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155. A Picture Paints a Thousand Words 157. Day 157

January 4th, 2021

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Rat Rodent Reality Reference Retrograde Red Rent Real Role Ramble Riff-Raff Race Rate Rotor Rhyme Rine Rind Roar Role Refer Resident Residence Rice Rancid Relinquish Recite Rwanda Residue Ratatouille Reap Rape Ransom Reel Roe Rowing Rhododendron Rhodes Rory Rick Rapscallion Rhine River React Romp Roll Rotate Reinvigorate Reenergise Redistribute Reduce Reuse Recycle Rebirth Receive Reimagine Redesign Rebuild Refuse Read Read Reed Reckon Reckoning Ragnarok Rohypnol Ron Rancour Readily Rocking Rats Rode Restfully Rallied Rabid Red Rabbits. Read Reimagined Royally Rolled Receipts, Received by Ron, Rent Redistributor, Reared and Raised on Rare Rooibos, Reindeer Rind, and Rennie Receptacles. Renée, Rendered in Real Resin, Reminded Rory of Radish Remains, Rotting Rankly in Ragnarok’s Residual Radiance. Rays of Rotating Raindrops Reaching, Running Randomly, Riskily Racing Riotously Rolling Rivers. The Ring of the doorbell caught Rachel by surprise as it pinged through the house. Every time it sang its horrible little tune she scribbled another mental note to look into how to get it changed. It was the sort of grown-up house makeover type thing she knew, as an adult, she had the power to do something about, but doorbells were one of the mysterious parts of the home that seemed to evade conscious thought. In the morning they Rang with the post, in the afternoon perhaps with a visitor, and Rachel’s first thought of ‘Dear God I hate that sound’ was always swept away with the intrigue of who could possibly be Ringing. This morning, Tuesday, bright, Rain due later, the Reveal turned out to be a woman wearing a long black coat that made Rachel think of old-school flashers, dark sunglasses that reflected her own face back at her, and an expression that said ‘I’m not here for chit chat, I hope you’re Ready for me to get to the point’. Having only woken two minutes previously, at the sound of the doorbell, Rachel was not Ready at all for the point to be got too. Generally she spent anywhere between an hour and two Readying herself for any sort of point, mostly the point of having a shower, eating a bagel, or a good session of mindless scrolling. ‘Are you Rachel Rosshampton?’ ‘Yes, yes I am.’ She stifled a yawn by doing the weird thing where you jut out your jaw and sort of do a big breath which makes your top lip quiver a bit and the corners of your eyes get teary. ‘I’m Rebecca, Ron’s daughter.’ Oh shit, thought Rachel, that was unexpected. The whole scenario was unexpected, but Ron’s daughter Rocking up to her doorstep at seven thirty on a weekday was another layer of left field. ‘Oh,’ she caught herself pausing, and cut the pause short as quickly as possible, ‘it’s lovely to meet you.’ The other, Rebecca, Ron’s daughter, didn’t say anything but her lips twitched in a semi-smirk that said, no it’s Really not. The kettle whistled. Rachel braced herself against the kitchen counter and took a deep breath. In the toilet down the hall she could hear Rebecca washing her hands, the boiler in the cupboard humming out some hot water. She imagined the self-satisfied look on the other woman’s face, smiling that same greedy smile that her father had her shone her way every time he happened to swing by. ‘Some music,’ she muttered, and took out her phone to play something. It was dead. How? How was it dead already? Falling asleep to videos of Rusty contraption Restoration will do that, she thought, mentally berating herself for waking up with the screen literally stuck to the side of her face. Rebecca Returned, impassive. Rachel wondered if she ever showed an emotion that wasn’t so obviously self-serving. You wouldn’t, she figured, with a dad like that. They sat across the coffee on the kitchen table, cordially silent as Rachel plunged the fun bit, paying unusual attention to the bubbles that floated up from the mesh. ‘See ya Alice,’ she muttered as the stream of air fizzed out. ‘What’s that?’ ‘Sorry?’ ‘Alice?’ ‘Oh,’ she frowned, ‘It’s just a sort of joke, the bubbles.’ ‘Oh Right.’ ‘It’s a family thing, a story about a ghost, someone called Alice.’ ‘I’ve never heard that one before.’ Great, thought Rachel, she’s showing an interest. As if she’s here for anything other than her own benefit. She’ll probably use all of this later, twist a harmless little story about bubbles into some sort of manipulative competition about success. ‘I didn’t want to see you,’ she finally admitted, and the honesty seemed to soften the other, who nodded with understanding. For the first time her eyes, which had been piercing in their scrutiny, seemed to slide away from the Room. ‘Nothing personal, obviously,’ she followed up, slightly Regretting her abruptness. ‘I’m not here to mince words, don’t worry.’ Okay, so no problem with abruptness then. ‘Why are you here, Beck—’ There it was. In less than five minutes she had put her foot in it. She thought about correcting herself, but knew it was too late, the damage was done. The other woman’s eyes slid further away from the Room, and Rachel knew she thinking of her. The other other woman who had Rushed through and Ruined a part of both of their lives, though she had only learnt about Rebecca’s side of things later, when her own dust had settled, and her life was back on a Reasonable track again. It’s the name, she wanted to say, why do you have the same name? But that wouldn’t have helped, she knew it would have crossed the other’s mind a thousand times already, every second of every day to have her own name, the one thing she could hold on to as truly hers, cursed by that woman. That horrible, noxious woman, who no doubt looked up at them now, smirking through the pain as her limbs stretched on a rack of fire. The thought gave Rachel little comfort, even in that freezing-boiling place that woman could work her magic, beguiler. The woman across from her was watching dourly. ‘This is so fucked,’ she said. ‘Yeah, yeah it is,’ Rachel replied, ‘It certainly fucking is…’

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