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Extraordinary Machine; Open!
Topic Started: May 29 2015, 06:43 AM (939 Views)
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JOSHUA BRACEWELL: START

It wasn’t often that Joshua Bracewell’s free period could actually be considered ‘free’. Any moment he spent at school not in class was usually filled with a myriad of other activities – studying, attending to any one of his numerous clubs, providing a tutoring session for a friend, or fulfilling one of his other commitments – so any times of reprieve were few and far between. Every so often, however, the stars would align and there’d be no pressing assignments or meetings he had to attend and he could just spend an hour relaxing; hanging with friends or listening to music.

This wasn’t one of those days.

He’d had a tennis meeting scheduled today, but when Coach Parkinson was forced to cancel at the last minute, it’d left him with a free hour and nothing with which to fill it. For a moment he considered texting one of his friends and asking them to hang out, but no one in particular came to mind and he didn’t want to give them such short notice. A solitary activity held similarly little appeal; his parents had been busy with work lately and Philippe was studying hard for an upcoming exam, so school provided him with one of his few chances to socialise before brunch with his cousin Louis that Sunday. It was awhile into his free hour that a solution to both his problems hit him: the morning announcements had advertised a need for volunteers to put up posters for an upcoming bake sale. After considering it for a moment, Joshua felt an immediate pang of sadness for having a much too busy schedule to accommodate that act into it as well – though he tucked it away in the back of his mind, just in case.

Having retrieved a stack of glossy posters calling for further volunteers – bakers, vendors, customers; all of which was inscribed in vibrant script around a cartoon cupcake – from the teacher-in-charge, Ms. Moreno, Joshua found himself gently placing them along the hallways of the East Wing, smiling all the while and rereading the posters’ text as he waited for someone to stumble across him. The sale was fundraising for an upcoming Spanish field trip, but whilst he wouldn’t personally benefit from his current task, it still felt good to be giving back.

And bake sales weren’t a frequent occurrence on his list of activities, so maybe that would catch his parents’ attention that evening when he told them about his day.
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((Noah Whitley continued from Subscribe Goddammit))

Free period was a godsend. Something that Noah had thanked God over and over for. For Noah, who spent most of his school days alternating between "forced enthusiasm" and "comatose," an hour to do something other than sitting quietly and making sure his eyes didn't look too glassy was needed. Most days, Noah took to a quiet corner of the library to watch a video on his phone or to work on some comedy. Sure, he'd study if he had a test coming up or get a jump start on homework if he had something else to do after school, but today wasn't one of those days.

Noah had just finished making a quick bathroom break and was now walking through the East Wing to get back to his quiet space in the library. He was trying to think of some jokes for his next web show, all centered on making fun of celebrities that week. Award season was in full swing, and he needed to get a Golden Globes themed episode up soon.

As he walked down the hall, tossing jokes about Boyhood and American Sniper in his mind, he noticed someone putting flyers up. The guy was a tall junior, not too bad looking, and Noah was curious what he could be putting up. Noah walked up and read one of the flyers on the wall.

"Bake sale...field trip...uhuh," he muttered to himself.

Noah turned to the guy and pointed at the flyer with his thumb

"Ah, I see the school is falling back on making sacrifices at the alter of Betty Crocker to go anywhere," he said. "Then again, I guess people are more likely to fund excursions if they get something immediate and consumable out of it."

Noah flashed a cheeky grin to the guy. He really hoped that would amuse the guy.
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((Abby Floyd Continued From Imparare))

"JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSHIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!"

Abby had a sort of radar for a few things in her life. Animals. Baking. Friends. People in need. Right now, all of those things were wrapped up into one adorable, friendly, golden-hearted little package, and he needed her expertise even if he hadn't thought to ask her about it.

The hall shook in her vision as she ran as fast as her legs would carry her, squealing out with glee at the sight of Joshua's poster. Her hands waved back and forth frantically as she approached, practically bouncing at the thought of taking up another bake sale. Good gracious, did she love bake sales! Lots of cooking, good causes, and people having a great time eating food a whole community came together to make? Sign me right up!

