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Book pick up
Nick picked the books up by the armful and started shoving them back in the shelf. Once he had filled out a row he started moving and shuffling the book so that they were in order alphabetically by author.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said while rearranging the books. “I’m really clumsy too; I nearly broke my foot just getting up out of that chair. Actually, I did break my foot like that once, but that was a desk. Desks can be tricky, especially the ones with the chair attached with that little bar.”

He looked at the girl, getting his first good look at her. She was cute. She looked like a nice girl.

“You’ve got freckles,” he observed aloud. Nick turned back to the books. While he was moving them around he pulled one out and looked at the cover.

Silence of the Hams. A mystery-thriller about a butcher,” he read aloud. He put a finger under his chin and read the back. After a few seconds he shoved it into his back pocket. Nick turned towards the girl finally and held out his hand.

“Hi! My name is Nick LeMonde. Glad you didn’t get hurt. I was just sitting with Alex and Josie,” he said pointing to the table.

“We were gonna help Josie with her poster. You wanna help?”

Friend requests for Harun and Dougal
Well, you are welcome to peruse any of my characters to see if you think they might be a match. I think Isabel might get along well with Harun, perhaps. Nick is also a happy bastard who loves pretty much everyone, so you might give him a look over. Link for Ethan: Ethan Kent

Let the Dance Begin!
Isabel smoothed down her hair and tugged at the bottom of her dress to try and repair what her running back and forth had done. She followed Allen’s eye line and saw the snack table.

Oh….Snacks. Looks like there’s punch too.

A little ways away from the snack table she saw a boy stumbling around, almost taking people down with him. He looked awfully wobbly.

Hu, must be strong punch.

Isabel turned back to Allen and saw him holding out his hand. She looked at it skeptically for a moment and hesitated. Inwardly she took a deep breath and slowly took his hand.

Chill out, Isabel. It’s just a hand. You don’t know him well enough to let him know how much of a complete weirdo you are. Act like a normal girl.

The point of contact between her hand and his felt foreign. Isabel felt as if the blood had drained from her hand. She could feel his skin on her skin, the warmth of his flesh, the creases of his palm, the dents in his fingers where the joints were. It made her heart speed up. Her hand covered his and her fingers curved slightly over the edge of his palm. She stood for a moment staring at their hands before snapping out if it and looking up at him.

He complimented me. The correct response is to thank him.

“Thanks,” she replied. “This is the most fancied up I’ve ever been. Look at us! We almost look like a couple.”

Oh man, that wasn’t the right thing to say. Quickly, gloss over it before he has time to respond!

“Let’s go. I hope you’re a dancing machine, because I like to dance.”

She secured her grip on his hand and walked with him. Isabel swayed through the crowd to an empty space and began to dance. She dropped his hand and turned so that her back was to him. Isabel swung her hips back and forth in time to the music. She looked over her shoulder at him while multicolored lights lit up her face.

Book pick up
“Yeah Nick, we know. You wrestle right? I haven’t made it to many matches. They always seem to schedule them when I have practice,” she said then gestured down to her uniform. “I had field hockey today, but I also dive.”

Nick looked as if someone had switched a light on inside him and he beamed with pride. A big grin spread across his face.

“Yeah, I wrestle. We’ve had a really good season, but man, you field hockey girls have too. You guys are some tough chicks. I talk to some of the swim and dive kids sometimes and I swear that next to us wrestlers you guys have the skimpiest uniforms. It’s like they had to make up for all the fabric they used up on the football guys by trying to squeeze us into a square inch of lycra. But yeah, you should totally come to a match if you can. I promise its fun.”

She was telling herself to just be nice and act interested in his novel, but she just couldn't bring herself to do so... "Sounds kinda lame"

Nick turned to Josie and put his hand on his book. He swept his hand over the smooth cover almost as if he were petting it.

“Maybe it sounds sort of lame, but I think it’s interesting. I guess I can see why other people might think it’s boring. My sister thinks everything I read for fun is boring. Over winter break I read a book about the history of the bookshelf. She called me a dork the whole trip 'cause of that, but I thought it was a very informative read.”

