Tilly woke up the next morning feeling hung over. She decided as she whacked the alarm clock off that this was very unfair, considering she hadn't even had a drink since before Marcus had been admitted to hospital. She glanced at the clock. It was only seven in the morning, so she had time for a shower, a coffee, and maybe get some fruit juice on the way to help get her head straight before visiting hours started...
She blinked and glanced around the bedroom, the differently-arranged, not-in-the-suburbs bedroom, and reminded herself that her daily trips to the hospital were over. And then, just because she felt awful and still frightened from last night's adventure, she let herself have a bit of a crying session before getting out of bed and forcing herself to take a shower.
The shower made her head feel a little better, and so did putting on fresh clothes, but the kitchen greeted her with the smell of a full garbage bin. Tilly slumped against the door frame, trying to think of a way to get rid of her kitchen garbage without taking it the chute, since the chute was where they were. The young man with the tattoos had told her during one of their mutual elevator rides that friends of his had lived over the building's dumpster and had relieved themselves of a broken recliner one evening by pitching it off the balcony. Tilly lived at the wrong end of the building to try something like that.
There weren't any parks handy, and besides, there had been a recent flap in the local newspapers because a woman had been fined for cleaning out her car and putting the garbage in a park bin. The same would be true, Tilly was sure, if she tried to use a bin on the university campus.
Maybe it wouldn't be as dangerous or scary if she went during the day, when there were other people about.
She heard the lady with the children walking down the corridor outside, and quickly pulled the liner out of the bin and tied it shut.
Her shoes weren't handy, so she shoved her feet into her pink fuzzy slippers and grabbed the apartment keys with her free hand.
She nodded and smiled good morning to the woman and her children. The children gaped up at her with big brown "stranger danger" eyes, but the woman gave her a perfunctory smile and said good morning back.
Tilly passed the teenage boy and his father in the far side of the corridor. Neither of them seemed to be in a good mood this morning, but when she greeted them and smiled, the father's smile seemed genuine enough before it disappeared when he looked at his son again.
Tilly swung the garbage closet's door open as if she was marching to battle, and opened the chute with one hand while trying to fling the bag down it in one motion.
The bag hit the edge of the chute and split open, but she pushed it down and closed the chute flap before anything could spill out.
She spun around and left the closet as quickly as she could, but while she pulled the door shut against the slow-moving closer piston at the top of the door, she saw what she was hoping not to see. The edges of the chute had started glowing again. Not as brightly as the night before, but glowing.
Tilly let go of the door and rushed back to the elevators, where everyone she'd met in the corridor was still waiting for an elevator to arrive. The Spanish-speaking lady gave her a sharp look, so she slowed down and tried to behave as if nothing had happened.
"Rush hour," she said to the father of the teenager, deciding on the spot that she didn't really like the Spanish-speaking woman.
"Every morning," he said, and smiled at her again.
Tilly only stayed in her apartment long enough to put on outdoor shoes and a jacket. She grabbed her purse from the closet and locked up. The elevator still hadn't arrived yet.
The Spanish-speaking woman made a point of ignoring her and spoke loudly to her children, but the father of the teenage boy lifted his eyebrows at Tilly's return. "Going to work?" he said.
"Oh no, I work from home part-time," said Tilly. "Just something to keep me busy in retirement," she added when she saw his reaction. "I thought I'd treat myself to breakfast."
The teenage boy spoke up and recommended a vegetarian diner that was close by, an opinion his father agreed to with almost . He seemed relieved to have something he could support his son about. The elevator doors finally chimed, and Tilly thanked them as they all got in.
She still had over seven months to go on her lease. Truth be told, even if she did move, she wasn't sure the whole thing wouldn't just start up again. Emily had seen that door in the sky, after all.
The elevator reached the ground floor, and Tilly headed to Honest Ed's automatically.
"Ma'am?" the teenage boy called out. "The diner's the other way, towards Yonge."
"Oh right," said Tilly. "Thank you." She turned around and started walking east. As she waited for the walk sign to change at Spadina, she noticed that the father and son were watching her, but trying to make it look like they weren't watching.
The light changed, and Tilly made a show of checking that no drivers were making illegal right-hand turns in front of the pedestrians.
I really have to pull myself together, she thought.