At first, she'd said she needed the night. She was tired, she'd been running across the country to get a ferry, (she really hates ferries), it had been early in the morning in her world when she left and she'd spent the night before hiding in a train station in Fukuoka until she could get that ferry out of the country. Whatever was in the folders her father had so carefully hidden away, she could deal with it after getting at least one night to rest.
It wasn't the worst idea Elle's ever had, anyway.
She had meant to do it when X was around. There was no real reason why she changed her mind other than that, after getting maybe three real hours of sleep, she had woken on X's couch to find the apartment empty except for Steve, Farrah, and the ever present fish. She'd thought about waiting, but then, well – then she didn't.
Now, a few hours later, the apartment doesn't look that different from how it did earlier, at least when it comes to being empty. Steve is curled up on the kitchen counter, fur still on end and tail flapping every so often in a perturbed sort of way, as though he had recently been the victim of some affront. Farrah, on the other hand, is contentedly snoozing on the couch, lying flat across a couple of what appear to be MRI scans, though this hardly looks comfortable.
The floor in front of the couch is what stands out. A few manila file folders are set in a neat stack to the side, some with multicolored tabs and paperclips attached. There are some various travel documents set on top of them, including different forms of fake ID, blonde hair glinting on the photo of a New Mexico driver's license.
The neatness of it contrasts with what's been strewn openly across the floor: polaroids and other photographs with the brown tint of age, sheets of paper, some of which have been marked in red, multicolored construction paper. Things that in other households might be fixed to the refrigerator with magnets. All of the photos, in some form, show a small girl, two at the youngest and seven at the oldest, with thin blonde hair that falls to her shoulders. One also features a woman who looks markedly similar to Elle, though her nose is slightly larger, and her eyes are hazel; others show a man with round glasses and thinning brown hair. But most are only of the girl, with a coloring book or a beach ball or a cake with candles. Sometimes just wearing a dress of some sort, or doing nothing other than staring or smiling.
(One involving a red tricycle being ridden through a fluorescent-lit hallway, not unlike the ones X would have seen at the Hartsdale Facility, is crumpled, though still open, on the floor.)
The papers range from spelling tests and handwritten notes to even one report card. Some have the large, blocky penmanship of a child who's just learning to write something besides her own name. The construction paper features rudimentary drawings of houses, animals, stick-figure-like people. She was partial to birds and horses, smiles so wide they make the figures look goofy, and –
One piece of bright pink construction paper has been torn into four shreds, the edges burnt. Bits of hooves, bunchy clouds that hold up an inaccurately rendered yet earnest rainbow,and a horse's head with a horn, the yellow marker used for it bleeding so much into the pink paper that its color appears closer to red, are clearly visible on the scraps that litter X's apartment.
You were a normal girl.
Elle got what she wanted.
At the moment, she's nowhere to be seen. But the door to the bathroom is closed.