Logs:A Very Happy(?) Unbirthday

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A Very Happy(?) Unbirthday
Dramatis Personae

Catriona, Sarah




<VA> Catriona's Parents / <NYC> Sarah's Apartment

It's not too cold out, so Catriona takes her cell phone out to the porch to call Sarah. Better not to have her parents listening in, like they do on everything else she's been doing lately, up to and including her classes. She wishes she'd stayed in New York City. Everything might be closed down and she might catch coronavirus and die, but at least no one would be literally going through her laundry, judging her outfits.

Catriona sighs. One semester away from home and she's already spoiled.

But it's Sarah's birthday, and even though the weather is gross and rainy, she has a covered porch and a comfortable porch swing, plus a big shapeless Columbia sweater and good warm boots. She sits down, snuggles herself into the cushions, and calls Sarah.

Inside Sarah's apartment, things have changed a bit since lockdown started. Driven by anxiety spawned by monetary issues, the smoker's coughs her sisters have, and Everything in general, the drawings that cover the walls of her bedroom have exploded to cover the apartment walls. Creeping out from her door to cover both sides of the hallway and flow into the living room are bright portraits of birds and flowers and red bees; friends and coworkers, other Loftians and regulars of TSP; landscapes of apartment rooms and empty streets, café tables and bakery shelves; all of this and more.

Sarah currently sits on the counter, dressed in Rainbow Brite pajamas, small enough to wedge under the cabinets and press against the wall. Next to her is a rice cooker, currently on and cooking what is hopefully something decent, while she draws. Of course. She has earbuds in to both listen to music and block out the sound of sirens from outside. As Cat's call comes in, the sudden switch from Florence + The Machine to her ringtone makes her jump, her pencil dashing across the page. Sarah stares down at her now marred drawing of the living room, the miniature drawings she was reproducing, and wonders if that is for the best.

"Hey," she says once she answers, obviously grateful to hear another person's voice. "How have you been?"

Catriona smiles when Sarah speaks. "Okay," she says. "I miss New York, though. More than I thought I would." Because in New York, she doesn't have to listen to her parents talk about COVID-19 conspiracy theories at dinner and feel her respect for them fall just that little bit more. She can walk dogs in New York and go out at night if she feels like it and never have to answer to anyone.

But she does love her parents and Middleburg. She has to keep reminding herself of that.

She shakes her head once, briskly, and adds, "But enough about me, happy birthday!"

"Huh?" is probably not the expected response. Birthday? Whose? Picking up her phone, Sarah feels a flash of embarrassment when she sees the date. "Oh! Uh, thank you," she answers, laughing awkwardly. "I didn't even... Time has kinda stopped moving, you know?" Glancing down at her drawing, she folds the page in half and puts the close to empty sketchbook aside.

She forgot her own birthday? Catriona can't help but giggle. "Yeah, it has," she says. "Every day's exactly like the ones before. Maybe different meals, different conversations, but you're inside and you're doing work and it's just..." She waves a hand in the air, unable to put it into words. Hopefully Sarah understands what she's doing.

Whatever, it doesn't matter. "Anyway. You should bake yourself something. A cake or a cupcake. Or my one friend always has brownies at her birthday." They all need something to celebrate.

Sarah glances at the rice maker, making away, while she emerges from her cubby hole. "...I have milk and oreos in with the rice I'm cooking," she admits. "Just to see what happens. Does that count?" As soon as she hops down from the countertop, a furry lanky mass nyooms into the room from the hallway, skidding to a stop at her feet and dramatically falling onto them. She lets out a little yelp as she stumbles, somehow managing to keep from falling and stepping on the cat both. "Binx! Stop that!" she says, remembering too late to cover the mic on her headphones. "Sorry. Binx says hi, I think."

Catriona makes a face-- that sounds gross- but she keeps her voice bright and upbeat. "Sure it counts! Anything you think is tasty that contains sugar counts. Though I'm not sure you could put candles in it."

Sarah yelps right in her ear and she pulls the phone away reflexively, then puts it back just in time to hear "Stop that!" and the apology. "Oh! Well, hi to Binx. I hope he's coping with the quarantine okay. The dogs around here don't even seem to notice."

"It depends on his mood. Sometimes he thinks he should be the center of attention, and sometimes he just sits in the hallway and stares at me. Like he's trying to say 'Why are you still here?'" Stepping around a cat that seems insistent on winding around her feet, Sarah huffs in relief when she makes it to the illustration covered wall. With a touch here and there, flowers fall to the floor, grabbing Binx's attention and giving him something to pounce. "So things are going okay at your parents place?"

"They're going.... okay." Catriona doesn't exactly want to dump on Sarah, not on her birthday, and anyway she has learned enough to know that a mutant shouldn't have to deal with a human's feelings on her parents' bigotry towards mutants. "I get to ride again. I missed horses a lot more than I thought I would. And my parents are being... my parents."

She shrugs, hoping it will carry over the line, and adds, "I sent you a present. I don't know if you got it yet, but I hope you like it either way."

Sarah hears enough in the pause before 'okay' but has no idea how to address it. Or knows if she has the energy to. It's easier to watch fake flowers burst into sparkles of light and reform under Binx's paws. "I don't know how you ride horses. I'm glad you enjoy it, but they are so giant and scary to me.--Oh!" Her surprise feels ridiculous, but it's there all the same. "Thank you! I haven't gotten anything yet, but I also haven't checked the mail today. I'll do that when I get off the phone and let you know."

"Oh, but they're so sweet!" Catriona says. "But then again I've been around them my whole life so they're just kind of big dumb babies to me. Except for the little jerks." Not that it matters to her- she loves them all, their soft noses and sweet faces and kind eyes. "If you want I can find you a nice one to meet at the Riverdale stables." She needs to go there herself when she gets back to school, whenever that is. She might as well bring Sarah along, if the other girl wants to go.

And of course Sarah hasn't checked her mail, not if she forgot it was her birthday. "Okay! It's nice, I think." The colored pencils and sketchpad she bought had the best reviews, anyway.

"I don't know. I think I've been watching too much trash TV to trust anything that might happen at Riverdale stables." Still, there's a smile in Sarah's voice as she says it. "Maybe if you can find me a nice horse that's also small." The ding of the rice cooker suddenly chimes across the kitchen, high and clear and startling Binx, who tears out down the hallway in a blur of black floof and claws. "I should go. My, um... something is done cooking. Thank you for the birthday phone call. And letting me know it's my birthday."

"You're asking for a unicorn, but I'll try," Catriona says, giggling. "It is your birthday after all."

Maybe she could stick a horn on the horse's forehead. She files that thought away for the future, for whenever she's back in New York.

She's disappointed they have to hang up, but she tries to keep it out of her voice. Sarah has a life, after all. "Okay. I hope your rice and cookies turns out well! And that the rest of your birthday is great!"

“It probably won’t turn out well, but it gives me something to do. I’ll call you later, okay?” After goodbyes and hanging up, Sarah takes out her earbuds and peers down toward the end of the hallway, at the closed bedroom door. “Hey, Angie, did you know it was my birthday?” she calls. The horrified silence and mad scramble after is enough to make her laugh.