“This is where you live?” I asked in surprise as my eyes swept over her small yet surprisingly chic apartment.
Even though it was the size of a tool shed, and it reeked of oil paint and coffee, it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined it to be. I thought she lived in a crypt!
The paintings that covered every inch of her walls were creepy, though. They featured disfigured silver-haired girls with pale, bloodstained faces and sinister, red-eyed animals.
That is Julia in a nutshell, dark, twisted and borderline psychotic.
The open space was furnished with a black, Chesterfield loveseat and tufted armchair. In the middle stood a glass table, and it was covered with an array of charcoal pencils, sharpies, squeezed paint tubes and scrunched up sheets of paper.
Surprisingly, a flat screen TV was mounted to a wall above the electric fireplace and it was paused on Sherlock. I had no idea Julia even knew how to stream on Netflix.
In the dark corner, behind the five-tier bookcase, stood a Queen-sized bed with a tufted headboard. The bedspread was sleek ebony satin with matching shams, and completed with brocade and sequin accent pillows. On each side stood Hexagon, mirrored tables with gilded iron lamps.
Above the headboard hung a large painting of a raven-haired girl with big, anime eyes, and in her arms she cradled a white, rabid bunny.
I peeled my eyes away from the blood that trailed down her frilly, lace dress and said, “I gotta hand it to you, Julia, you may dress like a reject from the Addams Family but you got a knack for interior design.”
She flushed with embarrassment, visibly taken back by the compliment.
“Er—well—uh—it’s a little messy right now,” she mumbled and stumbled over the art supplies that were scattered all over the wooden floor. “I had a couple of friends over last night and I didn’t get a chance to clean today. Obviously.”
I gave her a long, steady gaze.
If she was under the impression that my backhanded compliment would somehow blossom into sisterly affection, then she has a couple of loose screws in her head.
“Stop lying. You don’t have any friends and the voices in your head don’t count.”
“At least I don’t buy my friends unlike some people,” she countered coolly.
I gave her an angelic smile. “How’s your real mom doing in Transylvania? Is she still married to Dracula?”
This polite exchange of words dated back to the summer of my junior high graduation party. Julia slathered on SPF 5,000 on her skin and lounged under the umbrella by the pool with Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven in her white, bony hands.
I was dared to cannon jump into the pool. I had no idea the water would splash her and ruin the book.
Needless to say, she screamed her head off, and claimed that I did it on purpose. Just before my mother ushered her back into the house, she accused me of buying my popularity, in front of all of my friends.
To return the favor, I told everyone my freshman year at Waldorf High that she was adopted and her real family lived in Transylvania. After that rumor circulated the classrooms, she got bombarded with questions about vampires and I got grounded for two months.
Julia seethed with resentment. “You are so stupid, I swear.”
“My 4.0 GPA would state otherwise. Anyway, I hate to break this cute and fuzzy moment but I’m super jet-lagged and I want to get some sleep. So, where’s my bed?”
She curled her lips into a Grinch-like smile and pointed to the loveseat. “There,” she said.
I slumped my shoulders. “You suck.”