Bright Moon. Ugh.
Catra hated Bright Moon. Scratch that, she loathed this city and its blurry bright lights and aura of hope that edged her further into sensory overload as she sat, practically brooding like some super villain, in the darkness of her car. She couldn’t help but hate its stuck up citizens from the entrepreneurial millennials bleeding their parents money to all the ditzy tourists commenting on their much needed sabbaticals and experiences with AirBnB. She despised them in their fancy business suits, carrying those giant phones that were practically tablets (it took everything in Catra not to cackle everytime they have to “take this call” on their big ass cell phone that was one slip away from shattering into a million pieces, like she even cares if they’re on some business call while she drives, it means she can drown out their grating voices), and the next person that complained about their fourteen dollar vegan soy latte was gonna get their neck snapped.
With her obvious disdain for Bright Moon’s population of idiots, how Catra ended being their glorified taxi driver was completely beyond her. It was just another example of how life was completely out of her hands.
It just all happened so fast. Too fast. There was the fight at MegaMart - if you could even call it a fight because Catra had been in fights, and that was certainly not one- and subsequently getting fired. Then there was her attempt at drinking her fury away at that bar and getting into an actual real fight with that stupid blonde chick who had the audacity to insinuate Catra was trying to get with her gross boyfriend, who happened to have the flattest ass Catra had ever seen (She was beginning to believe she only beat that chick up because she’d believed Catra would be into that ). Everything after getting thrown out of the bar was a blur in her memory; Catra couldn’t put the pieces of the following week together because she was either drunk or hungover, curled up in her fluffy white comforter wrapped around her burrito style, nursing whatever alcohol she could get her scrawny fingers on. But her conversation with Scorpia, specifically the one where Scorpia put her foot down, stuck out in her addled brain- even if the memory was faint and colored by the smell of tequila.
“Okay, look-” Scorpia’s voice was like Catra’s own nails on a chalkboard, and Catra clawed at her ears, rolling to the other side of her futon. “I love you kid,” That earned Scorpia a sarcastic groan. “But you can’t stay unemployed. I don’t think it’s good for you.”
Well that much was clear.
“Oh yeah? Who’s even gonna hire at me? Last time I checked, no one wants me. ” Catra hugged the bottle of tequila she’d been easing her migraine with closer.
This should of been the driving point that sent her roomate away. Catra had a bad record. Obviously. She’d just lost her last job on the notion that she was “temperamental, disobedient and violent.” What was she supposed to do? Throw her barren resume on the desk of her next boss with that as her first reference?
Scorpia scoffed and reached over Catra’s limp body for the bottle, only to send Catra squirming away and swatting at the large manicured hands that gave the other woman such an advantage, hiding her treasure under her side and digging herself further under her blanket. “Hey, why don’t you work for Uber?”
“Uber? That dumb expensive car service thing?” Now it was the other girl’s turn to scoff from under the blanket. “As if. I’d rather work off the docks in effing Salineas.”
“Don’t you hate water?”
“That’s the point .” God, her head hurt so bad.
“Baby Doll was telling me the other night that they make good money, and have flexible hours. His sister drives for them.” Suddenly the warmth of Catra’s comforter vanished, followed by the blinding light of the apartment, and Scorpia’s face was back in her fuzzy vision. Carta squeaked, shielding her eyes from the harsh light of the apartment. Then the older woman full on shoved her off the tequila and was now winning the fight in wrangling the bottle from Catra’s fingers.
“How are you so strong?” Catra hissed as the bottle was pulled away from her, her body listless now that the battle had been lost. So much for getting some sleep tonight. “You’re forgetting something important.”
Scorpia made a face, a cross between confusion and concern, as she inspected the low level of liquid in what an hour ago had been a full bottle.
“Huh? What’s that?”
“I don’t have a fucking car!” With what little agility she had left, Catra launched herself from the futon, straight at Scorpia to make one last swipe for the bottle.
“Language kiddo!” she dodged Catra’s sluggish attempt with ease. “Well, I can’t have you drinking any more of my good tequila, so if I get you a car, you’ll apply?”
“Ugh! For fuck’s sake- if I say yes, will you finally be quiet?” Falling back to the comforter, Catra clamped her hands over her ears, her nails digging into soft skin. Most of the time Scorpia knew better when her head was murdering her, and her back was aching so bad she could only lie in a fetal position. And now it was looking like she’d be stuck like this for the next couple of hours, since she no longer had any alcohol and would have to wait for numbness that accompanied sleep.
