As she turned the key, Astrid could feel the old mechanisms sluggishly turning and falling into place in the door that separated her from her new home. She pushed the door open wide with her hip, walking in backwards to easy the bags and boxes she carried through the doorway. Astrid set the boxes on the floor just inside the door and dropped the duffle bag from her shoulder to survey the space. The bare, white walls and wide open living space greeted her. Sunlight streamed in through the large bay window in front of her.
Eager to inspect, but knowing she needed to get her meager items moved in quickly, Astrid hurried back out the door, closing it but not locking it to make the following trips faster. Down the stairs and back to her car for more boxes and bags.
It only took her two more trips to carry everything inside. She had been lucky and the build’s lot had an open space near the entrance so she hadn’t needed to travel far with her burdens. Happily unloaded, Astrid roamed through the two bedrooms, bathroom, closets, kitchen, and living room assessing where she would place the furniture pieces her brothers would be delivering for her after they finished work for the day.
While she gazed out the bay window that overlooked her building’s courtyard, her phone started ringing. Astrid cursed, and rushed over to her pile of bags, digging for the messenger bag she always carried instead of a purse. The ringing subsided the moment Astrid pulled the phone from her bag, because that’s how it always works, right?
She sighed seeing the call had been from her mother. More than likely another attempt to dissuade Astrid from the “foolish and frivolous plans” she had for her life.
Astrid tossed the phone onto the bar counter that separated the small kitchen from the living room and walked back to the window.
A knock on her door stopped her before she could resume her seat and memorize the details below her. Puzzled, Astrid went back to the door, shoving the bags quickly off against the wall with her foot, before opening it to find a smiling gray haired woman smiling at her.
“Ah, I thought I had heard someone moving into this old place,” the elder said, her voice like the nice scratching of an aged record. “Why, aren’t you a young one.”
Astrid paused, realizing the last hadn’t been a question. Little did the woman realized Astrid could probably be her grandmother if they were just counting years. Astrid stopped herself halfway through a bow and ended with her hand on the purple necklace at her throat, reassuring herself it still hung on its leather cord between her breasts.
“Yes, (honorific-for-elders), just exploring my new home,” Astrid said, not knowing what else to say to this stranger. “It’s a lovely building. I especially enjoy the courtyard, though I’ve only seen it from my window.”
“I’m just glad to see some fresh blood around her. Too many old-timers around here,” she laughed the laugh of an old jazz singer, smiling with a grin that was missing a tooth.
“Well, I live just across the way,” the woman turned, pointing to a door cattycorner to Astrid’s. “Everybody calls me Mags or Maggie, take your pick, just don’t call me late to dinner.”
Astrid smiled, enjoying the humor Mags so easily shared with her.
“Pleasure to meet you, Mags. I go by Astrid.” She offered her hand to the woman, remembering humans often shook them in greeting.
Mags gripped it, her hands cool to the touch, but then again, Astrid did tend to run warm.
“Good to know we have such a nice, young lady living with us now. It’ll put a better feel in the air. Us old-folks get too caught up in things and next you know it we’re dust on the dining room table for someone else to clean!”
More bright laugher and Astrid began to see the youth that had so recently departed to leave behind silver hair and sagging skin. A pang tried to steal at Astrid’s heart as she thought about what friends her and Mags might have been if they had meet a few years earlier. Astrid hoped time would not steal her away too soon.