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 got change? [open]

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PostSubject: got change? [open]   Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:38 pm

Everything at the academy came free for its students, so it wasn't until Anthony pulled his empty pockets inside-out at a local cafe that he realized he was flat-broke. The only cash he'd had on him after jumping ahead in time had been a singular, crumpled one and a couple of grubby pennies - and that could buy him exactly jack-shit. Not even a goddamn chocolate bar was that cheap. Instead of getting a job or asking an acquaintance to spare a few extra bucks, though, like a normal person, Anthony had opted to stealing a guitar from the academy studio and doing things his way.

The weather was working in his favour, it seemed. For the first time in several dreary winter months, the sun had pulled the cloudy curtains out of its way to bathe Rosebury with a subtle - but welcome - warmth. Run-off from the melting snow trailed across the sidewalk in thin streams, and instead of the monotonous howl of the wind, the tittering of birds could be heard. People were out walking and visiting shops, taking advantage of the fair weather while it lasted.

Anthony crossed the street over to an empty bench, seated himself on the end, and settled the guitar on his thigh. He popped his baseball cap off, turned it upside-down, and tossed it on the pavement in front of him. To earn himself some quick cash, he'd just do what he was best at. It was far easier and far less stressful than working a job, and hey, he wasn't asking for a fortune. He just wanted to buy a soda.

To Anthony, playing the guitar was as easy as walking or breathing. His fingers danced across the fretboard in supple, spidery patterns, giving way to a melancholic tune to accompany the birds. An old couple stopped in front of him to listen for a minute or two, dropped a five into his hat, and then moved on. It was more than he needed for a soda already, but he kept playing. A soda and a pack of cigarettes sounded even better than just a soda. Thank god for old people.


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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Sun Feb 05, 2017 10:03 pm

Her bench was a few yards away, further down the street. She had arrived hours before he did.

He was supposed to meet her at noon, to come from the train. To tell the truth, she was more nervous than she had ever been. To meet him was to discover everything she lived for in front of her, when for so long it had been so far away. She sat on that bench, leaning over her phone, shaking her legs up and down arrhythmically. Left, right, left, right. She almost dropped her phone a few times trying to read his 'I'll come tomorrow' text on the shaky platform.

Down the street was the train. Men and women in suits came from the nearby cities, from long work days. She gave dozens of glances in that direction, to no avail. Hours passed from noon. He never came.

When Anthony had arrived, she had already been at her breaking point. Silently, she stood, from a bench whose purgatory proved endless. It'd last through the night. It followed her when she scuffed her boot, looking up at the high, warm sun. It was better to get home. This always happened in one way or another when she left.

She didn't have to be like this.

She bit her lip, the lead in her throat as she walked down the sidewalk, heavy-footed, digging into her pocket. She withdrew a few dollars without looking at the guitarist, and meekly tossed them into his hat. She barely watched them go in.

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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Mon Feb 06, 2017 12:21 pm

A few more passer-bys came and went after the old couple. A group of kids tossed him a few nickels and a half-chewed piece of gum, a woman in a heavy fur-coat fished out two bucks - cheap bitch, she probably had way more than that stuffed in that multi-hundred dollar outfit - and a scruffy bearded man, clearly having been at the bottle, stopped to listen to Anthony's song for a couple of minutes, chuckled heartily, and tossed a five into his hat. Goddamn, he'd never gotten this lucky back home.

The next figure to approach him seemed vaguely familiar. There was fog in is mind when he tried to pinpoint who it was. Just as she dropped a handful of change into his cap and started to walk away, though, he put the pieces together. She was the girl he'd met at the dance, back in December.. No wonder he'd had trouble recognizing her, because he'd ended that night off sloshed out of his mind on the punch. Alcohol really didn't do much for one's memory.

"Hey, dance partner," he called before she could get too far away. "Miss the train, or somethin'?"
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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:06 pm

Dance partner? His voice was stapled hot in her head, mingling with the tang of punch that stuck to her memory, the heat of that room and the beating of her heart that brought itself back to a quick rhythm, the same murmury speed. It was Anthony. How could she have missed that? He said he played guitar...

"Heeeey," she said, voice as fake and sugary as the drink he chugged that night. Her eyes gave away her impatience. The back of her throat felt as heavy as the cloud that hung over her. She didn't want to look bitter, or angry, but the tape that held her mask up was frayed and weighted, peeling away with each second erected. "Sorry, didn't know it was you, man, I was just chilling." No answer came to his train question.

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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:56 pm

It seemed that masking her emotions was not one of Lucy's fortès. She walked stiffly, as if there was an iron rod in her back, and her smile was a little too rigid to be anything genuine. Perhaps it was best not to badger her with small-talk, but it was a little too late now. He'd stopped her, so he couldn't just wave her off.