“Yay!” Scorpia yelled in triumph, earning another hiss from a pissed Catra. “Oh right, quiet. Sorry.”
Catra planned on staying on that futon for the rest of her life, but of course her roommate had to completely destroy that plan. Scorpia talked one of her performers into lending Catra a car (at least to use in the evening), and yanked the girl from her pity nest, handed her her phone and said “You said you would apply, if I got a car, and look! I got a car!”
“Son of a bitch.”
So yeah, that’s how Catra ended up working her first night as an freaking Uber Driver in Marshmallow's 2013 Toyota Camry, hunting upper Bright Moon - the Most Stuck Up City in the World - for equally stuck up passengers.
That was three weeks ago. Three weeks longer than Catra had expected to last in this stupid job. At least it hadn’t taken her long to figure the ropes, like how the Bright Mooners at night were slightly less annoying - emphasis on slightly- than those during the day. There was less chat about soy lattes well past nine pm. Focused on getting home and drained from a day of having their head up their rich asses, passengers were far less talkative and more likely to be using headphones. And that was ideal, but Catra’s favorites by far were the ones she just knew were having affairs; she’d watch in the mirror as they slyly slipped off wedding rings and fiddled with their skirts or ties, and revel in the anxious and appalled looks in their wide eyes when she asked if “they were going anywhere fun.” Since they’d already paid her, she’d roll down the window as they walked into whatever fancy hotel had become their destination and yell with too much enjoyment “USE PROTECTION!”
Totally worth the crappy ratings.
Tonight, Catra was in the western part of Bright Moon, watching the red numbers on her dashboard change from 10:59 pm to 11:00. Maybe I’ll get a cheater tonight. Might be why their so fucking late. Second thoughts, perhaps? That’d be fucking hysterical. West Bright Moon was composed of a bunch of stuffy looking office complexes, different from the shops and restaurants of downtown or the dazzling suburbia of the Eastern end, where she was usually lurking. But Baby Doll tipped Scorpia that there were lots of people needing transportation more West and Scorpia told her through a series of five voicemails, so Catra just let the car take her there tonight. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now she was parked by some business called Light Spinner Industries, the car on idle, because her supposed passenger was now officially twenty two minutes late.
“I hate Bright Moon,” grumbled Catra, for like the fourteenth time, her iron grip tightening on the steering wheel. She checked each window to see if they were coming once more before slumping defeatedly into her seat. “Stupid dumbass Bright Moon. What kind of fucking name for a city is Bright Moon anyway?”
She let out a few more expletives before hitting her head on the steering wheel and letting it lie there. Already she could a feel a migraine creeping its way into the cells of her brain. Of fucking course. That’s just what I need right now.
Five more minutes went by. That’s it! I’m out, this chick is on her freaking own! But right as Catra moved to turn the ignition, ready to call it quits and leave whatever stupid Bright Moon passenger needed a ride tonight in the dust, the back door flew open and Catra became victim to an impressive onslaught of apologies.
“I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to keep you waiting, it’s just- ugh! Everything went wrong, and I couldn’t get the copier working and then I think I broke it?” Out of the corner of her eye, Catra watched a young woman slump into the back seat, her blonde hair flying out its ponytail. “And I knew you were out here, but it’s also a really expensive copier. I’m sorry I kept you waiting-”
“Dude it’s fine.” Catra waved her off. She wasn’t really in the mood to make conversation. Why does this Bright Moon chick sound so familiar? Her voice is pretty damn cute though. Out of curiosity, Catra looked into the rear view mirror to catch a glimpse of this frazzled girl. She looked to be about Catra’s age, but the girl was too busy waving her arms trying to get her stuff settled Catra couldn’t get a good look at her face. Despite her hate for the entrepuening type, this girl looked pretty damn good in that pant suit she was wearing. And that voice. Kinda irresistable.
Catra wasn’t supposed to flirt with her passengers, but this just seemed like too much fun. Besides, she was bored out her fucking mind at this point, so what was the harm in getting under this blonde’s skin?
Dual colored eyes caught sharp blue ones in the reflection, and that’s when Catra’s heart came to an abrupt stop.