Nick leaned over again to look at what progress Josie had made with the poster board. He put his hand on the edge of the poster and chuckled slightly.

“Hey, that’s pretty good. I….I’m not sure that’s how it went down, but I’d be happy to help you too if you need it. It can be a team effort!”

Nick’s outburst was met by a “SHHHHHH!” from the librarian. Not seconds later, half the contents of a book shelf went tumbling onto the floor. The librarian sighed and rubbed her temple. Hearing the noise, Nick looked and saw the girl surrounded by fallen literature. He instinctively leapt out of his chair to help her, but he rose too quickly, caught his foot in one of the chair legs, and stumbled. After a few seconds of flailing his arms around he normalized his balance and stood for a split second to make sure he had regained equilibrium. As soon as he was certain he half-walked, half-jogged to the girl and started helping her put the books back up.

“Are you okay?”

Book pick up
“Sure, go ahead. The more the merrier,” he said, sweeping his hand over the table. Nick put his chin on his hand and tilted his head towards the newcomer.

“You’re on sports teams aren’t you?” he asked Alex. "I go to almost all of the games. Let me guess.....swim team?"

His eyes shifted back to the other girl. She was writing something on her poster board, the staple of school projects.

“Oh, it really is an interesting book,” he said smiling and pushing it around with his index finger. “It’s really cool, it’s all about different societies that collapsed, like the Mayans and the Greenland Norse, and Haiti and examines patterns that caused them to collapse. You know, stuff like environmental changes, climate changes, hostile neighbors, loss of trading partners….”

He flipped the pages of his book around a little before setting it down on the table.

“This is a really colorful table,” he observed while looking at the two girls. “I’m Nick, by the way. My name’s Nick LeMonde. Nice to meet you guys.

His eyes slowly traveled to the poster board and soon his body slowly leaned as if the power of his eyes was tipping his whole body.

“Whatcha working on?”

SOTF Characters (Taking Requests!)
Look at you, Little! Your new avatar is so cuuute

Book pick up
Nick was busy flipping through his book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. He had asked for it for Christmas and even started reading it over winter break, but he left it in Chicago while his family was on vacation, probably in the hotel room too. No matter how hard he tried, he always managed to leave something behind whenever he stayed in a hotel. He hadn’t had the time to read it since winter, what with SAT prep on the weekends and his classes during the week, but now that school was nearly over he could finally go back to reading what he wanted to read. There was nothing more boring in the world to him than Pride and Prejudice or Little Women. The school always wanted them to read novels and things. Nick was snapped out of his thoughts by some movement in the periphery of his vision. He instinctively turned to look at who it was, turned back to his book for a split second, and then looked back at her.

“Wow!” he exclaimed.

The librarian cleared her throat loudly at his outburst and Nick covered his mouth.

After school snack
The wind picked up just a touch for a moment, blowing some of the newly fallen leaves and odd pieces of trash around. Isabel hugged herself and shivered. She had just moved from New Mexico a few months before. To her, even this mild weather was freezing. In a way she missed the oppressive, dusty heat of the South West. This place was really different from anywhere else she’d lived. Sure, it had a down town area and an airport, but the school area and the houses, they seemed like a really great place to grow up.

“Japanese, hu? That sounds hard to learn. I don’t really know if I’m good at learning another language, the ones I’ve got sort of came pre-loaded. And don’t they use some other way of writing? Like…lines and things?”

Isabel folded the wrapper over the uneaten half of her chocolate. She wanted to save the rest for the walk.

“Indie….tronica?” she ventured with her nose scrunched up. She’d never heard of either of those types of music. Isabel took the phone out of her pocket and opened it just enough to see what the time was. She stood and smoothed her shirt out, making sure there wasn’t any left over crumbs.

“Well maybe you can teach me about Japanese and DDR and..uh...indietronica. Listen, I gotta go. I have to start dinner soon and I haven’t done laundry in like, two weeks. But it was….nice talking to you. Maybe I’ll see you here tomorrow.”

Book pick up
((Continued from Enjoy the Movie))

Nick walked cheerily into the library. He flung open the heavy library door, causing it to bang against the side of the building. Nick walked up to a very irate looking librarian.

