Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Salsa Verde
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Salsa Verde Nomad

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And so it begins...

Ten 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 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Salsa Verde
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Salsa Verde Nomad

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MEIR MAGGID


act one: way down we go
p. johnson's Ritman High, Football Field
Interacting with @Prisk@Gisk
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It was almost an episode right out of Cheers inside of PJs except for being the millennial edition in a seedy dive bar with a bunch of introverts and Natalie Miller. It was almost too much of a coincidence, one, that these many people decided to show up and two, specifically these individuals from Ritman High. Either way, the strands of fate would keep pulling while Meir kept chugging, those whiskey sours at least. There was a weird almost infallible connection he was gaining with Natalie at the bar, but then again that could have been the alcohol creating things that weren’t there. Had she always been this nice?

The party at the bar began to sputter and die a bit, perhaps the melancholy of it all began to bleed into the rest of the conversations. Despite it all, there was a nagging sensation in the back of his brain pushing him to take initiative of the situation. Normally he would rely on, well literally anyone, specifically Jack since this was her show to run. Drama in the bar with a patron seemed to be getting the best of her and he was the next, maybe the next next best thing. He rallied for everyone in the bar who was willing to move the party to its appropriate course, the football field, to follow him. Not many followed really, just Natalie and William. Sara and Jack had whispered mutterings of carrying a keg with them, a sight to surely inspire some type of Greek tragedy or renaissance painting.

There was still the matter of the late attendees. He suspected those of who came and got cold feet would remain holed up in PJs until they woke up tomorrow, hungover, and ready to keep the memory shut in the yearbook somewhere in their basement or attic. Facebook opened on his android; he was part of the pretentious crowd that preferred them over iPhones. A few more check-ins came in from names he should have suspected. ”Man, it’s really just turning into Bullied Anonymous--hic” a burp interrupting his jeer. His thumb slapped on the screen in what felt like an endless stream of scrolling until he reached the end. The chat bubble opened once more, both hands manning the ship now.

”Parties moving from PJs to the Ritman football field, be there or we’re opening the capsule without you. -Meir”

He wasn’t sure why he signed his own name when his name was already attached. Habit he had from submitting thousands of emails to faculty, student, and staff. He turned to Natalie, “You think it’s going to be locked?” Meir checked his watch seeing a time well beyond what’s permitted of visiting hours, “Hey, why haven’t you been drinking as much as me? Not up to your parents’ cabinet?” he chortled. The front of Ritman had a massive fence that had been locked shut. Signs a plenty signifying it’s end and a date that cemented the date of its destruction. Of course, there were a few ‘no trespassing’ signs, but that was only a formal suggestion. Instead, Meir headed around to the neighboring side street where house lined both sides of the streets.

Since it was a residential road there was another entrance to the school, for those able enough to walk instead of taking a bus. Meir, of course, always sat next to the front so the bus driver could ensure he wasn’t being bullied in the back of the bus. The fence was closed to cars, but a gap in the fence for walkers was still visible. An energy that could only be described as nostalgic teenage angst rose up in Meir. He signaled for Natalie and William to follow before he raced off through the gap and into the ancient turnstile gate that was rusting heavily, causing the turnstile to need an extra push to get through.

It was a few feet of walking before he saw it. The view of the untarnished turf field with a giant Magpie in the middle of the field as their mascot. The lights beamed down on the field and track surrounding, even the bleachers were glistening in the night’s sky. A biome that thrived in the otherwise forgettable and condemned background. Meir took his phone out once more, only slightly out of breath.

”Front entrance is locked, go through the side leading up”

The phone chimed, before he realized the most important thing.

“Oh shit, I forgot the capsule.”

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by The Man Emperor
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The Man Emperor Your Mom

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Trystan Salazar


act one: way down we go
Ritman High, Football Field
Interacting with @Salsa Verde
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Trystan wasn’t that much of a fan of alcoholic drinks, especially when he remembered that one time one of his co-workers had a drunk confession at the bar. He had come along with the rest of them just to make sure no one wondered why he wasn’t around, and then suddenly that other lady editor started babbling about how much she liked their boss. Of course, who wouldn’t like the boss? He wasn’t that stereotypical manager that always felt the need to scream and rage. He was nice…

Trystan shivered. The night felt a bit cold, and he had forgotten to use a thicker jacket. Instead, he had a black sweater, paired with a grey scarf around his neck and halfway up his chin. The thin trench coat reached all the way to his ankles, almost giving Trystan the appearance of a protagonist in the Matrix movies, that is, if only he also had shades.

Either way, Trystan had come here, to join in the reunion and to revisit a piece of memorabilia in a buried time capsule along with the few others that had bothered to attend. For his part, he remembered that he placed a letter in a bottle, filled with lots of appreciative thoughts that would have seemed out of character for someone that seemed so petty and stubborn, especially back at high school. It wasn’t like he was well known for being too friendly.

He pulled out his Android phone, reminding himself that this was a better choice because Apples willfully slows down older iPhones with each successive software update while making them more and more expensive with less and less features. Putting on his reading glassses, he looked at the group chat that Jack made for the event, nodding at the messages that was reading just now.

“Oh, the old field?” Trystan said to himself, aloud, seeing what Meir had just sent. The fact that he had added his own name at the end of the message was funny to see, but at the same time, none of them really had a right to judge the formerly bully target. He was a professor in MIT, one of the most prestigious universities around. It really wasn’t a surprise that the oppressed one would become their best and brightest. Oh, if only he got as high as that level, then maybe Father would actually be proud. Instead he found success in his own way, much to the displeasure of his dad. He wanted him to become a lawyer, but Trystan didn’t want it.

In the end, he got the fourth kind of profession someone in his family could get after doctor, lawyer, and engineer: the disgrace. Not that he cares; he has good money anyway.

As he walked closer, Trystan sent a GIF message in reply to Meir’s latest message, which told them that the front door was locked.

And so he took the side entrance, which he somewhat remembered from his last visit here two five years ago, which was when he came to Delton to show his former bullies how petty he was.

Soon enough, he was there, in the field where they were supposed to meet. Any time now…

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 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 Ritman High Football field
@Salsa Verde@The Man Emperor@Prisk
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Despite a shot of tequila and a hastily finished white Russian back at the bar, Billy was quite steady as they walked around the perimeter fence to find their way in. In classic style, he was chattering away inanelt.

"So what's even going on with you, Mier? Nat I atbleast follow on insta, but I barely even recognized you! I mean, glow up, no offense. Not that you weren't always the cute nerd, but you look damn good now! Rusty piece of shit..." This last was to the disused turnstile, as he kicked his way through it.

Now that they were on the inside of the campus, he pulled a silver cigarette case from a pocket and flipped it open. He briefly considered lighting up one of the joints he had brought special for this occasion, but he decided to wait for more Ritman Survivors to show. Instead he selected a cigarette, and gestured to the other two with the case, silently offering.

As he took his first drag, he saw another figure approaching. It took him a long minute to recognize Trystan, who he wasn't particularly familiar with in the first place.

Great, here comes revenge of the nerds... No, Billy shook himself mentally, We've all changed, you were just saying so. Give the guy a break.

"Hey, if you're after Agent Smith I think I saw him go that way!" he laughed good naturedly, gesturing with his free hand off in the distance. "How's it been, man?"

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Prisk
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Prisk ???

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NATALIE MILLER


act one: way down we go
p. johnson's Ritman High [Football Field]
Interacting with @Salsa Verde
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The way it started was a conversation with Natalie's manager. He had said that the Ritman High reunion would be a good image for her brand. The instructions were to snap a few grams and do some silly dances with old classmates for TikTok. It would show that Natalie valued those times that everyone has such bizarre nostalgia for even if they hated it. He was also adamant that it would repair much of the old hatred and bitter endings between Natalie and her so-called victims.

The time leading up to the event flew away faster than she could realize. Natalie had managed to speak to her parents about the spectacle, though. They were elated to have her home again for a couple of nights. However, the offer came with the stern stipulation that Natalie was to be ‘friendly’, as they put it. There was nothing she could do but agree. Natalie simply had to show that things were different now, to some degree. She wondered if anyone would even notice it, let alone give her a chance to make it noticeable.

The flight from New York City to Portland had been uneventful. The old city was as it had always been. Natalie had been there on more than one occasion, just as every other kid from the Delton area who wanted to party or simply hang out. The first bump in the road came with the car rental guy. Natalie had no idea what the fuck he was on about when it came to insurance, so she had to call her manager. It turned out that there was no misunderstanding or problem—Nat was just plain old stupid, a dumb bitch with no life experience. When she managed to get everything in order, the drive to Delton had been just as uneventful as the flight. She was not used to that 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 had been her parents' house. Seeing as Natalie was an only child, it was a big deal when she came around these days. Her dad, Charles Miller, had taken a chivalrous role by unpacking the car and carrying all of his daughter's luggage upstairs. Her mom, Hillary Miller, had been the target of all gossip and catching up in regard to NYC and Natalie's work. The rest of the time between arrival and P. Johnson's had been spent in Natalie's old room, going through nostalgic things and pictures. Natalie did not deny who and what she was back then, but at least she has the capacity to be someone else.

The initial spur at P. Johnson's had been a bit of a roller coaster ride, emotionally. Natalie had managed to get a somewhat clean, uncomplicated road set up with Meir after some banter and offering of drinks. She instantly recognized him when barging inside the establishment, which was surprising to her. Meir had been the 'hit list' of Natalie's buddies back then, at Ritman. Natalie did not quite do much to him herself, but neither did she stop any faulty play that was unmistakably visible to her. Hopefully, she would be able to make it up to him, and anyone else that showed up and would show up soon.

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"Does it matter if it's locked, though?" Natalie said and took another sip of her drink. "We didn't come all this way to be fucked over by some fence." She chuckled at the thought—ridiculous. Natalie was rather startled by Meir's next commentary, but not in a negative connotation. It was rather exciting to see an otherwise awkward recluse loosen up a bit. "I spent a lifetime partying already, Meir. And you're just weak in the knees. You BARELY had anything to drink." She sighed with a smirk on her lips and swept the last bits of sparkling alcohol before getting ready to move on.

