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 The Melancholy of Autumn

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Jay
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PostSubject: The Melancholy of Autumn   Sat Sep 12, 2015 9:22 pm

Both her hands twitched as she approached that gate for the first time in two years, both for different reasons. Her right hand stopped and looked up at the building in front of her, overwhelmed by emotion at what was before it, what should have been before it for hundreds of days, but what was instead replaced by white walls, dashed with chalk powder and grim etchings, etchings that made its fingers cringe and curl with memories of their blood. Her right hand dreamt of days with friends, old and older, both gone from her life for so long. Her right hand danced with a melancholic shakiness as it cried for the days it could have had, the days that were stolen from it, blissful days of it pulling out a camera and taking pictures for the school paper. The last time she'd seen a paper was when Al from Room 203 shat on one as she was passing. Who would leave that door open for everyone to see?

Her left hand twitched for nothing. It had no old memories, a fresh slate whose only friend was its right counterpart. It had never held another hand. No, her left hand did not twitch for memory. It twitched because the circuits had a hard time staying completely still for too long.

Lotte walked through that gate, unwilling to hold back her tears. It'd been a long few years. She was allowed to look like a fool.

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:30 pm

Summer was seeping into autumn. That was easy enough for anybody to see. Anybody who ventured outside Rosebury could see the smear of wheat in the hills, and it was written in the trees, the gray skies, the brisk edge to the air. It was a coolness that settled over the valley like mist, draining the warmth and life out of the academy. The days felt grayer, duller, colorless. Evelyn sat on a bench under the shade of a tree, and watched as a leaf detached itself from its branch and drifted to the ground as light and soft as a feather.

She felt lost.

Beata Academy had been her home for years, but without him, she felt like she'd been abandoned in a place she didn't recognize. It was like coming home to find that your house had changed colors and half of the rooms had disappeared. This school was full of ghosts, and she was one of them, a haunting spirit that wandered from room to room and just couldn't move on.

But now she wasn't alone.

Evelyn lifted her gaze to the sound of footsteps scuffing against the bricks. That hair, those eyes, that face...

Another ghost.

"L-Lotte..." Her voice was choked, quiet as a whisper, so she stood up and began to walk toward her. She walked a little faster, and then broke out into a run, forcing herself to speak louder. "L-Lotte . . . !"

Would she even remember? It'd been years.

She still kept running, slowing to a stop beside her and reaching out to grab her arm. When she looked down, she almost jumped. That wasn't... a glove or something, was it?

Instead of a hand, there was a twitching metallic prosthetic. That almost made her cry out, but in her rush of emotion, her gaze just jumped back to the girl's face again. "Y-you're..."

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:45 pm

The sobbing girl looked up. Oh, it was perfect! She had expected to be comforted by some stranger, get a 'Hey, are you okay' from some kid who didn't really care. But she looked up, and she instantly recognized one of her friends. It all came back to her. The days at school, the days she cherished and loved down to the most boring of classes. The day she took a picture of a shy girl, this shy girl, who told her her name was Evelyn. The days that were stolen from her. It hit her like a ton of bricks, and she cried even harder, tears cascading from her cheeks. She probably looked insane, but that was something she was used to. She probably looked ugly, but with no sleep for 2 years, that was something she was used to as well. "Eve..." She didn't even finish saying this before she rushed forward, embracing the girl in a deep hug. It was not fair.

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:53 pm

She was crying. Seeing her cry made her want to cry too, but Evelyn had cried too much lately, and it was about time she had to be strong for someone else. Seeing the recognition light up on Lotte's face, hearing her name... She remembered her name. Despite it all, Evelyn smiled. A friend. An acquaintance? Lotte had just been someone she'd known, someone from so long ago it felt like another life, but to have that person back... Evelyn couldn't describe it well. Nobody could know what it was like, not unless they were in her shoes, where memories slipped and melted away. Just looking at her, just focusing on the idea of her, could give another person a migraine. That was how her gift functioned. It erased her existence from the minds of others, slowly but surely.

The hug was a surprise, but after a few moments of shock, she realized it was a welcome feeling to have somebody's arms around her again.

Evelyn embraced her back, wrapping her arms around her. "W-where h-h-have you b... been?" Could she even hear her? She wasn't sure, but it didn't matter.

