Now that she had decided to stay, Lissa let herself truly enjoy her new surroundings. She got out of bed, stretched, and checked on her plants. The tree was now fully grown, and she had found that quite a few fish enjoyed the mushrooms that she grew. She harvested them, whistling happily to herself.
“This place is looking a lot better than last time I saw it.”
“Siobhan!” Lissa straightened up and put down her watering can. “I guess it does! For one thing, it isn’t just a letter box any more.”
“I was worried for a little while. What if a bear had come wandering by in the night and decided to eat you all up?”
“Does that happen often?” Lissa gasped, her imagination running wild.
“Oh yes. Big, scary bears can be found everywhere! And do you know what makes these bears even scarier?”
“They like to sneak up behind poor, unsuspecting people and then they go ‘ROOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRR!!!!!'”
Lissa jumped, and Siobhan started to laugh.
“You should have seen your face! Don’t worry, the only bears around here are people in bear costumes. Though they do like to scare people.”
Lissa started to laugh, too, though admittedly it was quieter and shakier than her friend’s. “You like scaring people, too, apparently.”
“That’s true” she said. “Anyway, I’ve got to get going, my shift starts in half an hour. Watch out for bears!”
Lissa shook her head, and walked over to the nearby picnic area. All that adrenaline had made her hungry.
She sat down with Bob, as had become her habit, and was just introducing herself to his friend, Summer, when she noticed him.
Rashad Aviles. Looking as self-assured and smug as ever. He was standing next to a pile of rubbish, and seemed to be looking around for someone. Lissa kept her conversation going, which was no chore – Summer was a lovely young woman, and Bob seemed to be coming out of his shell more and more every time they met. Eventually, Rashad gave up looking around, cast a disgusted look at the pile at his feet, and left. Lissa turned back to her baked potato.
“Excuse me, is this seat taken?”
“Not at all. Please, join us.”
“So you must be ‘Lissa'” the woman said, sitting down next to her.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know your name.”
“I’m Moira. Moira Fyres. You know my daughter, Morgan.”
“Ah!” Lissa looked down at herself to make sure she was presentable, and then smiled at Moira. Now that she was looking for it, the family resemblance was rather striking.
“Your daughter has been very kind to me. She taught me how to fish, and helped me gather seeds for my garden.”
Moira seemed to be sizing her up. She hoped that she would pass any inspection.
“You know, when Morgan came home saying that she had met an alien, I was worried. When she found out about your living conditions, she asked if she could have you stay for a while. I refused. I want to keep my daughters safe, after all.”
Lissa nodded, her shoulders tensing up slightly. Was she going to be told to stay away?
“Anyway, when she came home late last night, I asked her where she had been. She said that she was with you. So, I decided to come and see you for myself.”
Moira gave her one last look up and down. “You’ll do.”
“Yes. For an alien, you seem mostly harmless. Morgan has taken to rebellion, recently. She’s a good girl, but she’s fallen in with a gang. Do you know of the ‘Renegades’?”
” Only in passing. She asked me if I wanted to go along to a meeting, but I had to refuse. I can’t leave this neighbourhood, you see. Newcrest is empty, so people don’t mind me being here so much. If I left and went to places where others live, I think that they may not be quite so forgiving.”
“I don’t think you’d have liked it anyway. They are troublemakers, through and through. Where they go, chaos follows.”
“That… doesn’t sound like Morgan.”
“I think she probably joined to get back at her big sister. They don’t really get along, and her club is the main target of the Renegades.”
“I didn’t mean to talk your ear off. Try to be a good influence on my daughter, ok?”. With that, Moira walked off.
Be a good influence on Morgan? If anything, the other girl had been a good influence on her.
As she mulled over the conversation, a woman walked by. Her shoulders were slumped, and she looked thoroughly dejected.
“Are you ok?”
The lady jumped slightly, as if she hadn’t expected anyone to notice her. She looked about ready to burst into tears. “I just… I’m so tired.”
Lissa frowned. “Have you not been sleeping well?”
“It’s not that, it’s just…” she paused, and then wrung her hands in a fit of despair, “there’s always so much rubbish! I walk around and pick it up, and then by the time I’ve gone around the whole place, there’s more! I can’t just leave it there.”
“Look, why don’t you go home and get some rest? I’ll take over the cleaning for today. I live here, after all.”
“Would you?” the lady asked, hope filling her eyes.
“Of course I will. It’s ok. I’ll keep this place clean.” Lissa smiled reassuringly.
“Oh thank you so much! I think I’m going to go home and take a nap.”
As she turned to head home, she looked over her shoulder. “What’s your name, by the way?”
“I’m Clara Bjergsen. I hope I’ll be able to return the favour some day.”