The way to the football field and its surrounding areas was not without a good splash of nostalgia and mixed feelings. Plenty of spots dotted around the school complex, the field itself, and surrounding nature had over the years been dedicated to all sorts of mischief and no goodery—not to mention all the times that after hours drinking on Fridays had ended up in this place for whatever reason. Natalie certainly felt that she had not partaken in the fence acrobatics for some time, going through that hole. A few strands of her hair got stuck, as per usual, but muscle memory never failed and it was a quick fix to free herself. And, then, there it was, that ugly ass bird in the middle of the field. "Man, that thing is as horrid as I remember." Natalie sighed, although listening to Billy's soothing chatter. Meir had, indeed, become a new man.

Her phone kept buzzing. "Stop spamming the chat, Meir, fuck." She said and blurted out a bunch of random letters and numbers as answer to his text in the group chat. A playful smirk almost crept onto her lips. Banter aside, Billy looked like a movie star from the 60s with that cigarette case, that awfully appealing noir aesthetic, enough to make a gal swoon. With that image in mind, Natalie's train of thought was derailed by Trystan Salazar's entrance. She did not quite recognize him at first, but the closer the man came the more apparent it became that Natalie had some apologizing to do at some point. The guy had certainly received the sharp edge of the stick back then, the whole gang being unnecessarily hostile, Nat included. She felt slightly embarrassed, not sure of what to say. She stuck to a simple yet friendly but relaxed wave of the hand as a greeting.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Benzaiten
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Benzaiten

Member Seen 24 days ago

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MELANIE CAVILL


act one: way down we go
Cavill Farm Ritman High [Football Field]
Interacting with @Prisk, @Gisk, @The Man Emperor, @Salsa Verde
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Melanie's hands were deep in the guts of her father's old truck that had broken down more often than not these past few years. Her fingers reached for a pair of slip joined plieres she had placed close by as she bent down to reach into the engine. Half the day had passed since Melanie started fixing things on the farm today. Her father was very capable of doing most of these jobs but he had grown older and his hands had started to shake and hurt more frequently. Melanie worried about what would become of the farm if her parents couldn't keep up with it anymore. During the three days she had been here already she had fixed up the chicken pen, mowned the lawn, groomed the horses every day, redone some of the wooden fencing around the paddock, took a look at the old tractor and fixed it up, repaired some shelves in the barn, and took care of walking the two family dogs. Though her parents were capable of doing all these things, the work on the farm was too much and things got left undone. Of course, they had hired help but even so the days were short and their energy grew thinner.

Mel pulled herself up and out from under the hood of the truck with a heavy sigh. She blew some hair out of her face and wiped over her cheek with the back of her hand for good measure, smearing some black residue onto her skin in the process. As her eyes fixated on the engine, her mind began calculating problem and solution possibilities and their costs when ... vvhhhrrt. Her head spun around to the brightly lit screen of her vibrating smartphone she had tossed aside onto the grass. The screen read 34 new messages. "Oh shit." Mel teared the gloves off her hands and tossed them to the ground before swiftly bending down and picking the phone up. A quick glance at the time assured her she was late for the reunion.

She pocketed the phone and closed the truck's hood. With hurried steps she made her way up to the house while trying to clean her hands with a ragged old dishcloth. With her elbow she open the back door of the house and walked straight through to the front where the kitchen was. She threw the dirty dishcloth onto the kitchen counter and began to rinse her hands under the running water at the sink. From the adjacent dining room, which had no wall separating it from the kitchen, her parents sat in their respective seats working on whatever crossword puzzle they had found in the papers this time. Her mother looked up. "Don't tell me you're not going." "Did you fix it?", her father interjected.

Inspecting her hands, Mel found that she had gotten them clean of the little dirt the gloves had put on them while working on the truck. Grateful that she didn't need to worry about appearance, she turned to her parents once she stopped the running water. "I will have to disassemble the engine and then evaluate the condition of the internal components to identify the source of the problem. And then maybe I could fix it. Or..." She stepped around the table and placed a kiss on her father's cheek. "You could ask a mechanic. You know, since I am an engineer, Dad. I am not a mechanic."
"16-year-old Mel would have scoffed at me had I ever dared insinuate a mechanic could fix my old truck rather than she could." He gave her a playfully stern look. Melanie smiled at him. "Oh no, not with the shoes again, Melanie", her mother said as she realized the dirt the girl had pulled in.
"And I would still scoff at you, if I had the time to fix it. I think it's time to bring the old chump to a mechanic and trade it in. It's past its years. I could possibly fix it up but the cost might not be worth it and I won't be around to keep tabs on it." "Isn't that just the challenge you like?", he teased her. "Hm", she smiled. "I am not around that much anymore, Dad. If you won't fix it up the way it needs, I don't think it's worth the energy." Her father scoffed at her just like Melanie had done when she was a teenager.
"Please tell me you're still going, Melanie", her mother brought the topic back up. Melanie rounded the table to plant a kiss on her mother's cheek. "I am leaving right now." "Good. Maybe you can reunite with some of your old friends. Or make new ones." "I have friends, Mom." "That one girl in Australia?" "Yes, in fact."
"Good luck, Engineer!", her father proclaimed. "Now go, you're late." "I love you", she said as she grabbed her jacket from the hallway. "Don't stay up, I mean it." "Oh Mel, your face!", her mother called out but Melanie didn't hear it. She walked out of the front door and into the cold air to make her way to her truck. Once sat inside, she started the engine and took a look at those missed messages. She had silenced the group chat almost immediately after joining it. The constant pinging and vibrating of her phone had driven her insane. The notification that had alerted her to those other missed texts was actually a rather unimportant one. Just an e-mail reminding her of some online event for a game she recently checked out. She would unsubscribe from that later.

Melanie put her phone away again and started to drive her old truck down the street. Luckily it was but a fifteen-minute drive from her parents' home to her old high school. After an uneventful ride, Mel parked her truck, jumped out, and locked the door before she began to round the building. The text messages in that overwhelming group chat had told her to slip through the fence as the school grounds were locked. What evn am I doing here? Once more she wondered why she had let her parents talk her into going. But she was already here, so she found the hole in the fence and slipped through it. The text messages had further indicated that Melanie would have to meet some people she wasn't sure she was ready to see again. How would it be to see Meir again? And Sara? She wondered if they had kept in touch with each other, they seemed so close back then. And of course, Dante would be there. She only hoped seeing her former best friend again would feel like so many people online described it - you pick up right where you left off. Though she much rather expected it to be awkward instead. Melanie was never one who easily navigated emotions, especially those of others.

As Mel made her way over to the football field, she could start making out some silhouettes. With a deep breath, she let her mind wander to the nervous spot in her chest for one moment only. The person she was most anxious about seeing again was Natalie Miller. She wasn't even sure why. Perhaps because Natalie's actions had always confused her the most and she was unsure what to make of them, still to this day. Or maybe because she was scared Natalie would look at her with barely any recognition, having almost forgotten about the interactions they had shared. Does it matter? You won't see them again, just like you didn't see them again after high school.

As she finally got close enough to be in earshot, Mel put on a soft smile. She could make out the unmistakable form of Natalie, the only person Mel had seen as a grown-up. Well, seen on social media. But she also easily recognized Meir. He had definitely changed but it was unmistakably Meir. He had grown a beard, lost some weight, and seemed all in all in good health and spirit to Melanie's eye. Good for him. As she closed the last gap to join the group, Mel gave Meir a hearty smile before addressing the group. "Hi. Am I a little late? Or a little early?", she asked, wholeheartedly unaware of the spot of grease smeared across her cheek from earlier. Melanie let her eyes wander to see if she could spot anyone else further away from the group but it seemed they were the only five people here so far. Or she had totally missed a change of plans and was entirely too late.

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by udonoodles
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udonoodles the adults are talking

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MARCO VALENSI


act one: way down we go;
marco - "storm warning"
valensi household ritman high [football field]
Interacting with @Prisk,@Gisk, the gang
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With a hearty sigh, Marco looped his leg around the stool and pulled it beneath him. MS tended to wake him earlier than planned, and this morning was no exception. The last dregs of twilight before dawn slithered through the gap in his thin blue curtains, shining down on his bed behind him. No sense in trying to go back to bed—not like he'd get much sleep, anyways. He just had to find something else to occupy his time.
Marco reached for his keyboard's music stand, taking the headphones dangling from its corner and pulling them over his head. He went next for the volume knob, praying he didn't erupt into tremors as he deftly adjusted it back and forth. He locked his fingers together and bent them back, stretching his palms outward. He felt the burning in his finger muscles as he worked them, pulling them back as far as they'd go without any further pain. He slipped his hands apart and let them fall to the ivories, fingers parting to spread out from middle C. His eyes drifted up from his hands and towards the sheet music laid out in front of him.
At least one song a day. That's what he'd sworn when the tremors started—he couldn't let his coordination atrophy any further. He had to beat it back.
He sighed again, a deep inhale, and an exhale, and his fingers set to work.

His left hand kept time with a steady bass track, while his right danced up and down the scale. That scale was one originally meant for cello, but with a deft enough hand, a pianist could manage by themselves just fine. Marco's hands moved neatly, skillfully, as his eyes scanned along the sheet music he had set out. He stared straight ahead at the notes, eyes following in time with his movements so that each beat was perfectly on time. The metronome ticked away in his head, his focus on that imaginary rhythm and the movement of the notes on the page drowning out the thoughts burrowing into his subconscious.
The back of his mind was a war ground of emotion and rumination: His thoughts could go nowhere else but to the meeting today. The reunion, as he returned from New Orleans to the home of the worst years of his life. To his grandparents, who'd taken him in without knowing the burden his undiscovered condition would soon bring. The peers, whom he'd shut out so callously, and who'd most certainly forgotten the name Marco Valensi. And the school, the terrible catch-22; should he attend, and suffer through his lessons, or stay at home and stew in the misery of incapability?

His thoughts whirred louder than a jet engine in his ears, but Marco didn't flinch. His fingers danced along the ivory keys without missing one single note, hitting each mark with unrelenting precision. As the music slowed and picked up again, he effortlessly followed its pace. His mind screamed out to him, demanding his attention, and he indeed noticed it. But he paid it no heed, staring straight on ahead, stony faced, eyes wide and focused on their task. His hands never faltered, never hesitated, never tired. They brought themselves down onto the last keys with the same righteous passion that he'd kicked off the song with. Not once did his playing sound heartless, or lacking in joy and feeling. Every single note he played was given the same attention as the rest. Even as his thoughts spiraled into darkness, Marco saw ahead of him the black and white keys, and played on.
Those last few notes rang out in his ears, and he leaned back, finally quietened.