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:06 pm

It was almost like she was at the school yesterday, mentally. The whole last two years seemed like a haze, a fever dream that terrified her, yet she couldn't quite recall it the next morning. She remembered Evelyn's power well, the ways to look at her to get around it, the kind of ways to focus to hear her. It was skills from so long ago, but they never left her.
Lotte sniffed at her question. Would it be best to be upfront about what happened? There was nothing she wanted to do less than recap the last two years for her, but giving a brief summary would be too underwhelming. I was in a mental hospital.' She couldn't just say that.
"It's a long story. I'll tell it later," she finally detached herself from the embrace. "The point is that I'm back. Mister Wright invited me to be a Guardian, so I am back." Being eighteen had its perks. She couldn't believe she was already eighteen. "Where is Jason?"

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:13 pm

The happy moment crumbled away like autumn leaves the moment she was reminded.

It was stupid, petty, and more than a little pathetic, but it was easier to just try and distract herself from thoughts of Jace. That never stopped her from dwelling on him, or from his presence from invading her head, but she found her small moments of respite here and there... Mostly in bottles and cans, but from other things too. He'd be going soon, wouldn't he? Jace would probably love to see Lotte one last time before he left. He had always been closer to Lotte than she had.

"He g-graduated."

That was all. She forced a small smile as Lotte pulled away and let her arms fall limply to her sides. "H-he's le-leaving to... um... u-um..." Her voice cracked, and her eyes dropped to Lotte's shoes. "...E-Europe. F-for co-college and o-other stuff... S-s-sorry... H-he'll be with h-his, um, d-dad though..." Probably packing as they spoke, right...?

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:44 pm

"Oh." It was a simple reply. That was all she could say, the news almost making her feel disattached from reality for a moment. She was a person looking in for a moment, assessing what this meant. Of course Jace graduated. It had been two years, she would have graduated too. The point was, she had always assumed he'd stay around a little longer.
She couldn't notice Evelyn's fading emotions in the slightly-peripheral image she had of her face. "Okay, I'll catch him later," she said with a smile, scratching at her nose with her left hand. Her robotic hand. She froze for a moment, and laughed a little. It's a really long story. Hey, we should head to the cafeteria! I can get food free there!" One last sniff and wipe of her nose, and she raised the ID card around her neck proudly. Her picture was encrusted in gold, her old ID picture from when she was still a student. She didn't have time to retake that.

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:01 pm

It had only been two years, but the person in the picture was almost a stranger. The Charlotte Redwaltz standing in front of her now looked more ragged, more tired, and... well, was one hand short. Evelyn couldn't help but stare as she reached up to scratch at her nose, transfixed by the circuitry. Morbid curiosity tugged at her, filling her with a sudden intense desire to know how exactly something like that had happened, but politeness forced her to remain silent. She only gave a small nod. Right, food. That would give them time to catch up. Maybe. Lotte didn't seem too eager to linger on the subject.

Losing a hand... It was one of those things that just didn't happen to people you knew, until it did. You never thought about that kind of thing. Nobody ever walked around expecting their hand to get chopped off. It was a remote risk that only ever happened to people on the news. At Beata though... Everything here in her new life seemed to carry a certain level of danger.

"Y-yeah... D-do you s-s-still remember w-where it is?" The question sounded half-joking but had no punchline.

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:14 pm

"Of course." She was back into things, even if her eyes glinted with tears and felt awful. She eyed the path before walking up it, and decided to lead, taking the steps forward. "Here, follow me, I've got this." Before she actually set off, she smiled at Evelyn. "Now don't get lost on me." This was a reference to her power, but a joke nonetheless. She was sure she could follow Evelyn. She spend two years promising herself she could still follow Evelyn. It was hard to do over so much screaming. Through all her classic benevolence, the boisterous smile, there was no denying a layer under it that seemed jaded.

When Lotte arrived at the familiar room, tracing her fingers over the jaggedly-painted walls of the staircase leading down, she had realized this task would not be so easy. She looked around, and blinked.

"Eve...?" Damn, where did that girl go? Before long, it seemed like she had dropped out of nowhere, and Lotte trained her eyes on the girl once more, exhaling in silent relief. The girl quickly formed a new question, as if the confused calling of 'Eve' was for something else. "Do they still serve the same food down here?"

