What first alerted me to their presence next door was an the heavy aroma of spices that spilled around and over the slightly cracked door, allowing the thick scent of curry to fill the entire hallway. As I walked past their door carrying an excess of luggage that belied my eight months of traveling I picked up the faint murmur of a foreign language.
Both were both scent and sound were legitimate and strong.
Exhausted, I slid my key-card into the door and got...red.
Trying again...still red.
Impatiently I threw down my luggage, wanting green. Green, not stupid red.
Her tiny voice startled me.
"You shouldn't throw things. That's how you break stuff."
I turned sharply around and saw a short olive-skinned girl with long black hair and beautiful eyes. She was smaller than most five year-olds but spoke with the authority of at least seven birthdays.
"Be careful. You're making a lot of noise."
I was completely put in my place.
"Sorry. I'm super tired and my key isn't working. Whoops, there it goes, see? I wanted green but it kept giving me red."
She stared up at me completely unimpressed.
"So. You don't have to throw things Army man."
Now it was my turn.
"Wrong. I'm in the Air Force."
If I hadn't already, I was going to lose a huge battle with someone a third of my age and more than that smaller than me.
Completely unacceptable. So I changed topics.
"Your dinner smells good, were you the cook?"
She smiled at me, finding it humorous. Whew.
"No, its supper, and I didn't cook it. I get to eat it now though, and it's going to be so good. Bye!"
With that she turned on her heel and exited the conversation and hallway.
A week or two passed as each evening I returned to ever diverse meal fragrances.
I stood waiting for the insultingly slow elevator to arrive, my basket of laundry weighing more as my boredom grew.
"I bet you can't tell what we've been saying. It's in another language that you don't know."
This time I knew better than to give her the first hit of astonishment, regardless of whether she deserved it.
"You're right. I don't. You know an entire language that I don't know?"
"Yep." The smug look on her face was pronounced. What was it I did to deserve this relationship again?
"Wow. Guess what."
Instead of answering, she looked straight into my ignorant eyes and spoke several sentences of her native tongue, whatever it was.
"No, I'm serious, guess what."
The only way for me to avoid annihilation was to ignore her shots across my bow.
The elevator door opened and closed.
I set my laundry down.
It was on.
"I know another language too."
"No you don't."
"Yes, I do. I'll prove it. You ready?"
I smirked at her.
I crouched down and pointed to her stomach.
"What is this called?"
"Its my tummy."
Nope. Not even close.
"Nope, not even close ma'am."
She challenged me.
"Then what is it?"
I began pointing at her tummy, guessing roughly as to where things were located.
"Here's where your duodenum is, it's the beginning of your intestines. Here's your colon, and you have mucosa and submucosa all through there. Your pancreas should be about here, and this is your gallbladder. Hey look, it's your liver! Not. You can't see it, but it's there. And here is where your stomach is."
She looked at me.
"Yep, I knew all that."
"No you didn't. Just like I didn't know what you were saying."
Win or lose, she wasn't going to lose.
And with that she turned around and scootered off down the hallway.
As I leaned over to pick up my bags, her father followed in his daughter's footsteps and scared the living everythings out of me.
"You know, I am quite impressed. She's usually very shy but for some reason she gets along with you. That is very good!"
I smiled at him and backed into the elevator.
"Thank you, your daughter is very sweet."
The doors closed and I caught myself audibly snorting.
No...neither one of those.
She was...acute, calculating, clever. Aggressive, daunting, and fearless, intelligent, small and...