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Is This It
Topic Started: Jul 30 2016, 06:28 PM (388 Views)
Cicada Days
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((Ben Fields continued from Early Morning, Early Days))

Dukoff didn’t like ‘em late, clarified by syllabus and notes caked onto a blur-streaked whiteboard and daily vocal reminder. Most of his students tended to be through the door with a few minutes to spare, except for the ones gunning for being held back a year. Ben was even earlier by a shave this pass around. He’d lost track of his last conversation somewhere right outside the door, and figured a neat transition out would be a doorknob and a firm nod backwards. With that smooth disengage he turned around, and well. Georgia, of course, was earlier than him still. Alone at her desk, nose almost flattened right against the pages of her book. No surprises there.

It was hard to explain how she’d first drawn his eye. Well, it was obvious at first. She looked tough in a pleasant way, precociously carried the maturity in everything she wore, and managed to not be ridiculously tall relative to him. Decent tick-offs on Ben’s checklist. But past the chump change details he’d never been too intent on asking her out. She’d had the credentials for sure, so maybe he’d allowed his head to get a bit too full of the locker room rumors that circulated around her. ‘Bitch’ and ‘butch’ were two common BB’s they shot her way, but Ben had finally realized he knew better. About… two days ago, to the minute even. Georgia definitely didn’t mess around when it came to the follow up, and Ben had to admit she’d earned some points on that alone.

Alright, he was in. First, he eyed her up a bit from a distance. No harm in taking a second out of his day to do that. Then, he mulled on it a bit, maybe a few seconds to awkwardly loiter by the classroom door.

Actually, nah. He could walk it out. Right towards her.

Movie and dinner was a movie set cliche, but she’d insisted on it as much as he’d thrown it out there. In a quiet way, it had to be said. She'd said business as usual, in the usual tone, but somehow she'd walked away with a plan that was hers as much as it was Ben's. That had been something to watch. Ben had been only a bit taken aback, and a lot intrigued.

As for what they actually watched she’d agreed to his first choice. It was right up in the old theater that shifty-eyed goth Parker allegedly worked in. John Wick, encore night. Damn awesome call, except for the song and dance they’d had to fumble through to find seats out in the crowd. Costly call too, but Ben wasn’t going to be the money grubbing trailer trash that begrudged a girl a decent night out. Georgia apparently kept to a strict diet, she had informed him as much at least once at some point while they’d been tentatively orbiting the concession counter. Soundbyte now encrypted into his long term memory, useless as it would be when their teenage romance inevitably fizzled. No big deal either way. He would have gladly spent the few extra bucks on her if she’d asked. Though his wallet did look a bit healthier when there was a little extra sinew on the bone, a little extra padding.

The movie itself had been kickass, and that was really all there was to say on the matter. Obviously he hadn’t exactly learned a lot about Georgia in the process, and in hindsight Ben admitted she’d sort of vanished from his side, into the ether, every time the theater had rocked with the chatter of guns. His bad. Cop-out move to blame a brain drugged out on a narcotic dose of action.

She’d told him to surprise her in terms of food, and Ben had picked out one of his personal favorites. IHOP neatly penciled into the itinerary after that. Ben had been duly confident that Georgia wasn’t going to contest or complain about a classic. What warm-blooded American could hate on the tradition of complimentary hotcake stacks? Take to that shit with a fork and knife, more like. Well, maybe. She’d ordered one of those healthy options things on the menu spread that Ben systematically refused to even pay a token glance. Kinda dumb to admit but that had legitimately thrown Ben for a loop. This was the part where he emphasized the line about the hotcakes. He figured he’d been decent conversation, though. Jokes came, easy on the trigger as machine gun bullets, some decent and some cheesy. And he knew enough about her now to at least write a brief book report. A badly written one, given that it was he who would be the writer. But she'd been eager, at least Ben had pinned it down as that.

Her parting salvo had been a smile and a wave, and Ben figured he’d probably earned his stripes that night. He sort of had it stuck right into the broad of his chest, a hefty, meaty bit of mutely stated workmans pride. Even if she didn’t want to go out with him again, he’d given her at least one decent night to mull on for a bit. Movie critics observing could throw Ben their thumbs ups at their leisure.

She loomed, or rather he did. Albeit barely. He eyeballed a spot maybe a few inches short of her airspace and planted himself firmly on the spot. He knew with a day’s worth of experience under his belt that she was the sort of girl where intruding on her personal jurisdiction was probably unwise. He still had his options here, no sense in throwing the game when they hadn’t even started. He offered her a lax smile, one that melted right into his lazily drooping shoulder as he leaned into the conversation to-be like he usually did:

“Interesting looking book you’ve got there.” It looked like it could have dissolved into dust and ink motes within the hour. Didn’t seem like a big deal to Ben. He wouldn’t have commented on it, but the counterpoint to that was who he was talking to. “Studying up?” If there was anything that people didn’t need to date Georgia to know about her, it was the study habits. “Don’t think I saw the class that one belongs to. Either that or I’m about to get a rude ass GPA drop within the week.”
The Dies Before First Rolls Squad

The Nights
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Ben appraised her response, play-by-play, director's cut with commentary. Surprise was the obvious call. Irritation not so much, but he got something of an impression of such. Probably should have waited for the book to find it's way back to earth, before he found his way to her. He deserved the attitude for jumping the gun when he knew better.

She also had guns, open carry on protecting her book she'd snapped a hand to it so fast. Someone had mentioned that some bully had been messing around with Georgia's books in another class. Not the right time, but in the future he had to make a note to talk to her, as odd as it felt to be seeking out a girl with confrontation in mind. Better to seek out girls for other things, example like in the here and now. It looked kinda awkward, the way her body language rallied to defense of her ink. But it made sense. No need to bring it up when it was at least sort of reasonable.