“Thanks anyway, for waiting. I’m-”
Catra had been just shy of twelve years old when she finally understood the brutal lesson life had been trying to beat into her, that people were always going to walk out of her life without so much as a pitiful goodbye. Seldom would they look back, and never going to come back. If that was even an option.
This was the truth Catra wore like a grotesque scar for last fourteen years. And now, now the person guilty of delivering the final blow, the final point in that bitter and excruciating lesson, was sitting in the back of her fucking car.
“Adora?!” Catra whirled around to face the other girl. Screaming her name in her face had definitely thrown off her polite rhythm, and the blonde jumped at the hostility, her face morphing from surprise to suspicion to realization in the matter of a millisecond.
Oh, it was Adora alright. Didn’t matter that Catra hadn’t seen her since they were eleven years old, and it looked like the last thirteen years had definitely been good to her, but for God’s sake, she was still wearing her hair in that silly pony tail. Of course Adora would be the one out of the two of them to gain height and maybe even a little muscle.
Of course Adora was the one that got to be drop dead gorgeous.
Holy shit, is she wearing makeup? In the raw bright lights of the night, Catra could make out Adora wearing faint pink lipstick and eyeliner, and fucking blush, of all things. Wow, adoption had changed her. Time had changed her. This was the same girl who’d beat the shit out of other foster kids for stealing Catra’s food at the dinner table, challenge the older boys to arm wrestle matches and then win, and couldn’t name a Disney princess to save her life, now sitting her backseat wearing mascara and a gray pantsuit.
“Wait a second- Catra?” Adora breathed out, her eyes once again narrowing. “You're- you’re my Uber driver?”
All Catra could do was roll her eyes. “Surprised? That makes two of us. Miss me, Adora?”
“Oh my God, Catra, it’s you! It’s actually you! You’re here! You’re okay- I thought, I thought I’d never see you again!” Adora practically shouted, her blue eyes gleaming with tears, the happiness in her voice obvious. The whole act was like a slap in the face.
Adora’s hand was Catra’s shoulder for half a second before she was violently shrugging it off. We’re having none of that. Choking down a mass of repressed agony to the pit of her stomach, Catra spit “Well whose fault is that?”
“Catra-” Adora’s voice fell. Catra chose to ignore the hurt look on her face, wiping the escaped tears off her cheeks, and put the car in gear.
“Is the address right?” Catra muttered into the strained silence.
“I said- ” Catra let her canines dig into her lip as she pulled the car away from the curb, “is the address you gave me right? 321 Spring Lane-”
“Yes it’s right-” Adora stuttered and then stopped, her mouth falling to a line, a clear indication Catra had succeeded in getting under her skin.
Jackpot. Now there’s the Adora I remember. Now maybe this new, shinier Adora will actually stay quiet and not annoy me- that would be a nice change.
After all, those were Catra’s only two options right? Force herself to talk to Adora during this drive while fighting some hellish flashback on their time in that stupid orphanage or sit in silence, avoid Adora’s voice during this drive, and then afterwards fight some hellish flashback of their time in the system… and every thing that followed.
Option two was preferable. But it was also not happening, apparently.
They maybe made it five minutes before Adora opened her dumb mouth. “So…” Oh my fucking God, are you serious Adora? “How’s life?”
Well that was definitely a different approach from before, but not one Catra couldn’t dodge.
“I’m driving for Uber, so… you take a guess.” Also, how bout don’t take a guess.
Oh was right.
“Is it fun?” asked Adora, and if Catra wasn’t going forty miles an hour with some truck riding her ass, she would have slammed on the damn breaks. Oh, come on!
“About as fun as eating glass,” she grumbled.
“Hmm.” In the rearview mirror, Catra saw Adora frown and turn to gaze out the window. Fucking finally.
There was a part of Catra that was curious, curious to know how Adora ended up wearing blush and navy blue heels, curious to know what the hell her life was like that she was breaking expensive printers, curious to know what had happened after twelve year old Adora had walked out that door and didn’t once look back. She despised that part of her because why? There was no real point in knowing! Adora had still walked out that door, had still left her to Mrs. Weaver’s wrath without so much as one phone call to see if Catra was alright. Adora was still going to get out of the car when Catra pulled up to her destination, and they’d be done with each other. This time forever.
So I might never get another chance, Catra thought, letting out a long sigh . Fuck it. So what if curiosity killed the damn cat?
