A woman in a teal raincoat limps up the deserted street, past a dirty car sitting on its rims. Clouds brood above, pressed together like a worried brow. Behind her is the distant Seattle skyline; iconic, yet somehow dead and flat. The woman carries a heavy basket on one hip. As she approaches, you see that her face is swollen and purple with bruises, her hair is streaked with white, and her mahogany face is beginning to wrinkle in a wa that indicates a life of both laughter and tears. She doesn't see you as she approaches the intersection with an ally. She calls, "Christina? I'm back!"
Somewhere above, a window is thrown open. A girl climbs out onto the fire escape. She jumps onto the counter-weighted stairs and rides them to the street level. She hits the ground running, letting the stairs squeak back up. Zipping by the older woman, she plants a kiss on her cheek and takes the heavy basket from her. The girl notices you. She skids to a stop, staring with some hostility. Her hip is cocked, supporting the basket. She's olive skinned with shaggy, dark hair. Her pants are baggy, her t-shirt is tight. She has an athletic body. Her clothes and hands are paint spattered.
The older woman notices you, too. A smile, made lopsided by the bruise, activates her wrinkles. "Hello there," her greeting is warm, "We don't see many new faces any more. I'm Claudette. This is Christina, but everyone calls her Tag. Everyone but me." She cocks her head, listening to you. Her eyes are bright and lively. "What do I do? What part do I play? You cut right to the chase, don't you? I take care of this strange little family. Before The Moment I was a wife, but never a mother. When It happened..." she leans closer and raises her eyebrows as if evaluating you, "I never talk about this, I don't know why I'm telling you. He was beating me. My husband. When It happened he froze. His mouth was open, there was a vein popping out at the corner of his eye, he was leaning back for the next punch, off-balance. I opened my eyes and stood up. He was like a statue, like all the others are now, you know? I walked all the way around him. I couldn't help it, he looked so ridiculous like that, attacking an empty bed with all his fury. I laughed for an hour, 'til my belly hurt, 'til I cried."
Tag puts down the basket and wraps her arms around Claudette, protecting and comforting. She glares at you from over Claudette's shoulder defensively. Claudette continues, "Now I live here, with Christina and the others. I cook. Since The Moment, I've found that my food has healing properties. There's not much in the way of an illness or an injury that my food can't patch up. Its my ability, my power. Ustathi says that all of us who remain unfrozen have powers. She says they're tools given to us by the Universe to fix the Universe. She says they are tools given to us by ourselves to fix ourselves." Her face is lit with a serious flavor of joy when she talks about Ustathi, like a saint in a painting. Even Tag's face softens.
OOC: Yep, I definitely like your style. Great voice, excellent smattering of detail, nice flow . . . makes me want to play right along. And more than ever I'm interested in reading this story of yours.
"Do you know what caused this . . . Moment? Does this 'Ustathi' know? Do you think she would tell you if she did?" Sitting cross-legged atop a dumpster, chin in hand, Tryndakai cocks her head curiously, alternately examining the amiable woman, the suspicious child, and the unfamiliar alleyway in which she finds herself. She drinks in every detail, as if she'd not been aware of a stone of it before Claudette's appearance.
"How long ago did it happen? Why your husband and not you? Why do you still have bruises and a limp, if your food is some kind of heal-all? What plans do you have for the future? Or is it just about surviving, for now? Are you frightened?" She blinks owlishly; short, feathery brown hair and precariously perched glasses adding to the effect. "Call me Tryn," She adds as an afterthought, then sits quietly, as though fully expecting answers, or attempts at least, to her flood of questions.
Tag releases Claudette from the protective hug and sits on the cracked and dirty pavement. Opening the basket, she peers inside while the other two women chat.
"The universe is very old, very tired. The universe is all of us. All of us were a great burden because before the Moment most of us didn't know that we aren't what we appear to be: individuals. It takes a lot of energy to be something you aren't, and there were so many of us then. The universe is dying, Tryn." Claudette pauses to let her statement soak in. "We failed, in some way. We were supposed to realize our unity before this happened. If we had, perhaps the universe would have had enough energy to go on for many eons more. Ustathi says that about a year ago the universe made a choice: it stopped the energy for most of us, those who weren't on the path to unity. It was a life-saving measure. Those of us who are left, we need to manifest our unity before time runs out for us as well."
Tag's face lights up. Her palm smacks the pavement leaving behind a pink spatter of paint with blocky yellow letters and a manga-style happy face. The paint declares: YUM! ^_^ From the basket she pulls three shrunken, lumpy, green pears. She clamps one between her teeth, tosses one to Tryn and hands the third one to Claudette.
Claudette accepts the pear, holding it in both hands like a precious artifact. "My husband was really angry. Not just on that day. He was an angry person. He could never accept responsibility for the bad things that happened in his life. Because of that, he couldn't grow. I think that's why he was left behind. As to why I can't heal myself; I have a theory that feels true. I think my bruises aren't a part of me, they're a part of him, part of his anger. I can't heal my bruises any more than I can bring my husband back."
Tag makes solemn eye-contact with Tryn. She makes a slow, deliberate drawing with her finger next to the YUM splatter: a 'K' with an 'o' below it, a sort of key-shape. The paint is the same color as Claudette's raincoat.
--- OOC: that's one theory about what happened. Other characters have different beliefs.
[This message has been edited by Crane (edited August 04, 2011).]
Tryndakai frowns, contemplating the woman's words. "That's a very . . . interesting interpretation," she says slowly, shifting uncomfortably. "I certainly can't nay-say it, though, all things considered. What do I know of this universe?"
She listens to Claudette, but watches the younger girl. The "Yum!" splat has made her curious, added to Tag's silence so far. Rolling the sad little pear in her hands, she leans forward to examine the symbol Tag has drawn. "What is that?" she asks Tag, then turns to Claudette, "does she not speak?"
--- OOC: Hehe, this is fun. And I totally know what you mean, about having the beginning-middle-end but not all the connecting pieces (mentioned in the other thread)--I have exactly the same problem. To my knowledge, the best way to get past and through that stuff is to focus on the characters' desires. They mostly don't care about the overall plotline; they care about what they're doing now. When they'll eat, whether the boy next door will look at them, how to get out of doing their chores, which corner the next monster will pop out from . . . stuff like that.
Tag shakes her head and and frowns dismissively.
Claudette shrugs and smiles lopsidedly. "Never heard her say a thing. That symbol she wrote? I don't know why, but that's what she calls me."
From somewhere above and far away, the sound of a bell filters down to them. Quick as that, Tag is on her feet. She runs, jumps, steps off a windowsill, scrabbles up a decorative gable and finally steps onto the lowest part of the counter-weighted fire escape stair. Its smooth, practiced, effortless-seeming; while at the same time impossibly athletic and cocky. The wall that she seems to have run up has been painted many times. Now a bright new message is left in her way, ascending diagonally up the face of the building: -->THIZ IZ PARCOURT!
Claudette turns around just in time for the stairs to creak back up again, shouting, "You forgot the food!" A curtain blows from the empty window into which Tag disappeared. Shaking her head with amusement, Claudette adds in a softer tone, "Showoff."