Hidden 3 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by nodogs
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nodogs

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And so it begins...

Eight people, loosely connected together by threads that congregate at the beating heart of a small outlet town, "reunite" to witness the demolition of their high school building. Little do they know that the heart of their threads lies beneath the wreckage, and it's about to be disturbed. Some things are better left buried.
Hidden 3 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by nodogs
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nodogs

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JACK WILKERSON


act one: way down we go
delton station bistro p. johnson's
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Blue light burned into Jack's retinas as she tapped and swiped her way through Facebook to reach the 'Ritman High Class of 2015' group, hidden in a storage closet with a broom in her free hand. She scrolled through her last few posts. Two months ago—Who wants to come down and watch ur childhood get hit with a wrecking ball? Booze will be involved, with a hyperlink to an article reading 'Capital Construction to demolish former Delton high school building'. One month ago—Hope you fuckers remember to show cause I dont have anything in here captioning a picture of a vaguely time capsule-shaped object caked in dirt. Three weeks ago—PJs June 16 @ 5pm. RSVP below. last one's buying the first round. Her eyes scanned down the list of names and faces in the replies, brain trying to identify who seemed serious about this shit and who was gonna no-show. Some of them were still stuck in Delton like her but she didn't doubt the chances of drinking alone anyway.

Securing her phone in her pocket and grabbing a dustpan, Jack emerged from the dark cupboard into the fluorescent light and rushing bodies of the Delton Station Bistro kitchen. The commercial swinging doors that separated the back of house from the midday rush were in a constant state of open as staff ran through orders on the left and returned with dirty dishes on the right.

A sweating busboy took notice of the dustpan and broom in her hands, which she collected every time she went in the storage closet to check her phone or eat some stolen fries, and immediately led her to a pile of broken glass swimming in cola by one of the far right tables. He hovered awkwardly as she cleaned the mess and Jack took the time to examine him. By the looks of things he was only fifteen or sixteen and way out of his element. For most kids summer break meant playing videogames and smoking weed; for sorry fucks like this guy it meant two months of pure stress.

Jack decided that the final few hours of her shift would be spent bussing tables. Her dad had wanted her in the kitchen, but she made an executive decision that customers would prefer to wait a little if it meant their food was delivered intact. Things didn't seem to slow down dramatically and there weren't any complaints by the time she was taking her apron off and getting ready to leave, so he could thank her later. The bistro was open for another five hours, so she didn't have her usual cleanup duty, but she did spot a rogue broom in the corner of the kitchen. As she went to open the supply closet, she heard a fifteen or sixteen-year-old's slight cry of surprise and immediately closed the door again. Then, slowly, she opened the door enough to slide the broom through, which disappeared entirely into the dark depths. "Uh, take it easy," she muttered to the door before leaving.

It was 4.40pm by the time that, clad in her freshest vague-shade-of-navy polo shirt and brown leather jacket, Jack shrugged her way into P. Johnson's, an old nylon drawstring bag slung over her shoulder. A faded Great Oak Elementary logo was being further chipped away at as it swung back and forth against the leather.

"I thought this was the high school reunion?" snarked Calvin, the bartender, as he reached down for an unbranded liquor bottle with a screw-on base. Inside was something that would pass more as river water than something alcoholic; homemade kiwi-infused dark rum, bits n' all.

"You know how alcoholic it makes me look when you know my order right away?" Jack ignored him, half-cradling the nylon-wrapped time capsule. She'd washed a majority of the dirt off but still didn't want to touch it bare any more than she had to.

"You know how much it pains me when I have to ruin it with lime and cola?" He fixed his gaze at her, eyebrows just high enough to convey a light-hearted tone as he started punching numbers into the cash register. Jack tapped her card on the little white contactless box and Cal glanced at the time capsule with concern. "That thing better not leave a mark."

"What, should I put it on a stool instead?" She smirked at him, alluding to the 'Portland Pride incident'—some tourists attending Portland Pride decided to drive up to Delton for pre-drinks, which very quickly turned into a full day of drinking, which turned into the straightest gay girl god had put on Earth shitting herself. The smell wouldn't leave despite days of scrubbing and P.J's eventually replaced the stool (then the surrounding ones, just to be sure). Cal's complexion drained, visibly remembering the events.

"Jesus, you have to stop bringing that up. I still feel it in my pores sometimes." Arms raised, he stared at his open palms in horror. Jack released a breathy chuckle, surprisingly warmed, and stretched in her seat.

"Well, stop being a rum hipster or I'm telling the first person to walk in here all about it too." She offered half a smirk as Calvin rolled his eyes, walking over to serve someone further down the bar. Jack unceremoniously slid the time capsule down to the stool instead, hand on her drink as she kept an eye out for whoever showed up. She craned her neck slightly to look around the room, wondering if someone beat her to her own party. It wasn't a party exactly, but things still felt weird in a sense; being the one to organise any sort of gathering instead of being the forever attendee.

Rolling her shoulders, she took out her phone and snapped a picture of her drink against the backdrop of the open bar. Back to the Class of 2015 group she went, captioning the image Be here or be square and hitting post. She paused, deliberating for a moment as she stared. Did it matter? Course it did, stupid, nobody lives on Facebook anymore. She tapped into the replies, tagging those who hadn't yet cancelled—there was Hanna Williamson, Lucas Watson, Benjamin Moore, Freya Brigham, William Bishop, Connor Sangster, Sara Zhou, Meir Maggid...

Jack immediately downed her drink.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Salsa Verde
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Salsa Verde Chiropterologist

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MEIR MAGGID


act one: way down we go
cambridge, mass p. johnson's
Interacting with @nodogs
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Thump…Thump…Thump

Sitting in a spinny chair rocked all the way back with his feet leisurely lifted on his desk sat none other than Meir Maggid. He had been steadily tossing a handball, one of which his students left behind, against the chalkboard. His laptop was open with Spotify shuffling through one of his several hundred carefully curated playlists for this specific event. Papers and books laid out in a splayed mess covering any visible portion of the desk. He wasn’t just playing catch with himself, rather he had written several languages equally spaced out from one on another on the chalkboard. Whatever the ball hit is whatever language he had to shout a sentence in. He was at this for about an hour now and he had already recited his grocery list, school schedule, and the names of his student rosters for the last five years. There wasn’t much else to do since he taught one lecture twice a week. It was quite a perk being the youngest professor at the University.

The music paused before a bell rung from his mac and Siri spoke, ”Who wants to come down and watch ur childhood get hit with a wrecking ball? Booze will be involved—unlock to read the full notification". Meir nearly fell out of his chair when he heard the message, more so after the ball came back and hit him square in the head since he wasn’t ready to catch it. Recollecting himself he scurried to his notifications and opened Facebook. It was rather weird to still have Facebook in 2022 the year of our lord, but how else was he going to know of things like this. He read on in pensive thought. To be honest his knee jerk reaction was a snide laugh before he closed the mac and shook his head. There was no way he was going to go back to that place or those people. Carefully convincing himself in a semi hurried pace he stopped dead with pupils creeping to the corner of his eyes back at the closed mac. In a frantic panic he ripped it open once more before entering his credentials.

Why was he even friends with Jack on Facebook? Yeah, she didn’t bully him, but she wasn’t exactly his friend either. It must have just been automatic when he joined the 'Ritman High Class of 2015' group, either way it seemed strange for her to be the one to kick it off. As much as he didn’t want to go, he was becoming increasingly open to the notion. “Fuck it” he said as he liked the post and RSVP’d. If anything, this would be the perfect opportunity to show his glow up both physically and financially, to everyone who peaked in Highschool anyways.

After a gentle reminder a month later and then three weeks before the event, Meir knew he was going to go regardless, it also helped that a majority of the class cancelled almost immediately. I guess people weren’t too attached or rather were waiting on the infamous 20 year instead. The time capsule made him more curious as to what could have possibly been buried with them.