His stomach rumbled. His grandparents would be up soon. He wanted coffee. He got up, taking of his headphones and standing up from his stool. He pushed it under the piano, turned, left the room, and his phone buzzed.

✱ ✱ ✱ ✱ ✱

Marco had missed the opening party. Of course he had; why wouldn’t he? He’d come to lay his past to rest, not stew in the misery of it. Conversations there would inevitably lead to that—the others testing the waters for what they can discuss of Ritman before someone gets wistful, or morose, or god forbid, nostalgic. The topics of discussion hopefully, by now, will have matured beyond that, his peers becoming acutely aware that dwelling on the past would only make them feel shit. Or shittier. He wasn’t a psychic. For all he knew they felt the exact same he did.
Which was shit.

At least, it wasn’t physically shit: He could walk today, which was a marked improvement from a week ago. Still, his stride towards the old field was supported by a cane—more so out of pragmatism than necessity. He didn’t want to have to lean on someone in case his legs tired too quickly. For that same reason, he’d taken a taxi: Driving was risky, and he avoided it whenever possible. On the journey over, he’d avoided looking out the window, and even now he stared straight ahead at the school. He didn’t want to reminisce on the town. He didn’t particularly want to reminisce on his past in general. He’d come here to lay it to rest, put it down. He’d attend school for the last time, when he couldn’t before, and see it off. And then he could finally move on, and forget what had happened to him here.
Marco’s eyes narrowed as he spotted the figures gathering. His stomach turned and he grimaced, anxiety rumbling through him. It didn’t stop him from walking on—so long as his legs still worked, he’d still moved. But good lord, if he wasn’t dreading this. It would be fine once he got it over with, but re-introductions were always…what had he said earlier?
Right. Shit.

Marco stepped up towards the group, leaning on his cane. His mouth opened, and hung there for a while, silent. In those few instants, his eyes darted between each member. Most he could remember, but good grief, a lot could change in seven years, couldn’t it? Still, he could recognise two.
“A—Uh, Nat,” he nodded. She still followed him on Instagram—one of few he’d still maintained some level of contact with. “Billy,” he turned his head, his stiff smile warming. He couldn’t forget Billy, right?
“Everyone,” he nodded to the group as a whole. Then, he stopped, paused, as if waiting for something to fall out of the sky so they could talk about that instead. But it didn’t come, and he was forced to make do.
“It’s, uh, Valensi, by the way. Is this everyone? I’m freezing my balls off here.”
Rather unwisely, he’d decided to attend in a tank shirt and jeans.
His glance wandered across the field and towards the mascot, staring up at him with those baleful eyes. He grimaced. “Jesus, that’s still there?”

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Rockette
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Rockette && 𝚊 𝚕 𝚙 𝚑 𝚊

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samuel sabiston.


act one: way down we go
Ritman High, Football Field.
Interacting with everyone.
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Samuel sits in the back of a cab, one street down, idling at a stop sign when the driver, again, glares at him through the rear view mirror. Bloodshot eyes scan over every visible tattoo: from his branded throat and penned fingers laced over his mouth whilst he gazed through the smoke-fogged window and ignored the vibrating presence of his cell balanced on his knee. Idle chit-chat had been exchanged for uneasy silence, a brooding after thought that plagued Samuel that this was mistake, a trap, his paranoia crested high from the earlier flight to the hailing of the taxi service and putting himself up in a hotel for a couple days. His father offered the guest bedroom earlier in the week, but Sam had declined on whispered refusals - his new wife, step-mother he thinks, didn't much enjoy his looming figure, much to his expectation. Which was fine, he told himself and his father, he'd see them over the holidays and they could catch a beer or two tomorrow, right pops?

"Right here is fine, actually" Samuel announces suddenly, leaning forward and fishing his wallet from his pocket and fingers a few bills, "How much...?"

"Thirty even." Comes a clipped reply, suspicion evident there, who was this heavily tattooed man in their town, prowling after hours no less.

"Here's forty, keep the change." He pays the fare, no hesitation as he procures a smoke and cups his hand around the flame he flicks to life from his Bic. One shuddering pull and an exhale later, Samuel walks the rest of the way to Ritman through a haze of smoke. He avoided going to the opening affair to this stroll down memory trauma lane, for he was not a confident man when it came to hashing over history with nothing but glass tumblers and amber liquids separating then from the now. Samuel procured his earbuds on reflex, their wireless function immediately resuming his every evolving playlist to accompany his short-ranged vigil. Nostalgia perfumed the air, taking form in wisps of white and muttered lyrics that formed a symphony for the melancholic mortals that stalked this night in memoriam. Booted feet fell in tandem to a personal beat, following a path not taken in so long, easily strung upon reflexes as he had walked this path through both reality and dreams.

A gap in the fence, a gateway to the inferno, he poetically mused, the rusting gate flaking beneath inked gestures that shook. The figures came first, haloed by light and framed in shadow, and Samuel carefully removed his earbuds as the voices came to then, pinging upon remembrance of snide remarks and comments, to the pitying glances and whispered rumors that saw to Samuel's harrowing graduation. Would they even recognize him, donned and embellished as he was, hair dyed and the weight shredded through vices and determination: his person a phoenix that was risen from the ashes of his incinerated childhood. There was no going back as Samuel crossed onto the field, hands tucked away in his back pockets after he rucked his sleeves up to his elbows. Printed black on black, the logo of Black Arrow embellished across his chest and down the back with his own design advertised. There was no precursor to the words that followed his debut, but he did straighten his posture at least, spine suddenly rigid as many introduced and reminisced.

"Hey, Billy- uh." A deep timbre coiled, his grin turned suddenly sheepish. "Marco.. Everyone. Here to open the capsule, yeah.." He glanced down, first at his boots and then to mascot still embossed there, as if searching for a distraction before he rocked back onto his heels. "It's Sabiston, by the by. Samuel."

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Aeolian
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Aeolian Proud Fujoshi

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OLLIE OKONEDO


act one: way down we go
Okonedo Residence Ritman High [Football Field]
Interacting with @Benzaiten@udonoodles@Gisk, everyone present
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O K O N E D O R E S I D E N C E


That gossamer heart of his was beating quickly as he looked at the group messages on his mobile and frowned to himself. Oleander was running late for the reunion at the Ritman and by the current time, he'd probably already missed the pre-game session at PJs dive bar too. In truth, he had only arrived back in Delton an hour prior, just as the last hints of daylight withdrew from the rising moon. Delton was a small town, a bit ways from any major city and devoid of too much lamplight, filling the quaint town with the faint sparkles of stardust. You couldn't get this kind of night view in Portland.

When Oleander arrived at his childhood home by taxi, he opened the front door with his spare key and entered slowly, lugging his single luggage bag behind him. The flight from D.C. left him feeling mildly fatigued, but he wiped at his eyes wearily and looked around the house for any signs of family, relieved to at least have made it there safely. It was gratitude for the little things that carried him. He called out once, noticing that only a few lights through the house were on. No response. Oleander smiled at the sight of the family dog and cat (Rocco and Poppy) nestled together asleep on the sofa; heavy sleepers they were. He called out louder this time, at last receiving a reply from his older sister, Samara.

"Oleander?!" she yelled from down in the basement. "Yeah!" he replied in jest. "Down in the basement. Hurry up and look at this!" His sister's voice trailed off, muffled by laughter that echoed up as he opened the basement door and peered down into the cellar. It smelled like old paint and wood, same as always.

When he rounded the corner, he saw Samara and his younger teenage brother, Enoch, rifling through an old photo album they pulled out of the nearby 50s era console. Oleander waved at them when they looked up and before they could protest, he threw his body on them so he was laying across their laps like a wood plank. Enoch made a grunting noise, "Too heavy..." and Samara tried to nudge him to the floor, but he wouldn't budge. "I see you made it in one piece––with a few extra pounds in tow."

Oleander huffed at her, "Lies."

"How was your flight?"

Oleander, still laying across his siblings, shrugged, "It was okay I guess. Where's ma and pa?"

Enoch sneezed and then pushed his glasses back up his nose, "On vacation in Nigeria visiting our African brethren, or, something like that." Oleander's face went a bit sour, like he'd been slighted somehow. "They didn't tell me about that. What the hell..." Samara pulled her arms from under Oleander's body and laid them across his back, "Well, it was a last minute thing." she explained, "Ma was feeling really homesick, so they just up and left." Samara stared at him for a moment, reading his expression, "Oh, so we not good enough?"

Oleander sighed, disappointment seared into his countenance "I talk to you guys all the time. Besides, its not the same. Anyways..."

Samara gave him a slanted look, "Mmhmm..."

"What was it that you wanted to show me?" Enoch sneezed again, causing Oleander to stir in shock. Samara pulled his ear, "You're laying on it dipshit."

"Oh." Oleander sat up and then squished himself between Samara and Enoch. The latter plopped an old photobook on his lap, and then pointed to an image of their parents in some kind of mid 80s getup. Oleander let out a laugh, "Oh, that is funny." Enoched joined in on the laughter, "Right? I wouldn't be caught dead wearing that!"

Oleander cocked his head a bit, looking at the picture from another angle, smiling, "I don't know. I think it's totally lunarious." Enoch furrowed his brows, "Lunarious? That's not a thing. Nobody says that." "I do, clearly." They bantered for a bit while Samara looked at her phone. Eventually, she stood up and softly kicked his leg with her foot, "Aren't you gonna be late for your thing?"

"Right! Thanks sis!" Oleander exclaimed, making for the basement stairs when Samara grabbed his wrist, a look of concern present. "Wait."

"Hmm?" he murmured, confused. "You gonna be okay?" she asked. Oleander paused for a moment, trying to glean what she could of meant. He nodded, "Ugh, yeah. I think so. Why do you ask?" A weird silence lingered between them, as though Samara had something she desperately wanted to say, but held her tongue, possibly for his sake. She cleared her throat, looking slightly guilty, though Oleander didn't catch on, "Err...no reason. Just thought it might be awkward, or whatever. You haven't seen that gu...I mean...those people in a while. And I know how much that school meant to you."

