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Repoussoir; Fall of 2014 (Private)
Topic Started: Jul 10 2016, 06:35 AM (344 Views)
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Florentina 'Tina' Luz
Pregame Start


Nobody was home. Sis out with friends, mom and dad out with work.

Tina dried, naked. White fluff towel was discarded to the floor, it sprawled into a crispy mess. Jeans, slightly loose and crusted at the joints with runny, melting blotches of tempera. A thin sweater eroded into an uneven gradient of three pale shades of lavender, bunched up around bulky shoulders. A little baggie. Fingers expertly flexed. Tight as everything could get it was in, until the ziploc was strained at the seams, burgeoning.

Carelessly loud footfalls thudded against the cold stone veneer of hardwood. The door creaked and sighed, and Tina slipped through.

Not a far journey. She didn't know the units, she did know the amount of steps. Fifty end to end, strides a tight shuffle where toe met heel. The compound was empty and desolate. Tiny house lights pricked the canvas of night. They washed away, blurred into ink and pinprick stars. The next house over was Lily's. The sole concrete road that connected the Luz homestead to the beyond melted into an indistinct shape past the glare of the incandescents. An amorphous shadow, stretching like taffy. All the way until the lights of the city were flickering candle flames over the distant horizon.

She looked back at Lily's home. Trudged to the front door, stoic panel of age eroded wood, then past it.

She ran her fingers over the skeleton of the house, walking alongside. Chewy flakes of paint rubbed off beneath her fingerprint. The window wasn't far, it was flat and unassuming.

The knock sounded like a cannonade, sound split the still air. One knock was all she needed. And a hoarse murmur, grit and gravel.

"It's Tina."

Her eyes swiveled, brown of the iris crushed against the edges. She looked for Lily's face through her bedroom window with a careful eye, that only wandered to idly note detail. The windowsill didn't completely meet the edge of glass. A thin crack let wisps of air and insect shell through.
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There were just times when stupid things had to be done.

For Lily, that was often known as 'quality time with Tina.' Sneaking off into the desert to smoke was not exactly the sort of thing Lily did on her own. But it was the sort of thing that would give her parents heart attacks if they knew about it, and that worked for Lily. Provided the heart attacks were metaphorical, obviously.

Lily heard the knock on her window, and paused for a moment just to check if there was movement being heard elsewhere in her house. Her father wasn't here, and her mother was somewhere on the compound. Visiting one of her brothers or sisters that lived in one of the surrounding houses. Made sneaking out a tiny bit riskier, in case she was looking out the window of wherever she was.

Worth it.

Lily pushed the window open and slid out. Almost gracefully, if not for her sweater getting caught on the way out. But a little tug and she was free. Pretending like she hadn't got stuck, she straightened her sweater and gave a little smile to Tina.

“Let's go, then.”
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Lily appeared. Briefly found herself the victim of wool's sordid love affair with the splinter-riddled frame of her window. Freed herself. Tina always felt heartened when Lily rallied against things, minuscule or grandiose. Showed them what a girl of her deceptive stature could do. Her cousin was something to look at. The silhouette seemed to warble. Divinity's paintbrush had probably trembled a bit when sketching her form. A watercolor result that was delicate, tender, where the lines blurred and melded. Tina didn't smile much nowadays. She could manage a little one for Lily, every time without fail. Flashing a few misty-yellow teeth with a plaintive curl of the lip.

Lily straightened herself out with insistence. Spoke. Tina considered. Nodded.

"Yep."

Going meant the car, back in the little cube of garage that was dad's sanctum within the home. Fifty strict paces back to the door, and then fishing for the car keys where they could reliably be found. Arms reach of the front door, a small table of skinny metal legs that curled like vines. Atop the table a small bowl, half goldfish aquarium, stacked to the gills with iridescent marbles that vaguely glimmered when shone upon by the sole light left on, the kitchen's florescents. A neatly made bed for discs and platters of change and keys.

"Watch the door." The only other thing Tina said before they were on the road. Dad's four door, the car the family got to use when he had no off-duty access to his beat car. It was a boxy and unwieldy beast. Flat top half eroded away into a collage of bare metal skin and flaking paint. All the doors tended to shift unpredictably, accelerate into faces and elbows without prompting.

The car itself also tended to struggle. Roads in the desert had a rich topography. Shocks on the car had a rich history. It was a poor man's roller-coaster. Seats a bit less padded and more uncomfortable. The desert rolled by in thirds. The car window occasionally captured gnarled trees and rusty rocks in freeze frames. The windshield melted into a vista of sharply floodlight-lit asphalt and the distant cries of stars. Tina's hand sat with practiced unease on the battered leather grip of the steering wheel, occasionally budging an inch. Speech came within minutes, riding the tail of engine-hum silence.

