Chapter 1

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The only sound in this drowsy town was the clamor of my suitcase rolling along the mosaic tiled sidewalk. The tiles were organically shattered with no two fragments the same shape, though all were broken alike.

I solemnly looked down as I walked, assuming the appearance of "yet another teen girl with self-diagnosed depression and a self-inflicted eating disorder who thinks her life is oh so difficult." The middle-aged man glaring at me from the nearby bus stop seemed to have this exact judgement of me. First off, F him for judging me at all. And second, well, he's right. But this time, I wasn't looking down to get sympathy or attention. I was watching my thighs rub against one another while I walked, which was accompanied by the shameful sound that my corduroy pants made to audibly remind me that I was indeed not a size double zero. I took a mental note to lose some goddamn weight, which went directly to my brain dumpster full of my other failed attempts to repair my shit show of a life. I'm an extremely confident person if you couldn't tell.

I turned the corner and saw my destination across the street. 424 Poppy Drive, Napa, CA. I crossed the street with my eyes downward because checking to see if the universe granted me that societally-praised thigh gap was more important than ensuring I didn't get squashed by a car. When I got to the other side of the road, my eyes looked upward to reveal my new home.

An apartment building about ten stories tall. The exterior was as much reflective glass windows as it was faded red brick walls. What caught my attention most was a rectangular glass structure extending from the front of the building. The glass box was unnaturally connected to the second highest story of the building, as if the construction workers were too lazy to climb another flight of stairs and construct this appendage off of the top story.

To the right of the entryway was a sign on the red brick that read Esprit Apartments in cursive lettering. I pushed on the black French doors, and then realized that the doors weren't even moving. I turned around and began forcefully ramming my back into the doors. With how huge my thunder thighs were, they weren't doing squat to help me get the door open. Shit, it must be locked.

As I pulled my phone out to call the front desk, I saw the flash of the door bursting open out of the corner of my eye. Smack! The next thing I knew, I was on my hands and knees on the cement and my suitcase was five feet away from me on its side.

An excruciating ache raged across my forehead, as my brain tried to figure out what the hell just happened. "Aww geez!" yelled a geeky voice in the doorway. "I'm so sorry! I saw the door rattling from my desk and figured 'Oof, someone is pushing the door open instead of pulling it again' so then bolted over to the door and I guess I didn't really consider that someone could be standing so close to it and oh my goodness how rude of me let me help you up." He breathlessly managed to force that entire paragraph out of his mouth at lightning speed, making my head spin even faster. Before I could process what he said, I was yanked to my feet in a single motion.

"Wow, thanks," I said in the kindest tone possible, though I could still hear the irritability in my voice. The boy didn't seem to notice. He picked up my suitcase and began rolling it inside, grabbing my hand as he jogged by me and tugging me through the doorway.

"Here follow me go ahead and sit down." I was not so lightly shoved into a cushy white couch. The boy's prancing footsteps grew farther away, and he screamed "I'M SO SORRY AGAIN" from another room.

I sat up from the couch and looked around the lobby while I massaged my tender head bump. The room had a cozy contemporary design with hickory wooden walls and sleek white flooring. A line of individual light bulbs hung from the ceiling, accompanied by a variety of succulents both hanging in glass jars from the ceiling and sitting in lovely stone pots around the corners of the lobby. A gentle fireplace crackled from behind the large slab of marble stone that I assumed was the desk of the boy who dragged me inside.

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