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Dichotomy by Satsuma Laroux

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Disclaimer: I own nothing in this story despite having created the Originals. The canons, the town itself, and the story this is based off of are all property of their respective owners.

The beach had never held any special place in Suzannah’s heart. Though she’d grown up in the ever-more urbanized Sacramento valley of California, the stereotyped feel of the state itself had always made Suzannah feel ostracized and out-of-place. It wasn’t the big cities, for she’d never had any aversion to places like New York or even San Francisco; one of the few Golden State destinations she adored. It was not the recession, which California had just oh-so-recently begun to pick itself up from, because she had never been able to wrap her mind around the severity of economical situations anyway. It was the newly-birthed R&B aura; the uncomfortable urban feel everything California embodied any more. Now, Suzannah really wasn’t against all of that as a lifestyle; if that was the type of person someone was, then so be it. She, however, was not like that; she liked her rock music and that was that. Suzannah had grown to judge (whether wrong or right) what kind of person someone was based on what type of music they listened to. Generally, on a 99.9% basis, she’d found herself to be right.

The type of people flocking the Santa Carla beaches apparently listened to quite the opposite of what she did. Not all of them, granted, but enough of them for her to glance beside her towards the driver’s seat of the Yugo and thin her lips in a very ‘I told you so’ expression. The adjacent girl, who was driving the awkward little car, did not notice or if she did, paid no mind. After all, why would she? Tracy liked R&B music…

Suzannah rested her forehead against the window and people watched while Tracy manoeuvred through the Saturday morning tourist traffic. The impulse to ask why it was they had to move here as opposed to somewhere less… ‘local’ crept into her brain again but she repressed it as asking Tracy for the thousandth time was not going to get them anywhere. The deposit was paid, their belongings packed, and they had arrived. Truth be told, Suzannah really hadn’t had to move out with her childhood friend, but the alternative was remaining at home another year and, at twenty years old, that was out of the question as far as she was concerned.

“Oh my god, look at his hair…”

Suzannah surfaced from her irritable reverie to look where Tracy was pointing.

“Watch the road.”

“I am but… look.”

“Tracy, there’s nothing wrong with his hair…”

“Are you kidding me?”

“Tracy, it’s a mullet.”

Thankfully, the girls rounded a corner which put the mullet-wearer out of site and Tracy pulled the car into the parking lot of a small diner. Truthfully, Suzannah had felt a defensive need to shield the boy and his haircut as it was a bit of a relief for her to surface from the non-stop sea of fades and flattops. A nice mullet was a tad refreshing.

“What are we doing here?”

Tracy paused mid-pull from removing the keys from the ignition. “Aren’t you hungry?”

“…Yes, but why don’t we get settled in first?”

Tracy placed the keys in her purse and opened the door. “Because I’m hungry.”

Suzannah didn’t argue further. Admittedly, Tracy did have to endure a lot of sighs and complaints on the four hour drive from Sacramento to Santa Carla and had only yelled at her once, so Suzannah supposed she could quietly acquiesce to an early lunch.

“I’m so starving…” Suzannah noncommittally nodded. The diner was small and dingy, with the appearance of a building that had stood far too long without renovation. She wondered if the food looked better than the building.

It didn’t and the taste wasn’t much to write home about either. After half a grilled cheese sandwich and a watery coke, Suzannah waited for Tracy to finish and for the waitress to return with the checks. They left soon thereafter and, with slightly fuller stomachs, got back in the car.

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

Suzannah paused, her hand on her seatbelt. “What?”

“You sure. You want. To do this.” Tracy looked imploring, like she really wanted to know. She’d always been the more accommodating of the two. Suzannah had grown to become the straightforward, blunt, and primal one. Somehow to two sides fit together to create a nice completed puzzle, but no one had ever figured out how or why.

Suzannah sighed quietly and faced the front of the car, focusing intently on the hood. “Yes. I do. I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t.”

“Well,” Tracy mumbled, starting the car, “Sometimes you don’t really think before you act and for a while I thought you were going to do just about anything to get out of your parents’ house.”

“Yeah, well… I was definitely getting to that point… How far are we from the complex?”

“Uh… Probably about five minutes…?”

They drove that five minute distance and then another five minutes after that for the traffic. Suzannah could tell that this was going to get old and fast. On the way, they passed the restaurant she had been hired at, giving her the ability to make this move. She stared at the side view mirror as they passed, watching it as they continued to drive up the road. It didn’t look too bad and, if the apartment complex wasn’t too far off, may even be within walking distance, which would be great given her lack of vehicle.

They passed a billboard which blocked the restaurant from view. Before Suzannah looked away, the litany of graffiti tattooed across its back caught her gaze and she read the words so boldly emblazoned across its beams: Murder capital of the world.

Oh, well that’s nice, she thought. I guess that rules walking to and from work out of the picture....

“Did you see that?” she asked Tracy, her thumb jerked behind her head to gesture at the sign, seeming to forget her earlier wish that her friend pay attention to driving.

“Hm?” “That sign? It totally said ‘Murder capital of the world’. Are we serious here?”

