“Tia?” The sound of someone calling to me, or rather my alias, jolted me to consciousness. I leapt up into a fighting stance, ready for anything this intruder would throw at me.
Except it wasn’t an intruder; it was Jude. My roommate. I looked around, taking in my surroundings. I was safe and sound in the Revolt Project Movement House, the communal house that I opened for political activists such as myself. I was at the dining room table with my second-hand laptop open and so many files and pieces of paperwork scattered about the table’s surface. I’d fallen asleep doing some movement work. Again.
“You’ve really got to stop falling asleep at the table like that,” Jude lectured me like they did every morning. “You know you have your own bed for a reason. You should use it.”
I groaned, stretching my body, sore from the upright sleeping position I had remained in all night long. “No rest for the weary,” I said as I started to organize the files and paperwork, trying desperately to remember where I was before I fell asleep.
“You know what that saying means, right?” Jude asked as they started pulling out a bunch of cereal boxes. “It means that you’re choosing to be tired, exhausted, and overworked. You can’t blame anyone but yourself.”
“Not even the government?” I jested. It’d become a running gag around the house that we could all rest when something actually changed, and the American congress started listening to us. Until then, we had to keep fighting. So it was their fault we never got any sleep or free time.
Jude gave me that criticizing look they tended to give. “At some point, you have to take some responsibility for being a glutton for punishment.” They clicked on the coffee maker, which had been prepared to make a full-pot the night before.
“You’re right, but we’re not to that point yet,” I jested again. I set all my files and laptop on the living room’s coffee table before setting to help Jude get breakfast ready. I pulled six bowls out of the cupboard, one for each member at the movement house. I set the mix-matched china at their places at the dining table before grabbing the glasses, mugs, and silverware. Meanwhile, Jude filled the tea kettle for the teetotalers and set it on the stove to boil.
“Maybe you should go change before breakfast. That way, everyone won’t know you pulled an all-nighter again. You don’t want another intervention, do you?”
I’d lost count of how many times my housemates had come together to discuss my addiction to work. For a while, it was happening about once a month. The only reason they weren’t as frequent, was that people like Jude realized that I was going to do what I wanted and that if I didn’t want to change, there was nothing they could really do. As they always said, The first step is admitting you have a problem. And I didn’t have a problem, so why would I admit to having one.
“Good point,” I conceded. “You got this?” Jude gave me a thumbs-up as they continued to fiddle around the kitchen, preparing for the group breakfast. That was all I needed to get the okay from them.
I tiptoed up the stairs, utilizing the stealth skills I had learned from all the years of battle strategy I was taught. When I wasn’t using this talent to sneak past my housemates, I was using it to scare them. Accidentally, of course. I had never been one to pull intentional pranks. I just tended to move with quiet ease. People wouldn’t hear me come into a room, and when I spoke, or they turned into me, they would practically jump out of their skins. “Make some damn noise, stalker!” they would always scold me in jest.
Finally, I got to mine and Jude’s room, slipping inside without disturbing even a speck of dust. I padded over to the compact closet on my side of the room. I pulled open the doors and grabbed the first pair of loose jeans I saw. I did the same with my bra, underwear, socks, and my favorite leather jacket. The only tough choice I had to make with my wardrobe on that day was the same difficult choice I had to make every day; which political movement t-shirt should I wear? World Peace? Women’s Rights? My LGBTQIA+ Ally-gator shirt? There were so many options, all of them good.
I finally settled on my green GO HEMP shirt, the one that had a marijuana leaf for the hole in the O. After all, July was National Hemp Month. After throwing everything on, I slipped back into my combat boots. I quickly undid my braid, ripping a brush through my hair before re-braiding it. After some last-minute personal hygiene stuff, I was ready to face the day anew.
This time, I didn’t try to sneak downstairs because it didn’t matter if anyone heard me. They would just assume I had just woken up and was coming down for breakfast. By the time I got there, half of the house was awake and preparing their individual breakfasts. I had whole-grain cereal with organic milk, and a local-grown apple. I poured myself a glass of infused water that Jude had made with cucumbers we bought at the Farmer’s market and mint we grew in our rooftop garden.
Once everyone was downstairs and eating, we started covering the chores for the day. I had to get my meal of the week planned for when I would cook for the house on Thursday, and I had to vacuum the communal areas. Not bad for a Monday. Jude was handling all the meals that day, so that was all they had to do.
Once the chores had been covered, everybody checked in with their projects. These included sending out updates on future rallies and protests, how the social media posts were doing, how much money we had raised with our online shop, and any other business that affected us and our work.
Melissa said, “I’ve been trying to have a meeting with our representative about the inequality in the lower-income neighborhoods, but every time I go to her office, she never seems to be there.”
“Could she be out of town?” Jude asked.
“Every day? For the last month and a half?” Everyone got the gist. The representative was avoiding her.
“Let me go with you,” I offered.
“How will that help?” Melissa asked, voicing the question on everyone’s mind.
“Maybe you just need some good luck. Besides, all I have to do are my chores today.”
“Okay. So when do you want to go?” Melissa asked.
“Well, that will pretty much guarantee that she’ll be unavailable or out of the office,” Melissa scoffed.
“We’re not going to her office.”
“Then where are we going?”
“We’re going to join her for lunch,” I said, trying to hide the smirk from my face.