thelittleone: (melody guthrie: regrettably normal)
« a faint and faraway sound » ([personal profile] thelittleone) wrote in [community profile] otherearth6262006-09-24 10:17 am
Entry tags:

Interesting, in a non-life-threatening sense.

Written by: Noelle Pico
Beta readers: Nathan Pico & Kam Martinez


Girls’ Dormitory, Manhattan Institute for Higher Learning, Manhattan, New York. 12:03 am.

Three girls and one bathroom. That was probably the only drawback of getting a dorm down at the Manhattan Institute. While it was more of a convenience with regard to getting to and from school early without the hassles of traffic, transportation and the possibility of being late, it was a hell of an inconvenience when fighting over who’d get to use the shower first became a nightly ritual.

Thankfully though, tonight wasn’t one of those nights.

“Jubi,” she heard M say. They’d gotten back roughly ten minutes ago from their little movie date with the ‘elders’ as Jubi once tagged the upper GenX batch. They’d all finished dinner at the Vespucci’s and with enough time to catch the nine o’clock showing M had proposed that they pack things up and catch it. Doug and Tabitha had joined them, but her brother had opted out this time around, with the excuse that he had to prep for his online conference with Ms. MacTaggert.

Thesis. She was wary of it already, and here she was, newly inducted into M.I. and still attached to the schedule she’d glued to the back cover of her notebook. “Jubilee.” M’s voice came again. Paige rolled her eyes as she turned on the faucet of the sink, her toothbrush between her teeth, a glass in her hand. “Hey, Jubilation Lee!” If she leaned just a little to her left, she could see just a bit of the room thanks to the bathroom mirror. Enough really, to see what M was up to at the moment, which was trying to rouse Jubilee enough so that she could tell the younger girl that she’d left the books by the bag.

M was the paranoid one in their little trio. Everything had to be right and perfect and just where it should be. Then again, that’s exactly who M was: right, perfect and wherever she was meant to be.

Not that she minded. While Paige loved perfection herself, she wasn’t too keen on gunning for it anymore. While back in her high school years she’d driven headlong past overachievement and into the desire to be perfect at everything she did and everything that she was, she considered herself heavily mellowed down. Now she just liked to overachieve.

“Get off of me M!” Paige shook her head as Jubilee’s voice, muffled, annoyed and sleepy, cried out as best as it could. “Knock it off!” When Jubilation Lee connected with the bed that meant the equivalent of a don’t-talk-to-me-until-the-sun-is-well-on-the-way-to-noon sign tacked to her face; M was messing with a sleepy Chinese-American mutant who loved to separate her sleep time with every other time.

Paige shook her head then, holding the glass just underneath the tap so that she could fill it just short of totally full. “Not until you promise me that you’ll remember to bring the stuff.” When she set it down on the little glass shelf, she took the toothbrush between her fingers and pushed out what little toothpaste was left in the tube that was strictly hers. “I said alright already!” She wasn’t into the strawberry-flavored stuff that Jubilee labeled with her initials using a torn off piece of masking tape and what could have been Paige’s CD-marker, nor was she a fan of that expensive stuff that M ordered from God-knows-where.

“MONET, YOU GET AWAY FROM ME RIGHT NOW OR SO HELP ME,” Paige tried not to laugh, though she did jump a little when the spiel started out of nowhere. “I WILL KICK YOUR ASS SO HARD YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO CONCENTRATE ON YOUR PRESENTATION TOMORROW!” The oldest female Guthrie smiled to herself as she tipped the glass against her lips, and tried to keep from choking herself on the water just as she washed her mouth out. “I SAID OKAY ALREADY! NOW. GET. OFF!

One thing was for sure. Dorm-life made things interesting every now and then. Interesting, in a non-life-threatening sense.

She paused at that, and thought immediately of Jay. Ah oughta call momma. She bit her lip and leaned back against the tile wall. In her head, her voice sounded the way it did when she wasn’t hiding her Kentucky roots. But what do ah tell her? She closed the cap on her toothbrush and set it away.

The truth, Paige. Tell her the truth. She wiped her hands on the small towel hanging on the rod and sighed. Tell her y’dunno what Josh got himself into, but that y‘know who can explain. And with one wince reflecting back at her through the mirror, her last thought turned to Sam and how guilty she felt that on top of being buried under schoolwork and the pressure of graduating on time, he would never escape his responsibilities as their oldest brother.

Boys’ Dormitory, Manhattan Institute for Higher Learning, Manhattan, New York. 1:36 am.

