Welcome to 32 Orchard Street.

“Okay,” Diane huffs, as she throws herself into the seat next to Calle, wiping the sweat from her perfect brows. Today, she went for a white button-down to go under her yellow sweater, her black high waisted jeans showed her beautifully shaped ass and she definitely showed it off to the hot girl at the other table who she knew had a thing for her. She hopped up onto the stool, and leaned towards Calle. “I’m ready to get this class over with. I tripped three times just getting through the house before leaving. There are like six boxes just down the hall near the stairs. The only clean rooms are the kitchen, the living room, a bathroom, and my own room. I really need to empty those damn boxes.” She sighed, twisting a strand of her coily afro.

“Yea, no shit, you moved in three months ago and for some reason, you still haven’t made things homey. Your home is so beautiful! What 25 years old has a ten-bedroom home all to themselves these days? You know I love coming over, you should let me clean up.” Calle responds by handing Diane her morning tea latte and forcing her bubblegum pink bob cut out of her face and shoving it behind her ears.

“Thank you, dear.” Diane grabs the cup and sips.”I’m just scared about what I’ll find in my grandma’s boxes. I’m grateful she gave me an entire house all to myself but she and her wife are into wild stuff and I don’t want to find some weird kinks in those boxes.” she hesitated, “a second thought, maybe I’ll just let you look through it.”

“Alright, will do. Grandma and Gran have far too many things. Do you think they have like whips and chains? OH! Maybe they have a sex dungeon! I’ll check the basement! Anyways, where is Shay? She’s always late.”

Just then, Shay runs into the room with paint smears all over her white t-shirt and denim overalls and her brown skin. A few of her locs had some colors in them even while twisted up in a bun. They’d usually hang at her waist.

“I literally ran across campus from the studio. I am so hungry, I didn’t even come here for class but for my-” Calle shoved a warm danish in her face.

“Yes,” Shay moaned as she sat in the seat next to Diane.

“Wait. Why are you excited about my grandparents having a freaking sex dungeon?”

“Uh. What did I miss?” Shay says over the pastry in her mouth.

“Alright. I hope everyone had a great day. Let’s begin today’s lesson!” called Ms. Piper.

Diane and Shay began to slouch closer to each other. One enjoying her danish and the other sipping her latte and gazing at the video on the board. Today they are learning about the intricate processes of evolution.

As usual, Calle was the only one of the three who was writing out her notes aggressively, trying not to miss anything on the board. The other two jot information down here and there, knowing that Calle would help them study later.

After four hours, the three girls walk back to Diane’s crowded home. It was a Victorian-style home with three floors. That was in their family for generations. Some slave master was able to leave the home in Diane’s family and it has remained in their care for generations. Her grandmas recently built the greenhouse around back. She lived on 32 Orchard Street. The only black house on the street. The wrap around porch was filled with plants and there was one swing hanging. She remembered nights with her grandmothers and sipping hot chocolates under the stars and telling them all her problems. Both of her parents were there and attentive but there was something about her grandmothers that made her feel protective. 

Her grandmothers have just given her the house now that she was an adult and bored with being at home. Plus they wanted to travel during their retirement. They spent their lives securing a comfortable life for them and their family and now that that’s all done, they’ve decided to see the world. Now out of nowhere, she has an entire home to manage and it would be pretty foolish to complain.

Since the semester started a few months ago, after every biology class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, their ritual was to go over to Diane’s. Once the door opens, Calle walks down the hall and heads for the kitchen to cook dinner and make them some tea. Thankfully the grandmas have also spent a lot of time renovating the home so the kitchen has up to date appliances. Which excites Calle every time she gets here.

Shay runs upstairs to lay in Diane’s bed for her post-class nap. 

Diane grabs her laptop and sits at the kitchen table while Calle chops onions on the counter. Diane struggles to get her 4c hair into a bun but some strands just didn’t make it.

Calle sends a mug of hot chocolate over to Diane with a wave of her hand and moves to begin chopping green cabbage. Diane happily took the mug and began to sip her drink. Thank you. She mutters as the steam from the drink fog her glasses. “Did you put… chili in this?” 

“Yes. It’s a new recipe. Priya from the old coven told me about it.”

“Well, it’s delicious. Keep making this.”

“Will do!” Calle turned and gave Diane a quick smirk before turning to finish her chopping.

The two girls work in silence for over an hour. Working in comfortable silence. Diane asks, “So, in evolution, there are some parts within the body that are useless now, like our tailbone, remains, even though we don’t have tails so with that idea, my characters; if they’re ancestors had wings, they’d have wing bones? So, with wing bones, I can use the science within my world to bring those wings back. Right?” Diane asks Calle’s back.

Calle turns around waving her knife, “Either way, it’s your own book with its own history. Their history has a different kind of science. Just make shit up. If people don’t get it then, they won’t.” She turns back around and continues chopping.

“But according to Williams, the people within our generation will need to understand and connect with my plot. They need to understand the book and connect with the day to day in order for my book to gain popularity.”

“So say you write a book that conforms to society’s standards and everyone hates the book. Then what?”

“Shut up. You’re right but shut up.” she sighed and turned her head back to her screen.

 “Am I just supposed to write this book for me and only me? What if no one gets it. Everything falls to the majority, to widespread media. So… just… How?” 

“Just write. Let’s figure it out later. Go get Shay. Dinner is ready.” Calle started reaching for plates to set the table.

Diane popped up from her chair and jogged up to her room. Diane walked past three unused rooms until she kicked open her own at the end of the hall.