Oleander's gaze softened as he let out a chuckle, pulling his sister in for a warm embrace. "I'll be fine. But I appreciate your concern, Samara. It'll be like any other high school reunion; laughter, maybe a few tears, moonlight reminiscing, the usual stuff. Nothing weird." Oleander let go of his sister, giving her one last parting smile as he made his way up the stairs. When he reached the top, he turned back to see Samara watching him, the concern lingering still. He crossed his fingers and winked, "Well, fingers crossed."

R I T M A N H I G H F O O T B A L L F I E L D


Oleander steeled himself for the rendezvous. He hadn't seen these people in ages, and the idea of meeting them after so much time had left him feeling equal parts anxious and jovial. While he was excited to see some people more than others, he didn't hold any ill will towards anyone and would put his best foot forward to maintain the image he had always presented on the surface; kind, sociable, and cheerful. The undesirables were to be tucked away, but he was never quite good at that in full.

Commandeering his sister's car, he made his way to the high school, popping a grape into his mouth; stolen from his parent's fridge. At the red light, he sent a text to the group chat.

𝚂𝚘 𝚜𝚘𝚛𝚛𝚢 𝙸'𝚖 𝚛𝚞𝚗𝚗𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚕𝚊𝚝𝚎! 𝙸'𝚖 𝚓𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝚊𝚛𝚘𝚞𝚗𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚌𝚘𝚛𝚗𝚎𝚛. 𝙳𝚘𝚗'𝚝 𝚑𝚊𝚝𝚎 𝚖𝚎. 🐶


When he arrived at Ritman, he took a deep breath, taking in the scene. It didn't seem all that spectacular. Just some run-down school destined for decimation. Most people wouldn't have bat an eye. But Oleander took in how the fence was all rusty and he saw the weathered brick, and the school flag, dancing upon the brisk wind. He pulled his coat tighter against his slim frame, and patted the scarf that warmed his neck. He became a bit bleary-eyed, though perhaps it was just the cold air, he surmised.

As he rounded the corner of the school, he paused. He saw everyone standing in the field and his mouth dropped in awe. Oleander really did not expect to see these people again at all. The shock of the moment filled his body with a familiarity. Even if he wasn't super close with everyone, just the mere fact that he was here again was surreal, something ephemeral he told himself to cherish while it lasted. As Oleander moved closer, the field light illuminating him, he put up two peace signs and waved them back and forth near his face in a cute sort of way, "Hiiii..." he said warmly to everyone, "I cannot believe we're meeting again after all this time. This is soooooo weird." Oleander laughed shyly, putting his hands against his cheeks.

"Okay, I need hugs. I need hugs."

He walked around to everyone, giving them a hug if they allowed, otherwise, just dapping them or shaking their hand, or whatever they were comfortable with. Melanie got an extra strength hug though. She was someone he was always fond of, despite them not getting super close. Oleander stared at her face for a moment, tilting his head curiously, and then chuckled, wiping at her cheek with the sleeve of his jacket, "You had a smudge on your cheek", Oleander explained, smiling tenderly.

Samuel stood out to him in particular, having slimmed down so much and covered in tattoos, he was almost unrecognizable. The thoughts of the past flooded him and he wished he had done more to befriend Samuel instead of listening to his mother. Trystan grew his hair out, which actually looked nice, Oleander thought. Natalie and Meir looked about the same, just more matured. When he got around to Marco, Oleander paused, taking in the visuals. Marco was still as handsome as ever, moreso now as his grew into his sharp features. But the cane threw him off. It wasn't often that Oleander saw someone so young with a walking stick, so he couldn't help but show a little sadness in his eyes. He laid his hand on Marco's arm, rubbing it softly, "I hope you've been well, Marco." There was a tingle that rippled through him, one very reminiscent of his days at Ritman.

When Oleander finally got to Billy, he tried to hold his composure, "Billy!" he exclaimed cheerfully, wrapping his arms around his old bestfriend's neck and giving him the warmest hug of them all. They were always really affectionate and sweet with each other during high school, so this hug felt particularly comfy, cozy, and familiar. Not to mention, they had shared a certain spark, even if neither of them were brave enough to confess it to each other back then.

"It's so nice to see you again. I kid you not, I was just thinking about you the other day."

When he leaned back from the hug, there were tears trickling down his cheeks; they almost twinkled like tiny little crystals. Oleander quickly wiped at them, embarrassed, "Oh noooo..." he started, chuckling through the tears, "I can't believe I'm crying right now." He let out another laugh, wiping with the back of his palms, "This is why I hate being a crybaby. I'm so sorry guys, just ignore me. I'm being rediculous." Honestly though, Billy was one of his only true friends and Oleander was so sad when they departed after graduation. Not to mention, the very essence of this meeting was nostalgic and wistful.

Childhood friends reunited in their old quaint little town. A school of memories scheduled for demolition. A time capsule and hidden feelings simmering to the surface. It was movie scene made flesh.

People always said Oleander was a bit melodramatic, too emotional for his own good, but he couldn't help it. Plus, he hadn't seen Billy or the school, or everyone else for that matter in almost a decade. Wasn't that a good enough reason to shed a few tears? Oleander was a quintessential sentimental softboy after all; it was in his nature.

He fanned his face, calming down, a deep breath helping to reform his emotional constitution. "Wow, okay. Anyways, who's missing?"

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NOTE: Feel free to skip the OKONEDO RESIDENCE section if you don't want to read any of what went down before Oleander arrived at the football field. I couldn't put it in hiders without it glitching out, sorry.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Prisk
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Prisk ???

Member Seen 14 days ago

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NATALIE MILLER


act one: way down we go
p. johnson's Ritman High [Football Field]
Interacting with @Benzaiten@udonoodles@Rockette@Aeolian
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The moment came sooner than she had expected. Nervousness was a bit alien to Natalie, only ever being plagued by it on rare occasions, but it hit like a truck when she saw her. Blood began to circulate throughout Natalie's frame with excitement. Her palms and the usual suspect areas became warm and slightly damp. The flow of air in and out of her lungs shifted rhythm. Natalie had to admit to herself that it was nice to see her again. The girl looked about the same with a few adjustments here and there. Even if Melanie was a pretty face, Natalie had somewhat stopped nitpicking about superfluous things of physical appearance. She had been so unbelievably obsessed and fanatical about it in the past that it had completely fried her brain to the point of having a hard reset. Although she was still rather harsh on herself, at least nasty comments towards others had stopped a few years ago.

"Right on time, as always." Natalie said with a genuine but dumb-looking smile on her lips, and not one of those awfully fake ones that she puts on most of the time. "Ah, man." She exhaled with an audible puff and quickly fanned her eyes with her hands to dry them out before embracing Melanie. "I'm getting all soft on you here, fuck." She said with soft tones into the girl's ear as they took to each other. Natalie patted her lower eyelids with her index fingers so as not to get all runny after having let go of the old flame. "I didn't realize I'd get this soggy from this moment." She chuckled, remaining next to Melanie. This reaction was totally out of Natalie's wildest imagination, completely by surprise. The memory of Melanie had clearly burrowed its roots deep into her mind and worked its magic. I hope she doesn't think I've become all weird and shit. I'll just chalk it up to a lot of change and working on myself... wait a second, why the fuck do I care? You care about Mel, don't you? I do, I guess. So, just go with it. Natalie's thoughts wandered.

Familiar faces began to reveal themselves one after another. Natalie was a bit struck by Marco's cane, though. Being in the dark about what had happened to him felt somewhat restrictive, or it had a sense of powerlessness to it. Even if Natalie surely was prepared to help him with whatever now, perhaps the answer had not been as straightforward back then, even if she wanted it to. "Marco." Natalie smiled, still standing next to Melanie. "Stil there, ugly as ever." She chuckled at Marco's comment about the magpie monstrosity. The moment led to a rather wild roller coaster ride of being completely blown out of the water and dumbfounded by Samuel's arrival. Natalie's first impression was that this guy was lost or a friend of someone that did not attend Ritman. He was a hell of a looker, too, sporting that dark triad aesthetic to perfection. However, the real shocker came when he revealed who he was. "No. Fucking. Way." Natalie almost exclaimed, mouth wide open and staring at the man. "Chubby Cheeks, that you?" She caught herself right away. "Oh fuck, I didn't mean to say that—I'm so sorry!" Her expression changed to apologetic real fast. It was an honest mistake, bad muscle memory and difficult to get rid of. Two seconds and you've already fucked it all up. Good job, Nat, you fucking raging whore. She scolded herself inside.

Luckily, Natalie was somewhat saved by Oleander's entrance. The guy practically had rainbow laser beams shooting out his eyes with sprinkles and glitter exploding everywhere, an intense presence. This was the guy that Natalie could not quite place but assumed she had seen at the school at some point. Natalie offered him a smile and halfway embrace after having greeted Melanie. It was a bit awkward, nobody was going to deny that, but Natalie was determined to get to know him and find out what sort of character he was now and had been in the pecking order. At least there was one other person that could not keep their shit together, tearing up and making a mess of themselves. Natalie was rather excited about this Oleander, though, having met more than a handful of outrageously flamboyant men since Ritman. They were almost always good company.

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Laertes
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Laertes la revacholiere

Member Seen 23 days ago

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DANTE IBARRA


act one: way down we go
Ibarra Residence Ritman High, Football Field
Interacting with @Aeolian @Benzaiten @Prisk + everyone else
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Dante wakes with a start. His phone alarm blares its relentless cry from atop his nightstand, and he reaches over to silence it with a clumsy swipe of his hand before flopping over to stare up at the ceiling. A few glow-in-the-dark stars are still stuck to its surface, the only remnants from a period in his childhood where he thought he was going to work for NASA. Obviously, that didn’t work out, but he likes to think he’s done pretty well for himself either way.

It takes him a few moments to fully reorient himself. He’s back in Maine, in Delton. He’d just gotten off a plane three hours ago, drove straight down from Brunswick to crash at his parents’ place. Right now, he’s in his childhood bedroom, laying in his squeaky old bed with his favourite flannel sheets.