“Hi, I’m here for-“

The librarian narrowed her eyes at him, put a finger up to her mouth and pointed to a little sign on the desk that read “Please be courteous of others. Keep noise to a minimum.”

Nick lowered himself to her level and put a finger up to his mouth as well. He set his bag carefully on the ground next to the desk.

“Sorry,” he said much more quietly. “I’m here to pick up a book that’s been checked out for a while. You guys said it was due back by today and if I wanted it then I could-“

“Name?” the librarian asked, cutting him off.

“Nick LeMonde….”

She clacked away for a few seconds on the library computer, then ducked down to the shelves below the desk. Nick leaned over the shelf to watch her go through the books, almost tipping all the way to the other side of the desk. When she popped back up he fell backwards off the desk, but caught himself on a library cart. He tried as best he could to get his school card out of his wallet with his thick fingers and after a few tries, slipped it out and put it on the desk. The woman scanned it, stamped the book and handed it over to him.

“You have two weeks. After that it’s a dime a day in late fees not counting weekends and holidays.”

Nick thanked her and waved, though she didn’t return either. He threw his wallet back in his bag and hauled it back up. Nick walked to the study area, pulled out a chair and sat at one of the long wooden tables to look over his book.

Enjoy the Movie
“Wanted? Hell, yeah. Angelina Jolie is smoking hot!”

Nick’s eyes suddenly bulged and he stuck his hands in his pockets looking for his phone. Finally he found it and fumbled as he tried to open it. He slapped his hand to his forehead.

“Aw man, I forgot that today the book I put on reserve is due back in the library today. If I don’t pick it up by the end of today it’s not gonna be on hold anymore.”

He threw his phone back into his bag and threw his bag over his shoulder.

“I gotta go man, but it was nice ta meet ya.”

Nick grabbed his hand again and gave it another vigorous shake. He turned and nearly crashed into the girl behind him. Nick narrowly avoided bringing them both to the floor and apologized before heading back to the door.

“Nice to meet you Dave. Think about what I said about those clubs. There’s a club for everyone!”

With that he ran out of the movie theater back into the heat.

((Continued in Book Pick Up))

Let the Dance Begin!
Isabel surveyed the decorated ballroom. It looked nice; it looked like what a prom was supposed to look like. She herself had tried her best to look like what a prom guest would look like. Isabel had worried quite a bit over her outfit. She wasn’t even sure that she was going to go to prom when the school had first announced it, but her mother and uncle insisted she go. They were fascinated by the thing; it was a very American right of passage as far as they were concerned. Getting her ready had been a team effort. Since her mother had never been to a prom and Isabel didn't have older siblings they did their research with the aid of prom magazines that seemed to take up a whole section of the magazine rack this time of year. She ended up wearing a dark blue, strapless bubble dress she had borrowed from her cousin. It fell just above her knees and had a metallic sheen to it. It was nice except for a blue bow on the back.

My butt looks like a Christmas present, she thought when she first tried it on. Other than that it was nice.

She constantly had to remind herself not to touch her face. Her mother and relatives had done the hair and make-up. Not much, blue shadow and clear gloss. She looked down at her shoes, black flats. Even without heels she was taller than Allen so high heels were out of the question. With her in flats and him in dress shoes they just about evened out to the same height.

It was true they were a little late, but she didn’t mind. Actually, it made her less nervous seeing how much he cared. He had apologized a million times during the night.

Isabel placed her small black clutch on the sign-in table and scribbled their names. She heard Allen ask to dance, but her eyes flickered over to the table with the card that said “Requests.”

“Hold on one second. I’ll be right back. Promise.”

She ran to the table as fast as her outfit, shoes and various accessories would allow. Isabel picked up the pencil and tapped it against the paper for a few seconds while looking over the other requests. She was a little disappointed she had missed “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

Well, I may as well keep in line with the 80’s theme.

She jotted down “Let’s Dance – David Bowie” at the end of the list and ran back to Allen.

“You know, you clean up nice,” she said, attempting to be heard over the music. Isabel tried to give him a reassuring smile. “Sure, let’s dance.”

After school snack
Isabel perked up and smiled wide.

