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Not Quite the Zeitgeist; Open!
Topic Started: Jun 19 2015, 10:01 PM (973 Views)
Espi
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((Alice Baker continued from Rays on Pinion))

Cheryl's was a lovely little diner, really. Alice greatly appreciated it's presence, though she wasn't especially inclined towards partaking in the special events they held. When she ate out, she was looking for good food, not crazy games and stuff. It was a nice feature she supposed, but not one she usually took advantage of.

Luckily, Cheryl's delivered on food, so Alice made it her stop of choice when she wanted to eat out. Usually, she was accompanied by her parents (Molly avoided family meals like the plague) but today she was eating by herself. It was early Friday evening, she had no homework and she'd gotten paid on commission for a sketch she'd done, so Alice had figured she might as well treat herself.

Today, dinner was breakfast. Alice was devouring a plateful of pancakes with the artificial syrup and lots of butter. It was nice, fluffy and very yummy, though Alice wasn't usually a fan of sugary foods for meals. She loves sweet things, naturally, but cakes were better as a treat, not the main course. Still, this was a nice meal.

Alice was also reading; specifically, she was rereading "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings". Maya Angelou was a fabulous writer and storyteller, and Alice was terribly jealous of her. She had been tempted, in the past, to write her own autobiography, but figured she was too uninteresting and, more importantly, too fortunate. She was a white, straight girl in middle-class with no real personal issues. Who would feel bad for her? Angelou was a storyteller and had a fascinating, tragic story tell. Alice was hardly a tragic figure.

Unfortunately for Alice, she was about to earn herself some unwanted sympathy. As she took a bite of pancake, she swallowed funny. As soon as she gulped down her forkful, she recognized the unpleasant sensation and began coughing. Loudly, in fact, enough to draw attention to herself. After a moment of hacking, Alice managed to gulp down a glass of water, panting slightly from the misfire.

Alice glanced around the diner, slightly self-conscious. Hopefully she didn't make anyone uncomfortable with her reaction.
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As soon as Alice recovered from her mild fit, she saw the adjacent booth's occupant spring up with apparent concern. Alice was a bit surprised; she hadn't expected to illicit genuine concern for her wellbeing. That was sweet of them, if a bit unnecessary. Still, it became clear as to the reason for the stranger's reaction as Alice realized they were not, in fact, a stranger.

"Oh, hey there."

The slip-up was not missed, but Alice didn't really mind. She and Kiziah had interacted pleasantly in the past, though Kiziah was an upperclassman. Regardless, it was endearing if anything that Kizi had been concerned about her. It was always nice to know people cared, and really it was even more pleasing if they didn't have to worry but did so anyway.

"I'm okay, don't worry." Alice said, smiling gently. "Thanks, though."

She peeked over the booth, setting her book onto the table with a bookmark to hold her page. Kizi was eating what looked like a seafood/rice dish. It actually looked really good; Alice was perfectly aware of the restaurant's reputation in the past, but she paid it no mind for the most part. They'd spruced up since then, so she didn't see a point in making a fuss.

"I'm good, thanks. I got paid this afternoon so I wanted to treat myself." Technically, the payment wasn't the type Kizi would likely expect; it was a wired exchange, Alice having drawn someone's request in return for monetary compensation. She didn't always take commissions, but she liked to when she needed money, and it was fun to draw people's characters sometimes. This one had been drawn in a stylized fashion at the customer's request, which Alice wasn't used to, but she had been proud of it regardless. The recipient had been very thankful, too.

"Other than that..." Alice shrugged. "Not much. How are you?"


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Kizi seemed somewhat anxious, and was a little embarrassed. Alice felt bad now; she didn't want to worry someone, and they certainly didn't need to feel guilty over worrying. "It's okay, I appreciate your concern." She said warmly, smiling again. Kizi was pretty nice, and she didn't want her friend to get upset. Well, friend might be a strong word, but still.

Kizi also asked what Alice did for work. "I draw online. Like, commissions." She said, somewhat self-conscious. It was a little weird, and a lot of people might not get it. "I draw for people and send it to them for money. Not a lot, or anything, but...it's something I guess." She smiled again, more sheepishly this time.

Jennifer approached, which was another pleasant surprise. Jenny was a sweet girl, a lot like Alice in many ways, and they got along well despite the age difference. "Hi Jen. Good to see you too."