”Welcome to Delton” the small city sign read as Meir gripped the steering wheel harder ever so slightly. Luckily he could cancel class and his students wouldn’t protest in the least; with his responsibilities out of the way he pulled into a familiar sight, P.J.’s. In the seven years since he graduated, absolutely nothing had changed or aged it. He looked himself once over before checking the clock, 4:30 pm, punctual as per usual. He stopped at the door, taking one deep breath before entering the bar. Looks like he was the first one to show up, that or he had jus forgotten what everyone looked like. Calvin didn’t recognize him when he came in and for that Meir didn’t blame him. “Whiskey sour please and leave the tab open” he requested politely. He took the glass and napkin in tow to one of the booths while he waited for it to hit 5.

He scrolled up and down the group page, constantly refreshing, checking to see if anyone else had cancelled. If the last of the 8 were going to show, then things were going to be anything but boring. Ten minutes passed before he saw the back of Jack as she graciously glided into the bar with a massive metal capsule placed on the bartop. He choked a bit on his ice from the realization trying to regain his composure. Stuck between whether to approach her or not he resigned to eavesdropping instead. She scanned the room but missed him, figured. Looking for the right words to say he stood up and started for the bar. Before he could grab her attention, the notification chiming on his phone rung out first, as she had just finished tagging him in the latest update. Shit.

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Prisk
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Prisk ₓ ₓ ₈ ₆

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HANNA WILLIAMSON


act one: way down we go
NYC p. johnson's
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Instances of disruption were far and few between. Perhaps that feeling was a byproduct of mental apathy associated with Hanna’s chosen profession, if one could call it that. Every day was outlandishly stuffed with disruptions to the point that all of it just dissolved into a nasty slush of goo. She barely noticed it, or not until something more robust came along. That dreaded thing—or maybe a much needed relief—of seeing old faces and habits again was creeping ever so closer. Why had she agreed to it in the first place? Not even the most prestigious historian could answer that. Hanna’s manager insisted on participation because it would positively affect her brand. The man knew his trade and the business well enough to make that distinction. Also, the fact that one of the more generous sponsors of Hanna’s online presence was presumably attending indicated that listening to the manager was a wise decision.

“Anything else?” Hanna asked. The call had gone on for a while. It was mostly a routine meeting with Paul Bateman, Hanna’s manager and PR consultant.
“There’s the Delton reunion thing next week.” Paul said.
“Shit,... I forgot about that.”
“I RSPV’d you and booked a flight to Portland. Can you drive from there?”
“Sure, and this is absolutely necessary?” Hanna muttered.
“I thought you said you wanted to go?”
“Yeah, because you said it’s good for my brand.”
“It is. Snap a few grams and do some silly dances with your old classmates for TikTok. It shows that you value those times that everyone has such bizarre nostalgia for, even if they hated it.”
“I wasn’t exactly nice to people there.”
“That doesn’t matter. You have changed and you’re nice now, even to the nerds and the weirdos. That’s the spin. It will do wonders for your metrics.”
“Mmkay,... are you sure about this?”
“Hanna, you don’t pay me the big bucks to guess and not be sure—just trust me. Besides, didn’t you and Brigham go to the same school? If she is going, then you almost have a contractual obligation to go. She puts a lot of food on your table. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you.”
Paul’s usual preaching and delegating began to show its ugly face.
“I know, I’m going.” Hanna said and hung up, like a spoiled child being scolded about the right thing to do.

That week went by fast. Hanna had managed to speak to her parents about the spectacle she had to engage with. They were elated to have her home again for a couple of nights. However, the offer came with the stern stipulation that Hanna were to be ‘friendly’, as they put it. The faults of young adulthood was a vicious bitch from which there was no escape and Hanna was deep in that vile grasp, being dragged down at every turn. Hanna sighed at the militaristic demand and just agreed. There was nothing she could say that would convince anyone of anything. She simply had to show that things were different now, to some degree. Hanna wondered: would anyone even notice let alone give her or themselves a chance to notice? All she could do was to think about it herself. After all, her own prejudices and memories of those she did remember were unaltered since that time—they were still in or out, as the old gang used to say.

The flight was uneventful. Hanna had spoken to Freya—or Brigham as Paul called her—a bit leading up to the day of the thing. Seeing as their schedules were hectic and not particularly synchronized, Hanna thought it best to simply meet there instead of traveling together. Portland was as it had always been, it seemed. Hanna had been there on more than one occasion, just as every other kid from the Delton area who wanted to party or hang out in the city. The first bump in the road came with the car rental guy. Hanna had no idea what the fuck he was on about when it came to insurance, so she had to call Paul. It turned out that there was no misunderstanding or problem—Hanna was just plain old stupid, a dumb bitch with no life experience, although nobody said it out loud. However, Hanna was not entirely unaware of this fact. When she managed to get everything in order, the drive to Delton was just as uneventful as the flight. She was not used to this kind of long range driving. Staying awake was a bit of a problem, but some music and a couple of energy drinks fixed it right up.

The first stop in Delton was her parents' house. Seeing as Hanna was an only child, it was a big deal when she came around these days. Her dad, Charles Williamson, took a chivalrous role by unpacking the car and carrying all of his daughter's luggage upstairs. Hanna had the typical chat with her mom, Hillary Williamson, about everything in NYC. There was about an hour before the actual thing at P. Johnson’s. Hanna indulged in some nostalgic things in her old room—pictures, the old diary, a couple of half broken phones that still worked somehow, and other memorabilia-sort of things. Jennifer and Madeleine were constantly on Hanna’s mind. She had not spoken with them in any meaningful way after high school, at least beyond the occasional ass licking on Instagram. Yet, there was some nostalgia there. Hanna does not deny who and what she was back then, but at least she has the capacity to be something else, unlike the other two of the old clique. She changed into a somewhat casual outfit for the event—all black, consisting of tight jeans, a top showing perhaps too much skin, and a leather jacket of some larger size that cut off by the waistline.

Hanna took the car downtown. She was not entirely aware of the time, but she arrived at P. Johnson’s somewhere between early and on time. A parking spot was not hard to find in this desolate shithole, she thought. Hanna had to take a moment in the car after powering down. There was some movement inside P. Johnson’s, which she assumed were people attending the thing, but there was no way to make out who they were. She took a few deep breaths and snapped a selfie. “Here we go” the caption read with the hashtag #highschoolreunion. Her following on Instagram had breached a million not so long ago, so getting a modest few likes within a minute was expected. She avoided looking into the place while approaching it at a fairly fast pace. Her stride was ever so catwalk-y, as you never knew who was watching. Almost barging inside, she caught the atmosphere at an awkward moment and stopped dead in her track. Jack was in middle of having a drink while Meir was standing behind her like a creep, not saying a word and caught up in fiddling with his phone. Everything sort of happened at the same time—the notification, the tagging, all of it. Hanna smirked, almost chuckling at the bizarre moment, swinging her eyes back and forth between Jack and Meir.

“You okay there, Meir?” Hanna said and allowed that chuckle to escape. Good God, she remembered his name, and hers too. How was that even possible? Especially his, seeing as Hanna had not been the nicest of persons to him. Or, rather, in her own defense, it was the other two skanks who were mean to him—but he probably did not see it that way. Hanna stepped forward in a much slower, relaxed pace and placed herself besides Jack.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Sweven7
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Sweven7 The Orange & Silver Gnomon

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CONNOR SANGSTER


act one: way down we go
his house down the street p. johnson's
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Saccade, then the stir of legs. The man rose from bed on the covers, in a bathrobe and athletic shorts, glancing out the glass doors that reflected dainty bokeh lights of the clean suburban street. It drizzled cold tears and bloomed petals on a silver April afternoon. A mug of coffee steamed on the bedstand, and the bathroom steamed from a recent shower. Connor Sangster lathered lotion on his neck and face, grimacing at the mirror as he was helplessly ironing out wrinkles and laugh lines. He declared, "I get this feeling as if I've been doing the same things since high school, except the results become more worse than I last remember."