“So you broke a printer?” asked Catra. They were stalled at red light.
Adora stirred from the window, yawning. Something stirred in Catra’s chest at the sight. Like the arousal of a memory. “Printer? Oh no it was a copier, actually.”
“There’s a difference?”
“Yeah kind of.” Adora snorted. Catra swallowed. “You know one, prints things, the other makes copies-”
“Okay, okay I get it.” Catra waved her off, trying- and failing- not to smile. “You know, for all your impressive knowledge of copiers, sounds like you still broke it.”
The blonde threw her head back with a groan. “It’s not my fault that stupid thing has a mind of its own! One second it says it's low on toner, but when I come back with toner now it’s saying its jammed! Jammed in three different places! I didn’t even know it could be jammed in more than one place! It was asking to be kicked, Catra, asking! Ugh, my boss is gonna kill me!”
“You kicked the shit out of the copier? And nobody like, I dunno, came to put a stop to your rage?” Catra had to admit, the image of adult Adora fucking rage quitting and throwing herself at copier, pantsuit and all, was pretty god damn funny.
“It was just me tonight. All alone. They make me close, ugh. But at least I got to kick that damn copier as many times as I wanted.” explained Adora with a small smile.
Catra lifted an eyebrow, turning a corner. “What’s this place your working at again?” She’d already forgotten where she’d even picked Adora up.
“Uh, it’s called Light Spinner Industries. They’re a division of Mysticor Incorporated.” Adora told her. Mm kay. Don’t know what that is either.
“Gotta be honest, Adora, never thought you end up working in some cubicle.” Catra sent her look, and Adora rolled those ocean blue eyes of hers.
“I’m temping , okay?”
“Cause that makes a world of difference.”
Another eye roll. “Trust me, this is last place I see myself staying. It’s just until I get… something off the ground.”
Cryptic, one part of her thought. Whatever, said the other part.
“But…” sighed Adora, “between temping and student loans and working at the bakery, it looks like it’s never gonna get off the ground.”
This time Catra did slam on the brakes, earning a satisfying “son of a bitch, Catra!” from her passenger. “You’re working in a fucking bakery?” Catra practically cackled. She just couldn’t help herself. First she’s in some cubicle, now she’s making wedding cakes and scones? Oh that’s fucking rich!
“And what’s wrong with that?” sputtered Adora. “It’s belongs to my friend, okay Catra? She needed help cause it’s what she’s wanted to do her whole life, and she’s done so much for me- ugh why am I even telling you this? You’re just gonna make fun of me.”
"Yeah probably,” Catra shrugged.
By now, they were through downtown and had made it East, which meant that this painful conversation was, thankfully, almost at its end. Catra only had one question left; she wasn’t even going to bother with the loaded gun the other girl handed her with working at some bakery. She pulled into one the posh neighborhoods, Whispering Woods, the fancy ass sign read, and whispered “How’s Marie?”
“Marie?” Adora’s face contorted. “Who’s Marie?”
Fuck me! “You know,” she waved one of her gloved hands around, the sound of heart drumming in her ears, “Marie… I forget what her name was it okay? I just remember it started with a M… you know, the chick who adopted you?” And took you away from me.
Adora’s eyes went wide before falling to her lap. “Mara.”
“Right. Mara. How’s Mara?”
“She…” Catra heard Adora take a deep breath, her eyes back on the road. “Actually Mara died when I was sixteen.”
“Holy shit, Adora.” Catra blurted out without thinking, feeling like she’d been kicked in the ribs. How was she supposed to bounce back from that? She knew that most functional people would go for something comforting but Catra had one move and one move only and that move was fucking sarcasm. Even she knew that was a bad, bad idea.
“Yeah, she was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer when I was like fifteen. That’s how I ended up in Bright Moon. We came here for treatment, but they said it was too late. She died a year later.” Adora’s voice was quiet, like she was far away, mentally somewhere else. Catra couldn’t blame her.
“Oh. Did you go back? You know, in the system?” They were reaching Spring Lane. They were reaching the end.
“Actually, one of Mara’s friends took me in. This wacky old lady, Razz. You would have really liked her. She was my guardian until I turned 18, but then she passed away when I was a sophomore in college. And that was, needless to say, my worst year in college.”
Catra blinked. “Wow.”