A funny thought passed through Alice's head. She chuckled quietly. "I guess I kind of caused a commotion, huh. Sorry."
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Alice took another forkful of pancakes while the other two talked, waiting patiently to reply. She certainly didn't want to interrupt, and she was usually quite content to listen to others when a conversation started up.

Jennifer asked her a question, apparently intrigued by Alice's commissions. Alice knew that Jen was also an artist, though she didn't recall seeing a lot of Jen's stuff. Still, practice made perfect, and if Jennifer drew as much as Alice did then she was probably quite good. The compliment made Alice a little self-conscious, but she was glad to hear it. That was one of her secret pleasures; getting praise. It made her feel good, naturally; who doesn't like a compliment?

"Thanks, Jen. I'm okay, I guess. If you put yourself out there, people will come, I guess. It helps to find a niche, too. Like, like you said, I mostly do character work, so people get me to draw their OCs and stuff."

Kizi made a comment, and Alice tried not to cringe at the awkward follow-up comments. Poor thing, it would've been a really funny joke if she hadn't...well...explained it. Alice offered a sympathetic smile in her direction, and said, "It's okay, I got it. It was pretty funny."

Wanting to make Kizi feel better, Alice decided to redirect the conversation so Kizi could be included without feeling embarrassed. "You don't draw, right? What else do you like to do?"
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Alice pursed her lips.

While the other girl was quite cheerful, Alice wondered if she'd offended Kizi somehow. While it was certainly kind of her to want to avoid disrupting any conversation about art that might spring forth, truth be told it only served to make Alice feel somewhat curious. While she didn't suspect a spiteful intent, she wondered if Kizi felt hurt by not being adequately included. Alice hoped not; she'd feel terrible if that were the case, just absolutely ashamed.

Kizi had to have other interests, obviously. Nobody got through life doing literally nothing. Even if you sat in a corner and watched paint dry all day every day, you had an interest. Admittedly it was the most boring interest imaginable, but it was something. So Alice cocked her head and smiled gently at the other girl, hopefully making her feel more welcome.

"C'mon," she said in a quiet but playful voice, "you've got to do something, right? What do you like to do?"

Oh no, she thought as Jen's face caught her eye as she tilted her head, I can't leave her out too. God, she was awful at this sort of thing. Conversations were so tough for Alice, it seemed, despite everyone else managing just fine. There were so many rules and things you had to do, it was exhausting. "What about you Jen? Anything you do in addition to drawing?"

Alice smiled. "Maybe you two have something in common?"
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These two were making things difficult. Alice was feeling good today, still eating her pancakes, chatting with friends. But they weren't saying anything! Alice was starting to feel like she was expected to carry the conversation. Alice hated carrying conversations. It was stressful and difficult, coaxing people into talking. She felt like an interrogator. But if these two weren't giving her anything, she needed to at least try to help them open up.

"What about...language arts, Jen?" Alice said with a hint of a smile. She'd noticed the pun, naturally, but she wasn't going to pick fun. Puns could be nice, and who was she to make fun of someone else's sense of humor? "You do any writing or anything?"

Oh, speaking of languages, Kizi said something about them. Alice's eyes lit up. "Oh, do you do writing? I've been working on a fan-well, a sort of a short story you could call it." Truth be told? It was a fanfic of Twilight.

Ugh, she knew. But it was an improvement attempt of sorts; she was lukewarm on the series herself, oh god she hated the fandom, but having read the saga she saw a lot of potential for fanfics, and she'd gotten to work recently after like a month of planning and longer of tossing around ideas. She was getting excited for it, really.

But hell if she was going to tell anyone about it.
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"Oh, okay. Later." Alice said as Kizi ran off. Jen seemed lost in thought, and Alice didn't want to break her out of her distraction; sometimes daydreaming was nice, and Alice didn't know if Jen would get annoyed if she was distracted from her thoughts.

So Alice pulled out her book again, and started reading, taking another forkful of pancakes and chewing thoughtfully while reading. After a moment, her plate was cleared, and Alice was pleasantly full.

"Hey, see you later, Jen." Alice said quietly, and stood up, leaving behind a tip before moving to the counter to pay for her meal. It was an interesting little encounter, but Alice would be glad to get home and relax with her fanfic for a while. Trying to keep a conversation afloat didn't really do it for her.

((Alice Baker continued in The Funny Thing Is, I Keep On Returning Over and Over))
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