Despite her best efforts to ignore them, the knocks at her door were only getting louder. Carmilla moaned, fighting off the lingering effects of her hangover and rolled out of bed. She pushed herself to her feet,nearly tripping over the jacket that she’d dropped at the foot of the bed and stumbled towards the door.
Leather pants had seemed like a good idea at the time. Sleeping in them however, left much to be desired.
The person was still knocking. Carmilla groaned and checked her phone. No messages. Only one person in her life was so persistent. Still, why Will couldn’t have just texted when he knew that Carmilla was dead to the world was a mystery all its own.
She unlocked the door, “Someone better be dying.”
“Um, hi?” The voice was light and cheerful. Definitely not Will.
Carmilla forced her eyes open beyond the slit required to navigate her apartment. There was a tiny pixie of a woman standing at the door. Early twenties maybe, or a teenager with an affinity for button-up shirts. Carmilla didn’t really have the brain capacity to do a proper analysis before 3pm.
She did note the girl’s smile. It was large and blinding and just a little too adorable for first thing in the morning.
“Hi?” the girl tried again.
Carmilla let herself sag against the doorframe, “So you’ve said sweetheart. Do you have a reason for your persistent knocking this early in the morning or was it just for fun?”
The girl frowned, her nose bunching in a way that made a tiny wrinkle appear between her eyebrows, “It’s 11am. That’s hardly early.”
Carmilla shrugged, “Well cutie, that would depend on the day. Or the night,” Carmilla gave a slow wink, “if you know what I mean.”
The girl blushed an incredible shade of pink but ignored Carmilla’s comment, “Well, sorry to wake you then. But since you’re here, I’ve actually got something-” The girl shifted slightly, bringing a clipboard from where it hung in her hand to rest against her hip.
“No thanks,” Carmilla said reflexively, “not interested.”
The girl frowned, “But I haven’t even told you what-”
“Look sweetheart,” Carmilla said, “You’ve got a clipboard and I’m really not interested in signing a petition or talking about politics or donating my cash to whatever charity of the month is swinging by this time or hearing a long winded speech on the power of religion to my eternally damned soul.” Carmilla peeled herself off the doorframe and took a step back into her apartment,
“So let’s just save each other some time here. You’re pretty cute. I’m sure you’ll find someone a bit more awake who would be happy to listen to your crusade or whatever in exchange for getting to look at your face a little longer.”
Quickly Carmilla slid into her apartment and let go of the door. She stretched casually, figuring that since she was up anyway a cup of coffee wouldn’t hurt.
Carmilla spun back around. A running shoe with a cupcake drawn on the toe in marker was jammed between her heavy steel door and the door frame. Then the door swung back open.
“Now just hold on one second,” Carmilla blinked in surprise as the tiny girl glared at her and held her front door open. The girl’s eyes were narrowed as she continued, “It’s early. You’re grumpy and tired and have that whole broody sexy mysterious thing going on and you have every right to hate being bothered. Even though 11am is a perfectly reasonable time to be knocking on doors. But,” Carmilla raised an eyebrow as the girl continued, “I’m on a time crunch. This isn’t about me. And you’re the first person in the last 20 minutes to both open their door and not look like a crazy psycho murderous serial killer. Seriously, what’s up with that guy in 2b?”
“I’m flattered that I’m preferable to Crazy Dave, cutie” Carmilla said.
Something sparked in the girl’s eyes, like an ember that had suddenly decided to flash into an inferno, “Laura,” the girl said, “If you want to call me something, use my name. It’s Laura. Not cutie or sweetheart.”
“Look, Laura,” Carmilla let her name draw out slowly, “are you ever going to tell me what naive little campaign is so important that you would barge into my home? Because let me tell you, whatever you’re here campaigning for is just a drop in the bucket of the universe and won’t matter in the grand scheme of things.” She gave Laura a once-over, “You probably think that if you’re pure of heart and really believe in something then it’ll make a difference. Well, I hate to break it to you, cupcake.” Laura’s eyes narrowed at her words, “ But we’re just endless anchors weighing ourselves down through the universe and we can’t make a dent on the infinite expanse of time.” Carmilla waved a hand through the air.