"What have you been up to?" Tina genuinely didn't know. She'd been at Daniel's a few times too many the last month, straight between her mind-numbing classes and the whitewashed, sun-bleached home the Dawsons called real estate. Hadn't been keeping up so well with the rest of the family. That fact was rather unfortunate. She sounded hesitant, her normally easy drawl a bit withdrawn, like it always seemed nowadays.
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The car Tina was driving always seemed like it was about to break down or fall apart. Clunky. Worn down. Lily wondered if it could be fixed, and made to run smooth. It was, in itself, representative of the sort of challenges she wanted to work on. To work on cars and make them better, to fiddle with the mechanics of it all. The sooner the better. Unfortunately, that was still some years off.

Lily stared out the window for a bit, enjoying the bumpiness of the ride and watching the desert fly by, and didn't immediately realise Tina had asked her something.

“Hm? Oh.” She focused back on her cousin. “Same as usual. Nothing's changed.”

Parents were still over-protective—if they'd eased off, Lily wondered if she'd be sneaking off into the desert at all—and Connor was still a jerk, but not enough of a jerk to get too aggravating. At least he acknowledged that she didn't need the protection, though in his case he saw it as favouritism rather than worry.

Other than that, Lily liked that nothing had changed. Routine was nice. Routine meant control over her circumstances. Even this sneaky piece of rebellion was carefully marked in her planner, albeit with an acronym rather than explicitly stating it just in case her parents went through her desk to figure out where she was or what she was doing. She wouldn't put it past them.

“And yourself?”
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The dents in the road wore themselves firmly into the kinks of Tina's back. The road seemed to spin, briefly. Stomach powerfully jolted into her chest, clenched to suppress the violent lurch of illness. Her hands skittered and danced over the wheel, in spite of themselves. And her throat was dry, too dry. She needed something, but she couldn't take it. Not while the coffee ground centerpiece divinity had forged could bear witness. Wouldn't take it, even as her fingers anxiously flexed themselves around it when it wasn't there. Rolling into neat little cylinders.

They had something else that burned noxious sweet. They'd make do.

Lily said nothing changed, and somehow that seemed alright. Nothing could befall such form, that it would mutate to something that did not belong. A purity could be kept, in all three dimensions. Faces etched with scanning eyes that sealed doors and harshly belted out concerns. Letters assigned meanings and scribbled into neat grids that carried in their abstraction the moon and sun's centripetal dance. Those things could, would always stay. Would always gently glimmer, burrow their way into the meat of Tina's eye.

"I..." Her voice paused. Caesura carried by the stalling of air in her throat. It lingered past it's welcome, corrosive on the breath. "Also the usual. Have you received orders?" She needed a few more moments of silence. "For your new project?"
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“Not yet. But it’s early.”

Lily didn’t know if people would want to buy her scarfs, her blankets, all the little things she could make. But it was worth a try. And it was some extra money in her pocket. Lily didn’t think she’d ever be able to live off it—and wouldn’t particularly want to, not when she could be working on cars—but it was still something.

She watched the desert roll by for a bit longer. The town was behind them by now.

“How far are we going?”
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Four pairs of hands intertwined on those days when it was early, yes. Tina did so quietly enjoy those calendar dates where she payed worship, her spine set at a light angle over the sweat and blood of fibers woven of the earth. Her hands and their efforts and their cramps and convulsions were tithes. Paid with nary a word, for Tina found syllables that drifted and died upon first harsh impact with flesh. She was told otherwise, but had yet to observe exceptions to the omnipresent rule knitted into the blanket of reality by a maker whose image existed on Earth.

"This far."

The car ground itself into shards of shale and lingering sunlight. A final verbose bounce of their seating was their last motion, then all was still. For but a moment, then Tina's hands found a distracted task in her pockets. Fabric breathed like lungs. Lungs collapsed, as Tina struggled to hold back black particles from within. Struggled to pull out small mummified strands of bud also from within. She produced the spectrum of dull, organic colors and shapes and presented it to her cousin at the necessary angle to put it in her dainty porcelain hands.

Tina exited her door with the neat unfolding of metal and body. Two angles and one eighty degrees of direction and howling desert wind. Quickly she was by the opposite door, lingering to provide a hand if it was needed. She had two, and for now needed none. She needed a breath, but she didn't want to betray the ugly and noxious scents of her sordid addictions. They were best kept inside, even as they percolated and carved a space in her chest.

A small outcropping of wind-smoothed rock reached to the heavens beside them. A cove from stormy seas, that stars liked to gently caress like a baby's bassinet. Only in the most extreme of distances where the eyes melted into horizons was a town called home still visible.
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