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Romeo And Juliet; 'I forget, I forget, the movie song' - Scarlett McAfee's home
Topic Started: May 2 2016, 10:19 PM (725 Views)
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((Ben Fields continued from Sadness Augmentation ))

Ben wrestled with his copy of Macbeth, literally wrung his hands at it's spine in a chokehold that grasped for something that wasn't there. Fucking interrogation was about as effective as any other method for understanding this shit. Not that it was actually hard reading. Ben just wasn't sure what he was supposed to be seeing when he read between the lines. Logically he'd just pick something and run with it while he mined for quotes, but this was a group project. The bane of many a high schooler's once unmolested grade point average.

The trees laying siege to his castle held the form of wood pulp. Or something like that. Ben had never been the best with laying figurative language to pencil, and he let his thoughts implode with a disgustedly disappointed sigh.

He let his eyes wander some. They were in a room as nondescript as any other Ben had ever been in, he wasn't really intent on picking out the details. He was saving that for the reading.

The groups for the project had been picked by lots, because at some point Mrs. Webber had stopped trusting their collective maturity and responsibility as a class. Respectable, Ben could admire his English teachers' trying. Ben honestly would have lost hope the moment his kids had walked through the door, if he'd been in her shoes. Groups had coalesced, and Ben had ended up with Scarlett McAfee and Aiden Slattery. 'Beaks', he apparently preferred. Kinda sleazy name for a kinda sleazy guy. He was as of now off the shit list though, same with Scarlett. No grudges or misunderstandings yet. Hopefully everything stayed nice and professional.

“Either of you guys come up with a thesis?” Ben shamelessly anticipated some kind of shitty witticism from Beaks and some kind of vaguely awkward but legit suggestion from Scarlett. They'd been around each other long enough. But shit, where was the scruffy Bieber bowl? Of course Beaks was MIA. How long had it been since he'd asked for the bathroom now, five minutes? Not like he cared about what a dude got up to in the toilet. As long as their group partner wasn't ditching, and got back before sundown.

That left Scarlett, so Ben shifted a bit to properly consider her. Tee and jeans went from 'wrinkled' to 'differently oriented state of wrinkled'. His back was still supported by the side of the couch he had chosen to prop himself up against. He vaguely recalled meeting her in a grocery store before? Unimportant. He maintained casual eye contact, pupils ready to roll on out the moment a threshold of awkwardness was passed. It probably would be at some point. Some in Cochise were cooler than others for sure, but they were all goddamn dorks. Teenagers and all. Ben was also one of those, but only for so long.

“I was thinking maybe something about the natural order and how the hubris of Macbeth disrupts it.” Vaguely put, but strongly stated. “Seems like a subject up my alley. Of course I'm not the one making the call.” Ben only intended to be making final decisions if he needed to. No need to waste the energy otherwise. People would argue and chafe and in the end nobody would be happy anyways. Ben figured he was well learned in the mechanisms of adult compromise.
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She shifted away a bit. How long had they been breathing the same air? He considered himself fairly tolerant of people sharing his personal space, or at least girls doing so. Probably just hadn't noticed that she'd crept in so close. He watched her nod, curtly nodded himself as she presented her counter proposal. Eh. He'd heard better in his time, and he was no debater even. But what she was saying was par for the course logical. Yeah they did probably have to wait for Beaks before coming to any decisions. Two out of three was a margin, sure, but it was a thin one. Ben did not have the time or energy for handling mutinous douchebags, he already had enough of that at hand with this book's characters.

“Yeah, probably. Good call, we shouldn't do anything without him or he might get pissy about it.” A moment's lull, and then:

“Not being judgmental or anything, but man, Slattery's a bit of a short stick to draw for project third.” Ben didn't intend for the comment to start any sort of protracted gossip, it was just an observation. Honestly he shouldn't have even said it, but the clarion call of talking about the person who wasn't in the room was too strong for even his tempered and buffed resistance. “You know? He seems like a good kid but kinda flakey. I'm half surprised he even showed in the first place.” He watched Scarlett closely for a second, his dark eyes searching her expression. Might be that she wasn't comfortable with the conversation going down this road, and if so he was well prepared to drop the subject.

Oh yeah he definitely had met this girl in a grocers before. If he recalled correctly Darius had been there that day. Explained why he hadn't bothered to commit that outing to memory so well.

His hands continued to idly rifle through his book. At least three fingers were spared towards bookmarking several pages with quotes that at least seemed decent to his laymen eyes. Thus, hand numbing and cramping. Fuck it. He pulled out the troops and granted them reprieve, stretching out individual fingers to coax life back into them.
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Glances crossed. She told him the obvious. And then something a bit more interesting than that. Wasn't his business to go prying into, and he wouldn't be anytime soon. But interesting all the same. She had a reason to dislike him in particular. What could Aiden have possibly inflicted upon her? Maybe they had used to date? Or he'd just been inappropriate her way in general, throwing heaven knows what kind of comments her way. Just speculation, idle musing really, but he could see why she might feel such trepidation in Beaks' presence. That would explain why the room had felt kind of awkward before Beaks had left. Well, okay, honestly it still felt kind of awkward. People involved and all.