What she wasn’t expecting was the cupcake to explode words like a sea of righteousness, “First of all,” Laura said, “yeah, maybe the world doesn’t work exactly the way my pure heart would like it to but that doesn’t mean that I can’t try and make it better. I deserve a world that’s better even if it's insignificantly better. Everyone deserves better. Even you deserve better.”
Carmilla blinked as Laura finally took a breath.
“And secondly,” Laura continued, “I’m not technically in your apartment, am I?”
Looking down, Carmilla had to fight off a smirk. For all of Laura’s speeches and door opening, her feet were still very much in the hallway.
Still Carmilla refused to cave and looked pointedly at Laura’s arm still holding her door open, “Cupcake, your arm is still very much in my apartment.”
“You’ll survive,” Laura said. She looked down at her watch and Carmilla’s smile nearly erupted when the words “frick-frack” erupted from Laura’s mouth.
“Problem cupcake?” Carmilla asked.
“Alright listen up,” Laura paused, “you got a name?”
Carmilla finally let the smirk out, “I was warned against sharing with strangers.”
Laura made that adorable bunched up face again, “Fine. Alright listen up, mysterious broody leather pants girl. I’ve got to go now. But i’m going to be back in about ten minutes. Now I’m sure you’re wondering why you should answer the door. But you’re going to do it because I refuse to believe that there isn’t a scrap of decency under that pessimistic exterior. I’m going to have a rather scared 8 year old child with me who really needs a confidence boost. So, we’re going to knock on this door. you’re going to open it. we’ll make our sales pitch. And you’ll buy something.” Laura reached into her back pocket and chucked a crumpled paper at Carmilla, “here’s five dollars. You don’t even have to be pleasant. Just please buy something.” Laura paused, “please.”
Then Laura was gone.
Carmilla bent down, picked up the crumpled bill and smoothed down the edges with her thumb.
# # #
Laura stomped down the hallway and through the stairwell, hoping that she hadn’t just thrown away five dollars for nothing. She frowned at the cupcake that she’d drawn on her shoes in a moment of questionable sanity as though it was to blame for the grumpy girl’s entire demeanor.
“Laura?” said a small voice.
With a slight jump in her step, Laura rammed a smile on her face and grinned down at the little kid, “Hi Laf. You ready to go?”
The tiny redhead had a small blue wagon behind them, stacked to overflowing with boxes of cookies. Laf fiddled with one of the badges on their green vest, “What if we don’t sell any?”
“Of course, we’ll sell them!” Laura tried to look confident, “why, I bet we’ll beat the sales record. Best in the whole troop! Besides, we’ve already got a head start.” She leaned down to whisper, “My dad loves girl scout cookies. I bet he’d buy ten boxes if we asked him.” Laura didn’t mention that her dad was a diabetic and that he’d be buying them all for his sugar addicted daughter.
Laf still didn’t look convinced, “My mom said that people won’t want to buy them from me. Can’t we just use them for rocket fuel? I need more test substances anyway!”
Laura’s heart broke a little at the look of hope in Laf’s eyes. “Well your mom’s going to be really surprised when we break that record.” She would not badmouth anyone’s mother, even if they kind of deserved it. She reached out and took their hand, “Come on. I’ve already scoped the building out.”
She helped Laf maneuver their wagon to broody girl’s door. Laura stared at it for a moment, uncertain.
“Should we knock?” Laf asked.
Laura shook herself and smiled at Laf, “You’re absolutely right. Why don’t you try this one?”
Laf took a deep breathe and rapped on the door.
It stayed shut.
“try it again,” Laura said.
Laf’s face slowly fell as they stared at the closed door. Laura fought the impulse to pound on the door like a madwoman. Instead, she crouched down next to Laf and said, “They’re probably just not home. Why don’t we try the next door?”
Laf’s face suddenly lit up as the door swung open.
“Sorry,” the mysterious girl said, “I was just changing.”
And change she had. Laura tried not to stare. The broody girl looked significantly more awake than their last meeting. Her eyes were open, she’d changed from leather pants to a pair of jeans, and was wearing a slightly too large light blue t-shirt.
She winked at Laura before bending down to Laf’s level and stuck out a hand, “Hi. I’m Carmilla.”
Laf looked at the hand for a moment before letting out a shy smile and taking the offered hand, “My name’s Lafontaine.”