Clara, Lissa thought. She would be someone to look out for. She was too nice for her own good.
She had a lot to think about as she went around the neighbourhood, not only collecting plants and crystals, but picking up litter. There was a great deal of it, she realised. Surely this wasn’t normal? She saw Clara leaving for home, and felt a surge of determination. This was her home. She would fix this. Somehow.
Deciding to de-stress before her evening fishing session, Lissa unrolled her yoga mat – the one luxury she had permitted herself. She was still a beginner, but she was able to do a few of the easy poses without too much difficulty.
As she stretched out the last of the tension in her body, her phone rang.
“Hey star girl, is it ok if I come round for a bit?”
“Sounds good! I’ll see you-”
“Morgan… I’m over here. That’s my bathroom.”
Lissa relaxed into the hug. Morgan was happy to see her. It made her feel all warm inside.
“Those clothes suit you~”
“Thank you” she smiled, “I was just finishing my yoga. I was planning to change out of these before you got here, but that didn’t happen.”
“Well, I’m glad it didn’t” Morgan winked. Something was definitely different with her today.
“I heard that you decided to stay here?”
Ah, this was more familiar territory. “Yes, I did. I think that this is where I’m meant to be.”
“I’m really glad, you know. I would have missed you.”
Her voice was different, and her movements were a lot more… fluid. Did she just growl at me? Lissa stepped back a little, but Morgan sidled closer.
“I do like you. Maybe as more than just a friend. I didn’t want to say anything when I thought you were going to leave, but now that you’re staying I guess-”
“Morgan. I’m really flattered. I care about you too. But aren’t I a bit, well, old for you?”
“You’re what, three years older than me?”
“Yes, but you’re still in school. I’d feel like I was taking advantage of you. You’re too young.”
“Two years isn’t much”
“When we’re older, three years will be less of an issue, but right now 3 years is a decent portion of your life. If you still feel the same when you’re older, then we can talk again. But for now, friends is all I feel comfortable being. I like you very much, but it’s true.”
“Look, you’ve known me for a pretty short amount of time. You may find me annoying once you’ve spent more time with me. Ah!” she said, as Morgan moved to interrupt, “you know it’s true. Let’s get to know each other more as friends, yes?”
“You mean, you don’t want me to leave?”
Lissa looked at her, startled. “Why on earth would I want you to leave?”
“Because I’ve made things awkward.” Morgan scuffed her foot along the floor, watching the patterns she was drawing in the dirt.
“Of course not, you’re my best friend after all.”
“I am?” She looked up, a smile spreading over her face.
“I’ve got to go and get some fishing done. I’m saving up for a roof!”
Morgan snorted. “Slightly important, then.”
“Just a bit”
Lissa could definitely see an improvement in her fishing skills. They really loved those mushrooms!
“I’ve caught you little fishie~ You aren’t really a little fishie~ you’re as big as my thigh~ I really wonder why~ what did you eat to get that size~?”
She enjoyed singing, but she had to admit to herself that she could never be a composer. Singing nonsensically to herself, she walked home only to find:
“AH!” she jumped up, looking sheepish. “I’m sorry, I was going to go home but you seemed to be having so much fun with yoga and the mat was left out. I couldn’t resist. And then I found this book and-”
Morgan looked closer at Lissa. She was obviously amused, but the swaying of her body made it obvious that she was exhausted.
“Right. I’ll let you go to sleep. I’ve got school tomorrow, so I should head off as well. Goodnight. See you soon.”
Lissa fell asleep almost instantly. It had been a long day.
Breakfast, then yoga. Life was good.
Yoga helped her focus. She would need all the focus she could get, today.
She had been keeping her eyes open for strange behaviour and picking up far more litter than the small population of visitors should generate. Using her natural stealth powers (which were limited) and the little bits she had picked up from Morgan about ‘Jack Pond’, she had become something of a secret agent. Her mission? ‘Operation: Squash the Litter Bug.”
She wouldn’t actually squish them though. Probably.
In the week that had passed, she had noticed a pattern. Not only that, but she was almost certain she had figured out the culprit. She had a plan.
“Hi Bob. Have you seen Rashad today?”
“What’s he done this time?”
“Well, I’m not certain it is him, but I think he’s the one that’s been messing with Clara. I’m going to try to catch him in the act.”
“Be careful, Lissa. You don’t want to get on his bad side.”
“Pffft. I was on his bad side from the first minute he saw me. He doesn’t like aliens. He accused me of wanting to eat his brain!”
Bob shook his head in disgust. “I saw him over by the other picnic area. It’s why I came over here instead if I’m honest.”
“Thanks Bob. See you later.
“Subject sighted” Lissa murmured to herself as she arrived. He seemed to be behaving for now. She sat down at the other table, and helped herself to food. She had forgotten to eat earlier.
