Lies - Between Friends and Lovers
by Dyna Dee
With barely a sliver of soap left in her hand, shared by all those living in the apartment, Relena finished scrubbing the offensive smell of sweat from the one blouse she could claim as her own. Her roommates thought she was rather obsessive about cleanliness, but she was determined not to let go of the things that were fundamentally important, and being clean was near the top of that list. What she wouldn't give for some proper detergent, deodorant, toothpaste and fresh underwear. She dreaded the arrival of her menstrual cycle, having been told by the other two women she roomed with that sanitary napkins were limited and that torn up rags would have to be used after her insufficient supply of eight pads had been used. She shuddered at the thought and was grateful that her cycles were often irregular.
Wearing a long, misshaped and stained grey T-shirt, provided by Rida as her nightwear, she finished washing her blouse, knowing that it would be just as wrinkled and ugly after being washed and dried as it had been before she'd taken it off. She could only hope that it would smell a bit better.
She spared only a moment for wistfully thinking of all of the clothing contained within her massive closet back home before guilt set in. Compared to the people she lived with now and others struggling to survive on this colony, the amount of clothing she owned, her luxurious home and many comforts she's enjoyed now seemed obscenely frivolous. She owned dozens of evening gowns and clothing she'd never even worn because she'd been waiting for just the right occasion. And shoes? How many women on L2 could have benefitted from the dozens of shoes in her closet? Even though most of her footwear was on the formal side and inappropriate for everyday wear, the amount of money she'd spent on her them as well as purses and jewelry alone could have fed the colony for a long time.
Wringing out the small bits of moisture from the damp garment in her hands, she once again resisted the urge to cry, refusing to give into pity or self-recriminations. She was alive and not mistreated. As long as she stayed that way there was hope that she could be rescued, that she would return to Earth and to her brother and friends. If she gave into tears now, they would only be the beginning of a complete breakdown.
Purposely turning her thoughts to something else, she again recalled her conversation with Rida. The older woman was nearly a constant presence in the apartment and Relena's source of all kinds of information. The older woman spoke time and again about the inadequate supplies sent by Earth's government and that without the aid of that mysterious group of outsiders and their black ship they would all be dead by now. Tales regarding those who provided food for the colony were some of Rida's favorite topics, outside of her books. This bit of information again piqued Relena's interest.
Before her abduction she'd learned about Heero having gone into space to join with Wufei Chang on an investigation regarding a group of space pirates, or marauders, which was the term Heero had used. Could it be that the same group the Preventers hunted were actually the benefactors who brought the much needed and necessary supplies to L2? Could the marauders be the same people who were risking their own lives by sneaking through the embargo lines to help the forgotten citizens of this colony?
She considered those questions as she placed her sorry excuse for a blouse over the wire line that was drawn over the bathtub, which remained unused for bathing due to a lack of water. She looked at the empty tub with longing, promising to never again take water or bathing for granted. If she ever got back to Earth she was going to soak for hours in a hot bath, scented with lavender and gardenias until her skin was completely wrinkled, like the blouse she'd just washed. Looking back at the garment the thought came to her that it would probably dry faster on the make-shift clothing line that was strung up outside. But Gian had warned her about hanging anything out of doors at night, even several storeys up. It seemed that even though she judged the garment to be quite hideous, those who were needier might be tempted to take such a warm blouse for themselves. It seemed theft was a way of life on the colony, and perhaps more so out of necessity and survival rather than from simple greed.
Thinking about thieves again, her thoughts returned to the marauders. Strangely enough, she found herself feeling differently about them than she had before. Stealing was something she'd never done, not even as a child. She had been taught that it was wrong, for her and everyone else, to take what didn't belong to you. But now, if what she'd been told was true, that she was now on the receiving end of thievery, she couldn't help but feel a great deal of gratitude for those men and/or women who were stealing essential food, water and supplied in order to provide the essential goods to those who could not help themselves. Surely they were heroes, she thought while turning to leave the small room.
The evening cycle was young yet and her roommates were still out, and would no doubt be absent as long as the lights of the colony remained on. Without a television, radio or even a phone, there wasn't much else for her to do. Moving to the bedroom and to her regular spot on the mattress, she sat down and unconsciously combed her fingers though her hair, lacking a comb or brush. Despite being oily, her fingers quickly got tangled in the unruly mass and she wished for at least the hundredth time that she had a proper brush.
A loud rumbling sound came from her stomach, and the former Queen of the World wondered if there was ever going to be a time when she wasn't hungry. Even though she had received her regular allotment of food for the week, she continued from habit born of necessity to ration it carefully, saving some for a more desperate day. Damn, but she was hungry. She decided to try and escape the constant gnawing in her belly in the only way she knew how; by going to sleep.
Lying down, she covered herself with the one blanket assigned to her and curled up into a ball, holding onto her aching stomach. She silently uttered a prayer, concentrating this time on being grateful for being alive instead of complaining about her circumstances. And despite her current situation, she spoke to God of her genuine gratitude for being placed with people who had no intention of harming her. She recalled how, during the week when she'd had so little food to eat, each of her roommates had each given her two spoonfuls of their meal, knowing she had been desperately hungry. Those eight bites of food meant more to her than any fancy banquet she'd attended, where renowned chefs had presented one delectable dish afer another. There was little doubt that these humble people had probably never even heard of much less tasted the kinds of food she'd eaten, which made her feel more guilty than ever. She proceeded to gave thanks for each of her roommates, then closed her prayer with the hope that she would be able to endure this experience and come out of it a better person. "But please, God," she whispered. "Let this nightmare end soon. Amen."