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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:38 pm
Noelle starts again after the breeze settles. "We were playing that popcorn game? You know, when someone in class is reading and they call on someone in the class to continue where they left off. And there I was, with my hair pulled back in a bright blue scrunchie, doodling in my Lisa Frank rainbow tiger notebook, and I heard my name. I started reading but I felt... I felt like my throat was closing up. Smoke started billowing out of my mouth. I tried to stop reading, but I couldn't until the end of the sentence." She pauses for a couple moments, remembering what felt like books stacking up in her chest until her chest couldn't hold it anymore. "We were reading about the Amazon Rainforest. Around me, my classmates were shouting and screaming and laughing and I felt so overwhelmed. The room around us had trees sprouting for the ground, monkeys leaping from vines, parrots screeching."

Her mouth felt dry, but she continues "I went to the principal's office. And my parents came and my mom being my mom asked 'Well, what do we do so Noelle is able to attend class?'. The principal then said something along the lines of 'Well, Noelle could potentially disturb and upset the entire class, so maybe it would be best if she went with the special education kids and worked at her own pace.' and that is when my mom decided she was going to fight tooth and nail to make sure I was treated as an equal. And every year, my mom would go to each PTA meeting to vouch for my education, she would help write an IEP to allow me to be excluded from any oral tests or exams. She defended me from all of the teachers and educators that disagreed. Meanwhile, my dad-" Noelle's voice breaks off for a second, but she continues "He wasn't doing that. At the time I didn't think much of it, but now I can't help but think about it now, you know? We were so close. And suddenly, he didn't have time to play catch or help me with homework or go sea glass hunting. He was at home less and less. And when he was home, he just fought with my mom, telling her that 'Maybe we should just homeschool her. It would save us a lot of trouble.' It got to the point where my dad barely spoke to me, even after I addressed him. And that's around where my anxiety got so bad.... I felt like I was screaming on the inside but no one could hear me. I felt my insides rotting."

She pauses, not looking Tobi, afraid of his reaction. She continues "I would lay awake at night, grinding my teeth, unable to move. I would throw up, and make myself throw up to get whatever was inside me out. But of course, nothing helped take that edge off. A little while after that started, my mom got pregnant with my sister. And at first, my dad seemed so much better. He was happier, hopeful, and I felt a little better. But towards the end of the pregnancy, it was back to where it was. I can't help but think that he realized that Joy had the potential to be like me. Of course, I have no clue myself what was actually going on. All I know is that a few months after my sister was born, I woke up and he had left. And the most ironic part of this? After he left, I wanted to be homeschooled so badly, Tobi. I couldn't trust anyone at school. I couldn't talk to anyone or open up. But I couldn't be homeschooled- My mom had to now work full time at the Library, as well as a take a night job to make sure we stayed afloat."

Noelle stops, not looking at him. Tears stung in her eyes, but she didn't start crying.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:25 pm
Tobi walks in silence as she speaks, just digesting the information. There's a lot to unpack there, a lot he doesn't have experience with or a way to relate to. He had only been in and out of public school very briefly, the four years of high school his longest continuous stint in any sort of formal education. His powers don't usually manifest unless he wants them to, and he's used them casually enough over the years that that first memory of using them and going into what would have been medically classified as a coma seems so far away. But maybe they just seem that way because he refuses to think about the bad memories, refuses to talk about them. Just like his Pa.

His Pa had always seemed so staunch, so steady. He was always strong, was never anything less than their rock. Tobias had never seen him cry, never seen him anxious, so had done his best over the years to emulate that calm, unwavering presence. 'It ain't healthy,' his sister had told him once, late one night at her apartment. 'Ne'er was. You know how they both were. You know where they ended up.' Tobi didn't really, neither of them did, but they got a letter every so often so at least they knew they were alive somewhere, off the grid and out of their lives.

He listens to Noelle speak and he thinks, 'Here's a girl who's gone through hell and come out to tell her story. She's tellin' me." he thinks. There's an opening if he's ever seen one, a place to start to even process what happened today in class, what he's gone through, going through, and she's giving it to him on a neat platter. The silence builds as words bubble in his throat; he's choking on them, suffocating, trying to push out years worth of anxiety, fear, and repressed emotions without any sort of success. Finally, after a good couple of minutes, he looks to the ground, closes his eyes as if that'll make it any easier, and speaks.

