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I could live in the world just like a stranger; Open
Topic Started: Feb 24 2016, 04:02 PM (578 Views)
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Who is this sassy lost child
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((Cristóbal Morales continued from Driving Me Crazy))

Cristo toyed with the volume dial of his iPod with one hand and twisted the cord of his earbuds with the other, both unconscious actions. He was more concentrated on the music than what he was doing with his hands; a few nights ago, he'd downloaded some piano covers of his favorite songs off of YouTube, to give him an auditory in addition to the sheet music he'd found. Questionable legality aside, he was pretty confident that listening to the covers outside of practicing them was helping to train his ear to the different parts.

He'd decided to get outside this afternoon instead of sitting in the house just listening to music. It was a beautiful day, bright and sunny with a few spots of cloud drifting over now and again. His iPod was an old, slightly battered model, but it still had a good battery life and he'd felt content to wander the park for a while without worrying that it would run out. He'd strolled for a bit and was now seated on the grass, back against a tree, to watch the occasional other visitors to the park go by.

He'd wonder about them as they passed; where they came from, where they were going, what they were thinking about. There goes a woman with a scarf but no sunglasses - does she not mind the heat and the sun? Is there something on her neck that she wants to cover? A scar? The hickey her boyfriend or girlfriend gave her last night?

There's a guy jogging by, running shorts and no shirt. He's probably just accounting for the heat, but maybe he wants to show off those tattoos. Maybe he's hoping there's someone here who will find him attractive. Maybe he used to be out of shape and he's showing off for himself now more than anyone else.

Cristóbal couldn't say that he knew a lot about people or was particularly good at interacting with them, but they fascinated him. So he watched them go by contentedly, absently mouthing the words to some My Chemical Romance song and wondering about the people who passed him.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Cause what you see isn't always the truth
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((Nadia Riva continued from Fabulous and Opinionated))

*click*

Nadia pulled her camera away from her face and looked at the screen. She caught a picture of a large flock of birds taking off from the park clearing. It was fairly clear, although a few birds were blurry from taking off. She shook her head. She was sure she could fix it later back home.

It was a nice day, so Nadia thought it would be good to go to the park and take some pictures. There was probably enough natural beauty at Liberty Park to capture. Plus, she might also get ideas for a photo shoot to do later. She hadn't done anything new recently, so she was always waiting for inspiration to come by.

Until then, she continued to click the shutter and flip through the memory card, deleting bad photos and debating whether others would be good for her blog.
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There was a girl. Cristo knew her but didn't know her; Nadia was in the grade ahead of him at Cochise and had a scary boyfriend, not to mention something of an intimidating personality all on her own. He didn't mind watching her though, as she herself watched the rest of the world through a camera lens. Confident people were always interesting, the way they seemed to not notice the world around them at all in pursuit of whatever they were doing. He sometimes wondered if that was an advantage to them or not.

He drew one leg up to his chest and looped his arms around it, resting his chin on his knee. Was Nadia after nature photography? Pictures of Kingman specifically? Maybe she had no goal in mind right now and was just letting things take their course, like he'd been with his walk through the park.

He saw classmates out like this sometimes, but usually didn't speak to them unless they approached him first. It was sort of hard to explain that you'd noticed someone because you were watching everybody who went by without sounding like some kind of creep. It was hard to explain anything about people-watching at all to most people, really, much less convince them that it was something everyone did unconsciously every day. Nobody wanted to think about the fact that their personal bubble was always getting invaded, whether they were aware of it or not. Going off of what he knew of Nadia already, Cristo could assume that she felt much the same way as most people.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Cause what you see isn't always the truth
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Nadia's view through the camera lens took her around the area. She was standing in a clear area of the park, and she was sure she'd find something interesting to photograph. As she spun slowly in place, she saw families walking by, a guy sitting under a tree looking at her, a couple sitting on a blanket, a nearby restroom, then back to the same starting point. There was an older woman jogging by, a guy sitting under a tree looking at her, a couple now lying down on their blanket, two middle-school aged boys drinking from the fountains at the restroom. Third time, she saw a senior couple taking a stroll, a guy sitting under a tree looking at her-that's when she stopped.

It'd be one thing if she met is gaze through the camera once or twice, but the fact that she could still see him looking at her was starting to get to her. Was he a creep? She wasn't sure what his deal was or why he'd be looking at her. She wasn't particularly dressed up today, nor was there anything extremely interesting around her. This guy kept looking at her, so she decided to do something about it.