"That's aging, dear," his wife Karen walked out of the closet, fiddling with an earring, "or adulting, as they say these days. Drink more water, get more sleep, accomplish more feats, and you'll be fine again, you'll be feeling right as rain..." She looked out the gloomy windows with a face of tested patience.

He squinted at his phone. A notification! Which hit first, serotonin or dopamine, he could not tell but he was taken aback smiling. So he wasn't forgotten in this age, faded to obscurity as he feared. On Facebook - "oh my god Jack Wilkerson" Connor glanced at his wife who left the room busily - posted actively in the 'Ritman High Class of 2015' group. [ Who wants to come down and watch ur childhood get hit with a wrecking ball? Booze will be involved ] with a hyperlink to an article reading 'Capital Construction to demolish former Delton high school building'. He recoiled a bit, "That's surprising. Weren't you the girl with no fucks to give?" Guess he shouldn't be surprised she was still human. Life must've cruelly given her a reason to stop pretending otherwise. And the demolishing of the old high school wasn't new news.

He was the PE teacher at that school and he was quietly upset at the demolishing. Sure, it was exciting to use the newer campus, especially the rec center with all its brand-new equipment. Even the new magpie logo and mascot were cooler. His new office was awesome, and the black leather swivel chair WAS comfortable. But was it necessary to erase the old campus? All those good memories and stories. People and events he grew very fond of. Secrets he never told his wife. They all echoed there. To have that razed to the ground seemed such a waste.

While tearing down the old campus did not sit well with him, he did not speak out against it. He decided to keep his head down, stay low, and try to keep his job and transition to the new campus. He'd behave at least until tenure. He chuckled at his phone and responded to Jack, thumbing and reading out his message: "Great idea, Jack, honestly wish I thought of it first. See you there." "Aww" said his wife looming behind with eyes fixed on his phone, "High school reunion, that's nice."

In a blink, May came around and Jack made another post. [ Hope you fuckers remember to show cause I dont have anything in here ] captioning a picture of a vaguely time capsule-shaped object caked in dirt. Connor was coaching at football practice when he froze, holding his phone as if it was a time bomb. She got to it before he did. "Coach, your face's all red," a Magpie player handed him water, and Coach Sangster muttered on repeat, "Did I or didn't I? Did I or didn't I?"

He gripped his temples. By senior year, he had a crush on his best friend, a boy. Saccade, then the stir of a suppressed memory of him writing a heartfelt, all-out-in-the-open letter addressed to Ryan. How he would not mind if it made him gay, if it made him happy to spend the rest of his life being around him, how Ryan was his reason to bravely come out. He never sent nor handed over the letter. He never came out, though he was counting on it, that eventually, one day... But sweet and gentle baby Jesus in heaven, did I bury the letter in the time capsule? Or didn't I? The football team noticed the coach try to drink water with a shaky hand. He felt his burning and icy forehead and retired early, "Everyone clear out. I'm sorry, I'm feeling sick."

Getting through May felt forever, with his wife Karen trying to get to know him better and with constantly checking for more Jack Wilkerson posts, worst case scenario hanging over his head like a thundercloud. Boom, the last Thursday of May, notification. Whatever chemical released in his brain at that moment, it wasn't serotonin or dopamine. [ PJs June 16 @ 5pm. RSVP below. last one's buying the first round. ] Connor Sangster was among the first few to click Going although he felt like god was laughing, the fact that they're starting their reunion at a queer bar. He stared at the photos of P. Johnson's, like they were omens.

Then the day came. Connor Sangster dressed in all Ritman Magpie uniform - the one he hadn't worn since seven years ago - and it did look a little too tight on him, as his wife Karen told him, but he had to show up like this, cap worn backwards with a dumb smile on his face. He looked around the crowded place, where colorful flags were pinned to the walls and patrons seated on stools keeping mindful not to elbow their neighbor. The music was actually rather fun and the conversations he could eavesdrop were interesting, and not before long, he saw three familiar faces when they gathered. Hanna, Meir, and Jack.

He approached madly laughing, "Bet you thought I got fat."

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Mao Mao
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Mao Mao Sheriff of Pure Hearts (They/Them)

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LUCAS WATSON


act one: way down we go
crystal hill station europa inn & suites
p. johnson's
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Why did I decide to come back? Lucas asked himself after seeing the 'Welcome to Delton' sign surrounded by rocks and colorful flowers. He looked away from the bus window and tried to suppress the memories of his departure. The music playing in his earbuds helped a little but didn't thoroughly crush it. It got worse once the bus stopped at the Crystal Hill Station, the bus station on the edge of town. He started to remember that painful day. But instead of confronting it, Lucas began to walk towards the inn rather than wait for a ride. It was bittersweet to be back home. That was when he started to wonder about his parents and siblings. Where were they? Are they still living in town? Have they changed in the years Lucas has been absent? And yet, he already knew the answers the moment the sign was visible.

After walking for ten minutes, Lucas finally arrived at the Europa Inn & Suites. It wasn't the best hotel in town, but it had decent reviews. No one or two stars on review sites. Just mainly three and even four stars. Also, it was cheaper than the premium hotels. He approached the receptionist about the reservation and got a keycard. Then, he headed towards his room on the second floor and immediately collapsed onto the bed. The original plan was to take a quick nap before tonight's event. However, upon picking up his phone, Lucas noticed a rather surprising notification from his mostly inactive Facebook account (the last post was seven years old before spring break). He didn't react once he saw that Jack Wilkerson was responsible for posting in a dead group inviting classmates to drink at a micro-brewery.

There wasn't much of a friendship between them, but they often hung out during smoke breaks at school. Although it still hurt that Jack had ditched him once the rumors began spreading around. Lucas, for some reason, actually liked having someone around him during those breaks. Now, there wasn't much to feel about other than the annoyance of still having a Facebook account since he was thirteen. But he couldn't be himself to remove himself from the group. So instead, Lucas left a like on the post before tossing it next to him. Immediate regret was setting in him for accepting the invite. But then again, P.J's might have something good to snack on as his stomach began growling. And plus, the drinks and food might be free (good for someone who makes an office receptionist's salary).

Since the brewery was only a few minutes away, Lucas decided to walk on foot instead of getting an uber and wasting the cash on it. He stopped walking once he saw the building in question and noticed that folks were already inside, thanks to the window. There was another moment of sweet old regret and fear attempting to set in his mind. He was told that going back home would be helpful by his therapist and friends, and yet, being here seemed to be a mistake. Still, disregarding the outcome, Lucas needed to see it through—even if it didn't help at the end of the day. He went inside and made sure to avoid talking to other people, finding his seat at an empty booth. If he was planning on talking to classmates from his high school, a moment of peace was very much needed.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by banjoanjo
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banjoanjo Still likes pistachios

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SARA ZHOU


act one: way down we go

p. johnson's
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“Mm. Nah, <<no, I haven’t eaten yet.>>”
Sara sat in the dark of her car across from P.J.’s, combing a hand through her hair. The other held a phone to her ear. She winced when it came out damp. Ugh, maybe she shouldn’t have squeezed that shower in after work.
“<<No, I am! Yes, I’ll get something to eat. We’re meeting at P—uh.>> We’re meeting at a bar first then heading to the school so I’ll probably just grab something on the way. Or after.”
“<<Yeah, Jack organized the whole thing. And, ah! Do you remember Meir? We carpooled to science decathlon. …Yes, he was the skinny one. There were a lot of skinny ones, Ma. He had glasses—okay, a lot of them had glasses too. He…>>”
Sara sighed.
“The Jewish one, Ma. Yep, he—yep, now you remember. Yeah, Meir! He’s gonna be there too. It’s gonna be good.”
The voice on the other side of the world continued, asking a question that made Sara frown.
“<<The nice girl.>> …Freya?” She paused longer than she liked. “Well, Facebook said she’d be there. I dunno. I don’t really… eh, it doesn’t really matter. I’ll let you know if she shows up.”
She turned to stare out the window. A familiar looking man was entering the bar.
“<<I better head in. You eat something too, yeah? Isn’t it like lunchtime for you now? Mm. Yeah, okay. Tell Uncle I said hi. Love you too. Okay. Bye, Ma.>>”

Another hand-comb of her hair and Sara stepped out. The entrance to P.J.’s was certainly a familiar sight, one that brought a little comfort even. It wouldn’t have been the first place she’d have chosen for a high school reunion. Then again, if you’d asked her seven years ago, Sara wouldn’t have guessed Jack as the one who’d suggest a gathering either.
Sara stopped in her tracks, neurons firing. P.J.’s, Jack, old classmates…
She… wait, was she planning to come out?

