Josie came out of the bathroom, with clean hair and a forced smile. “Thanks, Mags,” they said.

“No problem. Do you want me to get your bedsheets washed?” she asked, already reaching to bundle them up in the hamper.

“Thank you again,” they said. A part of them wanted to interject, to say that they could handle it, but they truthfully didn’t even know where the laundry room was. Marigold always took care of it.

“Let’s stop by the lunchroom on the way there,” she offered, and with that she was dragging them out of their room into the hallway. “I’m starved!”

“Why did you stop by in the first place anyway?” they finally asked, fidgeting with the collar of their dress.

“Oh, you know. I just wanted to hang out and shoot the shit…” She was almost smiling, but it quickly turned back into her usual slightly sour expression when she looked over at them. “I was hoping to talk to you about Alex.”

Their heart skipped a beat. “What? What about?”

“I saw him on the eighth floor recently. What’s up with that? I thought he had like, stair-o-phobia or something.”

“That’s not what it’s called,” they said, feeling suddenly defensive. “I’ve been helping him with it.”

She seemed legitimately surprised. “That’s nice of you.” But she had to follow it up with another bitter remark: “Isn’t he your therapist?”

“He’s not my therapist. And even if he was, I’m allowed to help him!”

They had passed out of the living quarters and into the main section of Floor Eight, which Josie hated terribly. This was the morgue, which they lived just a few paces away from, and which formed the basis of pretty much all of their nightmares recently. It was bad enough to sleep right next to the corpse vault, but the smell permeated, and then combine that with Josie’s lovely auditory hallucinations of people banging on the walls…

Marigold was oblivious to their discomfort, too distracted by the riveting small-talk: “You’re not thinking about becoming a doctor, are you?”

“No.” They scanned their left and right, fully anticipating one of the drawers to open. “What if I was?”

“I’d support you,” she said honestly, which surprised them. “We don’t have enough recently. I think they laid a bunch of people off and didn’t tell us.”

“Or stuffed them into the morgue,” they muttered.

That got her to laugh. “I bet. Hey, what if my old physical therapist’s in that one?” She pointed off in the distance. Josie laughed too, but didn’t follow her gaze, too afraid of what they might see.