"Joshie, Joshie, Joshie," she panted out as she came closer, reaching for the boy, "How could you ever forget to tell me about this? Where is it, when is it, how much do you need, I'll be right there!" The lights shone in her eyes as she beamed up at him, already preparing a mental list of what she'd need to get going. An army of delicious desserts paraded through her mind until they all collapsed into a crashing heap as she realized there was someone else standing nearby, and she'd just run plum into their conversation without a second thought. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to interrupt, please don't mind me, I just got all worked up and didn't watch myself," she giggled out at the boy in front of Joshua.
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Joshua remained wholly immersed in his task, only breaking out of it as he heard the sound of nearby footfalls along the hallway, accompanied shortly after by a witty comment about what the posters were advertising. A hearty laugh evacuated Joshua’s mouth and he pivoted on his heel, eager to greet whoever had provided him with a temporary diversion from the monotony of poster-pasting. In his haste to great the newcomer, however, he temporarily forgot about the large pile of items clasped between his arms, almost dropping the mountain of paper and wads of blu-tack.

“Hey Noah,” Joshua grinned, still lightly snickering at the boy’s joke and adjusting his grip so as not to risk spilling an ocean of posters across the carpeted floor. He really should’ve recognised the boy from his voice alone, but figured he’d been too focused on ensuring that he placed the paper neatly and orderly, as opposed to splaying it across the walls in a haphazard, unorganised mess. Noah Whitley was a year above him, but although the two didn’t have a class together or talked much throughout the years, the other boy had a firm place in Joshua’s mind. Whether it was from his YouTube videos (which he’d perused a few times) or from the school musicals where he’d played musical accompaniment, or just from the blond’s vibrant, exuberant personality, Noah wasn’t someone Joshua could see himself forgetting any time soon.

“That’s so true,” he continued, “so much better than asking for simple donations, and it’s as good excuse as any to bake a hundred thousand million cookies.”

Joshua’s smile only widened further as he heard an unmistakable cry arise from down the corridor, turning his head to see Abigail Floyd rocketing towards him, hands flailing and eyes alight with excitement as she did so. If Joshua had to name an upperclassman he was closest to, it’d have to be Abby. She was so perpetually optimistic and energetic, and her unwavering enthusiasm for the volunteering they regularly participated in together always warmed his heart. That said, their relationship wasn’t perfect; as Abby slowed in her approach and reached out to him – an action he reciprocated by clasping her hand within his own – Joshua was reminded of how whenever they were together, he couldn’t help feeling awkwardly tall in comparison, standing nearly a foot taller and having to fight the urge to bend over to get at eye-level with her.

“Hey Abby!” He said warmly, her energy proving infectious as he felt his demeanour grow even happier, and the chipperness in his voice crank up a notch.

“I’m so sorry!” He cried, and covered his face in a display of melodramatic, faux-apology, before lowering his hands and letting his features return to their usual cheerfulness and offering a small chuckle. “It’s next Friday, so there’s a wee while yet before we’re gonna need your expertise! I’m not too sure how much Ms. Moreno’s already got organised, but I know she’d never object to having more baked goods, especially if they’re made by you.”

He turned back towards Noah, not wanting him to be left out of the discussion and feel unappreciated, especially when he wasn’t. There wasn’t a single person in the world Joshua could imagine not wanting to talk to.

“And hey, speaking of bake sale contributions, what would you say to either you or Miss Bucket making an appearance at it?”
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Noah was about to respond to Joshua's greeting when he heard the loud cry of some girl. Noah turned and saw Abby Floyd rushing towards Joshua. Noah had to crack a smile at how she called out to him. He half expected her to jump and kick Joshua in the face from the way she was running towards them. Fortunately for Joshua (but unfortunately for Noah's imagination), she didn't do that, and started chatting with Joshua about the bake sale.

"Nah, don't worry about it," Noah told Abby when she apologized for interrupting.

Joshua asked Noah if Pina would make an appearance at the bake sale. Noah had to laugh at that. For one, the idea of showing up in drag at a school function was quite absurd, and possibly something that could get him suspended.

"No, Pina won't show up," Noah explained. "Sadly, she's not allowed within fifty feet of school grounds. Court order and all that. Plus, she'd be likely to stuff her purse with as many brownies as she can, so you might be at a loss for profits if she showed up."