“…No, that’s dumb.” Sara stated it solidly and banished the idea before she headed inside.
There were already a few familiar faces at the bar, and she almost bounded right up to them. But as she scanned the establishment a little more, she saw the man who’d been outside. Ah, now she recognized him. Why was he slouching all alone in the corner like that? She could guess why, of course, but still, that wouldn’t do. If Jack wanted this to be a fun night for old acquaintances, then Sara would make sure that was the case. She went to the booth and propped herself against the opposite wall.
“Hey, Lucas.” Yep, that was his name. She nodded her head in the bar’s direction. “You been well? I just got here too – was about to head over there myself.”

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Eleven
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Eleven things are strange

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FREYA BRIGHAM


act one: way down we go
bayfront airbnb p. johnson's
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The stillness that greeted her was surprising at first, a stark contrast to the cacophony conducted by the ever-bustling streets of New York. Mornings were usually hectic and productive to a fault, filled with daily meetings and review sessions with key members of the team. It was a nice change of pace then, however slightly unsettling, to wake up to nothing but the distant calls of birds and the calming rustling of trees. Freya decided to take her morning tea out on the deck. Out there, highlighted by an early ray of sun and tickled by the cool breeze, she was drenched in a wave of nostalgia.

She hummed a soft tune that randomly came to mind. Ah, Billy played that song before, didn't he?

Freya hadn't realized how much she missed Delton until now. For a while, it had been a distant memory; a quiet, nagging regret that lingered in the corner of her mind. After they left so suddenly all those years ago, Delton was never again brought up. If it weren't for Hanna, she might have believed their time there really was just a dream. Her former hometown continued to be a sore spot for her mom, apparently so deeply damaging to her psyche that she would sooner give up half her estates than set foot back there. They never talked about what transpired in that quaint city; not about Ritman or the Bistro. Not about their friends and neighbors. And especially not about her father, whose whereabouts remained unknown to them. Only the frequent transfers to her account signaled he was alive and thriving somewhere in the world.

She couldn't take another year with this mystery unsolved; it was like an itch she couldn't scratch, bothering her all these years. When their magazine partnered with a photographer based in Maine, Freya immediately volunteered to handle the shoot and even agreed to model, an offer she usually declined. It was the justification she needed. She won't be able to back out from this, even if she were to get cold feet, as she had many times before.

⇢ ⇢ ⇢


Freya wouldn't have time to explore the town until after their little reunion. She arrived at her Airbnb rental the night before, already too late to go out and wander about. Today's docket, meanwhile, had her glued to the computer from morning until late afternoon. She thought about taking a lunch break at the Bistro, but a twinge in her heart immediately shut down the idea.

She settled for a protein bar and focused on the next thing on her agenda. Work was easy, therapeutic almost, and within moments she fell into her usual routine. It wasn't until things started winding down that she became once again conscious of her unfamiliar environment. Somehow, in this peaceful silence, everything else seemed louder: the clacking of her keys as she drafted an email to the team, the melodic peals of the windchime that came with every gentle breeze, the incessant dinging of her phone as a barrage of notifications began to fill the screen. Freya heaved a sigh and even that echoed in the empty room.

"Trending again already," she noted with a wry smile.

Was it even worth checking at this point? Usually it was inoffensive blather, just a bunch of tweets praising or critiquing her outfit at an event. Once in a while, it was the juicy stuff. Affairs and alleged pregnancies and did she break up with her actor boyfriend already? She thought she would have escaped this world of scandals and gossip by now, but its grasp on her never loosened, pulling her deeper and deeper into its clutches instead.

More notifications, a handful of text messages, six missed calls from mom. Freya ignored all that and laugh-reacted to an innocuous Facebook post by Jack instead.

⇢ ⇢ ⇢


It was their former chauffeur that insisted on driving her around town when he heard about her visit. Once upon a time, Lloyd made car rides and road trips with her parents bearable. She didn't think she could ever pay him back for the warmth and kindness he'd shown her all those years ago. When he greeted her with a welcoming hug and a fond "look how much you've grown," she nearly burst into a blubbering mess of tears.

The drive to P. Johnson's was short, barely enough time to prepare herself – although she wasn't exactly sure what she was preparing for, or even why she had to. It just felt like something she should be ready for, like a big presentation where she has to be in full control. Freya stalled just long enough to compose herself. Another deep, centering breath had done the trick, and after she bid Lloyd farewell, all her nerves washed away...

...only to bubble up again at the sound of Sara's voice.

Freya faltered slightly as she walked in, but masterfully masked the quiver of her lips with a half-smile. Familiar and foreign all at once, the sight of Sara brought with it a burst of fond memories and resurfaced guilt. She never got to say goodbye to her, did she? Just up and left without a word, not even a measly text, after she promised she would be there for her after what happened with Will.

Seated across from her was another alumnus--ah, his name was at the tip of her tongue. Eric? No, Lucas, that's right. Freya had every intention of joining them, she swore she did. But her willful feet betrayed her and kept her rooted by the bar's entrance.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by nodogs
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nodogs

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JACK WILKERSON


act one: way down we go
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Jack swivelled to the source of a nearby voice, hunching casually as though the empty glass in her hand wasn't full just a second ago. She'd done a quick run through of people's profiles the other day, mainly to give her a refresher on those she hadn't spoken to as often or others that were very obviously not at their peak in high school. Here, she didn't need it. Hanna Williamson had barely changed a day from high school; she just needed to find the right outlet, and influencer was clearly working. Jack supposed there were worse people from Ritman to play a major part in the "exploit everyone and step on their necks" industry. Hanna was on the milder end of that scale, though her domain had always been the internet.

As Hanna sat down on an adjacent stool, Jack actually registered what she had said. Meir? She quickly glanced over her shoulder and nearly jumped out of her skin.

"Jesus fuck— Meir, shit." He was different. At Ritman it was kind of obvious that high school wasn't his peak, but she honestly hadn't expected him to get ripped. If you didn't know him it would've been hard to pin him as the scrawny essay-for-hire virgin that he was. Jack wondered if the latter part of that had changed now, mainly out of passive curiosity.

She realised her shoulders were still tensed from jumping, so she slouched and cleared her throat. "Hey, Meir; Hanna. What's up?" The former's response to what Jack had treated as a rhetorical question was largely tuned out, as her thoughts turned to getting another drink as soon as possible. You look like a fucking idiot, Wilkerson.

Elbow leaning on the bartop, she peered further down the bar for a flash of Cal's bleach blond buzzcut, hand idly rolling the bottom of her empty glass against the wood in a circular motion. So what, she jumped. It was a stupid high school reunion and nobody would even remember it in a few months time. Hanna was busy with her being famous on the internet stuff, Meir was a professor at MI-fucking-T of all places, the rest of them probably all had better stuff to do. Have some drinks, open the capsule, watch a wrecking ball hit the building you spent your formative years in—it was a simple formula. She didn't even have to worry about introducing them to her girlfriend since that went up in smoke two weeks ago.