Memories of jealousy and anger returned to her in that moment, mixed with almost uncomfortable sympathy. When they were in the system together, none of the other kids knew death, not like Catra did. Maybe that’s why she pushed them away. Most of those kids had just been flat out abandoned and had never known anything but foster care. Only two or three kids had memories of their birth parents when they lived with Mrs. Weaver. Catra always found that unnerving, because that pattern didn’t follow when she was tossed from family to family later on, but once she was on her own, she never gave it one more thought. But Adora was different. Adora was a baby when she had brought to foster care. A miracle, Mrs. Weaver called her, her miracle, favoring Adora -for some wicked reason- over the others every chance she got. To this day, Catra believed that twisted bitch of a guardian would have kicked the rest of them all to the curb had she’d been given the chance to adopt Adora.
It could have easily played out that way. After all, Adora came from nowhere and she came from nothing, nobody. No birth certificate, no evidence of a living mother or father, no fight for custody from other family members. Adora’s was Weaver’s for the taking.
The blonde lady came out of nowhere. Mara. Catra’s memories of her were faint and blurry, but she did remember coming home from school one day, laughing because she had “tricked” Adora into giving her a piggyback ride home from school all by feigning exhaustion, and there she and Mrs. Weaver stood, screaming at each other in that hellish kitchen. Mara had a lawyer. Mara was going to take Weaver to court. Mara’s was Adora’s godmother. Mara was going to take Adora away.
And she did.
Catra hated Adora because Adora had everything when Catra had nothing. She had Mrs. Weaver’s love and affection; she had freedom from the pain Mrs. Weaver inflicted. Adora had a family, someone that wanted her, someone to fight for her. Adora had a future and it was bright and beautiful and full of happiness.
Up until this night, Catra believed all of that to be true, and over the years she let her hate for Adora slowly poison the way she’d loved her, until there was nothing left but ugly, destructive anger. Yeah sure, most of Catra’s assumptions held up. Adora was living in Bright Moon, one of the wealthiest cities on the country. She went to college in Bright Moon. She had a job where she got to beat the shit out of office equipment. She had friends who had done “so much” for her. But now Adora had seen death, multiple times, and just when she believed she’d gotten her happy ending. It had changed her, and Catra couldn’t help but feel for that.
“You have arrived.” the soft automated voice of her phone’s GPS broke Catra’s train of thought.
“Uh, we’re here.” Catra squeaked. There was still a lot she was processing; she was surprised she didn’t straight drive up onto the sidewalk. At least she remembered to put the parking brake on. Marshmallow would have her head if anything happened to the car. Hoooooooly shit.
“Hmm? Oh yeah, home. Home.” Adora let out another sigh, and began to gather her things.
“Pretty nice place you got here.” mumbled Catra, leaning to see out her window. Adora’s home, a tall standing apartment fit snugly between identical buildings, set apart by pink curtains fluttering in the windows, a porch light illuminating the crimson brick and cement staircase leading to a cerulean blue door, was needless to say, a lot nicer than the hellhole Catra was calling home at the moment. The longer she stared the worse the image resonated. Jealousy- that all too familiar suffocation emotion- began to fill that empty, aching place in her chest, filling her body with so much intensity it was almost enough to get drunk off of it. Catra looked away.
“It’s not mine. I mean, not solely mine. There’s no way I’d be able to afford the rent. I have a few roommates, Bow and Glimmer. Glimmer’s the one with the bakery. ”
Catra just nodded, choosing to ignore the fact that she had friends named Bow and Glimmer of all things, instead clutching the steering wheel with an iron grip. She caught a glimpse of her tattoo peeking out from under her glove. Just get out of my car Adora, she wanted to say, just get out and don’t bother looking back.
Except for some reason, Adora wasn’t leaving. The door was open, her seat belt was off and she had shouldered her backpack, but she stayed where she was, one heeled shoe hanging out of the car door. “Hey, you know it’s been awhile since I told someone about Mara and Razz that didn’t look at me with that… really annoying pity. So thank you, for that. And- and the ride. Five stars.”
“Yeah well,” Catra looked back at her, their eyes meeting in the quiet and dark of the car, “I know a thing or two about really annoying pity.”
When Adora smiled at her, Catra’s heart skipped a beat, and she hated herself for it, wondering if her black nails were sharp enough for her to claw the beating and betraying organ out her chest. “I’m glad I got to see you again, Catra.”