"I..." he starts, pauses as if he's unsure of what he's going to say, then starts again. "I'm sorry y'had to go through that."

'Coward,' he thinks at himself, and boy, that'd burn more if it weren't true. He thinks of his sister, egging him on to see someone, talk to anyone other than her or Sunshine, thinks of how she would've slapped him were she to hear what he just did. Thinks of Noelle, walking next to him and baring her soul. He sighs. 'Once more w'feeling,' he thinks.

"I got claustrophobia." he finally admits.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:34 pm
Noelle silently nods, walking near him. She blinks back her own tears. As hard as it was for her to speak about what she's seen, she knows it is important for Tobi to know he's not alone in feeling anything less than okay. Her life wasn't perfect, but she was still privileged and she acknowledged that. That's why she felt guilty talking about this and her situation when she was back in Maine. She was a tall, white girl from a family that always had the lights on. Her abilities weren't physically manifest with her appearance. But at this moment, she left that by the riverside.

She stays silent, not egging him on. But her expression and demeanor made it clear that she didn't think about him differently. They are close to the small downtown area of Jules, Connecticut. They pass some cafes and shops, all with muted pastels and brick.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 2:37 am
"Ain't like it's a secret." Tobi sighs and runs one hand through his hair. The curls thread through his fingers smoothly before his fingers tangle in the back. "'Specially after today."

He ignores the storefronts as they pass, choosing instead to watch his feet hit the concrete sidewalk as they walk. He drops his hands to his sides and counts the cracks quietly. "Ness says I should talk t' someone 'bout it, that I should get profess'nal help." He grumbles low in his throat. "Ain't got no money for no 'fessional, and I can deal with it just fine by myself."

"I'll just transfer outta that class and that'll be the end'a that." He raises his head and looks resolutely ahead. There's something proud, something determined in his eyes that's at odds with the hands dangling at his sides shaking just slightly. "I'll jus' transfer out." he repeats, more to himself.

Tobi stops in front of one of the cafe's. The windows advertise different sandwiches and soups, coffee specialties and pastries. He digs around in his pants pockets for some money and fishes out a ten to hold out to Noelle. "If I give y'this, can you go in and get me a sandwich an'a coffee? Large one if y'could. Don't mind much what the sandwich is."
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:42 am
Noelle listens and watches him carefully. It was a start. Seeing a professional could be expensive but there were ways to take care of yourself every day. She was a big hypocrite, of course. Her ability to take care of herself mentally and emotionally was minimal.

When Tobi hands her the money, she smiles a little "Got it. I'll be right back." Noelle walks inside and goes to the counter. She orders a large coffee and a turkey club for Tobi, and a bottled water and a Caesar salad for herself. She pays, receives the food in a large paper bag, and walks outside. She meets Tobi outside and says "I think there's a park nearby. We can eat there if you want. Also, if you need to transfer, you need to transfer. We can figure something out so you don't have to take that class down there. And seeing a professional can be expensive, but every student gets 10 hours of free counseling per semester. Have you thought about doing that? It's not a permanent solution, but it could help."
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:29 am
"Park sounds good." he nods and begins to walk. He listens to Noelle talk, offer solutions. 'She's trying to help, but she don't know she's tryin' t'unravel about a decades' worth a'paranoia.' he thinks. Something fond warms in his chest despite the chill breeze passing by. 'This freshman.' he thinks with a small smile.

"It ain't like I never transferred classes before. Professor knew me, I done it enough times. Adviser's pretty chill about it though. Here, gimmie that." He reaches out and takes the drinks from Noelle so that she's not struggling with both the food and the drinks. A flick of his finger pops the little top on the to-go lid of the coffee and he takes a quick sip of it.

"I heard about the counsellin', never gone to it. Don't need nobody tellin' me the way I think is wrong, I already know that." he says, resigned. He pauses, thinking. "Guess I got nothin' t'lose though, right?" They reach the park; Tobias scouts out a bench and sits.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:21 pm
Noelle sits next to him, a little bit closer than usual, but still leaving space. "You know, not all counseling is talking about problems you already know about. It can be that if you need it to be, but it can help find everyday solutions to your problems." She opens up her water and takes a sip, trying to put what she is thinking into words.