“That’s a pretty name,” Laf’s smile broadened at Carmilla’s words. “So,” Carmilla continued, “what can I do for you and your cute friend today Lafontaine?”
Laf paused and looked up a Laura. Laura gave her a smile and a thumbs up. They’d practiced this.
“We’re selling cookies!” Laf blurted, “‘cause the winner gets to pick any prize they want and one of them is science camp and I really want to go to science camp and my mom said that I can only go if she doesn’t have to pay.”
That was not what they’d practiced.
Still Carmilla nodded seriously, “That’s a pretty great prize.”
Now Laf let out a real smile and Laura’s heart melted right there, “Right?” they said, “we get to learn out to make slime and look at body parts that doctors put in jars and they’ll let us freeze stuff with liquid nitrogen and then we get to shatter them with hammers.”
“Well now,” Carmilla said, “I must have some of these science camp supporting cookies.”
Laf looked so excited that Laura was almost a little ashamed that she’d rigged this entire scenario, “It’s five dollars for a box.” Laf said.
“I see,” Carmilla said, “and what’s your favourite kind.”
“Peanut butter,” Laf said immediately.
Carmilla looked up from where she was crouched down with Laf, “How about you cupcake? Any favourites?”
“Laura loves the thin mints,” Laf said before Laura could answer, “she eats them like all of the time. Her dad says that she’s going to turn into a giant cookie.” Laura could literally feel herself blushing as Carmilla smirked at her.
“Tell you what,” Carmilla looked back down at Laf, “since it’s for science camp. I’ll buy two boxes of the peanut butter and two boxes of the thin mints.”
Laf squealed in excitement and Laura’s mind shut down. She’d given Carmilla $5 dollars. 4 boxes was a lot more than 5 dollars.
She stared at the pair as Carmilla reached into her back pocket, pulled out a wallet and exchanged a twenty for the 4 boxes that Laf was enthusiastically trying to give her. So enthusiastically that Laf knocked half of the boxes out of the perfect alignment that Perry had stacked them in when the boxes were handed out.
Laf scrambled to pick them up.
“Now cupcake,” Carmilla stood back up and once again leaned against the door frame, “here I thought that the girl scouts had an age requirement, not a height requirement.”
Laura closed her eyes and shook her head, finally letting the smile out, “I am maybe an inch shorter than you.”
“Still shorter,” Carmilla said, “must be all the cookies.”
“They’re so good!” Laura defended, “you’ll see. It doesn’t help that we’re storing them at my place. They just sit there. Staring at you. Begging to be eaten.”
Carmilla’s smile almost looked genuine, “Well, we wouldn’t want to deny the cookies their destiny.”
“Exactly,” Laura nodded.
There was a moment of silence as they watched Laf restack the cookie boxes.
“Sorry I was late,” Carmilla looked down at her feet, “with the door. It took a lot of digging to find a shirt that wasn’t black.”
“Thank you for that, by the way” Laura blurted, “ thanks for being so nice. And buying all those boxes. I’m so sorry I was harsh earlier. Calling you broody and all that. I totally misjudged you and-”
Carmilla raised a hand to cut her off, “Now, now cupcake. I am broody and mysterious and I think you used the word sexy at some point?” Laura felt the blush come back. That was three times in the ten minutes she’d known this girl. “But I’m certainly not going to be rude to a kid who just wants to go science camp.” Laura started to speak but Carmilla wasn’t done, “or her attractive fireball of a cupcake.”
“Laura,” Laf tugged on her sleeve, still smiling, “can we go do the other doors now!”
“One second there kid,” Carmilla bent back down and put two of the boxes back in Laf’s arms, “don’t forget these.”
“These are yours.” Laf said.
“And I’m giving them to you,” Carmilla said, “well the peanut butter ones. The thin mints are for your friend here. Wouldn’t want to deny an addict their cookies.”
Four hours later Laura and Laf headed back to Laf’s house pulling a blue wagon with only two boxes of cookies in it. Laura gave Laf a hug when they reached their house, grabbed her box of thin mints, and headed home. Walking back, Laura took a quick scan of the sidewalk for witnesses and flipped the box on its side to crack it open and just indulge in a couple of treats after a hard day’s work.
She paused at the phone number and words scrawled across the box, ‘Call me if you’re interested in sharing the other box, Cupcake’