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Lisa entered the mayor’s office at a steady pace, casting only a quick smile at the secretary who opened the door for her. She had an appointment, and the man behind the desk wasn’t at all surprised at her sudden entrance.

“Have a seat, Lisa, thank you for coming.” He gestured to the chair opposite him and grimaced as she flopped down and spread out casually.

“Mike, I hope you’re not wasting your time here.”

The grimace deepened, “I hope so too. Would you like some water, coffee?”

“Mike.” She gave him a warning look and he sighed, pushing a folder on his desk towards her.

“She’s-”

“No, you know I’m not taking apprentices.”

“But you need to-”

“I’m handling things just fine on my own.”

“The city needs-”

“The city needs someone who cares enough to protect it, and I’m it.”

“And if something happens to you?”

Lisa opened her mouth and shut it immediately, unable to think of a sharp enough response.

“Just… look at the application, please?”

“If you’re going to make this a formal thing make it a formal request.”

“Oh come on, Lisa, don’t make me…”

“Say it, Mike.” She crossed her arm and stared at him expectantly. He sighed and stood up, bowing deeply.

“I humbly make this request of you, Magical Girl Flowering Lisa, on behalf of the fair city of Shorebrook.” He straightened up again and relaxed as she picked up the file and opened it. After a moment she glowered at him from the top of the folder.

“You’re using my weakness against me.”

“You’re forcing me to.”

“I don’t need an apprentice.”

“How many hours were you at the bar today, Lisa?”

Lisa looked down at the file again, glowering. The picture of a little girl in an over-sized robe with floppy bunny ears smiled back at her. “That’s not fair Mike.”

“Just hear them out. That’s all I ask.”

“Have you talked to her mother?”

“Err…” He hesitated, “Her father will be presenting her.”

“Why? It’s supposed to be the mother.”

“It seems she passed away years ago…”

Lisa shut the folder and put it back down on the desk, shutting her eyes.

“Have your people arrange the meeting for Tuesday, I’ll need some time to prepare and I’m not to be disturbed until then.”

“Of course.” The mayor stood and offered a hand which she took reluctantly.

“And the bar thing was a low blow Mike, so you owe me on this one.”

“I know, but it was worth it.”

“I hope so for your sake.” She waved a hand dismissively over her shoulder as she left the room and made her way back through city hall, out onto the street. The cool fall air made her shudder a little and she hunched her shoulders to block some of the wind, turning away from it and towards home. It was several blocks down the mostly empty streets to her home, leaving her plenty of time to think. She chose instead to count the number of broken windows she spotted. A new one had been smashed, probably by bored children throwing rocks.

That was a constant problem with the new generation. They had no respect for their home; for the history of the city they were growing up in. That building had been home to many generations before falling into disuse, and it broke Lisa’s heart to see it treated so poorly. That was petty crime though, something best left to the police and off her plate. Magical girls defended the city from larger threats, not from itself. The wind howled again, and her ears felt the sting of frost. She hadn’t bothered to wear a hat, and cold ears were hardly worth a transformation. She heard a car coming behind her and turned to look instinctively, but the car zoomed past and disappeared as the road dipped down again.

Her building had a fantastic view of the waterfront, or had at one time. A few buildings had risen and decayed between her and the shore now, but she could still see the occasional boat coming in. She pushed the door open and the rush of warm air from inside made her realize how tense she had been. She waved to the doorman as he looked up and headed for the stairs. The elevator worked, but she’d been trapped in it a few times and developed a dislike of the small space.

Her apartment was dark, and when she turned on the ceiling lights they only barely reached the floor from the loft space. She turned on a floor lamp by the door and the bulb flashed brightly, with the telltale pop of a burn-out. She growled at the lamp and made her way carefully to the kitchen area, digging in her drawer of bulbs to find a replacement.

She could only find one more of the right type and wrote it down on the whiteboard on her fridge to buy more. She paused halfway through the word light, realizing it was already written up there. She wrote it again anyway and returned to the lamp, replacing the bulb and lighting up a small area around the door. Now that she could see properly she began the nightly ritual of locking the door, setting the chain and the deadbolt. She turned her back on the door finally and approached the large window that faced the waterfront. The sun was setting and the few lights that were on in this part of town were already turning off. The picture of the smiling girl with the bunny ears popped up in her head again and she glared out at the water. Mike had been after her to take a new apprentice for years, but she didn’t need one, and it would be a simple matter to turn her away. Still, things had to be done correctly.

Lisa turned off the lamp by the door and made her way upstairs to the loft, turning off the ceiling lights once she reached her spartan bedroom. The space the city provided had been perfect for two people, but on her own she found herself using only a fraction of the space. She’d dusted the entire place out of guilt a week ago even. She kicked her shoes off and curled up under the covers, not bothering to undress. She would have to be up before the sun tomorrow to start preparing for the interview.

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