"Listen, I didn't tell you about what I've gone through to make you feel bad and to force you to open up. We can talk about what's ailing you, or you can deal with it on your own. I'll support either decision and you should never feel compelled to talk to me about this kind of stuff. Plus, what I've gone through isn't that bad. I know plenty of people who have had it worse, and I am privileged. I'm a white American with mutant powers that only manifest when I trigger it. I'm not the poster child for the oppressed." She takes out her salad, opening it carefully. "But, what I am saying is... Look, we are born with things we can't change. I was born with the ability to make things leap off of the page. But I wasn't born with anxiety or these trust issues. Some people are, but I wasn't. Yet, the anxiety and the rest of my issues are as much of a part of me now as my mutation. And I can sit here and deny that, but at the end of the day, it's part of my person."

She takes a bite of her salad with the black plastic fork from the bag. She didn't know where all this clarity came from. Probably years of denial and self-loathing and the unwillingness to say it aloud.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:49 pm
Tobias unwraps his sandwich next to her and takes a bite. It's pretty good, though as hungry as he is, he could have stripped the bark off a nearby tree and been pretty satisfied. He washes it down with some coffee as he listens to Noelle. It makes sense what she says though he's still so hesistant to voice anything out loud. 'Makes it real,' he thinks, though that makes no real sense. It's always been there, and now it's a part of himself, just like his powers were.

He sits in silence next to her, just eating his sandwich and thinking over what she's said.

"What if it's never better?" He muses quietly. There's no real emotion to the question, more like he's just thinking out loud. "What if'i do e'erything right and nothing happens?"
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 2:02 pm
"That could happen." Noelle nods "It might not ever go away. But you might learn how to deal with it, or even how to face it. And it might not ever be perfect, but it might become easier to deal with. It works differently for each person."

She eats, munching on her salad, perfectly calm.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:01 pm
Tobi hums an agreement, but doesn't say anything more. He eats his food quietly, crumpling the wrapper and throwing it in the bag it came in when he's done. The coffee has cooled by then to the point where he can take long swigs of it and not burn his throat. He does, and begins to feel the pleasant buzz of jittery wakefulness slowly start to seep through his mind.

He feels calmer now. The tense edge he's been carrying since class ened has faded without him realizing. Tobi relaxes into the seat and leans his head back onto the bench, closing his eyes as he does so.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:17 pm
Noelle enjoys the silence, looking at the park around them. No one is really out- a small playground lays empty, as do the pathways. A couple squirrels and birds are messing around, but it's quiet and still otherwise.

Something unidentifiable had happened between the two of them. Noelle hadn't really experienced this ease before, but she as she sat next to Tobi, she realized that she had made her first friend probably since her dad had left. It was daunting to trust someone with that, but it was also comforting.

She finishes up a little while after Tobi.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 5:54 pm
Tobi takes in the scenery around him. His hands grip the coffee cup, leeching whatever warmth he can from the cooling cup. The sun's setting and casting the sky in saturated pinks, purples, and oranges. He knows it's getting late and that it's probably time to get back to campus. Any later than now and they'll be walking back in the dark; they're already pushing it pretty close. He still can't bring himself to stand though as comfortable as he is right now.

"You wanna head back?" he asks, the question coming out a little low and rumbly.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:20 pm
Noelle shrugged gently “I’m okay if you want to stay. I don’t mind walking in the dark.”

She looks around at the small New England town surrounding them, taking it all in. She looks up at the sunset and smiles a little. This has probably been the most she’s smiled in years.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:35 pm
Tobi nods and closes his eyes again. He likes that Noelle seems happy, enjoys that she seems to have found some peace. He had been worried about her in the beginning. 'She was shakier than a leaf in a cold wind', he thinks.

His thoughts stray to the world around him. He's only slightly chilly, as only his t-shirt exposes his bare arms to the cold. The world is quiet, his mind drifts into it with ease. He breathes out evenly as a breeze goes by, shivers as it rolls through a nearby tree and ruffles the leaves there. There's a calm here, an easy peace. Before he knows it, all the running and emotional turmoil of the day is catching up to him. He can feel himself drifting off and chooses to give in to the fall, letting his body slowly go lax as he nods off on the bench. A few minutes go by as he naps quietly on the bench beside Noelle, only his deep, even breathing giving away the fact that he's no longer conscious.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:35 pm
Noelle sees that Tobi had fallen asleep. She sits in silence, watching the sun go down until the sky is a dark blue and scattered with stars. She watches the stars appear and after a while, pulls out a small book from her pocket. It's an old, leatherbound pocket poetry book. She also takes a small flashlight in her other pocket.