"But do you need anything in particular?" he asked. "I don't mind bringing something."
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So much time!

Next Friday gave her awhile to plan. She could go shopping, or plan with Grandma, maybe experiment a little with the mix...but what mix? Cookies? Brownies? Cupcakes? Muffins? Loaded bread? Or even..."Pies!" Another loud cry echoed from her mouth and she gave a little jump as Noah asked what they needed. "Oh Lord, it's got to be pies! They're a real mover, you know?"

A dozen other questions were buried under her mental momentum. Pies were exactly the ticket. What kind of pie, though? There were so many different flavors she could pick from, after all. Fruit was probably the ticket, real fruit, nice and juicy with lots of sugary filling. She could whip up a whole mess of fruit pies with a little bit of pre-prep and they'd sell by the slice. That was definitely the way to go, definitely.

Her whole body was buzzing with excitement at the thought and she couldn't help bobbing on her heels a bit. She'd need to adjust her schedule a little bit, for sure, but she didn't have anything important going on this week. Everything would work out perfectly.
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((Skipping to get this thread back on track))

Abby shouted that they needed pies. Noah raised an eyebrow. She sounded really excited about the prospect of the bake sale, to the point that Noah couldn't help crack a smile over how she was bobbing a bit.

"Pies sounds great," Noah said, letting out a small chuckle.

Noah thought for a moment. He didn't know how to make a pie. He could buy a frozen Sara Lee pie and bake it in the oven, but a homemade one was beyond his idea. He wasn't even sure if his Grandma had a recipe for pie. Now he was wishing he had spent more time in the kitchen instead of locked up in his room.

"Well, anything else you can think of. Y'know, for people who's only experience in baking is with their friend Mary Jane?"

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Pies?

Oh, Joshua hadn’t had a proper, home-baked pie for far too long. Nobody in his immediate family had the culinary skills necessary for making one, whilst his mother’s side wasn’t too keen on that form of dessert – his Aunt Lilia’s apple crumble, though, was top-notch. So as Abby energetically expounded about the benefits of pies, he made a mental note to triple-check his calendar for his schedule that day, hoping that he wouldn’t be too preoccupied to make a quick visit to the bake sale and purchase a slice (or six) of Abby’s undoubtedly delicious goods.

He was glad Noah agreed with it too, happy that although his alter-ego Nina couldn’t make an appearance (that certainly would’ve made for an exciting article in the yearbook!), he was all for making a contribution to the mountain of pastries that would almost-certainly be there now that Abby had caught wind of it. Gosh, this was looking to be quite the event! Joshua couldn’t wait to return to Ms. Moreno and report back on how things had developed. The thought of the smile that’d be plastered on her face when he told her only made his own grow even further.

Joshua chuckled lightly at Noah’s next quip, one about his friend ‘Mary Jane’, despite being completely and utterly at a loss as for what it meant. He was certain he’d heard it said somewhere before, perhaps on television or in the newspaper or spoken by one of his friends, but he couldn’t place it. Not wanting the other boy’s joke to go amiss, though, he adjusted his line of vision to meet with Abby’s as subtly as he could and blinked his widened eyes, hoping she’d be able to manage a witty retort to Noah’s jest.
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Abby didn't have to think long to catch Noah's joke, though she did have to wonder about the funny look Joshua was giving her. She never figured him to be the kind of boy caught up in that sort of thing, but maybe it was how he kept calm with all of the craziness in his life?

A few years ago, John and Michael had a frank and candid discussion with Abby about "the reefer" after she started growing curious about that funny smell that always seemed to waft around Granny's part of the house. It certainly wasn't the kind of thing she'd get into, but she was aware of it and wasn't too surprised that Noah had some experience with edibles by the sound of it. She gave him a sly smile. "Well, my granny's been a friend of Miss Jane for a spell now, so I might be able to hunt up a mighty fine brownie mix with some easy instructions. Without Miss Jane's part, of course. I don't think the school is ready for her secret recipe yet, you hear?"
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"Yeah, that makes sense. The last thing we want for people at this school is for them to feel calm and stress-free. That's not what school is for."