Lissa swallowed her mouthful of food, and grinned at Clara.
“Good to see you! How’s everything going?”
Clara was looking happier and healthier every day. Her husband was such a slob that she had trouble simply staying on top of his mess, not to mention the natural chaos that came from having kids. Trying to do the same job for the whole neighbourhood as well would have been too much for anyone.
“The kids are at school and Bjorn is at work so I decided to come out here and enjoy the fresh air. Honestly, things have been going so much smoother since I met you.”
Lissa flushed with pleasure. She really was making a difference.
“I hope it doesn’t take too much out of your day. The clearing rubbish thing, I mean. I know you have to provide for yourself…” Clara tailed off.
“Not at all” she smiled. “Besides, I think I know how to make it better on a more permanent basis.”
Lissa leant closer to Clara as a man sat down on the other side of the table, and she whispered “Someone has been going around, purposefully emptying the bins onto the floor.”
“Who would do such a thing?” Clara exclaimed.
“I’m not completely sure, but-”
“I swear, if I find out who it is, I will have some stern words for them! They’ll be all ‘Oh Clara, I am an awful person and I need to re-evaluate my life goals”
Lissa giggled. This was a side of Clara she hadn’t seen before. She didn’t seem like she was used to standing up for herself, but she certainly had a backbone in there. And, she suspected, a sense of humour, too.
“Who are we impersonating?” the man asked, smiling.
Clara jumped, but quickly recovered. “I don’t know. Yet.”
My word, Lissa thought, that sounded almost threatening. As threatening as such a soft-spoken woman could get, at least.
Clara got up and moved to the other side of the table to get some more fruit. Rashad stood up, too.
“Subject is on the move” she said to herself, tracking him as he walked to the bin. He removed the bag.
He wouldn’t. Would he? In plain sight?
“Hi Clara! It certainly is lovely to see you today.” he said, waving in her direction with a smirk plastered across his face. He had given up being subtle. This was an outright challenge.
Time for her plan. She had hoped this wouldn’t be done in front of others, but such is the job of a self-appointed spy/avenger-of-the-people. She closed her eyes, and activated her powers.
She sifted through his mind, analysing his personality and motivations. The man had a mean streak a mile wide. As she left his head, she stood up and walked over to him. This called for drastic measures.
“Mr Aviles. I see that you are having some issues with your thought processes. Rubbish is supposed to go in the bin, not come out. It is a very good thing that I have this little device with me.”
The handheld ‘probe’ whirred into life, and she smiled in what she hoped was an unnerving way.
“This should certainly help. Now, hold still.”
“No! Please, I’ll do anything. Just don’t use the probe!”
She moved closer slowly, watching as he become more and more afraid. Then she turned off the machine.
“You won’t litter any more?”
“I promise just don’t use the-” he stopped, and looked closer at the now silent device. “Is that… a spatula? Inside a toy gun?”
Lissa grinned. “It is. Not nice when you’re the one being tormented, is it?”
Rashad spluttered, embarrassed, and ran off.
He walked back, picked up the pile of rubbish, and put it in the bin.
He walked off, muttering to himself. He may never be her friend, but that would hopefully have been enough of a scare to keep him from mischief for a while, at least. He would be looking over his shoulder wherever he went.
“Lissa. That was amazing.” Clara said, grinning. “His face was a picture. I can’t believe you actually did that. What if he targets you, instead, though?”
“Would he really dare go up against an alien armed with a lethal cooking implement?”
She laughed. “I see your point.”
The rest of the day passed without incident. Her garden was flourishing, the sun was shining and the fish were biting.
“Hey, you’re Lissa, right?”
“Yes, that’s me.”
“I heard what you did to Rashad. He’s been needing a good kicking for a while now, so good for you!”
“I didn’t kick… that is a saying?”
“You got it” he said, and she resisted asking what exactly she had ‘got’. She was learning, after all.
“Anyway, I’m Paolo. See you around some time.”
He jogged off, and Lissa watched him as he turned the corner. She smiled. She was finally fitting in. A little. Maybe.
It has been so busy recently here. I got asked out, I took up yoga and I threatened a man with a spatula! I had the spatula, not him. I don’t go around threatening chefs. That would be a terrible plan. He totally deserved it, anyway. He had targeted my friend Clara, and was making her life a misery. It was ruining the environment, too. I had to act.
I’ve taken lots of photos of my favourite places, so that you can picture them when I talk about my life. I’m getting better with the camera on my phone. Photography is fun! I might save up for a real camera, one day. I’ve printed off a few of my favourites and sent them with this letter.
All my love
p.s. There’s a picture of me, too. In case you miss me~