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just a picture of a cloud
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
She turned the phone round, holding up the sleeping screen.

"Mirror surrogate".

There was a sheepish little smile on Georgia Lee's face as she said this, and she hated herself for it. What had she to be ashamed of? There was nothing abnormal about her minor vanity, nothing embarrassing about how she'd been comporting herself. She'd been calm. She was keeping her cool.

What she was feeling was annoyance, but it was at herself, not this... person. Vincenzo's arrival had startled her a little, which was itself probably a bad sign: Vincenzo could generally be heard from three classrooms away. Her thoughts were clearly running in circles, and a diversion was welcome.

What's another word for "diversion", Georgia Lee?

Was she just looking for a distraction? Was that what she wanted? The next two years stretched ahead of her, then: her free time frittered away gossipping and giggling and worrying about what people thought of her. She'd make some lovely friends, of course, and then after graduation she could spend the rest of her life with them, stuck here in Kingman. Wouldn't that be nice?

No, she was being ridiculous. Her concentration was already shot, and a conversation was no less likely to fix that then sitting out here alone, making herself anxious.

So when it's someone pretty distracting you, it's suddenly okay? There are words for that type of girl, Georgia Lee.

She knew those words. Some of them she'd called herself before. One of them she'd been called today. She also knew, though, that it wasn't a fit for her. Sitting outside is a reasonable situation to be talking to someone in. In a study space is not. There was a valid distinction between the situations, and as for Vincenzo's smooth skin and dark eyes... those had nothing to do with anything.

There was value in self criticism, of course, but Georgia Lee suspected she was now being indulgent. Wallowing in her negativity was getting her nowhere. She banished those thoughts, and gave her full attention to the student sitting across from her.

Vincenzo, sometimes Vincenza, was another Cochise celebrity for obvious reasons. Harder to pick from a crowd than Ty Yazzie, perhaps, but a much more common object of conversation. There were all sorts of whispers and stories, especially Freshman year, when the whole idea of Vincenzo was new to most of her fellows. There were names, too. Georgia Lee had repeated some of them. She wasn't proud of it, and she was glad she'd never done so to their face.

Thinking about it now she'd never said anything to their face, nor they to hers. What did they want, exactly?

"I'm sorry, can I help you with something?"


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