After years of living alone, without even a pet, it was my body's natural reaction to identify an intruder. I half looked up from the white foam engulfing my hands, but didn't turn round. I knew it was Abbey now standing in the doorway behind me. In the past few weeks, I'd grown to respect this woman in a completely unexpected way. My dripping hand appeared from beneath the suds in front of me, wielding a spoon, and transferred it to the dish rack on my left. Her dark hair flashed in the handle, but I couldn't make out her face. Her name always reminded me of Abbey Road, but I didn't mind. I liked her name.
The chink of ceramic striking drifted from up the hall, my bare feet shuffled unsteadily on once soft but now worn pile. My eyes were groggy, more so from sleep than champagne, although I had partaken of both last night. Signs of life from the kitchen brought back recollection of my half-drunk cooking activities, and I changed course to examine the contents of the fridge to see what the cake really looked like.
She'd been wonderful to me, Abbey had, when I rocked up at her door step in January, wrapped in a towel but still soaking wet, under my arm one of the few possessions unscathed by the torrent in $100 worth of silicone and denim.
"My goodness! Come in, come in." She hadn't minded the water on these same tiles as she went to fetch me another towel. Abbey was strange in some ways though, not unfriendly or obnoxious, just strange. I felt a certain amount of guilt over invading her house, even though I know she enjoys the company. She snores not me, it's not like I'm really ever negatively impacting her life other than having to feed a second person. I work quietly in my room during her late-night parties. I rarely drink, she drinks a lot. Originating from Victoria, she has no idea what sarsaparilla is. We're so different and we talk so little now that we live together. But what the heck, what are friends for, right?
Silverware accumulated in the rack as I watched, piece by piece. The evidence of my deeds of the night before was being removed like insects working on a dead body. My plates sparkled like you see in dishwasher ads, and I couldn't help but smile. My recent house-guest hummed almost inaudibly, I couldn't tell what it was. I have no idea how she does it, be the way she is, I mean. She's not religious or anything like that, at least she's never said anything if she is. Her smile isn't plastic like most other people I know. She's taken a lot of crap recently, and just walked right through it. I used to tease her when we first met, and call her Beetroot because of her name. She'd just laughed at that too. I watched for a few more minutes as her short ginger pendulum of a pony tail swung hypnotically as she worked. This wasn't the first time I'd found her cleaning the bathroom when I got home, or vacuuming the living room while I was at work.
The fridge door seal broke with that unmistakable fridge door sound, and this time I turned round. At least five minutes must have passed while my hands automatically scrubbed. "A penny for your thoughts."
Abbey held out a milky-blue coloured plastic container. "A piece of chocolate cake for your troubles."
For Abbey, thank you.