Mary rolled off the plastic lounge chair, meeting the ground with a thud.
She curled up on her side, contemplating the effort required to climb back onto the chair.
Was it worth it?
After all, the roof of the apartment building wasn't so bad. Especially with the sunlight warming things up and…
Was already up.
She scrambled to her feet. Her telescope was still set up, and while she couldn’t leave it, it would take too long to disassemble and stow everything properly. She compromised, carrying the scope still attached to its tripod carefully down the stairs.
Back in the tiny fourth floor apartment that quantified as her legal residence, she lay the scope on her bed and stumbled out of her clothes and into the shower.
The cascading cold water that refused to warm added insult to injury. This was unfortunately not the first time she'd woken up late on a school day. A detention loomed in her future.
After the shortest and coldest shower in the history of mankind, Mary toweled up and dashed over to the disheveled pile of clean laundry on the couch, digging for her uniform skirt and shirt.
The front door opened. Mom entered their shared legal residence, wearing her hospital scrubs and an exhausted look on her face. A quick glance at the bedraggled state of her daughter and her excavation efforts upon the laundry gave her sufficient summary of the situation for an educated guess.
"You were stargazing and fell asleep on the roof again, weren’t you?"
Mary darted into her room, tripping over a stack of unopened framed canvases. She cursed her past self for not putting them in their proper place.
Her shirt was wrinkled, but there was no time to iron anything. The long mirror on her door displayed the disapproving condition of her required academic attire as she dressed.
"Are you having breakfast?" Mom looked at her phone. "Never mind. You'll miss the bus. I’ll get you an Uber.”
With her hair dangling in a disordered array of damp clumps down to her shoulders, Mary proceeded to find her shoes. "I don’t need an Uber.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Besides, it’s not in the budget.”
“I’ll be fine, Mom! Can you toss me an apple? I’ll breakfast it on the way.”
Mom smiled and shook her head. But she washed the apple in the kitchen sink.
"Here's your apple. Have a good day and love-you-buh-bye!"
Mary snatched her bag, her phone, and the apple off the counter on her way out the door. “Love-you-buh-bye!"
Mary was out the door and down the stairs, nearly colliding with Bruce, their maintenance man.
"Ay! How many time I tew you? No running!"
Mary had a clever comeback, but she didn't have time this morning. He was still cursing her in Cambodian as she bolted out the door and down the street. She rounded the corner just as the bus pulled away from the stop.
"Shit!” she cried skyward. Nearby pedestrians glanced disapprovingly her way.
Mary looked at her phone. The digital clock told her there was no time call Mom, admit failure, and ask for that Uber after all.
She did have time, however, for a frustrated sigh as she tucked her bag under her arm.
It was like being a player in one of those video games the dudes in the apartment above enjoyed incessantly and at hours inconvenient to the REM cycles of their fellow tenants. The mission was to get from point A to B without crashing into something. Granted, zombie aliens weren't chasing her, but that didn't make darting through the congested streets and tiny short cuts any less daunting.
Mary could feel her deodorant fail as sweat collected under her arms. So much for a morning shower. Not only would she be late. She would be gross.
At last, the school came into view. Had the bell rung yet?
She looked down at her phone.
Just as her feet carried her unawares into oncoming traffic.