"Didn't notice me? But my brother always said the most pathetic thing shines the brightest." Halting his playing, Anthony reached down and plucked his baseball cap up off of the ground. He gave it a waggle to jostle the loose change around. When someone was upset, the best remedy he knew of was always to make fun of himself. "And if playing an instrument for cash on the side of the street isn't pathetic, then I don't know what is." He put his guitar aside for a moment, transferred the money he'd made into his jacket pocket, and settled the cap back onto his head. Leaning further into the curve of the bench, he strummed a few slow, nonchalant chords and he peered up at Lucy from beneath the bill of his hat. "Thanks for that, by the way. I'll make sure not to use it wisely." He cracked a half-grin.
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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Tue Feb 07, 2017 1:54 pm

Lucy gave him a paper smile. "Well, you made money, so you must not be so bad." She had been listening to him longer than she cared to admit without realizing it was him. She knew very well how good he was. The girl teetered on her ankles, stepping backwards only when gravity seemed to move her, but spreading the distance between them nonetheless, her sandals scuffing with each unbalanced retreat that she made. She held her bag behind her back. "Listen, I'd love to talk, but I--" she gave one last distracted glance towards the train station, which heeded no relieve on her pallid face. "--I have to head back to my room. Homework, y'know."

Guilt played at her heart like the strings on his guitar.

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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Wed Feb 08, 2017 1:27 am

Anthony's eyes followed Lucy's over to the train station. He doubted class assignments were the first thing on her mind.

"Homework? Ah, come on. It's the first sunny day in forever, and I've got an empty bench and too much free time." He crossed his ankles, gesturing with his shoulder to the empty seat next to him. He couldn't say he knew this girl all that well, so perhaps ending this chitchat was the best idea right now. Hell, he scarcely remembered dancing with her at the Winter Formal, or even what she'd said her gift was.. Of course, though, he couldn't just cut it short here. Anthony could set his neighbour's shed on fire, break into a candy store, and dump ink all over his math teacher's desk, but something about seeing a girl walk off by herself, visibly upset, didn't sit right with him. His morals made about as much sense as an abstract painting. "And I'd feel bad if I didn't at least ask what's got you down."
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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:57 pm

It was a record scratch going off in her head. "Nothing's got me down," she said with a smile, one that leaked oil and blue watercolor. Her voice seemed feathery, like the soft wave of a dying flame. The girl had stopped inching backwards, but made no effort to move forward. She was like a deer in headlights. Her eyes leaked her uncertainty. Lucy placed a hand in her hair, twisting the ends rapidly, tightening her lips. "I don't know what you're talking about..." Another train horn made her flinch, but she didn't look this time. It departed with a clickclack like horse hooves galloping away.

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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:36 pm

He stared at her for a moment longer, one eyebrow arched, and then returned his attention to his guitar, shrugging lightly. "..Well, if you say so. I won't press you 'bout it." Anthony liked to think he was pretty good at reading people - it was one of his few virtues. Lucy was an open door, in an emotional sense. Transparent smiles, paper-thin words. She wasn't very good at lying, and perhaps she knew it, but they were barely acquaintances, and that wasn't exactly someone you unloaded onto. The only thing she knew about him was that he was a guitarist, and the only thing he knew about her was.. She.. Liked video games, or something, didn't she? God, either he'd drank a whole bowl of the punch, or he was just an even bigger lightweight than he'd previously thought, and five glasses had done him over.

Anthony turned one of the tuning pegs on his guitar and plucked its corresponding string a few times, experimenting with a new pitch. "Just didn't wanna see my dance partner walk off lookin' blue on such a nice day."
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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Mon Feb 13, 2017 5:31 pm

Dance partner. Each time he said that it made her wince, either turning her head to the sky or so forth. Why did he keeping calling her that? His partner? It was totally weird, or perhaps she was just siking herself out. Lucy sat next to him wordlessly, bunching herself in, practically closing her arms between her legs. Overhead, the incoming spring foreshadowed its tepid arrival. A sweet wind blew, tasting of strawberry perfume from the boutique nearby. That and her own perfume, which she'd bought from there the night before.

"I got stood up," she murmured, under the sounds of him tuning his guitar, almost as out-of-pitch and crudely toned. She laughed, but there was no humor. It was a wall from the tears that lumped in her throat like plaque, like fat along an artery, choking her. Her eyes were stone to the floor.

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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:40 pm

The guitarist's fingers stilled on the strings, the last note reverberating faintly inside his instrument. He hadn't really expected her to tell him what was wrong. Perhaps he wasn't as good at reading people as he thought.

Right. She'd mentioned something at the dance about a boyfriend, hadn't she?