She was so used to carrying some sort of book with her. In Maine, she would often wander her neighborhood late into the night, and find quiet places to read. Ever since then, she always made sure she wasn't caught unprepared.

She reads, losing track of time. She keeps reading, slowly and thoughtfully, and she could keep doing it until morning.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:55 pm
The park is wooded, full of large old-growth trees. The bushes near the pathways are trimmed neatly, the ones farther out a little less so, a little more wild. Grasses near the edges are a little more ignored than the area surrounding the playground and the swings creak gently, spurred on by soft breezes. Tobi's asleep, but his mind had wandered into the world just before he had nodded off and stayed firmly rooted there. His sleep is dreamless, filled more with stars and the scent of dry earth than any sort of fantasy.

Something causes his breath to catch in his throat and he shifts into a snore. The earth yawns with him; the wood of the trees creak, branches shake leaves loose, the wind whips through the park ruffling the longer grasses into a frenzy, and the swings rock and squeak. It flips the pages of Noelle's book and ruffles her hair as it blows through. The world quiets when Tobi settles back and eases into quiet, even breaths.

His fingers are loosely twined around the empty coffee cup in his hand. It looks as if it may tip over at any time.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:13 pm
Noelle didn’t notice it at first, but as soon as the breeze flips her page. She looks up, alarmed, but realizes what happened. Smiling to herself, she leans closer to him, her head rested gently on his arm.

She holds her flashlight up, away from him, and reads, tiredly. Noelle usually stays up until the early hours of the morning, but the emotional turmoil and upheaval of the day had her near exhaustion. She gives a small yawn, rubbing her eyes under her glasses.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:37 pm
The cup in Tobi's hand finally loses its battle with gravity and slips free of the loose hold he has on it. It hits the soft earth with an even softer clatter and rolls in an arc to hit against Tobi's outstretched foot. Something about the movement ruffles Tobias into a slow wakefulness, marked with a yawn that echoes in the trees. He slowly blinks sleep out of his eyes and looks ahead, his eyes not yet focused on anything specific. He stretches lazily and the earth moves with him, rumbling underneath the two of them, stretching as Tobi does.

Finally he seems to come to. His eyes lose their distant stare and the world falls back into it's natural rhythm. He looks at the sky above the two of them. "Got dark quick." he says, voice rough with sleep. He doesn't seem to notice or mind that Noelle is now leaning on him.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:02 pm
Noelle feels the rumble of the park. First, it starts at her feet, but she soon felt it in her core. When she realizes that Tobi has woken, she bolts upright, turning bright red. She puts her book and flashlight away. She says, quickly "You've been asleep for some time. At least an hour. Maybe more. I lost track of time."

She polishes her glasses on her hoodie, then pulls her hair up out of her face.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:23 pm
Tobi yawns silently. "Mmmm," he hums. "Didn't feel like tha' long. Should wake me if you wanna leave, I ain't ever gonna snap at'cha if you do." His hands come up to his hair to ruffle it. "Should prob'ly head back, in any event."

He turns towards her and picks up ever in the dark how red her face has gotten. "You're lookin' twin to a tomato, what's got you so flustered?" he looks slightly concerned.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:26 pm
Noelle clears her throat and says quickly "I'm fine, it's nothing. Just started getting a little tired... Also, you looked really peaceful and I feel like you sleep outside a lot, so I just let you do it."

She shivers and says softly "We can head back. If you want to stay, I can walk back alone. I don't mind."
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:38 pm
Tobi shakes his head. "Nah, I can walk with y'back. More convenient this way anyway, it's gettin' a little chilly. Could use a blanket." He smiles soft and gestures to the path in front of him.

"Lead the way."
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:40 pm
Noelle begins to walk back, staying silent. Her wide eyes begin to droop with tiredness as she gives out a yawn, She wraps her arms around each other, shivering in the cool breeze. She leads them back to campus, comfortable with the silence.
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:45 pm
Tobias walks back next to her, enjoying the silence. He watches the scenery change the closer they get to campus. Soon enough, they're in front of Noelle's dorm. Tobi stops at the bottom of the stairs leading up into the building, his back to the campus quad. "Guess this is goodnight." he says. "I'll see you tommorrow?"
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Re: Highmauve: Noelle's Dorm

on Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:47 pm
"Yeah. Tomorrow is good." She turns to the door for a moment, then turns back quickly "Are you going to be okay?"

She is genuinely concerned about his wellbeing.
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