“Me too.” Did she mean that? Yeah, she meant it. But Catra hated herself for that too.
Adora finally got of the car after that. Looks like this was their last and final goodbye; it was almost giving her a strange sense of deja vu. Catra watched as she climbed the steps, snickering as she almost tripped on one.
Looks like she isn’t too used to walking in those freaking heels, maybe my Adora isn’t completely gone , she thought in the midst of her laughter.
She was about to put the car back into gear when she braved one last look at her old friend, only to be completely thrown by what she saw. Adora was waving, a big beautiful smile on her face, hanging out the door and watching Catra as she drove away.
Catra couldn’t believe it. She blinked intrusive tears out of her eyes, trying to focus on the blurry road and the long drive home she had ahead of her. But she just couldn’t.
Because this time, Adora had looked back.
It was a thirty minute drive from East Bright Moon to Catra’s apartment, and a thirty minute drive alone with her thoughts was just what she needed.
Not only was her head throbbing and pulsing angrily against her skull, the fuzzy lights reflecting into her car only making it worse, but her back was starting to ache with a white hot intensity. Catra struggled to keep her grip on the wheel, speeding through the lonely streets to get home faster.
That Bright Moon doctor- the one Scorpia lucked out with (none of them had health insurance) and found only because he thought her studio was a strip club (wow, was he sorely mistaken) and had dragged up to the apartment to see Catra- told her that the pain was a normal part of trauma. Trauma. She fucking hated that word. It made her feel weak, and weakness was a feeling she despised more than the jealousy or the anger or the loneliness. Because if the past 23 years had taught Catra anything, it was that she was anything but weak. But she supposed the doctor did have a point. The wrangled and deformed skin of her back meant her pain was localized, so when the flashback and nightmares came, the pain followed and went straight there. Seeing Adora tonight was digging up memories and emotions her body just wasn’t ready to deal with.
“Insolent child!” Mrs. Weaver’s voice rang in her head as she sped down the road. Catra had hated so many things about that old ugly woman she couldn’t even begin to name them. She hated the cruelty she’d inflicted upon her when she’d done nothing to deserve it except act like every other kid acted, but the one thing Catra hated more than her first foster parent was that she remembered. Her subconscious remembered every single detail about Mrs. Weaver: her mannerisms, the faces she’d made, her voice.
“You terrible disobedient girl! You did this!”
Catra would forever remember the heat on her back, the scalding water burning the layers of skin away. In her memory, that moment lasted an eternity, echoes of the water heater quickly spinning losing control and Catra’s young screams echoing off the cement of floor, the sound of her anguish burned in her brain forever. The next thing her conscious could peace together was Adora’s face looking over her in the bright white ambulance, fearful, distraught, crying so hard her eyes were red and puffy. Adora never cried.
And she was never scared.
“It’s going to be okay.” In Catra’s memories, in her nightmares, Adora’s voice shook. The grip on her hand was ironclad. It was the only thing Catra could even feel. “You’re going to be okay! Catra, please, please don’t leave me!”
Pretty dramatic for an eleven year old, it was just a burn. Third degree burn, but still. “Please don’t leave me!” How ironic.
Young Adora’s sobs rang in Catra’s mind as she drove past the “Welcome to Bright Moon” sign. Catra’s foot slammed on the gas, finally free from the watchful eye of Bright Moon’s cops. Almost home.
“Oh hey! You’re back!” Scorpia’s voice met her as she slumped into through the front door, and Catra almost threw her head through the drywall. It was like one in the morning and she didn’t have any shows tonight, why wasn’t Scorpia sleeping? Why couldn’t the universe give Catra a fucking break for once? “How’d it go? Meet anyone interesting?”
Catra paused from removing her worn down combat boots.
“I’m glad I got to see you again Catra.”
“Nope. Boring Bright Mooners, like usual, Scorpia.” she finished with her shoes, leaving them in the giant mountain of shoes by the door, and slid off her leather jacket, followed by her bra and left them where they fell on the floor, leaving only her frayed tank top. The less fabric on her back, the better.
“Why aren’t you in bed? You’re usually snoring like a fucking military tank this time of night.” Catra asked as she walked further into the apartment, heading for the kitchen.
