My sister's alarm clock was abnormally loud. Every day at 6:00 a.m. she woke us both up with a never-ending loop of Michael Jackson songs. Even worse, she always 'forgot' to turn it off when she left, leaving me to march down to her apartment and unplug it, lest my eardrums burst. Her apartment was below mine, but our walls were thin and her phone's volume was always turned to the highest point possible. I’d like to say I always made the best of it, but that would be disloyal to my character. Today, however, the Ted talk she’d sent me was still bouncing around in my head, so I decided to start the day off right. Besides, I’d come to not mind ‘Beat It,’ and if I stayed long enough to hear the next song my mood might change.
Since today held that rare magical aura (the one my sister seemed to carry like a halo around her head), I decided to put on my best pair of sweatpants before I made my usual trip to her room. I even brushed through my hair, despite it being 90% frizz and 100% hopeless. I laughed at the ridiculous skip in my step when I ran down the stairs in an attempt to get there before the alarm played the next song. Caught up in my absurd behavior, I failed to notice the powerful-looking creature in front of me, which led to a disastrous collision. Their papers went everywhere; up the stairs, down the stairs, into an open room, and in a pile next to my feet. Feeling oddly generous, I helped them pick up their papers and went on my way. The Michael Jackson song had already changed, but I would be able to get there before the next one started.
I opened the door to her immaculate apartment and remembered why we could no longer share one. We were polar opposites. There wasn't a single crumb on her floor. My floor was barely visible underneath years of popcorn and Cheeto dust. Her walls were clean and simple, with a couple of shelves and fake plants. Mine had too many posters to count, some of which were probably worth a fortune by now. Her bed was made, and even my cheery mood couldn't bring me to smooth out my sheets. I envied her organized desk. The only things I regularly knew how to find were my license and my passport, and there were exceptions to that rule.
The alarm clock was in a new place every day, most likely because my sister hoped I would wake up in the time it took me to find it. Today it was behind one of her fake cactuses. Her to-do list hung above it, making me feel a little guilty. Most of her tasks were crossed off (another magical ability of hers). Sunday was supposed to be my day off, but she had no days off. I decided to at least get the mail in honor of all her hard work.
My unusual mood hadn't disappeared, which meant I wasn't asleep in my sister's bed. Yet. I waltzed up the stairs and back into my apartment. Something in the back of my mind was bothering me... The creature. Aliens had come as refugees to our planet thirty years ago, but it was rare to run into one. Most of them lived underground; nearer to the center of the earth than humans could ever dream of going. I wished I'd stayed and talked to the alien, to see if I was close to fluent in their language or if Duolingo was lying to me.
I wanted to make the most of my productiveness, so I straightened my room. Everything looked fine except for the crumbs all over the floor, so I decided to run back down to my sister's apartment to borrow her vacuum. I grabbed the mail keys as well. The stairs weren't carpeted, and my shoes were still a little muddy from the hike I'd suggested me and my sister go on. I slipped and fell down the stairs, where the alien was waiting for me. They were smiling, and I took this chance to try their language. A loud rumbling noise filled the stairwell, which I took to mean Duolingo was lying to me. Maybe I would improve once the Great British Baking Show was translated into their language.
On my phone, I was able to roughly translate what I’d said and it had come out to be either “day yellow” or “day waffle,” which I wasn’t especially mad about. I was debating on whether to give Duolingo a second chance when I arrived at the long rows of mailboxes. Luckily, I hadn’t forgotten my apartment number like I had yesterday. I had almost turned the key when two burly men grabbed my arms from behind. Scared I was being kidnapped, I tried to kick one of them in the shins. They didn’t let go. One of them handcuffed my wrists.
“Come with us,” one said in a high-pitched voice that didn’t fit his figure.
“You know what you did,” the other one added, his voice more accurate.
I didn’t know. I didn’t know what I had done. My mind drew a blank as I thought back to the events of the day. Sure, I’d done some things that were out of character, but those things couldn’t possibly merit being handcuffed. Perhaps the powerful-looking alien had been offended? But I’d come to recognize an alien’s laugh, and they had certainly laughed when I commented on the “day waffle”. My train of thought ran laps around my brain, and suddenly it stopped.
When I woke up I was laying on a hard, concrete floor. Our apartment building didn’t have any concrete floors. Cold air pushed against my face, and I could hear a conversation in the distance.
“We’ve got a criminal on our hands. We’re going to need to keep an eye on her.”
“You’re saying she knew the mail doesn’t come on Sundays? And since she got the mail the day before…”
“There might be other motives. But for now, we have to make sure she never gets the mail again.”