a white dress, blue jay, and lemon curd

By Rina Rossi

She was always at odds with her, herself, and she. There were so many variations of this person, as they were legally named Arlette Maired Cassel, but also took the form of Josephine Plum and Adele Moreau.
Arlette was the mysterious lady who lived deep within the ebony forests, 50 minutes from the outskirts of New York. She was 25 years old, but spent her days, from dusk till dawn, with a glass of red wine in her right hand, the paper in her left, and a piece of bread whipped with lemon curd sitting on the countertop at 3:43 P.M. Every afternoon while she walked through her manor with 4-inch heels as her own “indoor slippers” and Cartier accessories, she listened to Dave Brubeck on the stereo, or Hank Mobley on the cassettes. Thus, Arlette did not possess a heterogenous taste in music. Legend has it that Arlette previously worked in the city shortly after graduate school, but promptly resigned and fled.
Josephine Plum was the soft naturalist who resided in a log cabin in the San Juan Islands and roamed around the hills and meadows around Josephine’s cabin, barefooted, with a long, white dress flowing behind Josephine. Josephine was an observer, and found solace sitting by the babbling brook, listening to its childish garble, and blowing dandelion seeds, while contemplating when would be the appropriate time to cut off her tailbone-length mane.
Adele Moreau was the film and comic fanatic, who lived in a treehouse off of a trail in a state park in Prince Edward’s Island, where Adele’s blue jay perched on top of the tree. Adele mainly spent her days watching cult films, documentaries about artists, and comics that were later developed into eclectic cartoons. A room and a fifth was the storage space available to store all of these tapes, not counting the films scattered all over the wooden floor and threadbare rugs around Adele’s house.
All three of these women lived alone and independent from society.

Between Adele, Arlette, and Josephine, Arlette was the techie.
“It’s a vintage one, but it works. I used it in ‘93, it caused my family much revulsion. But then I re-worked it, and it’s pretty much been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m bestowing it to you” a mysterious note read, that was left in a cardboard box tied up with a lavender ribbon, with a lavender plant attached to the ribbon. This box was left on Arlette’s porch. Along with the note, the cardboard box contained an old, rugged, and unnamed electronic device in it. As a result of Arlette’s constant curiosity, Arlette opened up the device.
“Who Are You?” the screen of the antiquated device said, lighting up in yellow block letters.
“Great question.” Arlette muttered to herself.
“Construct friend of your dreams. Take personality quiz,” the device read.
This was oddly convenient for Arlette. Arlette’s mother sent her thousands of emails in the past year asking about the trajectory of Arlette’s life, none of which Arlette responded to. Arlette’s mother was getting re-married in the following week, and expected Arlette to attend, and with a friend of some sort, to prove that Arlette was making a life for herself after graduate school.
Unrestrained by any social setbacks, a single friend, or any calling that would have stopped Arlette from taking this eerie personality quiz, Arlette moved forward with it. The quiz asked a series of questions, ranging from ordinary ones such as “What is your age?”, to extremely preposterous ones, such as “Are you double jointed? If so, how often do you practice yoga?”. The algorithm was erratic. After Arlette finished the quiz, which took her 3 hours, five cups of coffee, and three cucumber sandwiches, the screen lit up and showed, in now red block letters, “Friend generated. Will see effects tomorrow”, and Arlette took this opportunity to take a rest until the morning.
~
It was now 6:01, during the following morning. Arlette was awoken by the chirping of a bluejay. When Arlette opened her window curtain, she saw a long, flowing dress move about Arlette’s porch in a dancer-like fashion. Startled, Arlette jumped out of bed, put on her slippers, and raced to the door. No one had ever come to Arlette’s door before. She peered through the front door’s peephole, and saw two women! : One was a woman with long, golden tresses, wearing a long, white dress, the other a woman wearing a T-shirt entitled “Tales From the Crypt comics” with a blue jay flying around her shoulders.
Arlette finally opened the door, put on her eyeglasses, and asked, “Can I help you?”
The two women both shot out their right hands at the same time in a rather robot-like fashion.

The long-haired woman, in a particularly emotionless manner said, “I’m Josephine”.
The woman with the blue jay said, “I’m Adele.”
Beads of sweat began to form on Arlette’s forehead and neck, as a result of deep, menacing nerves she felt from this nonsensical situation. She looked behind at the antiquated machine she had received the night prior, with the screen lighting up, saying, “Friend generated. Results currently in effect.”

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