The apartment was nothing special. Just the opposite, actually. It was a one bedroom that housed three people, so that was telling. An explosion of personal chaos; between Catra’s dirty clothes, drag queen get ups that didn’t belong to anyone that lived there, and spare parts from broken electronics. It had a kitchen, or more like half of one, that hadn’t been redone since the place was built in the eighties, so the doors to the cupboards were unhinged and the mustard tiles that served as a poor backsplash were completely falling off. They did have a working microwave and ancient fridge, as well as a toaster oven that cooked at twice the normal speed, because Entrapta- Catra’s third roommate- was always taking them apart and putting them back together again. She’s was technical like that. Besides Scorpia’s room and their purple hair dye stained bathroom they all shared with a family of roaches, there was a living room with a worn fold-out couch and TV, where Scopria was currently sitting cross legged. Catra’s bed had been shoved in the corner, where two large windows met looking out on a sea of bright amber lights, some from Bright Moon, some from the little hellhole on the edge of Bright Moon. She chose that spot for her bed because there was no way she was sharing a room with snoring machine Scorpia, but also because she liked to perch herself on the edge of the bed, practically on the windowsill, and watch the city. It was a sufficient distraction. Scorpia always said it fit her namesake.
“Entrapta fixed the TV!” shouted Scorpia. She had her eyes glued to a rerun of Cheers. Yikes.
“The TV wasn’t broken!” Catra threw her hands up and headed for the kitchen.
“It was this morning remember? Oh yeah, you were asleep.”
Grunting, Catra whipped open the fridge. “Was Entrapta the one who broke it?” She already knew the answer.
“Yeah duh, Catra. But luckily she fixed it before her shift and now we’re getting a whole bunch of new channels!” Scorpia practically squealed.
“C’mon Catra, don’t be like that!” Scorpia called back as Catra used her sharp nails to rip off the lid of some leftover mac-n-cheese. “I mean, it’s better than only getting those telenovelas. You were the only one that could understand those.”
Catra took violently to the mac-n-cheese with a fork. “Doesn’t mean I ever watched them.”
"You actually just missed it, they were playing reruns of That 70’s Show.”
“They have That 70’s show? ” she perked up, her mouth full of food. “ Fucking sweet.” Scorpia turned back to the TV, talking still, but Catra had drowned her out. Before she knew it, her dinner was gone. She tossed the tupperware into the leaking sink with the flick of her wrist and turned to the cabinet where Scorpia “hid” the liquor, only to be met with disappointment.
“Uh Scorpia?” she called out, “Where’s the tequila?” What had once been full of Catra’s one way ticket to a painless slumber, was now full of off brand water bottles. From MegaMart of all places.
“I threw it out.”
“You what?” With a surge of adrenaline that surpassed the pain, Catra leapt onto the couch to stare down the other woman.
“I threw it out! It’s bad for you Catra! Dr. Newman said it wasn’t a good coping mechanism-”
“Who gives a flying fuck what that know-it-all shithead thinks-” Catra screamed, right up until she saw the hurt look on the older woman’s face. Ugh, she had no right to take this out on Scorpia. Scorpia was odd and most of the time annoying, but she cared enough to take Catra in when she had no place to go. Taking a shaky breath, Catra started over “Scorpia my head is killing me, what am I supposed to do?”
“Well it’s probably cause you’re not drinking enough water!” Scorpia replied. Her earnest attitude was disgusting. “And I put water in the cabinet, so-”
“How am I supposed to sleep? ” Because all the water in the world wasn’t going to change the fact that Catra couldn’t out run her migraines. The pain in her back may have been from her childhood, but the pain in her head was a parting genetic gift from her long dead birth mother. Thanks for nothing, Mom.
“Mmm, that’s good question. You know, I think Entrapta drinks those Monster energy drinks when she wants to sleep.” Scorpia shrugged.
Catra let out a groan and slid off the couch. “Yeah, you’re making that up. I’ve never seen Entrapta sleep in my entire life. That’s it, I’m gonna go break into Señora Rodriguez’s place and steal some of her sleeping pills.”
“Steal her- No! She’s a nice old lady and a great neighbor and stealing is wrong. ” Catra barely dodged Scorpia’s attempt to pull her back to the couch as she struggled to stand up.