She pointed the camera at him and took a picture. She then zoomed in and took another picture. Nadia didn't move from her place, but kept zooming in and taking pictures. Hopefully he'd get the idea that she wasn't pleased at his stares.
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The lens of Nadia's camera swept the park, passing Cristóbal before doing another round. She paused and took a picture in his direction.

And another.

And anoth- oh no.

The shift in Cristo's expression from confusion to surprise to mortification was probably clearly visible to Nadia's camera. Crap, crap, crap. She'd seen him staring. He hadn't meant to stare, but- oh God, this could go badly. It didn't take a genius to know that she was making some kind of point by taking a bunch of pictures of him, but he had no idea how to defuse the situation.

Maybe he should just look away and ignore her and they could pretend they never saw each other and this never happened. Oh, but she had pictures of him now and no context for them. What if she showed them to someone and they got weird ideas...?

He had to talk to her. Crap. Assuming she even would want to talk to him and not just brush him off as a creeper. He forced himself to raise one hand and sent a stuttering, uncertain wave in Nadia's direction, and prayed that she hadn't already gotten the idea that he was some kind of stalker.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Nadia continued to snap photos. It looked like the creep was getting the idea since his face was becoming more and more grimaced as she continued to take pictures. Once she zoomed as far as her camera would allow, she pulled the camera down and began to look at the pictures taken. If she moved quickly, she could see his face change from content to worried, or worried to content if she went the opposite way.

Nadia started to move closer to him. The guy had the audacity to stare at her like a weirdo, and she had the right to make him feel the same level of uneasiness as he made her feel.

She kept the camera aimed at him and took a few more pictures. It wasn't until she was a few paces away that she lowered the camera and stared directly at him.

"Wanna see how you look?" she asked him.
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Meep.

The closer Nadia got to him, the more Cristo shrank back against the tree as if he could disappear into it and escape from this pending confrontation. He had the urge to hide his face in his knees or with his hands, knowing for certain that his cheeks were flaming by now.

"I, uh, I didn't..." You know, maybe leaving the house today was a mistake.

"I mean, I... sorry..." His voice trailed off into a whisper.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Nadia kept her face calm and blank as Cristo spoke. She wanted him to imagine how annoyed or angry she was and how lucky he was that she was choosing to handle this properly. Granted, the way he responded made him seem a lot more flaccid than before. Maybe he really didn't mean harm and she was taking it too far. Then again, he could just be embarrassed for getting caught. Nadia wasn't sure yet, so she decided to be cautious.

Nadia closed her eyes for a few seconds and sighed.

"I'm willing to forgive you," Nadia said, "but I need an explanation. Why were you staring? It can't be because my shoelace is untied."
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"Well, I..." Cristo hesitated, plucking at the grass near his knee as if it was suddenly the most interesting thing in the world. Nadia wasn't yelling and making a scene or threatening to sic her boyfriend on him, which was good, but he was unsure how to explain himself in a way that she would accept.

...Maybe if he just tried really hard, he could become one with the tree and escape this confrontation.

"I... like watching people, I guess?" No, that sounded too uncertain. "I mean, I do. I- I think it's interesting, and it's, um-" Easier than talking to them. Look at how well this was going, for example.

Cristóbal glanced back up at Nadia, but only managed to make eye contact for a brief moment before focusing on a much safer spot somewhere to her left. "I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable, just, you were someone I recognized, and I was wondering what you were taking pictures of..." Headphones cord twisted around one hand, plucking blades of grass with the other. A veritable combo platter of nervous tics as he awaited Nadia's response.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Nadia stared at the guy as he continued to speak. From his pausing and stuttering, she could see that he was really embarrassed and worried about her. He tried to explain it as people watching, and that he recognized her and wanted to know what she was taking pictures of.

Nadia closed her eyes and quietly sighed.

"You know, if you don't want people to see you staring, maybe wear sunglasses or something. Or, I dunno, look like you're doing something else."

Nadia looked at the camera and started flipping through the pics she took of Cristo. She probably wouldn't do anything with the photos, but she at least hoped he'd wise up the next time he did something like this.

