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Topic Started: Jul 20 2016, 10:06 AM (563 Views)
frogue
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just a picture of a cloud
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Georgia Lee sat on the grass in the shade of a tree. She'd been jogging: a fool's endeavour in the Arizona heat, but a necessary one. Being able to run was a useful skill. Being able to run, but only if the weather's perfect and the mood is right and the stars and planets are aligned just so; no, as skills went that was close to pointless. Anybody could run when it was pleasant, that didn't prove a thing. When it was awful, when the road looked wet that it was so hot and the birds all lined up in the streetlights' shadows, that was when it actually meant something.

Now, though, she was taking a break. She took a swig of water, then poured a little into a cupped hand and splashed it onto her face. She was sweat-drenched and could taste the unblock she'd applied earlier. It was bitter and greasy. Salt stung her eyes, and she rubbed at them with the heel of her hand. Her breathing was heavy, but not laboured: she wasn't particularly tired, just very, very hot. Georgia Lee stretched out her legs and then rubbed them down, so as not to cramp, before lying back. She took deep, even breaths, and stared up at the sky.

A kite whirled in the air above her. It was cut in the shape of bird, but huge, and it moved more like a great fish, cutting and darting about in the midday sky. There was something deeply relaxing about watching it, almost meditative. Georgia Lee watched it, as her chest rose and fell, and imagined what it would be like to be a bird. Rather boring, she concluded. No goals, no purpose, just flying around, and how long would that be entertaining for? A year or two at most, which would probably be the entirety of your meaningless bird-life.

In her book, there was discussion about whether the beasts of the land or the birds of the air were a higher order of creation. The author was convinced that, although they were created on the fifth day, they flew closer to the heavens and were therefore closer to God. Georgia Lee remained skeptical. She'd seen enough birds dash their little heads to bits against her windows to not put a great deal of faith in their intelligence or merit.

As if on queue, the kite made a sudden nosedive towards its master, who gave a little shriek.

Georgia Lee sat up, looking at the crash, and took another swig of water. The kite was larger than she'd realized, she saw now as it lay on the ground. The shrieker struggled beneath it, tangled, and Georgia Lee recognized her - Lili Williams. The girl was utterly void of drive or ambition, but she was also pleasant and friendly, and her and Georgia Lee got on well with one another. As Georgia Lee watched, Lili managed to escape the grasp of the kite, and entered into conversation with some black girl who Georgia Lee thought she recognized from the year above.

Well, she didn't want to get in the middle of that, whatever it was. When Lili happened to look over, Georgia Lee gave her a wave, but she made no move to get up from her place in the shade.
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frogue
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just a picture of a cloud
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Lili waved back. It was just a wave though, not a beckon, and the girl returned to her conversation immediately. It was not, Georgia Lee thought, an indication that she should come over, and so she stayed put.

Georgia Lee struggled in conversation, she knew this. She had trouble letting things go, and she telegraphed this somehow to her peers. The other students seemed to delight in seeing what they could get away with when talking to her, seeing how many veiled barbs or backhanded compliments they could slip into their chatter without her reacting, and the answer, always, was few. If she let people get away with that, Georgia Lee reasoned, it sent a message, and the message was that Georgia Lee wasn't worth your respect. That you could insult Georgia Lee, and she wouldn't do anything. That she didn't put value on herself, so why should you.

In theory her classmates should have learned long before now that Georgia Lee wouldn't let things slide, that you couldn't get away with needling at her. It seemed that in this though, just as in the fields of mathematics, humanities, languages and sciences, her peers were painfully slow learners. In later life, Georgia Lee was confident, her attitude would pay dividends and earn her respect, but for now at least it was hard, and it was often lonely.

So conversation was not Georgia Lee's forte, but that didn't mean she was devoid of social awareness. Lili was deep in her discussion, and didn't seem to be looking for anyone else to participate in it. This suited Georgia Lee just fine, who for her own part was sweaty and undoubtedly stinking, and didn't particularly relish the idea of introducing herself to a stranger in this state.

Instead she lay back, and looked up at the sky again. Up above her was a cloud in the shape of a whale.
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frogue
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The clouds above Georgia Lee drifted on and apart, and as the whale lost its form and became cotton, she sat up. There was a breeze, pricking cold against the sweat on her skin, and the tiredness she'd felt earlier had melted away, somewhat.

It was time to get moving again.

Across the park from her, Amanda had joined the conversation with Lili, Georgia Lee noted. She liked Amanda a lot. They'd worked together on a number of projects, and the other girl was smart, and a hard worker. She had actual direction, which was more than Georgia Lee could say for most of their peers. They didn't spend much time together socially though, and she saw little need to change that now.

Georgia Lee felt a pang of envy, sudden and unbidden, as she watched the three girls conversing. This was the sort of thing that never happened to her. People weren't draw to her, Georgia Lee knew, they were pushed away. She had her made her peace with that for the most part. It was necessary, for what she wanted from her life, to make sacrifices. She had sacrificed her relationships with her peers on the altar of academic excellence.

She could recall the exact moment when she'd had this realisation, too. It had been a Monday morning near the end of her freshman year, and she'd been in class early. It'd been one of her rare free weekends, but all her classmates had been busy for some reason, so Georgia Lee had spent the days working out and reading. She remembered feeling pleased with herself She'd figured everyone else had been busy catching up on study and assignments, and she was feeling proud that she had finished all her assignments weeks ago.

As she'd been sitting in the classroom on that Monday morning, the only one there at the time, she could hear some of her classmates talking in the corridor outside. Several of them were girls she'd tried to spend time with over the weekend, but had been far too busy to see her. They were all talking about some party they'd gone to together, that Saturday night. Georgia Lee had wanted nothing more than to go home and cry in that moment. To somehow, somehow not be in that room when they all walked in, though of course they were standing in front of the only door out. Instead she buried her head in her book, and bit her lip, and tried to ignore them.

A couple of the girls gave her guilty looks when they came in. Georgia Lee had been too embarrassed to confront them, and so she had pretended not to have heard anything. She'd skipped going to the batting cages that day after school, and had gone straight home instead, and of course that had just made her hate herself more. The next day she had wanted more than anything to tell her mother she was ill and just stay home, but she had forced herself to go in and she had acted like she wasn't aching inside.

It had hurt at the time, but Georgia Lee didn't think of it as a bad memory. It was a lesson, and all important lessons hurt. Still, in that moment as Georgia Lee looked at the girls, standing in the sun and chatting happily about a kite, she felt the pain of what she had given up particularly keenly.

It would still be easy to change all that. To start over. To simply walk across to the crowd, introduce herself to the stranger, make small talk. She could forget the rest of her run – what would one missed run be?

But she knew the answer. One missed run would be the first of many. The initial gentle incline of what was a very slippery slope. If this run was missable then so was any other, and if that happened everything she'd worked for would be for nothing. It didn't matter how easy it would be to go and talk to them. From Georgia Lee's experience, what was easy and was right seldom went hand in hand.

She turned, and set off out of the park, continuing her run. She didn't look back at the girls.

[Georgia Lee Day, continued in Of Angels and Angles]
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