There’s supposedly a warning on staying in front of the computer for too long. Radiation. Eye strain. Not that it matters much to college seniors who want nothing more than to make the best grade they can make. “Yes, Ms. MacTaggert. Ah got it covered.” The messenger service was common enough to anyone who knew how to download and install. Just a couple of clicks on the ‘Next’ button, click a couple of keys to fill out the required forms and close it all with ‘Finish’.

Of course, it wouldn’t have been the ideal means of communication for thesis mentors and their mentees, but Sam was grateful enough to know that Moira MacTaggert had always kept an open mind towards the unconventional.

Very well then, Samuel.” Her voice sounded scratchy over the earphones that had been resting on his head since he’d logged online more than half an hour before. “I’ll expect ye tae furnish me with the final copy so tha’ I kin arrange for yer panel.” Her smile was delayed via the webcam, but that was alright.

“Ah’ll do just that, ma’am.” He replied, glad in his heart that she hadn’t been anything else but pleased by his progress. He typed in a particularly silly looking emoticon and he smiled to himself as he saw her image on the screen laugh.

I’m proud of ye Sam.” She told him, pausing, to take a sip from her coffee cup. “Now go get some rest. Work on the revisions tomorrow. I’ve kept ye up long enough.

He smiled and nodded, “Ah will ma’am. Thanks again.”

Ye are very much welcome, child.

He logged off with a few clicks of the mouse and leaned back against the seat, one hand coming up to allow his fingers to pinch the space between his eyes where the beginnings of a headache were settling in. Tired. He was tired. He’d been tired for weeks now and fully supported the idea that anyone who said that a body couldn’t get tired from just sitting around, reading through books and typing down pages, obviously didn’t know what the work in school work stood for.

He sat there for what seemed to be several minutes, his fingers working pressure along his forehead, relieving the tension that had been building up over the course of the last few days. He felt better now, of truth were to be told. No more apprehensions about his citations, about the flow of his words across the multitude of pages that he himself was both sick of reading and amazed at having written. He’d managed to impress his mentor, never mind that he’d known her for years. What mattered most was that as a specialist in her field, Moira MacTaggert found his paper worthy of presentation to a panel. That meant she found it good enough to throw him to the mercy of some of the most intelligent minds in the United States of America.

Aw shoot. Sam Guthrie groaned and sat up wanting nothing more than to temporarily escape what would mean a new wave of worry. The paper might have been done, but that only meant that his defense demanded his attention now, and he wasn’t about to give up the sense of freedom that had only just arrived. Thesis defense wouldn’t be set until Ms. Moira rounded up his panel. Until then he could go about being normal again. He could get what was left of his teenaged life back, for now, at least.

He stood and stretched, feeling the muscles under his skin shift and lengthen as he did so. Without another word, comfortable as he was in the quiet of his relatively small dorm room, he padded barefoot across the floor to the small bathroom for a well-deserved shower.

Fifteen minutes later with goosebumps rising over where heated water had previously washed away soap and suds, he ambled back out into his room, one hand rubbing the damp towel he’d dried himself off with over his dripping blonde hair. He sat down on his bed, the cloth of his flannel pajamas warm against his skin. He considered a sweater given the cold and after a brief moment of deliberation, he reached under and behind his pillow for the one with the words “Manhattan Institute” printed over the back. It was balled up, having been shoved close to the headboard without another thought. Now he pulled it over his head with every intention to keeping out the cold until he bedded down for good.

The words on his cellphone screen caught his eye and he picked it up, his thumb deftly moving over the keys so that the inbox came up. There were about seven, four from lower batch classmates who asked if he still had copies of the slides from Professor Rogers’ class, a random quote from Rhane, and two identical messages that made him exhale a breath. His mother had SMSed, and he knew what that meant.

She was number one on speed dial. Paige had made sure of that when they’d gone done to pick out the four phones that had eventually gone to him and her, to Josh and to Lucinda Guthrie several months ago. Paige had been the one to suggest it, her way, he supposed, of making sure that they could always keep in touch with each other. As she had put it, the three of them may all live in the same city, but their separate lives kept them apart enough.

Sam, Paige called me. I know you’ll be busy until late, but no matter the hour, call me. That’s what her messages had read. She always sent the important ones twice just to be sure that they’d get through.

He dialed again. She hadn’t picked up the first time and while he felt guilty for calling at this hour, when his mother said call, all her kids knew that they had better call. She picked up close to eight, her voice was groggy but his name came through clear.