"You'd have to ask those people, because I have no idea." Had he even mentioned his own reading habits, when he'd been hunched over the restaurant booth? Hadn't seemed necessary. Way he liked to think about it, it was a pretty clever read on the situation. Georgia cracked the books like a slave-driver, yeah. Ben considered himself fairly studious, and even he was still reading Goosebumps in contrast to her Dostoevsky, or however it was that travesty of brain-curdling English's harbinger was spelled. So trying to open a front with that as spearhead was definitely a bad idea. What the hell kind of dork-ass went out on the little house on the prairie they called a town to do more of the same that they did at home? Bash their heads against books and serious business for a few hours, might as well call the damn charade a study group for two.

Nah, Ben just wanted them to relax a bit. No need to bring guns to the sandbox. In a way he'd taken it on himself to throw them a little party, even if it was just the two of them, even if not really. Exaggerated sentiment aside, he knew she somehow seemed like she could benefit. They could talk futures after they'd talked shop about the littler things in life.

And after some other stuff too. Ben was hardly about to call open season on his own nascent, hatchling dreams for a life of career, money, and Confucian piety just because some girl happened to wear her foundation with an artisan touch.

"I mean, 'just a book' isn't too forthcoming on the details. Green Eggs and Ham is 'just a book' but I don't see you running around with your nose buried in that one, as appreciable and inspiring as Sam-I-Am's effort to share his culinary vision is." Ben was curious about the details, as much as he definitely wouldn't have been in any other circumstance. The cynically minded would have called it a ploy to melt a little butter onto a breadknife he'd brandish Georgia's way, and honestly Ben wouldn't have blamed them. But shit. Georgia was just interesting, bash all the haters over their heads with her collection of thick and esoteric tomes. She was the nerd-factor of some other Cochise kids, but without the stomach-turning propensity to being annoying as fuck. Ben wasn't even educated enough to find the words, to be honest. Not your everyday girl? Cliche as shit, she definitely wouldn't appreciate it.

Even if it led nowhere, even if 'serious' amounted to her stern gaze and a flat rejection, he just had to appreciate it while he could. But somehow, he was confident, in a bullshit machismo sort of way. He was point and center, his lazy posture keeping him just close enough to check out her book in detail, the textual evidence to whatever thesis she offered. His eye definitely wandered over her way a few more times, tracing over the contour of her shirt when he was sure she couldn't notice. Nice angle, from up here. Like he'd said. Just had to appreciate it while he could.
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Well, she was justified on that count. Hadn't been the answer he'd wanted, but he'd respect it as an answer all the same. She glanced his way. That summarily executed the whole peeping act on his end. Hadn't been much 'while he could' on that one.

There was something in her tone that seemed sharp, piercing. Even the book seemed intent on stabbing through the moment.

"Look, I appreciate you asking me out, I suppose..."

That was a good start.

'Suppose'. 'Suppose' was the tinfoil gold star, the consolation prize. In an instant Ben's chest deflated just a bit, the pectoral rolling back onto the bone where it belonged. And that wasn't the end of it. Two syllables later and she mercilessly went straight for the one and then for the two. A flat out rejection of everything he'd trumped up as a good night in his petty ass thoughts. Deflating was one thing, but straight sinking into the earth was another altogether. Shit. Ben hadn't even realized he'd been that vested into the outcome until now, when it was promptly making itself the worst outcome that any dude on this Earth would have been reduced to beetle chow by. He'd just been saying that he didn't mind a rejection, but now that it was actually being foisted his way he realized that was pretty damn far from the truth.

That was about all there was in the way of thinking about it, really. Her lips pretty much completed his thoughts on his behalf.

It was so fucking simple. He hadn't been the right man for the job. For it to feel like this was almost laughable, and Ben was glad thoughts happened to be an impervious sanctum to intrusion. That's what he got for being a stupid kid in spite of himself. He was excused for being a pompous tool, he supposed, but there was a good reason men wiser than the incumbent man of the Fields homestead said pride came before the fall. But. Excuses were excuses. They stung, but you shrugged them off. He had to finish the job he'd started, even if it was earlier than he'd hoped or anticipated. He could give back a little something called grace and respect. Georgia had pretty aptly floored him, but she was still a girl and a cool one at that. He could pay her some modicum of her dues even if he was apparently shit at it.

"I getcha. If you don't want me to bring it up ever again my lips are sealed." Probably not as tight as hers, but if anyone had a good bitch face, resting or active, it was Georgia. And that wasn't a point against her, not in the slightest. "Sorry I wasn't able to stack up, but if it counts for anything I had an awesome time. Guess I'll be seeing you around, Georgia Lee." He realized they were pretty damn lame lines before they were even done controlling his mouth. Damn genius way to cap it off. He could see why the night had turned out the way it had.

Whatever it was he was feeling, he was at least sure he kept that shit inside where it belonged. His face was cool, evenly set into a slow nod pivoting on his steel-cast brow and chin. Careful to evacuate with as wide a berth as could be managed in the desk-crowded floor he crawled his way serpentine out of the suddenly hostile trenches. He was a bit relieved that class was still minutes away from starting. As lame as it was, he'd be needing a few minutes to brood on this one. Just sit at his desk, stare blankly at a wall or something, beat himself up until he was ready to forget this shit and face the day like the trooper he was.

He caught Dukoff's eye on the way out. Damn, he hadn't even realized teach was in the room. Had he been that eager to rush over to Georgia's side? Must have looked like a fucking 'tard, prancing straight to the pretty girl with hearts in his eyes and schoolgirl in his step. Dukoff smiled slowly, deeply, the sort of measured, solemn expression folks wore when they were manning the twenty one guns.

Honoring a fallen comrade.

((Ben Fields continued in A Lazy Saturday))
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