When Eliza made her move to the city, her life spiralled, and she needed a space she could breathe. A relationship with her father, at that time, was on his terms; she had to be his glory, achieving the results he wanted. The apartment continued to host infestations of rats and cockroaches. The refresh was tedious progress as money flow remained tight. Small changes included wallpaper, bed and a much-needed bookcase. The rats were still intent on eating everything in sight, but her favourites novels were safe. Eliza enjoyed trips to Brindleton Bay; spending time with Milly. The hardest part came from Vicky, who caught herself calling Eliza by her aunt’s name. The other luxuries Eliza craved drained her savings. She wanted to party; explore the city, something she planned to do with her cousin. Till then, why should she live in the Arts District and deny herself access to its beauty?
The Strangerville F.C offered Eliza a place on their starting line-up. Her former manager recommended them as a mediocre minor league team in need of a star player. It would be a place to train; hone her skills, gain the potential scouts were looking for. In Strangerville, civilians observed outsiders with caution. It seemed the people who lived in the sleepy town were military, scientists or related to them. Another divide came from those looking to escape the weirdness. She found herself surrounded by whispers. A secret lab rumoured to be conducting experiments, a disease released into the town. Residents experienced a temporary madness, speaking in tongues. Eliza made sure to avoid the main town, the situation made her uneasy. She focused on her soccer skills, not questioning the sudden absences of her team members. Disappointment came as the promised scouts failed to appear. As the season concluded, her team reached the semi-finals of the Minor League cup.
Gathering the family in her one-bedroom apartment for the Spring Equinox sounded fun. The reality proved uncomfortable. Eliza’s home boasted a meagre three seats, which the family took turns sitting. Patrick’s nose screwed, the food leaving a disappointing taste in his mouth. The illusion of eating chicken did not compare to the actual meat. He respected his sister’s choice to be a vegetarian and her improving cooking skills. What he wished is they had hosted this in Newcrest. His mouth watered at the idea of grilled sausages, burgers or a juicy steaked. Eliza nudged him; Patrick forced a smile, exclaiming deliciousness. She knew he was lying as the exaggerated reaction echoed through the room. Eliza’s heart sank; half-eaten plates, abandoned on the counter in favour of a city walk and the vendors.
The phone buzzed, San Myshuno Warriors were ready to offer Eliza her big break. Eliza scored two of three goals and lined up countless other opportunities. Impressed by the raw talent, Eliza had shown herself, a valuable team player and they wanted her. They issued a contract for two seasons on thick, high-quality paper, the team’s logo in the top right. Eliza was a pro-athlete, the rookie. Terms and Conditions were a headache to read. The money meant she could begin her search for the perfect downtown apartment.