“¿Sabe Español? Estuve tratando de encontrar alguien con quien puedo practicar,” she shot off quickly. Isabel waited for a few seconds; the silence acted like visible ellipses.

“You…don’t know Spanish, do you?”

Isabel laughed and sat down on a bench. Her hair shook when she chuckled. She stretched out, placed both palms on the bench and leaned back. Her long legs sprawled out haphazardly in front of her.

“Sorry, I thought maybe you did. There aren’t a ton of people to talk to in Spanish in St. Paul.”

She took a large bite out of her candy bar and several little pieces went everywhere. Isabel held her shirt away from herself and tried to brush the pieces away without smashing them into her shirt.

“Isabel’s okay. My parents named me after some writer or something. They made me read one of her books once; it was pretty depressing.”

Isabel looked up to see several students come out of the bike cage and whizz by on their bicycles.

This is a really pretty town. Seems kinda boring, but it’s a good place for kids.

“Video games…I’ve never played video games. Well, I played Dance Dance Revolution once at a mall, but there were a bunch of pervs staring at the girls play. I’ve seen a little anime. I used to run home after school to catch the Toonami block on Cartoon Network, but that’s about all the anime I’ve seen.”

Isabel brought her knee up to her chest and rested her head on her knee. She closed one eye to block out the sun and looked at Hayley.

“Crappy music?” she said with a grin.

“I like some crappy music. Be more specific.”

After school snack
Even though she had only been pretending to be busy with her phone Isabel was still somewhat startled when the girl spoke to her. Her eyes widened momentarily while trying to take in all of the bright colors the girl was wearing.

She snapped her phone shut and shoved it into her pocket. Isabel took the candy bar out and worked to remove the wrapper with both hands. She took her time removing the wrapper, making it appear as if it was much more difficult than it really was. Most people expect a handshake when they meet someone new, so Isabel had become skilled at keeping her hands busy when someone new approached her

“Uh… I wanted to say thanks for the dime. I tried to say something back there, but I wasn’t sure if you heard me over the noise.”

“Hey! I couldn’t help but notice your fantastic taste in junk food.”

Isabel felt her face twitch into a reluctant smile. She looked down at the candy bar she was still fiddling with, but her smile still showed.

She seems nice. There’s no reason to be afraid. It’s silly to be afraid, this place is different. You’re going to be here a long time, hopefully. Try to be nice. Make the effort.

“It's nice to meet you, Hayley,” she said still looking down.

How am I ever going to remember more names? I’m so bad with names. I heard once if you say someone’s name three times in the first conversation you have with them, then you’ll remember it. It's worth a shot.

“Hayley…it’s a nice name.”

Her head jerked up to look at Hayley. “Yeah, I’m a real connoisseur. But I guess you must be too,” she said motioning to Hayley’s candy. Her smile grew and her shoulders relaxed slightly. “No, it’s cool. Crazy people are more interesting anyway. Who wants to hang out with boring, well-adjusted people?”

Isabel finally tugged the wrapper off of the candy bar. With one hand she brought it up to her mouth and took a bite, with the other she twirled a strand of hair around her fingers.

“I don’t really know anyone around here either. I just moved to the area. Oh, my name’s Isabel,” she said with a shrug.

Isabel looked down at the candy bar. She took the end she hadn’t bitten out of and snapped off a piece.

“Here, ten cents worth of chocolate. To pay you back, Hayley."

I hope I don’t sound like a total weirdo saying someone’s name so many times.

“So, what do you like to do for fun?”

Bayview's Mascot
Oh, how cool. Great job!

After school snack
Isabel heard a voice. She looked around until she saw a girl offering up the missing ten cents. She looked curiously at the girl and carefully took the coin.

Pale girl, but pretty.

Isabel had always been jealous of people who could wear their hair in bangs. Her curls didn’t really allow for such a style.

“Thanks,” she replied quietly. Isabel wasn’t sure if the other girl actually heard what she had said, probably not. Now having enough money, she dumped the jingling change into the open hand of the flustered looking parent volunteer behind the counter. Isabel grabbed the chocolate bar she had been eyeing off of the top of the pile without waiting for the woman to finish counting and set about trying to squeeze her way back out. Every time she advanced it seemed like the space behind her would immediately close up behind her.

