“It’ll do.” Lena stated after another cursory glance around the apartment.
It was bright and vibrant with huge windows to one side allowing an incredible amount of light in to illuminate the welcoming and comfy looking furniture. There was a light grey sofa with a fluffy blanket thrown over the back, and cushions that were mismatched but looked genuinely ‘cushiony’, rather than stiff and decorative. Assorted knick-knacks and random items dotted the entire place, but all identifiers about who had occupied the place beforehand had been removed.
It was like a strange jigsaw puzzle with large and fundamental pieces missing.
Everything was inviting and well loved.
Except for the kitchen. The various appliances looked completely untouched yet brand new despite Lena knowing the models were at least a few years old.
The puzzle became clearer whilst at the same time more mystifying.
“Perfect.” The realtor cheered, pulling a contract out of her large bag. “The person renting it out is insisting on a monthly lease, meaning they can ask you to leave at the end of the month… but there is the potential for it to be extended to a longer lease agreement if they so wish… so hopefully-”
“That won’t be necessary, I won’t be staying too long. Just until the renovations of my house are finished. A monthly lease best suits my needs.” Lena cut in neutrally, as she dismissed the realtor’s plans.
The realtor flushed and quickly recomposed herself as she highlighted the places for Lena to scribble her signature.
Lena moved in the next day with a small suitcase of newly bought clothes to replace those she had lost in recent events.
Lena could’ve stayed in a hotel, but she had a deep abiding hatred of hotels. She hated the clinical set pieces that made up the suites she stayed in. The bed that would never look slept in as the sheets were replaced and unruffled every day. The wardrobe that would look simply wrong whenever clothes were actually hung up in it.
Lena hated feeling like a guest. Like she didn’t actually belong there.
It reminded her far too much of the Luthor Mansion.
So here Lena was, renting a fully furnished apartment whilst her house was ‘renovated’ (rebuilt would be a more accurate term but Lena refused to acknowledge that).
It probably took a maximum of fifteen minutes for Lena to unpack her meagre amount of belongings. Her sharp work dresses were quickly hung up in the cavernous closet that obviously used to be overflowing with clothing; the shelf above the clothing rack was stuffed to the brim with random board games and classic books. Lena eyed the towering pile above her and questioned the safety of such a placement.
The only thing that truly made the place Lena’s, the only thing she added that was truly hers was an album that she placed on the bedside table on the side of the bed she normally slept on.
The kitchen was quickly filled with food; Lena loved cooking. (That was another thing Lena had hated about staying at hotels: the limits on cooking.)
Lena didn’t eat out very often (or at all since recent developments), in fact, other than work Lena was a recluse in nearly every way, she never went out, even her grocery shopping was delivered straight to her door. However, Lena loved cooking as it allowed her to try new things without ever leaving the sanctity of her own home.
Lena liked the apartment she had settled in. Admittedly, it wasn’t to her normal taste. It was too colourful, too sunny, but it was homily, and after what she had gone through… that factor meant everything.
In fact it meant so much that Lena was willing to overlook the apartment’s noticeable… quirks.
The radio or television occasionally starting up at random and playing incessant pop songs like NSYNC and Britney Spears. (Lena couldn’t help appreciating that the electronic glitch seemed to at least have a consistent preference for 90s music.)
Board games that Lena clearly remembered as being stacked at the very top of the closet, appearing in the centre of the coffee table when she got back from work.
The oven flickering off and the drawer that was rammed tightly shut due to the large number of takeout menus it contained having forced itself open taunting Lena to reach out and take the Chinese menu on the top of the pile.
If Lena didn’t know any better she would say she was being haunted.
By an actual ghost.
But Lena knew better. She had one of the highest IQ’s in the country. So Lena knew better.
Aliens she could accept as being real. The concept that some people in the world truly believed that humanity was the only intelligent species in the universe made Lena scoff and roll her eyes.
Therefore, Lena was obviously open-minded but that doesn't mean she was naïve enough to believe in the supernatural.
Lena worked extraordinary hours. She was up and out of bed by six every morning; a quick coffee and a bowl of porridge with fruit as she watched the news saw her out of the door before seven. Lena then didn’t return until close to ten (sometimes eleven), she would then spend her limited free time cooking herself up an interesting meal and watching low-funded sci-fi or disaster movies as she made her way through a bottle of wine.
Exhaustion was her constant companion, with intermittent visitations from her on-again, off-again lover: high-level stress. Lena knew that these factors could lead to memory lapses, hallucinations, and loss of rational thinking.
Therefore, Lena presumed she had gotten the board game down without thinking. She and Lex used to play board games all the time… Lena must have gotten the game out whilst thinking about Lex, something she still did too often for her own liking.
As for the electronic anomalies (the oven, tv and radio), Lena spent an entire Saturday taking them apart and rebuilding them until they were running better than ever. The screen of the television depicted a clearer picture, the radio gave out a far improved sound and the oven now provided a more accurate temperature than many scientific ovens used in the LuthorCorp labs.