Why is he back again?

…Wait, that’s right. The reunion.

Somewhere within the tangled mess of looming deadlines, hotfixes and shareholder meetings rattling about in his skull, Dante manages to find purchase on a single thread. He’d RSVP-ed to Jack’s invite, hadn’t he? It must’ve been a couple months ago that he saw that notification pop up on Facebook. Something about a demolition and a… time capsule? He certainly felt like he’d travelled back in time, sitting here in his old room with everything exactly how he remembered it.

The last time he came back to Delton was two, almost three years ago for Christmas, and then frmwrk had gotten its first investor and everything started moving so fast that most nights, he barely had time to go home to his own apartment in SF. During that time, most of Dante’s interactions with his parents had been limited to long-distance calls and FaceTime.

So, yeah. It’s been a while. And he felt shitty enough about it that he finally decided to take some time off work to pay his folks a visit. Really, this whole thing with the reunion was just good timing. He could almost convince himself that he was killing two birds with one stone, whatever those birds were.

And honestly, part of him kind of wanted to find out what everyone else has been up to since leaving Ritman. Did they flee towards greener pastures like he did? There wasn’t much to do in Maine, after all, other than fishing and factory work. He knew he wanted out of here the second the Internet became a big thing, and made a point of moving all the way to sunny, sunny California for college.

He also wonders if any of his old schoolmates would actually recognise him. Or maybe they’d think he’d been replaced by some sort of imposter. But he’ll cross that bridge when he gets to it.

Dragging himself out of bed, he digs through his suitcase (still unpacked) for a fresh change of clothes — some jeans and a King Gizzard shirt — then trudges down the hallway to the bathroom. One ice-cold shower later, he’s starting to feel a little more human.

“Dante! Are you up? You’re going to miss your thing with your friends.”

“Just getting ready, mom!” Dante calls back, doesn’t bring up her use of the word ‘friends’. “I’ll be down in a second.”

His hair is still damp when he heads downstairs. There’s an olive green messenger bag slung over his shoulder, his laptop stowed inside just in case.

“Hey. I smell coffee. Is there coffee?” He loops an arm around his mother and gives her a light squeeze. Mrs. Ibarra has always been a slight woman, but Dante can’t help but feel like she gets thinner and thinner every time he sees her.

“You shouldn’t be drinking so much of this stuff, you know,” she chides, though she fills a thermos with coffee either way. “Too much caffeine is bad for you.”

“I know, I know. You tell me that every time you call.”

“I wouldn’t have to if you actually listened.”

“Ah, see? Now you’re just enabling me. I can’t be held responsible for my actions.” He accepts the thermos offered by his mom, takes a swig, then promptly begins to sputter and cough like a dying fish. “Damn, that’s hot.”

His mother doesn’t say anything else, but she doesn’t need to. Her Artfully Raised Eyebrow™ (which he’s currently withstanding the full force of) has always been her greatest weapon. In San Francisco, Dante could play at being the boss, the tech wunderkind all he wants. But back home, mom is still the one who calls the shots. Mercifully, however, she decides to give him a break just this once.

God knows he needs it.

“So? Should I assume you’re staying out late tonight?”

“I don’t know. Probably,” he answers with a one-shouldered shrug. How long do high school reunions take, anyway? He’s never been to one before, and one glance at his watch tells him that he’s already missed out on the pregame portion of the evening. Looks like he’s going to have to soldier through this thing while painfully sober.

Seemingly satisfied, she nods, and bustles away to pull some ingredients out of the pantry. “I’m making dinner soon. I’ll keep your portion in the fridge so you can have it when you get back. Oh, and your dad’s going to want to take you out for a spin on the sound tomorrow morning. He just got a new boat and it’s all he’s been talking about.”

“Wait. I thought he was already past his mid-life crisis.”

“Shush, you. Now get going. You’re late.”

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It’s always strange seeing the school after dark, even more so when you haven’t been back in years. The building hasn’t changed much since the last time he saw it. A little more faded, perhaps, but the overall structure remained the same — a squat building of brick and glass that looked like it was pieced together from two mismatched sets of LEGO. As he pulls over next to the curb, he’s suddenly gripped by a sense of unease. It’s vague, just a tiny shiver that makes his hair stand on end, but Dante is unable to fully shake it even as he climbs out of the car, coffee in hand.

The text he got from Meir said to go around the side, so that’s what he does. The fence you would normally use to get into the school was locked, but that’s never been a problem before. It’s almost muscle memory, how his feet carries him around the perimeter to find the gap and slip through it. He was never the most athletic person back when he was going to Ritman, but he still liked hanging out here sometimes, sitting on the bleachers with whatever books he’d checked out from the library that week.

Now, with all the floodlights switched on, Dante could almost hear the roar of the crowd, a great, rising chant of ‘let’s go Magpies!’

Shit. He wasn’t expecting to get all nostalgic about high school. Must just be the Stockholm Syndrome talking; and God, there they were — a ragtag crew gathered in the middle of the field. Once he gets within earshot, he offers in greeting a two-fingered salute.

“Sup.” And after a moment’s pause, adds a little awkwardly, “It’s Junior, by the way. Though it’s Dante now.”

There were a few faces he recognised, some friendly, some less so, most he could barely put a name to, which he isn’t at all surprised by. At Ritman, he was happy doing his own thing, more often than not. Probably why his social life was next to nonexistent back then.

Subconsciously, Dante drifts towards the largest gap in the circle, which just so happened to be between Melanie and… Oliver? No, wait. Oleander. He’s slightly alarmed when he sees the wet sheen of tears in his eyes, but remembers enough decorum to not comment on it. Instead, he just offers him what he hopes is a commiserating smile.

Then, it’s on to Mel. Out of everybody here, she’s the one he was closest to, even if it did take more than a little persistence on his part to break through that steely exterior when they first met. Even today, he’s not quite sure what it was that drew him to her. Maybe it had been some sort of sixth sense. Or maybe he was just so excited to find someone who actually found his rants about if/else statements interesting, and also thought that Sonic Heroes was an underrated masterpiece.

Well, whatever the reason, Dante’s glad they were are friends, though he can’t help but wish that he’d put a bit more effort into keeping in contact after graduating. Pushing any regrets he might have to the back of his mind, he reaches out to pull Mel into a hug. “Fuck, it’s so good to see you again. Like in person and shit. How’ve you been?”

After one, two, three seconds, he lets go and takes a step back. He’s never known Mel to be overly fond of physical contact, so he figured he’d keep it short and sweet. Heaving out a sigh of relief, he flashes one last grin at her before looking to the rest of the group. There’s Meir, Billy, and of course, Natalie Miller.

“Nat,” he nods, the smile on his face dimming somewhat. The nickname rolls a little strangely off his tongue. Dante can’t recall ever having used it back when they were in school, because, well, they’ve never been on the closest of terms. He remembers her friends, how they would call him names and make fun of his clothes and hair. One of them even shoved him against a locker when they crossed paths in the school hallway, calling it an ‘accident’. Still, he knew better than to react. They’d grow bored with him sooner or later, and Natalie always seemed more of an onlooker than an active participant.

…Not that it mattered. But he had better things to worry about now than a few bad memories.

“So, how long have y’all been waiting?” he ventures, glancing from one member of the group to another. A sudden gust of cold wind has him unscrewing the cap from his thermos, bringing it up to his lips to take a fortifying gulp.

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Benzaiten
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Benzaiten

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MELANIE CAVILL


act one: way down we go
Ritman High [Football Field]
Interacting with @Prisk, @Aeolian, @Laertes
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Before Melanie knew it, the woman she had seen in tiny rows of pictures on her phone as she scrolled through the influencer's Instagram profile in the middle of the night was right there, talking to her. After seven years of definitely not thinking about her, there she was. And she wore that sweet smile that would make Melanie's heart skip back in high school. Before she had time to let the presence of Natalie Miller sink in, she held her in her embrace. As Natalie's arms wrapped around the woman, Mel's found their way around Natalie's frame all on their own and squeezed her tight before she could stop herself. Her eyes closed as she took in the scent of the woman that sent her right back to high school days... her old bedroom, Natalie's smile, books on the bed that Melanie's eager eyes couldn't focus on. Natalie's familiar voice in her ear, her soft breath on her cheek as she spoke brought Melanie back to reality. Her heart skipped a beat. Her eyes shot open as if woken from a dream. Oh fuck...

Only as their short embrace ended did Melanie notice that Natalie... Were those tears? Melanie could not recall ever having seen Natalie display such an emotional reaction before. Let alone in front of anyone she didn't really know. It seems we've all changed. High school was over. Melanie had left most people of that life behind, including most definitely Natalie Miller. They had been study partners with a mutual agreement that led to a convenience-relationship. That was all. In all those years after high school, Melanie had managed to keep Natalie out of her mind. One hug didn't have the power to throw her back into old fantasies. So take your eyes off of her then. Melanie snapped out of it and trailed her eyes over to the newcomer.

It was a boy she didn't remember seeing in high school. Brown hair, walking cane. As Natalie called out his name, Melanie's mind put the information together. Of course, Marco, the musical talent. She had listened to his music from the other room while studying until one day it stopped. Following after him came another figure Melanie had trouble placing. He was a canvas full of art and if she had been a little bolder, she might have asked to spend some time looking at all those beautiful designs. Though art was something she only found interest in on occasion, tattoos had become more and more appealing to her in the last few years. She had been on the verge of getting more than the one she had on her wrist multiple times but then never went through with it. In this moment, she regretted it. The space of her back felt unusually empty all of a sudden. Even with the boy stating his name, Mel couldn't place him. That didn't seem the case for Natalie who promptly used a bully term she associated with him. Mel's smile faltered. We all changed, hm? Yeah, sure... Why was she disappointed? It hadn't mattered then and didn't matter now.

And then the sun began to shine. Well, figuratively. Mel's entire face lit up when the wonderful energy that surrounded Oleander Okonedo engulfed her. As he tossed out hugs for everyone, Mel was quick to squeeze the guy tightly into her just as he did with her. Oleander's hugs had been a medicine she wasn't aware she had missed this much. Being who she was, Melanie always had problems expressing how much she needed to just be hugged tightly. She sure as hell couldn't ask for it, not then and not now. But Oleander somehow just did it, always had. He was intuitive like that.