Ben let the silence carry the weight of the moment, for a moment. His eyes flicked down. Lip bite, page rifle. Maybe he'd look at his own book for a bit. Nah, that was the easy way out. Not to mention rude. He kept looking her way, though he did angle his eyes a bit. Sort of a glancing gaze. Looking more past her than at her, like a sort of compromise between 'we are having this conversation' and 'eh not really'. His response came fast, a finger snap couldn't have sounded in the amount of time he needed to speak. Even if the subject matter was a bit awkward he had no intent to make it obvious in the conversational flow. Pauses and beats were for music, not casual speech.

"Misunderstood." Cliche, like teeny teenage fiction cliche, but honestly Ben would have hoped so himself. He just nodded in affirmation of the possibility. No point in wishing the worst of people. "And I see. Yeah, I totally get you there." He wanted to ask but he wouldn't. This wasn't the time or the place, in the home of a girl he only essentially knew in passing. "He does give me a kinda off impression as well. I'm also not inclined to hate on people if I can help it, but I can totally understand if you're not too fond of him." He glanced at the door frame, suddenly. Of all the times for Slattery to come back this would be the absolute worst moment to pick.

"You're not a bad person for disliking him, Scarlett. Whatever the reason." A simple, sage nod. "I might too if I were in your shoes." Maybe that was overselling it, but Ben could vaguely imagine the world of a girl where creepy guys pulled shit pickup lines on-

Okay, weird thoughts. Veer away.
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Enter Slattery. Post jack off sess-

Oi. Fucking brain was being a little shit today.

"Whatever sort of technical difficulties a kid can suffer during a bathroom trip we don't have to hear about it." Ben's tone was as neutral as his words were vaguely aggressive. Not like there was actually a reason to be annoyed with Aiden at the moment. The ten minutes probably wouldn't have been any more productive with Beaks around. Honestly they probably would have been less so.

The hand thing was overselling it though.

"We decided to wait for you to hear your opinion, Aiden."

First name basis. No weird ass nickname. Ben wasn't entirely sure how to read that, but knew it didn't really matter. Wasn't worth the attempt at a split second judgement. Ben's eyes flickered between the standing, the sitting, the more standing, the scooting. Nice of Scarlett to take one for the team. Aiden looked like the sort of kid who wore one layer too many of cologne, AKA, one layer of cologne. Ben shrugged and gestured at a section of floor close enough to make for an uncomfortable bromance. His fingers barely poked out from under the thick words of the Bard.

"Floors open. Your call dude." Scarlett seemed a bit nervous, but Ben was probably reading into that too hard. As opposed to Beaks, who he made little concerted effort to look too closely at.
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The old criss-cross, apple and sauce. Ben watched Beaks for a moment, glanced back at Scarlett. The two made for an odd dynamic, even when they were only interacting by taking up space. Another thing that was readily brushed aside in pursuit of academia. As infuriating as said academia happened to be.

"Wasn't really discussing, but yeah. The thought is that we can write something half decent on how events in the story are essentially the natural order being disrupted." Ben mulled over his own expository soliloquy for a moment. Wait, no, it was a monologue. Barring random interruptions by Beaks, at any rate. Monologue, that was the right term. All credit to the lit. terms worksheets from last month.

"Remembering that Mrs. Webber mentioned the importance of divine right at the time, the book's pretty obviously a pandering to the actual king. James the First, the book had his favorite subjects like witchcraft." This was why Ben had said this was a topic up his alley. Historically relevant, and thus personally relevant to his interests. Well. He was hardly super into pre-British Empire Britain- not enough guns- but close enough. "We could easily write an essay about the historical connotations with the symbolism." 'With the symbolism'. Man that sounded pretentious as fuck.

Ben's eyes flickered back down to his Macbeth, a copy half eroded into the sands of time that he had on loan from the school library. Every page turn was accompanied by an ominous creak, as if the page would fall off if molested any further. A few near misses on a library fine later and Ben had his mark. "Uh, 2.2. Whatever page that is in your versions." Ben didn't even bother to glance up, he knew that the editions of the book floating around in the class were diverse. Hand-me-downs, different bookstores. All of the maybe three that existed in Kingman as a whole, somehow stocking twenty different yet equally dog-eared versions of the same book.