Tracy took her eyes from the cliff side road for just a second to award Suzannah an irritated look. “Suzie,” she murmured, “That is graffiti.”

“Oh and when was the last time you saw someone tag something like that on a wall….?”

“Suzie, we’re fine. Wow. Just let me find the fucking complex, okay?”

Suzannah could tell her friend was getting to the peak of weary of her complaints, especially after her previous reassurance that she did want to be here, however half true that declaration was. Not to mention, trying to navigate the precarious cliff in the midst of all this traffic was getting more and more difficult, so she shut up and continued to gaze out her window.

They pulled into the moderately-sized commune and parked near the near-hidden head office and got out. It was quiet, Suzannah noticed. She was surprised, given the proximity to the road, but she supposed the tall, tapered trees lining each side of the front gate and nearly blocking the ocean from view served as a sort of sound barrier. Hm. She didn’t have see the ocean every day and it was quiet. Maybe she would get over herself and learn to like this place after all.

“Hi there!” The girls were greeted warmly by a blonde woman with too much eye shadow and a practiced smile. “Can I help you?”

“Yeah,” Tracy said slowly, peering behind the woman as if looking for something. “Um… We’re the new tenants of 301? I spoke to Daniel this morning, reminding him we’d be moving in today?”

“Oh yes!” The woman rifled through some paper in her desk mailbox and withdrew a few yellow sheets of paper. “Miss… Cole and… Miss…?”

“Chazwichtz,” Tracy supplied gaily, used to the mispronunciation. More conversations had been started and more dates had been won for Tracy simply by the conundrum of her surname than Suzannah cared to rehash. It was a rather pointless thing to find endearing, especially when there were many other things about Tracy that could just as easily have found her dates and friends.

“Daniel is actually on his lunch but I would be happy to take you to your new home. My name is Kim Dean and I’m the other manager here.” She flashed another stage-smile before shaking hands with the two girls. She gestured that she would follow us out the front door. When she saw the little red Yugo with no trailer or moving van in tow, her expression moulded from one of practised civility and charm to one of mild confusion.

“Have you already directed your van to the apartment?” Suzannah opened her mouth to retort with an acidic mark of over defensiveness, but Tracy was too quick. “No, this is it.” She patted the roof of the car to emphasize what that entailed. When the two girls had left their homes in Sacramento, they’d packed only a suitcase each and what could fit into the remaining space in the backseat without blocking the rear-view. Needless to say, it wasn’t much at all.

The woman had enough grace to leave it at that, however.

Tracy didn’t seem too impressed with Suzannah’s lingering attitude but opted not to say anything. “We’ll uh, just follow you over in the car.”

Kim nodded and proceeded to walk on her own towards the far left of the community.

“Honestly, you really need to stop jumping down everyone’s throats. Not everyone is out to get you today.”

Suzannah didn’t return a comment. It was becoming a constant battle; picking and choosing when she wanted to be sympathetic towards Tracy’s situation of having to deal with her. Right now, she didn’t much want to ponder on it.

Suzannah had never before seen the apartment in person; when Tracy had first come down to pay the deposit and bring the paper work back, Suzannah had been stuck at work on a double shift. Snaps for her and not knowing what the fuck her new home really was going to look like. She found herself impressed, though, once she got there. In addition to being in a secluded, quiet part of the complex, their place was also on the bottom level and close to the laundry room. The inside wasn’t too bad either. It housed two bedrooms, a decently sized kitchen, and two bathrooms while the living room was more than enough space to house whatever cheap furniture that they could currently afford. Perhaps things didn’t have to be so high-key after all.

Tracy finished up the remaining formalities with Kim while Suzannah began to unload. The good thing about not having brought too many things with them was that there was that much less to move. She’d just about finished hauling everything in when Kim took her leave.

“You girls are going to be happy here, I can promise you.” Kim Dean smiled warmly to punctuate this.

Suzannah shut the hatchback and hitched the last bag up on her shoulder, sparing only a momentary glance at their new landlord. “We’ll call if we need anything.” It was as polite a way as she knew how to notify Kim that they could take it from there.

When at last everything was set in the living room, Suzannah finally felt it appropriate to crack a small smile. “Decent.”

Tracy squealed and performed some ridiculous jig of excitement, as though the closing of the front door symbolized the finality of their departure from the ‘nest’. “Suzie this is…. Gahhh! This is so exciting!”

The darker haired girl permitted the ginger to fling her arms around her in celebration, succumbing only to a small eye roll in the process. “Mmmmk… Off.”

“Let’s get everything organized and then maybe head to the boardwalk for the night?”

Suzannah shrugged as she knelt over a box labelled ‘kitchen ‘n’ bathroom’. “Sounds fine. I want to stop by the restaurant too… Let them know I’m in town so I can get my schedule.”

Tracy beamed. “Okay! We can stop by Penny’s too so I can get mine!”

Suzannah wasn’t too sure about why Tracy remained so jovial in discussing work, but Tracy remained jovial during a lot of things so, really, it wasn’t all that odd. “Whatever, fine by me.”
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