Noah smirked and brushed some hair back. Josh and Abby seemed pretty cool, although Noah wasn't sure if Josh actually got the joke. That was something natural when it came to comedy, something Noah had issues with. Still, it wasn't that big a deal right now. What mattered now was figuring out what to bring for the bake sale.

Heh, I was just making a joke about it, but now I'm kind of invested in this. Eh, why the hell not?

"Brownies aren't that complex, are they?" he asked Abby. "It's one of those 'mix everything then put in the oven' dishes?"
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Joshua breathed an internal sigh of relief once the conversation continued beyond Noah’s still-cryptic quip and back onto the altogether more familiar topic of brownie-making. He had no idea what he would’ve done had Abby and Noah gone into even more depth about the mysterious ‘Mary Jane’ and he was called upon to provide further comment on it. Thankfully, making brownies were a topic on which he could talk about for days on end. They’d always been a guilty pleasure for him – he was sure the cashier at the local bakery knew him by name from the amount of times he’d gone there – and whenever his mum was able to squeeze enough free time out of her schedule to devote to baking, a fresh, steaming, batch of brownies were almost always the end result. Slightly-burnt nature aside, it was always so wonderful to have something so personal from one of his parents.

He shook his head gently, blond ringlets bouncing as he did so, and turned back towards the wall to apply another advertisement to it. He’s gotten so caught up in the trio’s discussion that he’d almost forgotten about the task at hand, only remembering it when the image of returning to Ms. Moreno with some posters still unpinned floated through his head. As he ensured the paper was evenly lined up, he tilted his head in Noah and Abby’s direction and offered them a light smile, not wanting to seem standoffish as he continued with his work.

“Too true,” he replied to Noah’s query about the complexity of brownies. “But I guess the deliciousness varies with the instructions and the ingredients? For all we know, Abby’s granny’s one might be the holy grail of brownie recipes.”
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((Skipping to exit))

"Yes, and I'm sure it's a wonderful recipe," Noah said. "Probably better than anything I could make."

Noah looked at his watch. Free period was winding down, and while chatting about bake sales was fun, he still needed to get some things done.

"Welp, I'll keep this in mind and see about bringing something along if I have the time. Peace out."

Noah flashed a peace sign as he walked backwards before turning around and heading down the hall. He chuckled to himself. He didn't think he could feel so cheery about pastries, but it was nice.

"Now, if I could only get this bit down."

Noah began to toss jokes around in his head as he walked down the hall, his pace speedy and slightly bouncy.

((Noah Whitley continued in Airline Food))
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Things seemed to be moving along steadily, with Joshie getting back to his work and Noah moving right along to his next destination. Abby didn't want to be rude and make them linger on with her, plus she should probably check to the time to make sure she wasn't going to be late to class because of brownies for the second time today. She gave Josh a quick wave and a smile as she turned to head down the hall. "Bye Joshie! Good luck and let me know if you need any help drumming up more bakers, hun!"

With that, she bounced along the hall to class, visions of baked goods and recipes dancing around the back of her mind.

((Abby Floyd Continued Elsewhere))
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“See ya!” Joshua waved energetically at a departing Noah, returning the other boy’s peace sign just before he dipped out of sight. He turned to face Abby again, hoping for their conversation to continue as cheerfully as it had been, but sadly she too had something else worthy of her attention. Not too surprising, really – if there was anyone he could count on to understand what it was like to have such a hefty workload, it was Abigail Floyd.

Joshua smiled warmly as she skipped merrily down the corridor, before applying the few remaining posters still clutched against his chest. As he did so, he found the grin plastered across his face almost unshakeable with the memory of their rendezvous still fresh in his mind. Sure, their talk hadn’t progressed much beyond the beauty of baked goods and the mysterious ‘Mary Jane’ Noah and Abby had discussed, but all-in-all it was quite the enjoyable conversation. A more than welcome change of pace from the constant stream of meetings, appointments, and rallies he waded through every day. In his rare moments of solitude, Joshua often wondered what it would be like not to have so many obligations and pressures bearing down on him, what it would be like to be assured of his parents’ affections without having to dedicate so much of himself to so many things.

But – luckily, he figured – before any of that could really settle into his mind and he had time to ponder it, something else always came along to keep him occupied. And to help him forget.

((Joshua Bracewell continued in Mad Dewey Dash))
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