June 22nd, 2020

Venus

LJ Idol Season 11: "The Power of Cross-Species Friendship"

The Power of Cross-Species Friendship
idol season 11 | week 25 | 1770 words
The Catbird's Seat

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Catherine Bell and her friend Lark Bush lived in the downhill side of town. Nobody had much of anything there, except wounded pride and tempers that were too quick to spark and too slow to cool.

Everyone called them Cat and Bird. Cat, who was feistier, thought it was probably simpler for everyone else to remember. God forbid anyone should have to actually work to recall even the slightest detail about either of them.

Lark, always more easy-going, thought it was cute. Lark was never the type to look for ill will, though, or to be resentful. She wasn't even angry at her father for running out on her and her mom. Sad, but not angry.

Cat's dad had done the same, and she was plenty angry about it. Money had gotten even tighter after that, and her mom just drank and complained about how life had treated her. Cat had given up on her after three years of that crap, and had moved into Lark's house during their Sophomore year of high school.

Earning money to help Lark's mom out with rent and groceries was one of the reasons Cat worked part-time, doing the billing for an accounting office Saturday mornings and after school. The other reason was the work experience. Because Cat did not want to end up like her mother.

"I want to do something with my life!" she said one Sunday night, while trying to finish up her Trig homework.

Lark looked up from painting 'Bad Kitty' nail polish on her toes. Lark's homework was finished, because she was this superhuman mathlete or something. "Okay, but what exactly?"

That was one of the mysteries of Lark. "How can you be so practical and so laid-back at the same time?" Cat hadn't been laid-back since the fourth grade, the first time the city had turned off her family's electricity for an unpaid bill.

"I just don't sweat the small stuff, that's all," Lark said.

"People say that, but what does it even mean?"

"It's like, if you want to do something big, figure out what that is and plan for it." Lark paused to wipe off a stray smudge of polish. "But don't sit around all, 'I wanna be a pop-star, why isn't that happening?' and keep stressing. You know? We all want that, but just saying it doesn't mean anything."

"Well, I don't want to be a pop star," Cat said. "But I definitely want something better than minimum wage..."

"Well, yeah," Lark said.

Cat and Lark would walk to school together every morning, trudging from the school-lunch-program half of town to the moneyed half where the high school was located. Cat always felt the weight of the other students' judging eyes on her, waiting for her to slip up and do something awkward or uncultured. It never seemed to bother Lark. When Marcy Bradford or one of the other mean girls would comment on her clothes or her worn-out backpack, Lark would just laugh and say, "Well duh, because I'm poor."

Cat wished she could be like that. The boys would always laugh, like Lark was the coolest thing ever (and she was). And everyone knew the Marcys of this world had it coming.

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