The warm feeling in her chest subsided when he began to study her face and cleared black residue off of her cheek. "Oh shit", she exclaimed and began to rub her sleeve over the spot he just cleaned in case any bits were left. Red crawled onto her cheeks. Of course Natalie looked perfect but she had to have dirt on her face. And Natalie hadn't said anything. "I was working on the farm all day and my dad's truck -" She stopped herself as she noticed she had raised her hand to point behind her as if to point in the direction of the farm. "It doesn't matter. It is so good to see you."

Oleander continued his round in greeting everyone, interjected with some smiles, nods and "Hi" from Melanie. She wasn't a shy person, not necessarily, but she didn't like big groups and seeing all of these old faces brought back memories and old feelings she hadn't been aware of. Oleander naturally displayed the most emotion as a few tears streaked down his cheeks. Melanie's first instinct was to avert her gaze and mentally check out but she forced herself to look at him and give him a soft smile. She deeply hoped he would stop crying, it made her uncomfortable. It made her feel stupid. She always had an answer and if she didn't, she knew how to find it. But emotions were different. They often paralyzed her, had her feeling like everyone around her had been attending Emotions And Feelings 101 all their life while she was standing in a display case in underwear. It made her skin crawl. Emotions didn't make sense.

To her credit, she had gotten a lot better. In big part due to her contact to Dante and "that Australian girl" as her mother put it. She had had few relationships, though nothing long-term, and had learned to check in with herself and others more. The immediate reaction towards Oleander's tears was probably due to the outer circumstances - she was back at her old high school, seeing her old friends, her old ... Natalie. Old patterns emerging in such a case just made sense. Of course, Melanie gloriously failed to apply that rhetoric to Natalie's earlier comment.

No time to think about it. Dante arrived and pulled Melanie into a short but good hug. "Dante", she looked him up and down once they released each other. "You look good, man. How have you been? It's been so damn long. When did you arrive?" Knowing that Dante would come was one of the main reasons Melanie had agreed to the reunion. That and... well, Dante obviously was the main reason. She had offered to meet him a day before the reunion but his plans hadn't allowed it. While she had been in Delton for 3 days already, it was likely he had arrived only a few hours ago.

Melanie let her eyes wander around the group once more. Seeing Natalie had short-circuited her brain for a moment and with the commotion of other people arriving, she had failed to greet Meir and Trystan properly. Trystan's face immediately evoked some fun Dungeon and Dragons memories within Melanie. If they had the time later, she would need to ask him if he still played, and catch up on some of those adventures they've enjoyed together. That trip down memory lane would house so many dear moments. And then there was Meir. Melanie shot a soft smile in his direction. She was sure he understood, even though they hadn't talked in a while. He knew Melanie would catch up with him during some peace and quiet when they had more time and were not distracted by so many people. He deserved that. So did Dante. They would know this much about her. Would Natalie want to catch up in peace?

"I know that Sara said she wanted to come but I honestly haven't kept up with the group chat. I wouldn't know who's still missing." She buried her hands into her jeans pocket. The soft feeling of her hoodie on her skin, the cold breeze in her hair, and the lingering feeling of those hugs made her feel cozy. So far it hadn't been half as awkward as she had anticipated.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Gisk
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Gisk

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WILLIAM BISHOP


act one: way down we go
Ritman High Football Field
@Laertes@Aeolian@udonoodles@Rockette
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When Mel showed up, she got a wink(barely visible as he was facing away from the stadium lights) and a wave from Billy. Marco, however, got his excitement. He spread his arms wide in welcome, cigarette still in his mouth and cried, "Hello! Welcome to the sad sack hour! Care to stare at the ugly bird?" he gestured to the magpie logo on the field.

“It’s, uh, Valensi, by the way. Is this everyone? I’m freezing my balls off here.”

"We know!" Billy laughed in response to the introduction, unceremoniously removing his sweater and tossing it to Marco.

People were pouring in suddenly, though Billy was happy that the event wasn't going to be hindered by all the chickens back at PJ's after all.

"Hey, Billy- uh.. Marco.. Everyone. Here to open the capsule, yeah.. It's Sabiston, by the by. Samuel."

At the same time that Nat loudly denied recognizing him, Billy smiled warmly and said, "We know, buddy.

Then it really happened. Oleander approached, and hugged everybody. Completely on brand. Billy let his arms encircle his neck, and then put his own around Oleander's middle, pulling him in tight.

"It's so nice to see you again. I kid you not, I was just thinking about you the other day."

"Yeah, Oll," he said, a little thickly, "Great to see you too."

He was, for once, glad that he was facing away from the group at large, so that they couldn't tell how his eyes prickled in his old friend's embrace.

He was saved from answering for his brief moment of vulnerability, by the arrival of yet another familiar face, though changed more radically than even Sam's.

“Sup… It’s Junior, by the way. Though it’s Dante now.”

"We know," Billy said, in mock exasperation.

“So, how long have y’all been waiting?”

"Hours, we already opened the capsule and burned its contents. Sorry, pal. And hey," he added as Dante took a drink from a thermos, "If you really wanna warm up, Jack should be here with some booze. Least, she said she would. Though, I've got another party favor, if anyone's interested…" he produced his cigarette case and pulled out one of the joints he'd brought.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by The Man Emperor
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The Man Emperor Your Mom

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Trystan Salazar


act one: way down we go
p. johnson's Ritman High, Football Field
Interacting with [@Everyone]
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"Hey, if you're after Agent Smith I think I saw him go that way!" he laughed good naturedly, gesturing with his free hand off in the distance. "How's it been, man?"

Trystan followed Billy's hand, placing his gaze towards the point where the other man had pointed it. Of course, he did so in a pretty joking manner, playing along with the well intentioned attempt at hilarity at their reunion. He then looked back at Billy, whom he recalled rather fondly due to how entertaining he was back at the day, even if their number of serious interactions could be counted with the fingers of both hands. If there was one thing Trystan somewhat regretted, it would be the fact that he forgot to cultivate as many allia- ehem, friendships as his parents often told him to. Maybe something could change, starting from tonight.

"I have done quite well over the last seven years, yes," Trystan answered with a snorting chuckle, "Got into a publishing house as an editor, generating enough income to make the ancestors proud. And you, well, I heard you were in a band…"

Just as he was going to keep talking, another person came in, one that he was familiar with. The lady who used to accompany the mean girls that gave him the racism treatment. Nat… ah, what was it again? Natalia? Natasha? Nataliana?

The guy had certainly received the sharp edge of the stick back then, the whole gang being unnecessarily hostile, Nat included. She felt slightly embarrassed, not sure of what to say. She stuck to a simple yet friendly but relaxed wave of the hand as a greeting.

"Hello, Natasha," Trystan answered without too much fanfare in his voice while truly ending up forgetting the actual spelling of her name. He was still internally malding about the past right to this very moment, but he knew well enough not to show it, especially when they had a delicate event going on. Maybe he'll have a word or two after the whole affair was done.

Other people started arriving, much to his relief, as he wondered if there was a greater portion of their old class that didn't bother coming along. None of the old gang of his had come so far, either. He recalled their machinations of chaos; the unravelling of horrible secrets, gossiping about the people they mutually disliked, and so on and so forth. To think they're the ones that didn't come along when he did…

One after another, in quick succession, did Melanie, Marco, and Samuel arrive. He recognized Melanie easily, as the time they spent playing Dungeons and Dragons together had made him quite familiar with her face. It helped that she wasn't radically changed, unlike Samuel. Samuel had lost much weight, and was in effect no longer, as Nat put it when she finally recognized him, 'Chubby Cheeks'.

Wait, she apologized? So fast? That is new.

As for Marco, Trystan was simultaneously surprised and unsurprised by the cane. On one hand, he really did remember how Marco began to show up less in class, and when he did he either had crutches, canes, or at worst, had to ride a wheelchair. On the other hand, he never got used to the sight of Marco like that, knowing him mostly as the guy that always disappeared into the piano room. Speaking of which, he had been taught to play when he was a kid but he had mostly forgotten the art by now. Maybe…?

Trystan's thoughts were once again interrupted when Oleander, the Nigerian guy and fellow immigrant, arrived. He swore that Oleander was avoiding him during high school, probably because he had somewhat of a mixed rap. So it truly caught him off guard when Oleander hugged everybody, himself included. It was odd, at the very least, that someone who was once keeping his distance had now come close. Appreciative of the gesture, Trystan hugged him back, almost snapping his spine in the process. When Oleander was finishing hugging Billy, though, he began tearing up.

"Oh noooo..." he started, chuckling through the tears, "I can't believe I'm crying right now." He let out another laugh, wiping with the back of his palms, "This is why I hate being a crybaby. I'm so sorry guys, just ignore me. I'm being ridiculous."

"Ah, my dear, there is no shame with tears," Trystan said assuringly. "To weep is simply part of humanity, and evidently you have missed us, Billy most of all. So don't be sorry about that! You can… ah, be yourself."

“So, how long have y’all been waiting?” he ventures, glancing from one member of the group to another. A sudden gust of cold wind has him unscrewing the cap from his thermos, bringing it up to his lips to take a fortifying gulp.

"Not too long," Trystan answered. He remembered Dante somewhat too, recalling that he had a company of his own now, judging from the images in his timeline. "Though we are still missing a few folks, so we might have to wait a little bit more. Hopefully not too much."

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Salsa Verde
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Salsa Verde Nomad

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MEIR MAGGID


act one: way down we go
p. johnson's Ritman High, Football Field
Interacting with [@Everyone]
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The comment made by Billy about his blow up was nice to here. Part of him was going into this meeting with hopes of everyone inspired by his evolution from zero to hero. Compliments he assumed were held from him during his high school career. “Oh, you know, trying to teach kids the importance of language”. Speaking of language, Natalie did make Meir’s experience with alcohol seem pretty freshman in comparison to her long-lived career.

The first participant to step up was the unrecognizable Trystan in all his long-haired glory. He hadn’t been the only one to change their whole wardrobe and appearance. He would have done more than just a half-hearted wave had he not forgotten what was brining them all together. He took to his phone to message jack directly to ensure she didn’t forget the capsule. Not that she would since she brought it to the bar but picking up a keg and loading it took more than one hand.