"'It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman.' And the stuff about the crickets crying too, immediately after Duncan gets his ass knifed by Macbeth. Shit's going down in nature, probably, since the rightful king's dead and a pretender's usurped his throne." Ben realized he was probably going on a bit too much. Impolite, and ridiculous sounding to top it off. Ben was positive he wasn't the sort who could simply up and put on the guise of a nerd.
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"Sorry, just, you saying a thing like that all serious looking and sounding and stuff...funny to me, you with me?"

Kinda strange. Understatement, really. Beaks did look like a total goof, his self-appraisal was right. And he didn't wear it well at all. This guy was two steps short of being legitimately annoying. Not a particularly impressive distance to close. One second they were talking book reports and the next, suddenly, there would be elephants and trumpets parading through the room as Beaks guided them to and through bumfuck all in a fit of inspired idiocy.

Like, dude. It hadn't even been funny.

Crazily enough Beaks actually managed to produce a fairly decent suggestion. 'Split up gang' rarely worked in the cartoons, but shit it probably had a good shot here. At least two of the dorks in the room had enough mental acumen to be trusted with quote mining sans supervision. Seemed like decent enough odds. Final product would probably look good at sixty-six something percent, however all that math worked out.

And Scarlett agreed too, so Ben nodded. "With Scarlett on this one, divvying up the work should get us somewhere. Look for quotes and all. Maybe remind ourselves of whatever we forgot." Or in Beak's case, likely, see it all for the first time. "I can get the last two acts and Beaks can take the first act." As if it was decided Ben was already hauling ass through the book. Pages old as time itself were brusquely shoved aside for the millionth time in their existence.
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"Yeah, sure. First one's prolly not a tough act to follow."

Ben had given that one a chuckle. Pained, eyes rolling, but he'd gladly admit it was at least decent effort.

But the moment passed and things moved on.

Well, some things moved on... Yeah, it was kinda sad to watch. Ben didn't glance too much, wasn't his job or anything. His job was right fucking front and center, busily trying to gouge a dry papercut into his thumb. But the times he did look Beaks was running himself in circles over the same damn page, huffing and puffing a damn marathon in place with the No Fear edition. He had that look a kid his age only wore when homework or dinner hadn't agreed with them. Pretty ugly to witness. Ben had fucking called it, but the sad part of it all was that he wasn't even proud. It was one of those things you just don't get any points for, the stealing candy from a baby of prophecy.

Scarlett at least was putting in work, seemed a bit more comfortable now that everyone had shut up. She didn't seem anymore confused over any of it than he was, at least if he was scoping her progress out right. Okay, he was getting off track with all the people watching now. Front and center, Fields. Front and-

... Puzzle?

Maybe a little, Scarlett said. Ben would have put it a few notches higher than that. Free country, free speech and all, but what the hell was a puzzle supposed to accomplish here? Metaphor for how broken up and jumbled their collective literary understanding was? Too many damn metaphors on the floor as was. But Aiden wanted his happy pieces, and Scarlett was nobly throwing it all aside to satisfy Aiden's requests. Ben glanced at the book Scarlett placed onto the couch, then back at the other two with dull appraisal, the bridge of his nose a bit rigid suddenly.

"Hold up, chill for a second Scarlett," he curtly commanded. "Mind telling us what you need a puzzle for, Beaks? Not judging any religious preferences or political leanings or whatever you're rocking, but this doesn't seem very conducive to decoding us some Shakespeare."
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Ben's expression didn't soften much, if any, he maintained the countenance of a Rushmore head. 'Not as fast', huh? Understatement of the twenty-first century. The limbless moved faster than this guy. Ben wasn't surprised that Beaks' self-diagnosis was attention-span issues. Sorta cop-out bull he'd come to expect, and take into account with people of this sort.

Anyways, it sounded stupid and it was as far as he was concerned. But effort not invested into cracking the Navajo of iambic pentameter- right term?- was wasted at this crucial juncture. Beaks was cool. Uncool as he was. And besides, Scarlett was vouching for him, with a smile no less. Ben wasn't letting that peace offering go unrewarded, what kind of guy would he have been otherwise? Ben raised a hand, swept it at Aiden dismissively:

"It's like you said: 'No problemo here, all cool'." A quote now to be formally attributed in all history texts to Benjamin Fields. Secondary source, at any rate.

They left, Ben could now go back to-

Wait, no. He needed to raise his eyebrows at one last thing. Physically this time, the old face caterpillars scurried up into his messy bangs. Aiden had proudly, loudly owned the room on his way out. Observing judges were preparing the 0/10 cards even before the uninspiring conclusion of the spastic 'toddler w/ sippy cup' routine. Capstone was the part where Beaks felt the need to try and excuse the inexcusable. Ben just shrugged sans commitment or care:

"No need to apologize, dude." Anyways.

They left. Ben could now go back to work.

((Ben Fields continued in Be Still))

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