Jack paused.

Her (ex-)girlfriend who worked at P.J's. Who she had been avoiding since they broke up. Her ex-girlfriend who worked the evening shift. Because when she started planning this two months ago, that's why she'd cleared out P.J's at 5.

"Shit," she accidentally hissed aloud, immediately checking her phone. It was still only 4.47. If everyone else arrived in the next ten minutes, she could make an excuse for the group to get out of there and the damage would be avoided. No way was she going to open that can of worms in front of her old classmates. Hey, I was gonna introduce you to some people from high school, not even as a coming out thing, but then you broke up with me two weeks before, and now I have to either ignore you or do a weird coming out sequence with my ex-girlfriend who was also like my first serious relationship.

She had felt more comfortable dating after graduation, namely because all the people who would bug her about it had left town by then, but when she'd 'been in the closet' for so long it seemed weird to suddenly break a habit. It was just inconsistent. If something was a certain way for a while, she couldn't just wake up one day and change her mind. Or, at least that's how Jack justified it in her head. She wasn't ashamed of her sexuality—she never had been, even if she was hesitant seeing the attention kids got for being outside of the norm—it was just the sort of thing to tell close friends. Jack was too guarded for close friends. Well, she preferred private.

Shaking out of the grimace that had started to set on her face, she managed to finally flag down Calvin, who started pouring her another drink.

"Uh... how long's this gonna take? You know what time it is?" He tried to question in a hushed tone, but with how little Jack saw of him outside of P.J's and it's bustling noise she wondered if he knew how loud he was. What was whispering to him was a priest delivering mass to everyone else.

"You want paying customers to leave?" she deflected, ignoring the glare it garnered her. His eyes darted between her and the two alumni besides her.

"Well, last I checked you and Maya haven't spoken since.... y'know, and she's gonna be here in," he clicked his tongue, feigning deep thought, "oh, yeah, fifteen minutes."

She was about to brush him off with a retort when they were interrupted by swelling laughter, and Jack's mouth gaped slightly at the sight of Connor Sangster approaching the bar in his old Magpies gear. Of course he'd kept it gathering dust somewhere; the dude was obsessed with Ritman. She wondered if he kept it to put on in the mirror sometimes.

Jack had seen Connor around Delton now and then, it wasn't like it was her first glimpse of him in seven years, but it felt uncanny in a way. It was like Connor the married PE coach was wearing the skin of Connor the tryhard jock—he looked like an extra on Teen Wolf, and not the TV show. The cap was a nice touch.

"Actually, I always figured you'd get some kind of brain trauma," she quipped at his remark, words coming out maybe a little quicker than she could actually filter them. One time, she had joked that a coworker was having a stroke when she stumbled over somebody's order. Said coworker was both insecure about her performance at work, and had a grandma who suffered a stroke the week before. She'd started crying on the spot and didn't show up for work the next day. Jack tried to remember anything about Connor that wasn't related to him getting kicked out of her classes, or the brief glimpses she caught of him at sports events she'd been dragged along to for one reason or another, but was coming up blank on anything related to brains and their traumas. Maybe she was in the clear for this one. Time to gloss over. "You guys seen anyone else? I'm not meant to be the punctual one."

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Salsa Verde
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Salsa Verde Chiropterologist

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MEIR MAGGID


act one: way down we go
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How many seconds were in a minute? 60, How many minutes in an hour? 60 How many hours in a day? 24 The math kept compounding in his head until he got to what felt like the end of time and space. But as everything around him was happening so fast it felt like he had been frozen in place. Being able to see every drip of sweat stain his clothes and bead on his forehead. His throat was dry, so dry, it almost seemed painful to lick his lips since they felt like two pieces of sandpaper. ”Just take a deep breath, remember your exercises", these novel exercises revolved around Hebrew prayers. Even though he fell out of faith with his religion there was still a slight comfort on falling back on something familiar to get him through social interactions. His lungs filled his air, regaining confidence in the steps that were deficient upon first entering PJ’s.

Meir felt kind of bad for scaring Jack, but it was kind of comforting to know she remembered him, why wouldn’t she? Hanna was the third one to appear, in all her influencer glory, Meir would be lying if his curiosity didn’t get the better of him the three months before the meeting. He scrolled and scrolled for hours sifting through the carefully curated socials everyone had made since graduation. He was surprised that she didn’t have a line of paparazzi following her every move. She hadn’t aged a day, he wasn’t sure if that was from natural beauty or the layers of make up and facial care routines that were probably free from sponsors. “Yeah, it just didn’t feel real for a second” he coughed, “but how are you, Hanna? Seems like the years have been good to you.” Before he could get any further with Jack and Hanna another eerily familiar voice rang through his head causing another chill to run down his neck. It seemed like God really wanted to send him his biggest fans.

Connor Sangster, the living embodiment or Ritman, and everything Meir thought he wanted to be when he was younger. While he didn’t bully him as much as he once thought, their relationship was still a little more tenuous than the generic jock vs bully trope. Having what felt like war flashbacks, Jacks hushed whispers fell on deaf ears, he had only wished he had gotten his own snarky come back before Jack did. Regardless he did laugh while he noticed Lucas casually slip in somewhat undetected into a booth adjacent to the entrance. His smile faded once a tinge of guilt coursed through his body, something he had still been beating himself up over 7 years after. Meir should have been a better friend and focused more on his relationship with Lucas than staying one step ahead of Sara Zhou. Which coincidentally conjured her up next.

The urge to order a second drink was already pressing against the inside of his skull. Sara also hadn’t aged whatsoever, but she did seem to elevate her already good sense of style along with her make up. She was probably the only person he kept in touch with post-graduation, well for a few months before they kind of ghosted each other. Should he go over? Was it too late to make amends with both of them?

Meir turned back to Hanna, Jack, and Connor. “One whiskey sour please” he ordered, looking past Jack to the bartender. “I think we’re still missing a few more people that interacted with your posts at least. Maybe we should you know, gather together like a reunion. Maybe PJs is too small for this?” he suggested before the newest arrival stopped right past the doorway, Freya Brigham, his high school crush. There was a small pang in his chest, but it seemed just as childish now as it was back then. “Make that two whiskey sours please.” This was going to be a long reunion.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Prisk
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Prisk ₓ ₓ ₈ ₆

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HANNA WILLIAMSON


act one: way down we go
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Hanna kept on smiling at it all. It was strangely satisfying to take part of this endeavor, already. She was taken back by the thought or reaction to her own state of mind. This was just the right refresher, the breather, the break she needed from that fucking cesspool of a city she came from. Being near to Jack felt oddly natural, as if they had met a hundred times before this moment. There was a kind of mutual understanding of whatever atmosphere they were in, or perhaps the attitude towards it. Hanna flung a quick glance at the bartender and ordered a drink: "Vodka Orange, please." She said and turned her attention right back at the close company. "Yeah, fuck Meir, creeping up on people like that." Hanna said and threw the guy a wink along with a playful smirk. She clearly followed up on Jack's jumpiness and tried to lighten the atmosphere with a little friendly banter. Her attention was all theirs for a few seconds before everyone that were invited seemingly welled in all at the same time. "I hope so. Looking this good ain't easy, you know." She responded, lightheartedly, to Meir while receiving her drink from the bartender.

Hanna was distracted by Jack's musings and conversation with the bartender. She had a tendency to stare at people and observe their emotional state. Hanna's eyes sailed between Jack and the bartender in their conversation about a person who worked or works there. Maya, huh... Hanna thought to herself. Ever since some point back in school, a point that Hanna could not recall, there had been some looming suspicion that Jack's taste leaned heavily towards the home team. The thought sprung to Hanna's mind again, as it had back then. Although, she had an entirely different attitude towards it this time around. Ever since her fifteen minutes of fame while cheating on her boyfriend with a chick, it had become ever so apparent that Hanna did not mind intimacy with either team.