”Jack it’s Meir. I forgot the capsule; can you make sure to bring it with you? Thanks, Meir”

His ears perked up, peeling his skin back and shifting his ears back. Mel. She looked exactly the same from their classes at MIT. Having been around her after High school for a few years lent itself to a less prominent shock than experience by the others. “Hey, Mel his voice looking for legs to stand on. He could barely keep up with the introductions, they were all coming in one after the other. Did they not see each other on the street leading up? Maybe they just wanted to make their iconic entrance one by one like a basketball meet. The next alumnus was anything but that, instead he made his way to the magpie by way of the cane. “Valensi huh? Why don’t you use my jacket, we’re probably going to be here for a while and the drinks have already warmed me up” taking his jacket off to give to the shivering pianist.

Like a matador, Meir flicked his jacket, revealing not a bull but someone similar. Samuel. Sabiston had been covered in ink from head to toe, one of the more radical changes, though it wasn’t too farfetched from the antihero persona he kept during school. With the arrival of Ollie, who Meir wanted to impress the most by his transformation and the deeply intimate moment between Mel and Natalie, he had wished he still had liquid in his cup. Instead, he sipped through the double-barreled straws until there was nothing but watered-down whiskey from the melting ice. It tasted awful, second to the social ineptitude he was being to experience once again. Maybe he was a worse friend to Mel than he thought, did the two always have such chemistry? They probably did, he just ignored Natalie after his unrequited love was dashed.

Luckily Dante showed up and broke up the air a bit. “Not as long as Billy would have you believe. Although he makes a good point so maybe I should wait for Jack and Sara at the gate. I’ll be back in a jiffy.” Meir made his slow departure from the group hoping to meet up with the other two and bring back the capsule so they could get things going.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by udonoodles
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udonoodles the adults are talking

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MARCO VALENSI


act one: way down we go;
marco - "storm warning"
Ritman High [Football Field]
Interacting with @prisk, @gisk, @rockette, @aeolian, the gang
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It wasn't long before Marco had proclaimed his coldness that he was promptly inundated with remedies—first a sweater from Billy, then a jacket from Meir. He accepted them both gracefully—and gracefully meant quietly nowadays—but he couldn't help question their motivations. He always found this sort of thing to crop up more often when he went out with the cane; people making accommodations and sacrifices for him they otherwise wouldn't.
Of course, as much as he couldn't shake that feeling, he also couldn't shake the feeling he was way overthinking it.

He slipped them both on with a bit of effort, exchanging his cane between hands so as not to drop it. It was when he pulled the sweater down from his nose that the group was joined by the next Ritman alumni: As his vision was de-wooled, Marco saw...
Samuel?
"Oh my god."
He stared for a moment, then realised he was staring, then awkwardly broke eye contact to shift his gaze around the group. "Uh—It's, uh, ah...Hi. Sam."
Ho-ly fuck-ing shit. Late puberty his this man like a goddamn 747. Marco almost felt self-conscious that, in all that time they'd had to change, he'd ostensibly just cut his hair and looked a little closer to death. And Samuel did...that.
"Uhm. Good...trip, over? From, uh...?" He gestured vaguely into the air, urging Sam to chip in with the answer.

Thankfully, he was excused from the conversation by the coming of another: Oleander, who, mercifully, had not aged twenty years in seven.
"Okay, I need hugs. I need hugs."
Oh sweet mother of mercy, here it comes.
When it came time for his hug, Marco flashed something between an apologetic smile and a grimace on his face—in rather the same way primates flash their teeth to beg for mercy.
"Uh, I would, but, y'know." He waved his cane halfheartedly. "Glass bones. Paper skin. It'd hurt."
He paused, as Oleander paused to take him in. Rather than look him in the eye, though, Marco found himself intensely interested at the grass at his feet. He pursed his lips at Oleander's well wishes.
"Uh, yeah. Same."

His eyes darted from the grass towards his arm, which he was now acutely aware was being touched. Wow, okay, people were way more into this than he was expecting them to be.
Oh my god, now he was crying. People really were really into this. Marco took Oleander's advice and didn't say anything, awkwardly clearing his throat. His eyes wandered to meet Natalie's gaze, eyebrows back as if to say "Well, this is happening." This was going to be an interesting day.

"So, uh..." His eyes darted between each member of the group, trying to pick out someone he knew a catch-up with wouldn't be too awkward. "...Billy," Marco scooted across the grass, a little closer towards someone he'd once considered his closest friend. "How's it going with the band?"
Yeah, that was the best he could do for now.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by banjoanjo
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banjoanjo Still likes pistachios

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SARA & JACK

act one: way down we go
Ritman High, Football Field
Interacting with @nodogs
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Sara lowkey wished she had some profound, deep feeling to describe as she rolled up to that familiar school building. Nostalgia, longing, regret... anything really. In reality, she was just going through her mental checklist and calculating what magnitude of ass-pain it would be to get the keg to their chosen viewing area. There was a fresh sleeve of plastic cups in the boot, first aid kit in the glove box, swiss army knife in her pocket. That should be it, right?

The nagging feeling of something being forgotten pulled the corners of her lips downwards. Goddammit, that was going to bother her all night.

"You guys can head up first," Sara said, slamming the door shut once she'd parked by the shoddy demolition fence. "Gotta haul the catering, so to speak."

On the topic of drinks though. It was still a two person job outside of PJ's. Sara looked to Jack expectantly, hoping she'd get the hint.

Jack rolled her neck, letting the cool air brush over the alcohol-induced flush in her cheeks. This shit was finally happening, all close calls with awkward ex-girlfriends aside. Everybody else was meandering off to the field where the rest of those who RSVP'd hopefully were, which left just her and Sara. Who was looking at her.

"Oh, shit. The— yeah," she sighed, finally putting a name to the thing she'd forgotten: Sara's keg of beer, that her arms were still sore from hauling back at PJ's. Shit, she really shouldn't have done a shift today. "Okay, fuck, let's do this."

Staring out at the expanse they had to cross, she suddenly felt all sobered up, so at least there'd be a solution to that problem by the end of it.

Sara raised an eyebrow and, with Jack's help, started hefting it out. She locked the car and grabbed the cups too. "Not tired already, are you?"

Jack huffed weakly, readjusting her grip slightly.

"Not at all," she said unconvincingly, voice pitching up. "Y'know, just, exceeding my daily limit of keg carrying." She blew air out through her cheeks, looking around. "It's actually warmer out here than it is in the back at work."

"Ah, yeah." She wanted to say that Willard often had his complaints about the walk-in.

"Uhhh. How's Don anyway?" she asked instead.

"He's been mentioning shit like community college ever since I organized this thing. I think he misses me being in high school." Jack shrugged. "It's not like I was the one who decided to bulldoze Ritman."

"If he wants you out of the house during the day, I'm sure I can put in a good word with the manager of the General Store," Sara smirked. "Is he why this whole get together is happening?"

"Oh, no way." Jack snorted. "This is all my thing. Figured it would be kinda awkward if there wasn't a building left for the ten year reunion or whatever." She rolled her neck, grimacing at the keg. "But I don't think there's gonna be a me left when we're done hauling this."

Sara simply regarded her with an almost triumphant look. "Character building. I'm sure Don would be all for it if he saw."

"I think if he saw me actually doing work he might start floating to heaven on the spot."

"So it's not just your employment status on the line but his whole life, damn."

She shook her head and paused where she was. They were right outside the field. She could even see the rest of the group now, a handful of faces reminding her of unfinished sentiments and muted regrets.

"Welp." She exhaled. "You ready then? No blood grudges I gotta know about before we head in?"

Jack seemed to genuinely consider it for a moment, peering out at the group. There were a few faces she didn't entirely recognize, and none particularly striking out from the crowd, besides from those that had been at P.J.'s. Seemed safe enough.

"Nah, I'm Mr Popular." She heard her phone chime in her pocket, almost making the motion to check it before remembering the heavy part of heavy lifting. "Speaking of." She nodded in her pocket's general direction. "Let's get this shit in there."

A moment's consideration. Better late than never, right?

"Alright," Sara nodded, "Game face on."

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Salsa Verde
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Salsa Verde Nomad

Member Seen 18 hrs ago


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MEIR MAGGID


act one: way down we go
p. johnson's Ritman High, Football Field
Interacting with @Gisk@banjoanjo@nodogs@Benzaiten
@Aeolian
@udonoodles@Laertes@Prisk@Rockette
@The Man Emperor
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Meir hustled his way off the field like a water boy trotting away after giving the star players their sweating green bottles of water with the iconic orange cap. He wasn’t a water boy or any kind of extra circular student for that matter. Unless you counted mathletes, but that was social suicide as everyone knew. Either way, he had improved his constitution over the years showing that this small trek did little in the way to make him sweat and derail his carefully curated fit for this event. He passed the goal post, ran through the turnstile, and made his way through the gate. Not before getting grazed on the neck by one of the rusty edges of the fence. All his vaccinations were up to date so the death at the hands of tetanus was substantially low.

Headlights beamed him, causing his hands to fly up, tensing up like a deer in headlights. The halogen lights faded with the turning of the engine that died with the shutting down of the car. He looked over again to see Sara and Jack carrying the keg to the field, struggling rather. In an almost comically unawareness, he raised his hand, not to lend a hand to carry the keg on his own, but to wave instead. “Hey Sara. Jack. I’ll just get the capsule while you guys handle that.” He rummaged around jack’s car, which had some empty water bottles tucked neatly behind the back of the driver’s seat, before locating the capsule. In a triumph, he checked his watch realizing they had spent way too much time getting drunk and catching up then what they were actually there for.

The car beeped, locking behind him. The two had made little in the way of progress since the start of his search. They were having a pretty chummy conversation so at least there was that. A few rhythmic exhales later he was ready to trot off again. Meir pointed at the capsule, “Got it! See you guys in there” still failing to realize they could use his help. By now the trio were by the rusty gate once more. Meir pulled it by the edge bending it a bit more for a wider berth for the two to pass. Getting the keg over the fence would be another issue, one they could probably use the rest of the gang to accomplish once they opened the nostalgia filled container. “You can probably just set that down by the turnstile, don’t want to be late for the main event, do you?”.