Anthony had cried the first time he'd been stood up. He remembered it as clear as day - he'd been thirteen, positively smitten with one of his classmates, and had worn his spiffiest jacket out to the park to meet her one Saturday afternoon. He had never felt more confident in all of his pre-teen years, only for that confidence to have gradually crumpled up during his two-and-a-half hour wait for her non-existent arrival. He'd been too upset to even question her about it the next day, and when he had finally mustered up the courage to ask, she'd simply said that she'd forgot. Even a thirteen-year-old would have been able to smell the bullshit. That'd been ages ago, though, and by now, Anthony had been caught up in enough sour relationships and stand-ups that things like this - like Lucy's situation - didn't really seem to bother him anymore.

Maybe he was a narcissist, and had always just expected a new girl to be right around the corner waiting for him to be single. That would be the more comfortable explanation to accept, but maybe he'd always reminded himself subconsciously that none of those girls had been Jess, and that every time he'd been free of one of them, he'd been open to her again.. Of course, he'd hoped for no reason. She'd never seen him in that light, for all he knew, and even if she had, he wouldn't be able to do anything about it until somebody taught him how to use his gift.

"At the train station?" Anthony set his guitar aside gently and peered over in the station's direction. Something told him she'd been sitting around for a while, now. "God, I'm sorry. How long were you waiting there?"
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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:46 pm

Lucy gave a half-smile, watching her feet kick into the gravel at the base of the bench. "It doesn't matter," she said. "I'm kind of relieved, actually. That kind of stuff gets me too nervous, legit, I was kinda scared." She'd never had a boyfriend boyfriend before. Was this guy even a real boyfriend? She wasn't sure how to answer this. Man, what a wreck she was, an absolute loser.

"How long have you been out here?" She blurted out a counter question, but grew rigid as the words came out. She fucking knew the answer to that, she'd been there longer than him and just a few benches away.

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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:49 pm

Anthony blinked. Lucy seemed to want to push her predicament aside, despite still looking quite shaken, and instead shifted the focus on the conversation onto him. Well, that had certainly been an abrupt change of subject.

"Oh, me?" he spun the butt of his instrument lightly on the pavement, the spare pick rattling around inside its hollow body. "Came out here a half hour or so ago. Nabbed this guitar from the studio back at the academy to make some quick cash." He shrugged. "Worked back home, so I figured I'd try it here." Actually, it had worked a lot better in Rosebury than it had back home. It was more than likely that his friend group's shitty reputation'd had something to do with that, but maybe gifted people were just more generous than non-gifted people.

Good thing for that, too, because a grumbling in his stomach suddenly reminded Anthony that he hadn't eaten anything all day. Sleeping through breakfast had been a dumb idea. Luckily, though, he was now a rich man, in seventeen-year-old standards.

Closing his fingers around the neck of his guitar, Anthony rose up from his seat on the bench. "Jesus, I'm starving." He rolled up one of his sleeves to check his watch. 1:30. That was two meals now. God, how had he not noticed? "I'm poppin' by the cafe across the street. I've got a mountain of coins and two fives, if you wanna join me." He patted his quarter-filled pocket and smiled.
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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Sat Feb 25, 2017 7:00 pm

He did have a mountain of coins, the stacks outweighing the dollars one-hundred-to-one. Lucy scrunched up her nose at the suggestion of the cafe, a slight reaction, more of an automatic tic than anything. The gesture had gotten her plenty chastisements from teachers in Seoul before the doctor saw her for it. He gave her a note which she carried with her all-the-way to her emigration to sunny Fresno, where the whole issue started over again.

She was beside herself on his suggestion, nevertheless. With that many quarters, the arcade was the dream place to be. Imagining the waitress counting the nickles and dimes out for a meal made her cringe, and she smiled, shaking her head. "I really should get back," she insisted. "I still have that homework."

And some real-time strategy games with anyone but her boyfriend, but who had to know that but herself?

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PostSubject: Re: got change? [open]   Mon Feb 27, 2017 8:56 pm

Anthony furrowed his eyebrows. "Sun's shining, people are out and about for the first time in months, and you wanna go do your homework? What's a guy gotta do to cheer an acquaintance up?" He scoffed half-heartedly. There was nothing worse than moping around in your room and grieving over a damaged relationship after being stood up. Anthony knew from personal experience, and he didn't want to let someone else do that same thing. Lifting his guitar and resting its curve on his shoulder, his eyes drifted around the street, taking in the shops that lined the sidewalks on both sides. Convenience store, used clothing store, pet shop, grocery mart, game lounge.. Oh, hey, game lounge?

"Alright then, how 'bout that place?" He jerked his chin in the direction of the game lounge. Anthony didn't know a goddamn thing about video games, but getting Lucy to do something other than walk off had become some sort of silly little challenge to him. "You're into games an' whatnot, aren'tcha?"
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