A familiar ruckus interrupted the moment. Those well loved and perhaps hated colors could only be sported properly by one man, and one man only. Hanna had plenty of crazy experiences and memories with the old gang, for better and worse, but none of them quite measured up to the shit this guy did back in the days. "OH MY GOD, yes!" Hanna exclaimed with overwhelming excitement almost jumped into Connor's arms for a warm hug. The sensational dopamine burst easily distracted Hanna's simple brain from noticing many of the other familiar faces that slipped into the place during the fleeting moments. "This guy had brain damage long before we graduated," Hanna chuckled at Jack's snappy response. "Maybe a bit tight around the waist. Dad bod already, huh? Kinda hot, though." Hanna smiled and returned to her seat next to Jack, taking a sip from her drink.

It was difficult for Hanna to miss Freya's entrance, seeing as they spoke or met almost every week back in NYC through work. However, in that mundane although welcome sight of a familiar face, Hanna noticed some kind of reaction in Meir when the Norse Goddess entered. Despite not being a mind reader or witch of famous kind, Hanna was emotionally smart enough to see that something positive yet distressing happened in the poor boy. "What's with you, Meir? You look nervous." Hanna said and took another sip of her drink, eyes intently starting at Meir. "My former so called friends aren't coming to this, so no need to worry."

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Gisk
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Gisk

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WILLIAM BISHOP


act one: way down we go
Hilton on Route 1 p. johnson's
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The classic blue car zoomed down the highway, making an unexpectedly quiet sound as it went. Not the explosive roar of the internal combustion, but the quiet whir of the electric motor. The inside was a good deal louder, the speakers blaring out a Black Sabbath tune, and the driver singing along in good spirits.

Billy had set out for Delton four whole days ago; he wanted to drive his own car, so flying wasn’t going to be an option, and he had to make it a road trip. It was a weird, lonely time for him, but he made the best of it. His band’s manager had plotted the course for him, to include charging stations for his car and nice hotels to stop at. This wasn’t, strictly speaking, her job, but Kathy was accommodating as always, and Billy had sent her flowers(using a service, but she didn’t need to know he hadn’t picked them himself). He spent the nights drinking in hotel bars or nearby clubs, schmoozing with fans(and not a few drunk strangers who didn’t know him from Adam), and then in the morning he would grab a huge iced coffee and an unhealthy breakfast sandwich and hit the road without a look back.

He passed the Welcome to Delton sign with a weird and unexpected thrill, hands gripping the steering wheel convulsively. Why the nerves? Because his parents lived in town, he thought. Or, they probably still did. Billy didn’t care to see them, and was a little worried he might run into them.

It’s not like you’re obligated to talk to them if they turn up, he reasoned. Tell them you've sucked a few dicks and they’ll back away slowly. He laughed at how he imagined the looks on their faces, but deep down he knew he would say no such thing. He would be polite and make his excuses, then go get high.

Not long later, he had pulled into a hotel just outside of Delton, and was waiting on the receptionist to confirm his reservation, looking at his phone and checking the Facebook thread. It was the first time he had done so since setting out from Seattle, but there was a delightful image of a mysterious drink, with the legend “Be here or be square.”

Billy smirked and commented below, ”be here or be squeer?”, before putting his phone away and apologizing to the receptionist who was waiting on him now. Taking the key card with a smile, he made his way to his room and changed for the event. First he shaved, brushed his teeth, and fussed with his hair. Next, he put on a pink V-neck, black skinny jeans, and a gray cable knit cardigan. On his feet were black Doc Marten boots with yellow laces, vintage from back when they were made in England. He put his round lensed sunglasses in his shirt by the earpiece.

He stopped on his way out to look at himself in the mirror by the door of his room. Was he nervous? Yeah. What if they thought he was lame? A sellout? It was weird to go back and see these people when he didn’t know if they’d read something stupid about him in a magazine. He took a breath and wrenched his eyes away from analyzing every imperfection in his hair.

