There is a park nearby. It is called Mars Field. It doesn’t look anything like mars. I suspect it’s not supposed to.
I sit in a group. To my left a young hedgehog sits, MacBook open, typing away. A bottle of wine sits, leaning on the leg farthest from me.
“What are you writing?” I ask.
“A song.” She turns the MacBook to face me.
“I’m sorry, I can’t read Russian too well,” I tell her.
She frowns. “Haven’t you been here, like, seven months?”
I look away. “I’m studying,” I tell the air beside her face.
She snorts, not very hedgehog-like. “If you put me in the United States for a month, I’d be fluent.”
“Should we get something to eat?” I ask no one in general.
The hedgehog sighs, “No money,” she groans, turning her MacBook back, facing her. She places it lower on her legs, pulls out a guitar. She begins to sing. It is sharp, prickly even. I smile anyways.
“What do you do?” I ask her, once she’s finished her tune. She continues strumming slowly on the guitar.
“Well, my parents want me to work in their company,” she takes a sip of her wine, places it back, out of my reach.
“Oh, what do they do?”
She rolls her eyes. “They made a fortune in the sewing machine industry.”
She motions to her back and the ugly mess of spikes. Hers are dyed blue. “These babies are stronger than metal.”
I reach out to touch one, think better of it, and light a cigarette instead.
“So, you don’t want to work for them?”
The Hedgehog shakes her head. “No, that’s why I came here, to make it on my own.”
“Cool,” I ash in the dirt, “what do you want to do?”
She shrugs, a quill slips out onto the blanket.
“Right now I am working as a waitress, but, it isn’t fun.”
I nod. “Yeah, my mother was a waitress when I was a kid, she hated it.”
“Right!” The Hedgehog’s eyes go wide with understanding. “So,” she shrugs, “I think I’ll quit, I mean what is the point of working somewhere that is terrible?”
I frown at her, “Money?”
“Oh, who really needs money, if you’re free. You just have to feel the world around you and it will feel you back.”
I can’t help chuckling.
“Sorry, just an odd way to say that,” I say. Then add, “also, just pretty idiotic,” unable to help myself.
“Well maybe if you learned Russian you’d be the one feeling like an idiot!” She snaps. She stands up. Her MacBook falls, closing as it hits the dirt. She snatches it up, places it under her arm; the guitar, over the shoulder.
She walks off, bristling.
At least she left the wine.