After a few moments she was finally ejected from the crowd and took a deep breath. She looked down at her side and poked her rib cage, thinking perhaps a shorter person had elbowed her. Isabel cast her glance back towards the table.

I don’t think that girl heard me. Should I wait to say “thank you”? Probably.

Isabel stood a few feet away from the line. Far enough to be clear of the people but close enough so that she knew the girl would see her. She pulled out her phone and tried to look casual while fiddling with the buttons to make it look like she was busy doing something.

Potential Party Guests?
Well if the party needs more people, my character Ethan could use some socializing.

Here's his profile: Ethan Kent

Enjoy the Movie
“Uh yeah, a movie.”

“Sure, sure. That’s cool.”

Nick took the boy’s hand, though David hadn’t offered it, and started shaking it vigorously.

“My name’s Nick LeMonde, nice to meet you David. Do you prefer David or Dave?”

Nick dropped David's hand and looked up at the movie listings. He still didn’t really know what he was going to see.

“You go to Bayview, right? Senior right?”

Nick cocked his head to the side to inspect the boy further. He was tall, thin, though not particularly muscled. He took one of the David’s arms and lifted it to the level of his shoulder.

“I don’t see you ‘round much at any of the sporting events at school. Not the clubs either. Ever thought about joining the wrestling team? We always need guys for the lower weight divisions and I can totally teach you. No pressure or anything. It’s just a great way to meet people."

Nick poked a little at the boy’s rib cage, trying to estimate how much he probably weighed. Out of the corner of his periphery Nick noticed a girl stand in line behind them.

“Hu, theater is getting busy. And I still don’t know what to watch. What are you thinking of seeing? ”

After school snack
Isabel tapped her foot impatiently. She glanced up at the clock on the wall above her teacher. She couldn’t even hear what the woman was saying; the ticking sound of the clock seemed to drown out all the other noise. Her eyes widened as the second hand jerkily moved towards the clock’s zenith. As soon as it did the bell rang, as if on cue. People bustled and chatted around her as she hastily shoved her books and papers into her backpack.

Once outside, she sighed and looked down at her clock. She knew the time; she had just been staring at the classroom clock for a solid ten minutes, but the action made it look to others as if she might have some place to go. Isabel adjusted the strap of her back pack on her left shoulder and started walking towards the candy stand.

The school set up a little table with overpriced candy and snacks after school. Normally she would have waited to get home to eat, but today she thought something sweet would cheer her up on the walk home.

Isabel attempted to stand in line, but there wasn’t really a line to stand in so much as a mob of people that occasionally pulsed forward towards the little table. She managed to push herself in after a few people who had received their goods squeezed out of the crowd.

I hate being so close to all these people. It’s disgusting.

Isabel managed to fight her way to the front. She had shoved some people along the way, but everyone was shoving so she didn’t think anyone had noticed her pushing in particular. It was hard to maneuver with so many people; she jammed her hand into her backpack and fished around until she pulled out her brown, cloth wallet. Isabel unzipped the coin purse and started mentally counting out change. Her eye line alternated between the change in her hand and a chocolate bar on top of a stack of chocolate bars on the table.

20, 35, 40, 65, 75, 85, 86, 87,88, 89…..I’m ten cents short, she thought with a sigh.

Isabel turned to look at the crowd. She didn’t think they were going to be very giving but she thought she might give it a try.

“Anyone got a dime or something?” she yelled above the din.

Podcast Thread
I liked the podcast and I think it's a really great idea. I like listening to podcasts for the communities I'm a part of and I agree that it's a nice way to provide unity, especially since the site has become slightly disjointed by people giving up on the long pre-game. Also because it's become such a large community.

I liked the different perspectives you had with people who had been playing longer and new people.

You've probably already got something like this planned, but I think it would be good to have a couple of set segments. Like every podcast there could be a character spot light for 5 minutes or a thread recap or listener theories about Danya and the like. Just a few things that people can hear from week to week for a just a couple of minutes.

v4 Sneak-Preview #1
What's that white thing near the sink? Is it a refrigerator, perhaps? :o