Well, he’d made up his mind anyway. Hell, he didn’t drive all the way to Delton to not watch his former high school get demolished.

~~~

Billy pushed the door to PJ’s open and walked in. He grinned around at the reunion that had assembled before him as he pulled his sunglasses back off. Freya - he recognized her immediately - was still standing by the door when he walked through.

”Hey, Freya! What’s going on?” he put an arm around her shoulder and stood with her as they looked at everyone else who had congregated, ”Conner? I thought for sure you’d be fat, but you look great! Actually,” he added, on reflection as he looked around at them, ”You all look pretty damn good! We drinking yet?”

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by nodogs
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nodogs

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JACK WILKERSON


act one: way down we go
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Meir wasn't a professor for nothing. PJ's as a venue was purely out of its locational convenience, being right down Main Street, and the fact Jack was too cheap to buy cases of beer for them to drink elsewhere. They would need to leave eventually to go crack open the time capsule she'd been lugging around—there was a small clearing she'd earmarked, just outside the confines of the temporary fencing and do not enter signs imprisoning Ritman. All she needed was a head-count to make sure everyone was there, then they could fuck off. She checked her phone. 4.50. A reply from William Bishop she'd missed, and she couldn't stop the random Still Life Gospel riff that burrowed into her head. Squeer. The universe was really fucking taunting.

"Well, y'know, there's just so many places to gather here. We could go to Old Navy, or... get some lobster sticks from Dave's." She slurped at her drink as Hanna sat back down, following her gaze to Meir, and then Meir's gaze to the doorway. Freya Brigham, shadowing the entrance of P.J's. With how much of a presence Freya had in Ritman, it was odd seeing her off to the side. Her eyes travelled from Freya back to Meir. Being on speaking terms with the both of them in high school, Jack would sometimes offhandedly mention Freya to him, and each time he would go... weird. Seeing that look on his face? There were practically little cherubs dancing around his head.

Quickly assessing the situation, Jack looked thoroughly around the room (a task she did not often perform) and recognised Sara Zhou stood at one of the booths. Craning her head slightly, she noticed the vague shadow of someone sat at the same booth, and discovered it to be... Lucas. Even though he'd responded to Jack's invite she was still surprised he actually showed. Meir at least had the glow-up and doctorate going for him, but after graduation Lucas had just disappeared off the face of the Earth; not that she could blame him.

She weighed her options. If she stayed at the bar, she was going to be in the middle of whatever Gnomeo and Juliet bullshit Meir was about to enact on Freya. At the booth was another person who got caught up in the rumour mill that she'd dropped like a hot potato. But Sara was there, and the two of them had been good with each other, even if Jack hadn't really seen her around in the years since. There was also a hundred percent more chance of not being at the bar when Maya got there.

"I'm gonna see what's up at the booth," she declared, weakly slapping Meir on the back.

As she got up, drink in hand, William Bishop strolled through the door, dressed like pop punk's Cobain. The guy looked good himself. He was still exactly the same as he'd been in high school. She didn't keep up much with him or his band, just listened to their music well-hidden on a guilty pleasures playlist, along with every other song that would've made her younger self have an aneurysm. It was good stuff, she just wasn't quite ready to be caught dead listening to it yet.

"Freya; Billy, hey!" Jack raised her glass to his question. "We've already been on this shit, you guys should get in there. Meir and Hanna are sat with the time capsule. I'm gonna check up with Lucas and Sara." She nodded in the direction of the latter, moving away from the main crowd. It was just Ben to go, if she wasn't forgetting anybody. She hadn't seen him yet, but Ben could wear a pink feather boa and Jack still wouldn't be able to pick him out from a crowd. Then again, that wasn't saying much considering she was surprised she managed to remember everyone's faces.

Jack hopped up the stairs and walked towards the booth, taking a big gulp of her drink. There was an odd tightness in her chest, and she couldn't tell if it was the alcohol or the pang of guilt seeing Lucas Watson in the flesh. It's not like she stuck with anybody in Ritman, but shit seemed to hit him harder than it did anyone else. Others at least had their ways of coping or shaking themselves free of the gossip circle little by little. She quickly swallowed a lump in her throat before fully approaching, leaning casually against the seat back.

"Hey guys, what's up? Party's happening over there." She gestured vaguely over her shoulder. "I think this place would explode before Cal started doing table service, so." Jack glanced towards the bar. Cal was staring right at her, eyes bulging, while not-so-subtly jamming his head in the direction of the door behind the bar. As if on command, it swung open, revealing a blur of long black hair before Jack swivelled out of view. Of course Maya would be early for her shift today. Seeing no other option, she clambered for the nearest spare chair and brought it to the booth, sitting with her back to the bar and chair backwards as always, arms slung casually over the backrest. "Well I mean, there's no rush. Curfew for construction is 8pm so we got a couple hours of demolishing."

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Eleven
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Eleven things are strange

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FREYA BRIGHAM


act one: way down we go
p. johnson's
@Gisk @nodogs
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A familiar voice snapped her out of the guilt spiral that was beginning to pull at her, and Freya all but melted gratefully into the arm draped across her shoulder. She didn't need to look at him to know who it was—she could pick out his voice in a crowd. His songs have surprisingly become the background music of her work life.

"Hi there, Bills!" She smiled, gently knocking her head against his shoulder. "Been a while, huh?"

Her gaze followed his as he looked around, realizing that she also had yet to see who actually showed up. There was a trill in her heart as recognition and nostalgia flooded her, memories long buried coming upon her with a rush as she looked from one person to the next. Hanna, she spotted immediately, of course. Seeing her in PJ's reminded Freya how grateful she had been that they reconnected in New York—she had singlehandedly kept her ties to Delton intact.

Standing next to her in all his Magpie glory, was Connor with his unique brand of boyishness. He looked older, but seemed unchanged otherwise; he radiated the same affability he had throughout high school. Surely that could have only served him well all these years? She suddenly missed their night-time drives and wondered idly if he still did them now.

On the other side of Hanna was someone that took her longer to place, her memories of him conflicting with the person she saw now. He's changed a lot, she mused. Her gaze lingered for a moment, slowly piecing the puzzle together. It wasn't until she had gotten a proper look at his eyes that it hit her: Meir. A tiny burst of pride swelled in her chest. Freya didn't know him too well in high school, but in the handful of classes they shared, she knew him to be one of the smartest people at Ritman. It was great to see him flourishing now.

Jack approached them then, seeming eager to move away from the bar, and Freya greeted her with a fond smile. In terms of change, Connor and Meir stood on opposite ends of a spectrum, but Jack seemed to straddle the middle. The nonchalant Jack she knew in High School wouldn't have been the one initiating this get-together, yet somehow, she kept her effortlessly chill and laid-back vibes.

At the mention of Sara's name, her smile threatened to falter. She was quicker to recover this time though and turned to Billy with a smile. He'd asked about drinks and she was more than happy to oblige. "Seems like they got started without us!" Freya asked for his drink order and sauntered to the bar with a playful wink. "But don't worry, I'll catch us right up."

She only allowed herself the briefest sidelong glance at the booth as Jack pulled out a seat to join them. When had she become such a coward?

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by banjoanjo
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banjoanjo Still likes pistachios

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SARA ZHOU


act one: way down we go

p. johnson's
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Sara flashed him a smile. Friendly, empathetic even. Right out of the customer service handbook. “Seven years flies by in a blink, eh?”

She gave a slight wince as the familiar, high-pitched squeal of a popular girl rang through the bar. As Hanna practically flung herself onto Sangster, she tossed a glance at Lucas to gauge his reaction.

“Goes fast… but it’s plenty of time for people to mellow out, I’m sure.” A steadfast reassurance.

She turned back to the bar, an easy excitement rising as she spotted Meir at the bar. God, it seriously had been too long. He’d really grown into himself, becoming barely recognizable from the scrawny AP class companion she had. Not to Sara though. She’d know that curly hair and nervous posture anywhere. That particular deer-in-the-headlights expression was not as frequent, however. She had to rack her brain to recall what or who would trigger that one. It wasn’t a bully, was it? No, he wouldn’t be as clammy if it was. Maybe one of Hanna’s clique? Closer, but no dice.

No, it was a specific person. Darn, who was it again?

“Hey Freya! What’s going on?”

Ah.

Fuck.

It came from a voice she couldn’t place for the moment, but it told her everything she needed to hear. Sara’s jaw clenched and she quietly abandoned all plans to join Meir at the bar, instead opting to continue blending in at this booth. She couldn’t just leave Lucas alone, after all!

‘I thought I was ready for this,’ she sighed internally.

Her bereavement was quickly - efficiently - pushed aside as she watched Jack approach.

“Hey guys, what’s up? Party’s happening over there.”

“Just making sure a little lamb didn’t get too lost,” Sara smirked back. Past Jack, she caught yet another person looking bug-eyed, in their booth’s direction this time. Was Cal… holding in a sneeze?

“Uhhh…” Maybe she should just ignore that. She needed a proper distraction either way. “Yeah, ‘f course, no rush. Hey, I’ve got a keg out back I prepared just for today. You mind helping me carry it to my car?”

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by nodogs
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nodogs

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JACK WILKERSON


SARA ZHOU


act one: way down we go
p. johnson's
@banjoanjo & @nodogs
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Shit, a free keg? They could get the fuck out of there. Jack took a triumphant swig of her drink, placing it on the table and clasping her hands.

"What, heavy lifting at, like, 5pm?" She pretended to think it over, swallowing thickly as her mind thought of the alternative. "Yeah, sure. I actually love dragging beer kegs around, so. Do it all the time," she said in a faux bragging tone. It wasn't a lie; she was the go-to keg changer at the Bistro, but if she never had to touch a keg in her life it would be too soon. "You're not gonna poison us, right?" She smirked.

