Freedom had its price; learning to manage her finances, school work, and neighbours was a balancing act; despite planning her escape, Eliza came unprepared for life in the city. The noise seemed louder; for retired people, they knew how to party, her request to turn the music down, met with rude comments and how she needed to “get a life”. Collapsing on the lumpy sofa, Eliza considered the catch-up school work provided alongside her job; it was exhausting. Regardless of how tough it was, she would keep moving forward, each step an improvement.
Emilie voiced her opinion, articles discussed apartment living conditions, flea-bitten bedsits complete with dodgy electrics; Eliza admitted nothing. Aside from the luxury of the former tenants’ furniture, Eliza inherited rats, who she called Remy, Templeton and Roscuro as they evaded capture. The dripping water pipes and sparking fuse box were apartment quirks she learnt to live with; doing homework by candlelight strained her tired eyes. A steady paycheck meant she owned a second-hand computer, television and games console, perfect for unwinding with new school friends. Eliza relaxed as Emilie chose to respect her daughter’s wishes, although her mother refused to hold Rylan to that same choice as he messaged her furious, questioning where she could survive this world alone.
Their phone conversations were short; Eliza steered the subjects to Sparky and her siblings. Emilie saw the positive; Sparky had been her rock, the empty house had given her time to think, she panicked reading stories of missing children, overwhelmed with grief, she began regular jogs with Spark gave her a chance to relax and refresh. Dogs are therapeutic; brushing Sparky, fussing him helped Emilie deal with everyday life. No amount of puppy love would replace Eliza; the fear one day the police would call, that heart-wrenching news no mother should hear. She had to make Eliza understand, perhaps when she has a child, Emilie stops herself, concerned Eliza was pulling away, the sudden distance in her voice. Her daughter had pleaded for space; Emilie sighed; why did Eliza get to set the rules; when Emilie suffered for this selfish choice. Rylan blamed Emilie, his wife, soft on their children; when a firm hand, strong discipline, and a focus on achievements was all they required. He witnessed family life across the table, the comfort of his laptop, knowing Emilie had everything in hand; why should take the blame, when he should have been the guiding force. Since both Rylan and Eliza shared the same stubborn streak, Emilie hoped the daughter could show the strength of character, end this feud and may return home.
Taking a breath, Emilie believed she could impart some wisdom to her daughter, persuading her that a part of becoming a mature and independent woman was speaking to her father. Determined to prove herself, Eliza agrees, hoping her father will see she can cope with life outside her parent’s rules. Rylan maintains his stubborn approach insisting that he comes to the apartment; Eliza refused entry, locked the door and waiting for him in the hallway. They stood for a moment awkward as her neighbours observed passing to and from the lift; Eliza folded arms, defensive and Rylan glared an uncomfortable standoff.