good,” Varvara said with a polite voice. “I would have another one except I just came back from seeing the doctor and he said I could die if I eat too much too quickly. It’s called Refeeding Syndrome; you should look it up.”
“Well, you certainly taught me not to be such a bitch!” the other woman chuckled. “I heard about the camps, but I had no clue…”
“My name is Varvara, but you can call me V.”
“I’m Persephone Marchand, but don’t you dare call me P!”
They both laughed and Persephone said, “I live in the Raven Rock neighborhood. I’d love it if you stop by sometime; maybe we can insult each other for a while, or get into trouble another way.”
Varvara accepted the invitation and promised to see her new friend again. When she got back to Harmony House, she finally had time to sit down and start writing something. She was thinking of writing a book one day, but decided to start off with a blog.