Sara raised an eyebrow at Jack's showboating but chuckled heartily. "That's up to you and your liver. But nah, we should be good. I had Cal babysit me on this batch since it was a special occasion and all."

She leaned over to double check his expression across the bar. "Speaking of, is he alright there?"

"Oh, my liver is solid-- huh?" Jack afforded a speedy glance at the bar, where Cal quickly began working on an order she assumed came from Freya, white as a sheet. Maya was a few paces down, too involved with some especially friendly patrons to magically detect Jack's gaze and blow her cover. "Uh, I dunno. Maybe Freya's giving him a hard time, huh?" She huffed air through her nostrils in a facsimile of a laugh.

Another chuckle, coarse this time. More like a choking noise.

"...Nah, that doesn't sound like her." Sara got out of the booth. "We should probably get in and out before it gets too busy. Uhh, Lucas, you can wait for the others at the bar if you want. We won't be taking that long."

She adjusted her coat and started walking, determined to maintain her gaze on the kitchen door and nowhere else in the bar. Jack followed after her, awkwardly nodding to Lucas as they left the booth. She tried to keep to the left of Sara, away from view, gaze pointed firmly at the ground.

"I, uh, picked a spot out... you remember that weird little field across from the performing arts building, behind the trees? They cut all the trees down, so there's a good view of the site now. D'you reckon you can get your car near there? I don't feel like throwing my back out twice today."

Sara nodded and held the kitchen door open for Jack. "Never knew how that area never got developed but hey, that sounds good. Should work."

A wry smirk as she headed to the store room. " 'f course, if it doesn't, you'll be paying for the towing."

"Only if you pay my medical bills. We'll call it even." Jack grinned, before pausing. "Well, minus whatever it costs to make beer. Which, you totally didn't need to, but uh, thanks." She tried putting it out as casually as possible, hands raised to accentuate her point, though a little sincerity tugged at the corners of her mouth. It had been a while since she and Sara even exchanged a passing glance down Main Street and yet here she was, brewing beer for some reunion Jack threw out on a whim. She couldn't tell if the pit in her stomach was the booze settling.

Sara caught the sudden awkwardness in the other girl and simply shrugged. She never really knew how to deal with all that 'favor owing' stuff. It just seemed like something that could be done, so why not do it herself?

"Special day," was her brusque reply. She couldn't help but glance back to the doors, the direction of where the group was sitting. "You happy with the turnout?"

"You kidding?" Jack snorted. "I'd be happy with the turnout if it was just me half-drunk on a field. Some of them in there must be making enough money to buy the whole town, and they're gonna be sat on the same field half-drunk with the rest of us losers."

"I'm getting the sense that I'll be the designated driver tonight."

"That's what my last three driving instructors said." She smirked like she was proud of it, and she was. "Let's get this thing outta here before everyone's leaving P.J's fully drunk."

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Salsa Verde
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Salsa Verde Chiropterologist

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MEIR MAGGID


act one: way down we go
p. johnson's
@Prisk@sweven7
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There was a slight comfort in having Hanna’s almost alluring presence there, she was just as lively with banter as always. If it weren’t for the fact he felt as though he was staring down a barrel of a loaded gun when Freya walked in he might have been able to impress his homecoming queen with his quick quips. She did in fact look good and made it look easy but she was just continuing her streak from High school plus a few extra zeros in her bank account with an endless array of sponsors to choose from in the form of skin care products. Of course this was all hypothetical and the assumption he was building up in his head of what her seemingly perfect life was made out to be. He chugged his first whiskey sour after fumbling around with his mouth looking for the tiny red cocktail straw. He probably looked like a horse grinding vegetation between his teeth, gums and all. Hopefully the spectacle Hanna was making with Connor was enough to sway away any searching eyes.

The effects of the alcohol slowly but surely started to take root in his body, it didn’t help that he hadn’t eaten before coming here and after having his second and onto his third it was more than enough to start making his lips loose. “Not nervous,” he said clearing his throat “I just didn’t realize who else was coming to this. I think I can fend off your old plastics, they’re probably tan bed burnt and through two marriages already. Buy me another drink and I just might have room to be your friend.”

The truth is he was nervous, the ichor only served as a temporary remedy to his infliction. He had no clue what he was nervous about, he hadn’t thought about her in ages. Well that was a lie, there were random spots in the reel of time, but they were fleeting and of meetings you could hardly call memories. Plus he was a new man now, new clothes, new body, new him. Almost as if he was the assemblage of every lay persons New Years resolution. And it worked. He had pranced around the idea of tinder until his students made one for him during a barren lecture hall. He went on a few dates, some where he was absolutely abysmal in terms of depth and others, well, that lasted one night. It was good for his confidence, but hollow in the end.

Meir did want to sit and catch up with Sara, he still felt the pangs of guilt that they mutually just vanished from each other’s lives. How he missed going over to her house to study or carpool and feeling welcomed into her family gatherings even though he was the only white boy there. A chuckle slipped out of his mouth from nostalgia. Yet, Freya was serving as an impasse to that. In his mind he gave himself a slight pep talk before he visibly shook his shoulders, “I can do this” he repeatedly mentally…then bishop arrived and made his way to the booth and even Jack left the capsule behind and went to the booth, et tu Jack he imagined her in roman garb after slapping him on the back, only missing a hidden stiletto.

Since the booth had already taken the ensemble of Ritman’s alumni, Meir decided to keep his feet planted at the bar. “Well I guess it’s just you two, me, and the capsule. What do you think is in here anyways? A broken acrylic nail from you Hanna and what? Your newspaper clippings and medals from literally every winter and summer sport you played Connor?” He didn’t know if that was him or the whiskey talking, he was about to find out.

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Prisk
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Prisk ₓ ₓ ₈ ₆

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HANNA WILLIAMSON


act one: way down we go
p. johnson's @Eleven@Salsa Verde
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Intense crow's feet formed at the corners of Hanna's eyes, as she tried to control herself from violently filling the space with deranged laughter, covering her mouth with both hands. The trail of careful analysis of her old friends by Meir was nothing but the highest comedic standards—tan bed burnt plastics who were through two marriages already. From what Hanna knew, besides the marriage part, the breakdown of the old squad was essentially true. Hanna gently put a hand on Meir's arm to balance herself, nearly falling off of the bar stool. It was not as much the comments he made by themselves, but what Hanna filled the gaps with in her head that was so outrageously funny, and quite pathetic at the same time. She chuckled at herself, too, for being part of that whole shtick back at Ritman. In her defense, it was a phase much like any other deprived endeavor that teenagers indulged in.

"Fuck yes, be my buddy, Meir." Hanna said while finally recovering from nearly choking herself to death from silent laughter. A quick whiff from her polished nails at the bartender, and they were all set on a new path. "Whatever my man her wants and one for me too, and anyone else that wants it—I've got money, I'm riiich Biaatch." Hanna chuckled while invoking the spirit of the Chappelle Show.

While paying for the festivities with a few card swipes, Hanna did take note of some old faces that had arrived, even if she was seemingly distracted. William was ever so fabulous in everything he did and everything he wore. Hanna still followed him on socials and geeked over some of his stuff every now and then. She gave him a sparkly smile and a tiny wave of her hand when he addressed everyone. And then, there was Sara—Oh, Sara. Hanna instantly remembered everything about that girl and what the 'plastics' did. The thought as to why Hanna herself had acted the way she did towards Sara briefly came to life. It was not a pretty thought, but it had since then been thoroughly solved. Hanna did not know what she wanted back then or what she was attracted to, which was a recipe for disaster for someone of her caliber.

The gathering at the bar grew in size. Hanna was delighted to see the new additions coming along, and she made sure to do a few extra swipes with her card to pay for any drinks they wanted. Hanna figured that she might as well keep the momentum going and really make this something she will remember. She broke her attention to the tiny card swiping contraption and focused on Billy and Freya. "Well, well, if it isn't my favorite mistress of all time," Hanna said and gave Freya a cheek kiss with a glistening smile. "We're having seconds—or thirds, I don't know—all around, so dig in here, get whatever you guys want, on me." She indicated to both of them.

The fact that Sara and Jack slipped out of view for a moment completely escaped Hanna's simple mind. She was too busy with the people around the bar and what Paul had told her to do—snap a few grams and do some silly dances for TikTok. All that would eventually come along, but a nice selfie with some familiar faces in the background was good enough for now. Hanna raised her phone a few notches above her head, just enough to include the old classmates. As she concluded the intense snapping spree of selfies, Meir commented on the capsule. "I probably put something mean about Jen and Maddie in there. You know, the 'plastics'. That would be fucking hilarious."

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Gisk
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Gisk

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WILLIAM BISHOP


act one: way down we go
p. johnson's
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"Nah," he said to Freya, "I'll come with you."

They walked to the bar together, and Billy had just pulled out his card to give to the bartender when Hanna spoke to him and Freya, "Well, well, if it isn't my favorite mistress of all time. We're having seconds—or thirds, I don't know—all around, so dig in here, get whatever you guys want, on me."

"Hey!" Billy chided in mock anger, holding his card up, "That's my drunken bar move!" He favored her with a wink to assure her it was in jest, and ordered a white Russian, with an extra espresso shot. On reflection, he also asked for a shot of tequila, which he downed professionally when it arrived.

He posed with her for her photo snapping spree, and asked her to tag him. It would honestly give them both a boost in social media visibility. Then the topic turned to the time capsule.

"I genuinely can't remember," he spoke in an unusual undertone, "But I might have put a bong in there."

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