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:22 pm

Following? She was good at following. Following was easy, you just had to go through the motions and copy the leader's directions. Not getting lost...? Well... that was more of an acquired talent. Evelyn had never been good at that sort of thing. It was either good or bad, depending on the day. She just nodded again, falling into step half a pace beside her, wringing her hands near her stomach. Her mind lingered on the hand. Christ...

When Lotte stopped, Evelyn jolted to a stop, as timid as a mouse. The Autumn seemed to scan around for her, and instinctively, Evelyn stood up on her toes as if to make herself a bigger target. Thankfully, Lotte's gaze found her before things could get noticeably awkward. She blinked. "Um... I t-t-think so." It was the same old mundane cafeteria food they always had. If anything had changed, it hadn't caught Evelyn's attention. "Nothing ex-exc-exciting, heh..."

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:34 pm

Nothing exciting, huh? That was just what she was looking for. She made sure to get in line, a particularly small line for a particularly slow time of day. It wasn't long before she reached the dreary-eyed lunch lady, a black woman with a dull voice. She perked up, however, when Lotte approached.
"Nex--" Her eyes widened. "Oh! I haven't seen you in ages, where 'ave you been?"
Lotte gave her a sheepish grin. "Family stuff," was all she said.
Dammit, the lunch lady remembered her. The girl thought back to all those late nights where she procrastinated on studying, ordering food and thumping a textbook on the lunchtable. She concealed her hand under her tray, ordered the usual from way back then, and found a lunch table. It wasn't too hard. Many of them are empty.

They really didn't change anything. Lotte looked down at the sandwich, the same sandwich she had ordered every day so long ago. What once was a common thing seemed so rare. She missed even a stupid sandwich...

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:10 am

Evelyn fell in line behind her. She hadn't planned on eating any time soon, but it would've been awkward to back out with something small now, so once Lotte had moved up in line, she pulled out her own tray and loaded up on a bland looking garden salad. Her parents had always used to tell her that she ate like a bird, but lately, she'd started to pack on pounds... It'd been awhile since she actually ate like this. For months and months, it'd just been whatever was quick, cheap, easy, and reasonably meatless. Between pecking at her food and all her drinking, well... Maybe it was a good thing Jace couldn't focus on her all too long.

With a lonely grimace that no one else could see, she couldn't help but think that kind of fretting didn't matter anymore. It was easier just to eat whatever was closest, or to forget eating for the day and just drink instead.

She followed Lotte to the closest table. Mercifully, it was empty. Evelyn sat across from her, lazily twirling the plastic spork between long and slender fingers like a mini baton.

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:10 am

Lotte took a bite of the sandwich, grinning stupidly at it, grasping it with both hands. "I haven't had food like this in a while," she lied. Sure, she had regular food on the train over, but saying that made it more interesting, made the sandwich seem more meaningful. And it was meaningful to her. "So who else graduated? Did they let...um...what's his name--" she made sure to snap a few times to map out her brain process "--...Wolf Boy stick around?"

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:22 pm

Food like this? The cafeteria food was as bland, mundane, and inoffensive as it'd always been... Beata provided a more varied menu than your average public highschool, but that was just because it was a boarding school. There were a hundred allergies, lifestyles, and even gift-imposed limitations to consider, and if their only option every day was 'square rubber pizza,' then there would've been a riot by now. Evelyn didn't question it, she just picked listlessly at her food with the fork. "Um, y-yeah, h-h-he's st-still around..." And it sounded like he'd been busy. She'd never been the kind of person to stick around on social media too closely, but... Wow. Would it be better or worse if she let Lotte discover Esper by herself? "N-no one else y-y-you know graduated, r-r-really... Um, t-there was R-R-Richard... S-Sanders? Sanford...? And um... t-that Hosa person... and... w-well—...."

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PostSubject: Re: The Melancholy of Autumn   Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:22 pm

She began to throw names her way, names she vaguely remembered. Lotte didn't really make many standing friends. She always laughed with and tried to make everyone feel comfortable, but the ones who stuck around were few in number. She only remembered Evelyn because she was so close to Jace. Lotte frowned at the prospect of Montare being around. She had figured he'd be kicked out sooner or later. She stayed silent for once, biting into her sandwich.

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