"I mean, be glad I was just standing around an open field," she added. "Any other location, and you could get worse accusations leveled at you."
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Cristo let out a soft sigh, almost a mirror of Nadia's, as she spoke. He knew all of this, how people didn't like being watched and how staring at girls would get you in trouble. He wasn't completely out of touch with reality or the way that people worked. Nadia was preaching to the choir, but the choir wasn't going to talk back in this case.

He wasn't sure what he felt now. His sense of contentment had vanished, leaving discomfort and the faintest curl of irritation in its wake. He didn't want or need Nadia lecturing him like this, didn't think that just looking at her in the middle of a public space merited such a response at all.

But he wouldn't say that.

Instead, Cristo plucked another blade of grass and twirled the cord of his headphones some more and kept looking anywhere but Nadia's face. "Yeah," he murmured. "Sorry."

Silence stretched between them again.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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All he had to say was "Sorry." Nadia didn't have any expectations for him, nor did she think he'd end up being profound. It's clear he was just a small, shy person who probably preferred starring at people instead of actually engaging them. This was the most he would give her when backed into a corner like this. Nadia had probably really scared him through her snap shots as well.

Nadia let out another sigh.

"Still, do you really have nothing better to do than stare at people in the park?" she asked. "Surely you can find something better to do with your time."
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Well now this was just getting really unfair. Cristóbal really didn't like arguing, and in fact usually went out of his way to avoid it, but this... he didn't feel right just sitting here and letting Nadia lecture him about what she thought he was doing with his free time, either. Like he was a sulky child that needed to be scolded. She clearly wasn't just going to let him off the hook if all he did was apologize. Maybe she was the kind of person who just wanted an argument, and she'd just keep pushing until he gave her something.

Cristo didn't want an argument. But maybe they could have a conversation. He probably needed to remind her (or beg her) to delete the pictures she'd taken of him, anyway.

So even though his nerves rose up and made his stomach twist and threatened to choke him, he forced the words out. "You could say that about most things, couldn't you?" One earbud had fallen out, and he twirled it around one finger as he mulled over his own words. "I do a lot of things during the week, usually. School, and baseball, and helping out around the house... Sometimes I go do things with my mom and her boyfriend." The earbud reached the end of its cord and he twirled it in the other direction. "Sometimes, I like to get away from it all."

Cristo glanced up through his eyelashes, trying to judge Nadia's reaction. She was distressingly hard to read, and he had to wonder if anybody else had had issues trying to talk to her. "Don't you..." No, no, he could phrase it better than "Don't you have better things to do too?".

"You're spending your free time in the park, too." Better. Less likely to start a fight about whose hobbies were more important.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Cause what you see isn't always the truth
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The guy made his case for why he was eyeing down unsuspecting people. Something about wanting to get away from it all and that sort. Nadia could understand wanting to disconnect for some time from all the cacophony of life, but something about this guy's choice in how to do so still made her uneasy. Sure, she wanted people to look at her in photographs, but this wasn't the same. It felt like the kind of unwanted attention from those guys who think all women should get on their knees because a guy would stare at her ass.

The boy then mentioned that she's in the park too. Nadia wasn't sure if that was supposed to be his retort to make her see that she was being as bad as he was. If it was, it wasn't a very good one. Still, Devil's Advocate said to consider that he was pointing out that she was in the park, getting away from the stress of life. She decided to roll with that instead of believing the guy was trying to put her on his level.

"That may be," she said, "but at least I'm producing something from it. I'm going home with photos for my website and maybe ideas and locations for a future photo shoot. I'm may have taken photos of you, but I'm not going to publish them. If I did, I'd probably make you as uncomfortable as you might make some people. And you wouldn't want that, right?"
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Cristo breathed in deeply, just barely managing to avoid letting it all out in a sigh again. Everything about this situation was uncomfortable and he wanted it over right now. Just what on Earth did Nadia want him to do? He'd apologized. He'd tried to explain himself. He'd tried to point out that he wasn't hurting anyone any more than she was here.

But she wouldn't stop. He couldn't figure out what kind of point she was even trying to make. All she was doing was lording over him how everything he'd done in this exchange was wrong.

Nadia might have been fascinating to wonder about, but Cristóbal was starting to think that he didn't like her all that much.

"No," he said lowly. "I don't want that. And I meant it when I said was sorry for making you uncomfortable." Now please, please, please walk away. Just let this horrendously awkward encounter end so that he could go home and be away from people for the rest of the afternoon.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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