According to one of the younger Lyras, who’d returned to the commons after an attempted outing looking like a <s>fish out of water</s> fish still in water, it was pouring a bucketload on Pearl Street. That should’ve been a pretty good deterrent, but it was a Saturday and Marley was sick of studying. She was also just plain sick (literally), which should’ve been an even better deterrent, but the advantage of impulse decisions was that all she needed to do to justify a trip outside was remind herself how well her striped green hoodie matched her equally green boots and then pull the aforementioned boots on over her jeggings. She was also almost eighteen, and the disadvantage of being basically an adult in both the magical and muggle worlds was that by the time she departed the elevator, her brain had caught up to her impulses, and she was stuck aimlessly wandering around the aisles of Lighthouse Books, weighing up the boringly logical pros-and-cons of leaving shelter. So far she had fresh air, jumping in puddles, and the ice cream parlour across the street on her pros list. The cons included the fact she was still sick (literally) and that her afro would probably be destroyed in the torrential rain.
The cons were winning. She never liked admitting that they could do that. U g h.
Turning a corner, she found herself facing an entire floor-to-ceiling rack of greeting cards. A sign hanging off the top of the display proclaimed the cards had been designed and printed locally. Another sign stuck to the first added that a dollar from the sale of every card was being donated to the Denver Zoo.
Now, ordinarily Marley wouldn’t have paid too much attention to a greeting card display before moving on. She hadn’t been raised in a family where buying cards was ever justified -- with the exception of her white grandparents, who’d always thrown money around like it was shotput except with worse aim than actual shotput athletes, but they didn’t raise her and she didn’t like them much either, so they didn’t count. Her parents had always been like, “be creative!”, and so she’d grown up saving colourful scraps of paper from the recycling bin in order to stick them together and make colourful paper crafts.
But these cards were made by local artists with proceeds supporting a local nonprofit! (...zoos were nonprofits, right? Marley didn’t know offhand for sure, but she didn’t see why not. Running a zoo with all the breeding and conservation and other research programs had to be pretty expensive, and that probably relied on charity; she couldn’t imagine the American government helping fund red panda habitat reforestation when they could be funding, like, war criminals instead.) Also, now that her brown eyes were focused on the rack, skimming over the various sections and categories, a few people were coming to mind, or more specifically events that had happened with those people, or to them, or between them, which could definitely qualify as a special circumstance. Overall, it was totally justified for her to buy a cute artsy card or two that were for a good cause anyways.
Mind made up, she took a step closer, the toes of her leaf-patterned boots landing oblivious centimetres from the edge of the display rack, and began flipping through the “Condolences” section. She was gonna start with Remy. After their Accidental Date at the movie night social at the end of last year, she’d asked Remy on an Actual Date. The asking hadn’t happened right away, because honestly she didn’t ask people on dates very often, dating somehow always seemed to just sort of happen to her, and she’d needed a little time to build up to asking Remy. The Actual Date also hadn’t happened right away, and in fact still hadn’t: she had absolutely planned to meet her over the summer and then life was basically chaos and suddenly it was September. Marley knew she probably should’ve just taken her out as soon as school resumed. But if she was being honest again, she’d been a little embarrassed. (Yes, even she, the queen of confidence, got embarrassed sometimes - an embarrassing fact in itself.)
For her month(s)-late apology to Remy, she wound up picking a card that had a sad penguin holding sad-emoji balloons painted on the front. It was genuine and quirky and that was totally her aesthetic. Maybe she could use it to ask Remy out again... ? She’d have to think on her strategy a bit. But hey, she had a card now, and that was a great motivation to do the thing!
Oddly and yet perfectly, the section beside “Condolences” was “Weddings”. She’d already congratulated Claudia a few times, and quizzed her all about her <s>boyfriend</s> fiancé (wow that was weird to say, and actually weird just to think inside her head too), but she hadn’t gotten Claudia anything; getting your best friend a card when she got engaged was definitely the type of thing adults did, and she was basically an adult now, so it made sense she should follow suit. But how was she supposed to pick out a card for that? The whole premise behind weddings made her brain hurt a little, and the animal-themed cards made her brain do a d’awww, and trying to keep those feelings separated like they were supposed to be made her brain hurt a little more, and like, supporting her best friend had often been complicated over the years but why did it have to be this complicated?
Further complicating things was the sheer volume of engagement cards on display. Who even bought all of these? Why were there so many different cards? Maybe she should just pull out one of each design to compare them all. That couldn’t be the best way to approach this decision, but it was like, one way to approach it, which was more than she had otherwise.
She was in the process of pulling out cards featuring every animal imaginable -- portraits of giraffes in hats, cartoon frogs, glittery swarms of butterflies, a very long camel, and even rainbow koi spouting puns about gettin’ hooked, which seemed odd humour for a zoo fundraiser (not gettin’ hooked would be more appropriate, both for the zoo and her own opinions on marriage) -- when suddenly she heard footsteps behind her. Marley made her second impulse decision of the hour and called the person over. “Hey, a little help?” Turning around, hands full of different engagement cards, she held the cards up for their inspection. “Which of these cards best says the patriarchy is a crime against humanity but you’re my friend so I’m happy for you?”