She threw her body next to Shay on the bed. Shay turned over half asleep and just gazed at Diane. Diane gazed back. The two of them laid there staring at each other, unmoving for a bit. Finally, Diane whispered, “Dinner is ready.” 

“Okay,” Shay replied, both still unmoving. They heard Calle’s feet running up the stairs and the two of them slowly turned away and got out of bed. By the time Calle reached the room, Shay and Diane were heading towards the door, both slightly towering over Calle. She wasn’t even five feet, she coasted at 4 feet and seven inches. Diane was exactly a foot taller and Shay was three inches shorter than her. 

Calle leaned against the door frame and slyly said, “I thought you guys were fucking. I didn’t know if I wanted to interrupt or join in.”

Shay’s eyes widened and she quickly grumbled, “Ha. You would just tell us to stop and go eat your dinner.” 

Diane chuckled nervously, “Yea… no… Shay would much rather go find the nearest man than mess with me.”

Calle just laughed and followed them downstairs. They all sat around the table, Calle already prepared the table for them to eat. They had pots filled with sofritas, chopped scallions, green cabbage, jalapenos, limes, rice, miso soup, soba noodle salad, and cilantro. A plate piled high with tortillas and a pitcher of sake margaritas. Tonight’s dinner was sofritas tofu tacos, Calle’s specialty.

Calle loves cooking and combining both her heritages in every meal, Mexican and Japanese. She finds it a challenge. Both of her parents were born in America and don’t really cook so she learns recipes from her grandparents on both sides and cooks.

The girls sit at the table and pile their plates up and begin to properly stuff their faces.

After a long while of the silence that comes with delicious food, Shay huffs,  and says, “I can’t believe that those idiots I call parents won’t stop drinking.” She takes a big sip of her miso soup before she continues “They argue constantly. I know they hate us, you know, their children almost as much as they hate each other. They made a bad choice when they were young and now they are just miserable drunks who refuse to fucking grow. I don’t want to go back there with them. I’ve spent 25 years taking care of those idiots and hurting myself. I don’t want Leo to have to go through that. I wish we could move out together.”

“How much do you have in savings? Can you get an apartment?” Calle asks, finishing the dregs of her second margarita and pouring another, refilling everyone’s cups.

“Not enough to afford anything near this campus. I can’t afford to pay for gas. I’m just a regular broke college kid.”

“You know you can stay here in this giant-ass house.”

“I thought about it but I don’t know. It would feel a bit weird, right?” 

“No. I want you guys to be safe. Please. I have the space, take it. You too, Calle.” 

“I’ll ask Leo how they feel.”

“Yea, I already moved into a room. I was waiting for you to notice.” Calle got up and grabbed shot glasses.

“CALLE! That’s kind of scary.”

“It’s only been one day. You kept offering, I just silently accepted” Diane shrugs and sips her drink then decides to change the subject. “It’s a good thing we have so much free booze from my Grandmother. Now we can afford to get drunk.” Diane says, raising her shot glass to the other two.

“HERE, HERE! Grandma has booze from everywhere around the world stored in her basement! I love her!” Calle yells, slurring her words a little.

“Your grandmother is a gay goddess and her booze and her home is saving us. Diane, you live in a fucking man-mas-mansion. How many rooms do you have? like eleven? twelve? Is there a pool?” Shay giggles. Clearly happy to move her thoughts away from her difficult home life.

“I do not have a pool and this house has I think ten rooms? I just stick to my own room. I’ve been too busy. There is an art room and a music room and a greenhouse. This place is wild. I swear some rooms just appear”

“THERE’S A GREENHOUSE?!?!” Calle looks up from her plate, alert.

“Yes! It’s at the end of the hall and to the right, near the basement door. I have no idea what those plants are but I water them every day. When I got here, they were dying.”

“What if they’re all mary-j’s!? Your gran is the coolest so I wouldn’t be surprised.” Calle implores.

“I doubt there is weed but I did see a bunch of herbs.”

Shay jumps up and starts heading to the living room, “Sorry, it’s Leo, one sec.”

Diane and Calle began cleaning up the table.

Shay runs back in, “Diane. Can I talk to you real quick?” Diane agreed and they walked outside.

Shay just looked at her with tears in her eyes. “Leo needs a home– like a real home. Dad has gotten so much worse. He drinks so much. Leo called because they found him with his head in a plastic bag. They were scared and  didn’t know what to do so they called me because they thought he’d died. I don’t want them to grow up the way I did. I don’t want them growing up scared and trying to take care of our parents. When I moved out a few months ago, I felt fine because at least i could come home and visit and Leo could come visit me but I want Leo to come with me and at 17, they could just leave bu-”

“But your roommate won’t allow it so you need somewhere for you both to stay. All you had to do was ask or be like Calle and just arrive. Leo is like my younger sibling too. This house is too big for just me.” Diane walked over and pulled Shay into her arms. “It’s okay with me, my love. You guys can stay here. You know I have space.”

“Perfect. I guess it is time for us to go and pack up our things. Our parents were supposed to be out tomorrow so we could come pack quickly. I’ll go tell Leo.” She was tearing up now. “Diane, thank you.”

“Of course, I’ll go call Leo and can you get Luna to be our designated driver? I could grab some of my stuff to start moving in tonight.”

“Uh. Don’t you feel like we are moving too quickly?”

“I don’t know. We’ll think logically tomorrow. Right now we just have to pack.”

“Hey!” Shay turned to see Diane grinning from ear to ear. “Welcome to 32 Orchard Street!”

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