Meir passed the 10 then the 20 yard line, until he was back to midfield a bit exasperated. “Here’s the main event, let’s not delay any longer”panting, his brain starting to sober up. Part of him was anxious to see what was inside and partially mortified to see what lay in wait. Meir remembered he had almost nothing to contribute save for a rocket he made in his physics class that won him the best model of the year. He remembered Mel had mentioned something about a D&D figurine and Sara some self-declared "cursed" recipe she “borrowed” from her brother. The rest of the crew was a mystery to him, maybe Natalie would have thrown in a burn book or the lipstick, cupid red in color, that stained the bathroom mirrors with the print of her plump lips. Perhaps Marco left a music score he enjoyed or a sheet of piano notes.

Either way he looked around in excitement and took a deep gulp, “Alright gang here we go, the moment we’ve all been waiting for”. His fingers tore at the edges of cold steel which was surprisingly tough to crack. Years of being buried had served to glue the opening shut. Putting a bit more strain on his newly found muscles the edge finally gave way with an audible clack. The dark expanse was illuminated by the lights beaming down from above to reveal nothing but a book within the capsule. Taken aback, wearing a face of confusion, Meir’s fingers scrambled around the inside of the capsule. Nothing. There was nothing inside but the book. The book tucked under one arm, he shook the capsule making sure nothing was stuck to the edges. Nothing. Not even a piece of lint or a pebble, just the daunting silence.

“That’s odd” giving the rest of the crew a queer look. He dropped the capsule in the event someone else wanted to confirm what he had witnessed. The book was tattered, aged way past the date of their graduation. The edges were frayed, the spine was visibly worn, and the pages had been stained a deep tan to brown color. There was no title, no author, no publisher. Instead, only symbols on the front he had never seen before. The first page had writings in the same language as the title yet the pages after were all left blank, all the way to the back end.

“I’ve never seen a language like this” muttering to the others, his fingers tracing each symbol hoping to use his mastery of tongues to unlock some clue.

What would happen next would change the rest of their lives forever.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Prisk
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Prisk ???

Member Seen 14 days ago

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NATALIE MILLER


act one: way down we go
Ritman High [Football Field]
Interacting with @Salsa Verde
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Natalie observed that smudge being removed from Melanie's cheek with bewilderment. Huh... I literally didn't see that. I guess I was blinded by something. She thought to herself as Oleander did his best to clean things up. It was a flurry of people, greetings, and old feelings stirring. Pleasant for some, too much for others, like a kid getting three rounds of ice cream in a single day. Natalie found herself in an awkward position, to say the least. She was positive that things in her own perception of herself had changed. Her entire approach to other people had been as different the past year in comparison to Ritman as the color black is to white. Natalie was rather surprised that some of these individuals even bothered to say hello, let alone use her name. She gave Dante a nod and smile in return. It was good to see that he was still himself despite what the gals did, all the while Natalie herself did nothing to stop it in the usual fashion. Natalie kept her mouth shut, though. Perhaps it was best to say nothing for a bit after that Chubby Cheeks comment to Samuel. How the fuck did I let that one slip out? Her mind muttered.

In the old days, Natalie would have committed some kind of crime after being called the wrong name. Back then, she was somebody—at least she thought she was—and there was Hell to pay for any wrongdoings. Now, on the other hand, she simply kept quiet after being named 'Natasha' by Trystan. Could she really blame him? Blame anyone? Many of them had a right to do much worse to Natalie if they wanted to, and there was absolutely nothing she could or should do about it other than let it happen. Luckily, or perhaps hopefully, they were all good people, much better than Natalie had been and probably was ever going to be. She shrugged at the mispronounced name and glanced at Melanie to see if she noticed it at all. So many things were happening all at once, so much background noise of chattering and movement, that it would be no surprise if it flew under the radar and Natalie was the only one that somewhat reacted.

Natalie held her fort next to Melanie until the capsule opening. The evening had damp, chilling air to set the mood, even if it was the beginning of summer. The jean jacket and deep V-neck top that Natalie wore did not quite measure up to keeping cozy. Her slim-fitted jeans were strapped so tight that blood circulation was but a faint memory, so she did not feel anything down there anyway. A bit of stand-still walking to keep the motions going kept her warm until Meir returned with the capsule itself. "Out of breath already, Meir? Better take it easy on those drinks." She said with a mischievous smirk. Before the thing was opened, Natalie remembered what she had put in there all those years ago. It was a video of Jennifer Elkmann, one of the gals that had given so many of those currently present a hard time. Natalie had captured the chick puking her guts out at a party and making an ass out of herself. The video was a solid five minutes of embarrassing shit that Natalie actively encouraged Jennifer to do more of, all stored on a USB stick.

"Moment of truth! Here we go!" Natalie said excitingly loudly and gave her hands a few claps as Meir demolished the capsule with his boyish masculinity. However, the excitement was short lived. There was apparently nothing in the metal tube except some old, ragged book. Natalie leaned forward slightly to look inside the thing as someone else inspected it further, and it was true—the thing was empty. Natalie clearly remembered putting the USB stick in there, so someone had tampered with the capsule after that day at some point, which did not go well with the fact that Meir had to Hulk his way inside of it—a paradox. "What the Hell? I know I put a USB in there with a funny video of Jen. Maybe this is the wrong tube?" She said with a pale tone.

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Laertes
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Laertes la revacholiere

Member Seen 23 days ago

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DANTE IBARRA


act one: way down we go
Ritman High, Football Field
Interacting with @Benzaiten @Gisk @The Man Emperor
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“Yeah, well, I’ve been living out of a conference room for the past two weeks,” Dante scoffs, shooting Melanie a knowing, sideways glance. “You know those suits I told you about? Thought I’d never get ‘em to leave. They basically set up camp in the breakroom while I wasn’t looking.”

His nose wrinkles at the very mention of the word ‘suits’. There’s a special kind of irony in the fact that the business end of things was his least favourite part of running a business. Most of the time, he’s got people dealing with that sort of stuff for him. Dante’s still trying to get used to it, this whole having people thing — all those designers and programmers and accountants all relying on him to make a livelihood. If it were up to him, he’d probably spend the entire day hunched over his workstation like some kind of cave creature, completely senseless to the world around him, but he’s seen The Social Network enough times to know that the quickest way to get screwed out of your own company was letting other people run it for you.

Right now, though, he really needed to shut up about work. He isn’t in SF anymore. He’s in Delton, standing in the middle of a football field with one of his best friends and a bunch of people from high school he never thought he’d see again. The more he thinks about it, the less real it feels.

Like an optical illusion.

Dante flicks a hand through the air, fingers fluttering as if to clear away the last unwanted dregs of memory.

“…But yeah, other than that, I’ve been good! Peachy keen. I think I need a touch-up, though. These roots are making me look like Guy Fieri.” Grinning, he rakes a hand through the strands of hsi hair for emphasis. Nevermind that he’d just gotten off a flight that morning where an inhumanly tenacious eight-year-old had taken it upon herself to kick the back of his seat every minute or so. He’s actually feeling pretty alright for someone running on two hours of sleep. That power nap he’d taken once he got back home was doing wonders, as was the very, very strong coffee swirling inside his thermos, which comes dangerously close to sloshing out when he uses it to gesture toward Melanie. “You gotta catch me up with all the crazy shit you’ve been up to after we finally crack this thing open, and… where the hell is it, anyway?”

Dante makes a show of looking around, hoping to God that the capsule wasn’t still buried in the ground somewhere. He didn’t exactly have ‘digging a ditch’ on his agenda, least of all in this weather. Then, Billy makes a smart-ass comment and it all comes rushing back to him at once. With that trademark white hair and sly grin, of course it had to be him.

“C’mon, man, you’re killing me here. I was trying to make a grand entrance and shit.” Laughing, he gives Billy a playful shove, and after a moment’s hesitation, waves off the proffered cigarette. “Nah, I’m good. Still smoking the same brand, huh?”

Dante remembers heading round to the back of the school or under the bleachers to sneak a smoke with him and Sam, how they would stomp out the cigs beneath their heels whenever they saw a teacher coming and pretend like the smell didn’t instantly give them away. And yes, there was also that thing with the band. After watching a grainy, 240p video online of The Velvet Underground’s Venus in Furs, learning how to play the guitar became Dante’s latest obsession. He never really got much further beyond the fundamentals, but he knew how to play power chords, keep and keep a tune, and apparently that was enough for Billy to welcome him into the fold.

Slim pickings at Ritman, he supposed; and it was, admittedly, a rather short-lived venture. Thankfully, though, he gets an actual answer to his question about the time capsule sooner rather than later.

“Wait, don’t tell me. It’sss… Trystan, right?” Dante mentally congratulates himself for remembering his name. The two of them rarely ever spoke to each other, but he mentioned Trystan to his mom after coming back from school one day, and since then, she always thought that they could’ve been friends. There weren’t many Filipinos living in Maine, and even less in Delton. Always good to meet people like yourself, she said; except Dante could hardly speak a word of Tagalog while Trystan seemed dead-set on avoiding him. Between those two things, there was never really any chance of them becoming BFFs like his mother thought they were going to.

Still, he’s here now. No harm in making conversation while they wait.

“How’ve you been, man? Cool hair.”

Right on cue, he spots Meir making his way back, lugging along something heavy and metal. Dante screws the cap of his thermos back on before stuffing it into the side pocket of his bag. In spite of it all — the wait, the cold, the awkward everything — he actually finds himself getting kind of excited for the big reveal. Up until he got the invitation from Jack, he’d almost forgotten about the time capsule altogether. Seeing it now, though… Has it really been seven years?

So who can blame him if he looms a little too close, peering over Meir’s shoulder as he starts prying open the capsule? Shifting his weight from one foot to another in nervous anticipation, he waits for some kind of laugh, maybe a cheer when the lid finally pops open, but a moment passes, and all he gets is a look of bewilderment from Meir.

The fuck? Dante picks it up himself, turning the container this way and that as if doing so would dislodge something or reveal a secret compartment. When nothing else happens, he shakes his head in disbelief and lets the capsule fall uselessly to the ground. “Where is — who put the Necronomicon in here?”

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