“I’m kidding! Jesus Scropia, you really thought I was serious? She just lets me have some when I really need them, like when someone throws out all the alcohol, since I’m the only one who can communicate with her anyway.” grumbled Catra. Guess not all the things you left me with are bad, Mom. Her legs wobbling from the pain, she made her way back to the front door, waving off Scorpia’s loud goodbye.
I hate everything.
Upon making it back from their elderly neighbor’s apartment, three white sleeping pills in hand, Catra was met with a dark apartment. The noise from the TV had been replaced by Scorpia’s snoring. Finally some quiet! Catra breathed a sigh of relief and popped the pills.
She knew she had a night of nightmares ahead of her, but rough sleep was better than none at all. Her fate had been sealed the second Adora pulled up the Uber app on her phone. “God dammit Adora” she shouted at the empty apartment. “I never asked you to show back up. But you never ever listen, do you?” Catra asked as she approached her own tired reflection in the window. One gold iris and one blue hovered over the horizon of Bright Moon.
“You’re probably in your nice fancy apartment, with your friends,” Catra gagged, running a shaky hand through her wild hair. “And then you’ll go work in that dumb bakery, go to your dumb temp job in that hot pant suit of yours, which I hate to admit, you look fucking sexy in, and I’ll make sure to never drive in West Bright Moon ever again. ”
Catra’s knees went weak, the pain having spread to every limb of her exhausted body, but when she crumbled she missed her bed and hit the rough carpet with a yelp. Only then did she spot the box under her bed. That box, stuffed underneath with all the rest of her belongings, held everything from her childhood- everything that was left anyway. Fuck me, what good timing you have. With a grunt, Catra dug it out and whisked the top off. And there it was.
A little stuffed kitten, small enough to fit in Catra’s palm, worn and weathered from years of use, sitting on top. It’s tiny glass eyes looked up at Catra, almostly pleadingly.
“Don’t give me that look.” she practically hissed at, but still she moved it gently away, unable to misuse her childhood friend. The real treasure was hidden under Whiskers. Catra pulled it out and brought it up to the light filtering in through the window. It was a photograph, the only one that survived her purge of physical evidence of her years in that house, of her and Adora. They were ten years old, each sitting on one of Santa Claus’ legs, excited to be like the normal kids who got to go to the mall, excited to be there with each other. Mrs. Weaver took all the kids in the house to see Santa that year. Must have been feeling particularly merciful that year. It was the first time any of them had been; it would also be the last. Catra could remember Kyle bursting into tears when Santa asked him what he wanted despite being nine years old. Catra and Lonnie had laughed at him so hard they were almost crying, while Rogelio and Adora calmed him down. The other kids asked Santa for someone to adopt them, but not Catra’s best friend. Adora looked fake Santa right in the eye and asked for a fucking sword. Then mall Santa and his elves bought them all pretzels upon finding out they were from an orphanage, and Catra loved that because Mrs. Weaver loathed it.
“Hey Adora, what the hell happened to us?” she asked the photograph. In that moment they were so carefree and happy. “You go one way, I go the other, and then for some stupid reason you just had to take an Uber tonight? Here I was, thinking it was for the best. And then you show up! Honestly? Fuck you.” Hugging her knees, Catra let out a long, frustrated sigh. It had just been so much easier to let her hate control her when she didn’t have to confront the subject of her hatred. “Whatever. At least we’ll both be having nightmares about dead mothers and abusive deadbeat foster parents.”
Climbing into bed, Catra decided she was done with Adora. Sleep was way more important anyway. She threw her phone on the charger and curled into her comforter, hugging her chest to her knees, begging her mind to let her go to sleep, all she wanted was some rest. Except all she could picture when she closed her eyes was that pretty smile, wisps of blonde hair escaping that stupid ponytail, and those stupid blue eyes looking back at Catra in the rearview mirror.
And then her phone buzzed.
Catra jumped five feet in the air at the sound, and that was just what her head needed. Now fucking what?
“I swear to God Entrapta if you’re calling because you hacked the MegaMart Corporate system again I’m going to force you to drink a Monster and then while you’re asleep, shave all your stupid purple hair off-” she cut herself off when she saw that the notification was not from her friend working the nightshift at that stupid store, but from the Uber App. Someone had left a review. At two in the morning. A five star rating, nonetheless.
“Awesome experience! 11/10 would drive with again!” -Adora R.
Catra’s outburst was loud enough to wake up the entire apartment complex. “Oh come on!”