Lena crawled into her comfy bed later that night absolutely satisfied that she had now fully dealt with the quirks of her apartment. Lena’s eyes closed slowly as she burrowed into the pillows, and enjoyed the flowery, sweet scent that clung to the sheets.
“What are you doing in my apartment?”
Lena shot up so fast she momentarily jumped into the air and hung there like a cartoon character as her head snapped back and forth to find the source of the voice.
Nothing. No one was there.
Lena’s heartrate had skyrocketed, her breathing was coming out in harsh pant-like gasps. Lena gripped the duvet tightly with claw-like hands. She remained on high alert for at least another ten minutes, staring into the darkness of the bedroom looking for so much as a flicker or signal that someone else was occupying the space with her.
Lena’s mind slowly kicked in and rationalised that the auditory hallucination side of her exhaustion was coming into play. Her subconscious must be playing into her fears of never belonging, the confused question of asking about her presence in the apartment was reminding her that this wasn’t her home. That she didn’t have one.
Lena carefully fell back into the cocoon of bedding that she had created previously and tried to quieten the thoughts running rampant through her mind. It was as Lena was on the verge of sleep for the second time that she thought back over the voice she had heard. The strong, frazzled tone that had been intimidating in the stillness of the night; Lena now remembered as having a soft and honey-like quality.
Lena admired how her mind had created such an attractive voice to scare her with before falling into a light slumber.
Lena’s subconscious continued to wreak havoc on her.
Instead of the radio or television playing annoyingly chirpy music from the 90s, Lena would hear a dulcet voice singing the lyrics from a different room in the apartment. She would quickly run to catch the source of the noise, abandoning her pots and pans to boil and burn. However, as soon as she entered the bedroom, the singer’s voice would cut out leaving Lena in silence. After the first few times, Lena stopped running to inspect where the singing was coming from. Lena would claim that she no longer felt it was necessary. She was a scientist and she had rationalised that the music was coming from her mind. If she went to follow it, it would stop. She knew everything she needed to know.
It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she actually enjoyed the singing hallucination. That would be weird and slightly crazy.
And Lena was not crazy.
She wouldn’t allow herself to be. She refused to be like her brother.
(Also, if she pretended it wasn’t happening… there was good chance it would go away on its own, right? That’s how the world works, right?)
Lena had been living in the quirky apartment for nearly two weeks when she realised she may need to rethink her previously limited belief in ghosts…. When her auditory hallucination went full on visual.
Lena had gotten home late again, and rustled herself up a simple (yet brilliant, Lena would insist) spaghetti bolognaise before setting up camp on the couch to watch the most recent ‘Sharknado’ movie. Lena guffawed at the bad movie causing a splash of bolognaise sauce to land on the grey sofa.
“Shit.” Lena squeaked, depositing the plate on the coffee table before running to grab a spray and cloth to get rid of the rapidly forming stain. As she rushed back into the living room, Lena saw her.
Her being a woman, with radiant blonde hair half-up, with a pair of large, thick-lensed glasses, dressed in a baby blue dress. Lena, though, saw very little of the intruder’s appearance other than the dazzling blue eyes that were blazing with annoyance and irritation the second they narrowed in on Lena who dropped the cleaning supplies she was carrying without thought.
“What the heck are you doing in my apartment?” The voice that had been haunting (Lena would argue that haunting was a bit too on the nose description) her demanded, an adorable crease appearing between the blonde woman’s eyebrows. Lena’s eyes drifted to the crease, unable to fully believe her mind would conjure up such a detailed illusion.
“Not only do you have the nerve to break into my apartment, but you also stain my couch.” The illusion or ghost (Lena was still trying to work out which was more likely) admonished.
Lena shook her head, choosing to blindly stick with her exhaustion inducing hallucination theory regardless of the fact that she was working on the most amount of sleep that she had had in weeks, possibly months or years. “You’re not real. You’re not real.” Lena repeated this mantra steadily, as she bent down and collected the various cleaning items before moving past the blonde to get to the sofa and begin cleaning.
A gasp of outrage escaped from the blonde, “I AM REAL! And you are in MY apartment.” Lena ignored the angry yelling, refusing to turn and acknowledge the existence of her imaginary (and very attractive) ‘friend’. “Don’t ignore me!” The blonde waved her hand in front of Lena’s face who held back her reaction with a stoic and concentrated expression. Another angry huff escaped the not-existent entity and a foot was stamped in frustration; Lena had to bite back a smirk of amusement at the childish action. “Fine, that’s it. I’m going to call the police!”
Lena continued her valiant attempt to wipe and clear up the stain she had created as the blonde stormed loudly away and into the bedroom behind her.
Silence fell on the apartment.
Lena gave up trying to eliminating the stain, got to her feet and followed where the childish imagination had stomped away to.
The bedroom was empty, containing absolutely no sign of the blonde at all.
“Okay, I admit this may be more than just my imagination…. And now, I’m talking to myself. Wonderful. Mother will be pleased.”