“Sorry for callin’ so late momma,” he leaned hunched over, the phone cradled with his hand against his ear. “I woulda called earlier—”

’salright Sam,” she cut him off, the worry in her voice obvious. “Y’were busy with your paper. How is he?” She asked and he covered his mouth, pausing a moment. “Sam?

“He wasn’t too bad when ah saw ‘im.” He answered. “He was talkin’ t’Paige earlier.” The laugh he let out was soft and strained. “By the way it looked, he was probably yellin’ at her for all those messages she’d left ‘im.” He paused, his tongue pressing lightly against the inside of his mouth before he spoke again. “Ah was outside with Doug and Tabitha so ah dunno what happened ‘tween ‘em, but Paige said that he sounded okay.”

There was a moment of silence, and while on another day he might have filled it with more words, he stayed quiet as he was until he heard her voice come through the invisible lines that connected them both. “Ah can already see that frown on y’forehead. You’re brother’s fine, Sam. And ah’m glad y’called me t’ let me know.” She paused, took a breath—he heard it through the speaker—and spoke again. “Joshua’s as thickheaded as they come. Ah know you look out for ‘im as best ‘s ya can.

There was another pause. “How’re things in school? Ah got your letter. So sweet o’ya t’ send me somethin’ as old fashioned as snail mail these days. The pictures’re all lovely.” He’d printed out some pictures that Doug had taken on on one of those random days where they were allowed by their schedules to meet up and catch up. “Tabitha’s lookin’ well. So’s Doug. Ah kept on thinkin’ that it’d be nice to have th’ three o’ya graduate altogether. That way we could celebrate t’gether.

“Ah know, momma.” Sam murmured back, catching the wistful sound in her voice. Lucinda and Tabby might have been worlds apart—one from a small town and the other from the big city—with an age gap between them, but they had been fond of each other, both having him in common. He had no illusions that his mother still wondered why they had broken things off, but he was quietly grateful that she didn’t push him on the subject.

“Ah could come up for th’ weekend, if y’ like.” He leaned back against his headboard, his body now warmed from being wrapped up in the sweater. “Ah could spend some time with all of y’. Catch up with Jeb… Lizzie… Joelle an’ the kids.” He missed the younger ones the most: Shelley, at seven, always had a habit of tearing up whenever he had to say goodbye. Lewis and Sara, both at nine, didn’t mind so much as long as he paid enough attention to them when he was there. Elizabeth and Joelle were both old enough with high school taking up their lives. As for Jeb, at eleven, he insisted that he was now man of the house, vehemently asserting that he wasn’t ready for schooling under Xavier and that he could handle his powers and live life as normal as he could in Cumberland.

Will y’schedule permit that?” He heard the concern in her voice warring with the obvious hope that he just might come back home. “Ah wouldn’t want t’ drag y’ away from anythin’ import’nt.

He smiled. “Momma,” he murmured reassuring her. “Ah just got th’ go ahead from Ms. Moira. Ah’ll clear one ‘ my weekends and set somethin’ up.” The truth was a trip home would do him good. It might not be as fancy as New York, but it would give him time away from the pressures that had been dogging his steps as of late. A weekend in the company of family would do him wonders, he knew that much.

Lucinda seemed to hesitate a moment before replying to his words. “Alrigh’ then. Just…” she trailed off, “Just let me know… an’ ah’ll let the kids know.” He heard her exhale a breath and smiled, shifting a little.

“Ah miss y’ momma.” He murmured softly, genuinely feeling the words. “An’ ah’m gonna apologize,” he yawned then, blinking blearily as fatigue caught up to him, “’cause ah’m gonna have t’ turn in for th’ night. An’ you should too.” He smiled as her laughter reached him, spontaneous and light over his heart. They would be alright, he was reassured of that now. She shooed him off then, with an ‘ah love you’ and a goodnight, and minutes after Sam saw the connection icon on the cellphone screen disappear, he inhaled and exhaled steadily, the small machine cupped securely between his hand and his stomach as his eyes closed for the remainder of the night.

[identity profile] 2006-09-24 09:31 am (UTC)(link)
Now this chapter I like because of the insight that it offers into the Paige and Sam as individuals. Like I said in the previous chapter, these two elder Guthries are practically independent and can live lives of their own, but still, they remember family and the people whom they've come to consider family: people like their friends.

And even if they're independent, they still think about home. It all boils down to Lucinda, who's still down in Cumberland taking care of the babies of the family. Like I said: the world may go to hell, but family's still family and you go back to them again and again - even if they chase you off and are all angst-ridden and insist on leaving you alone.


[identity profile] 2007-11-01 12:19 am (UTC)(link)
I just adore your portrail of the Guthries