In the Shadow of the Mountain

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Autumn was a spectacular sight in the small town of Reminiscence. The leaves on the maples, oaks, sycamores, and poplars were a riot of warm colors: gold, orange, red, pink, some edged in tan or brown. Some of the leaves were already falling, though not enough that the rakes had come out of the garages and storage sheds, yet. Days were shorter than one would expect, the mountains and the broad space that was the town upon the river forming a cup that encouraged early nights and false dawns that faded back into the chill dark of morning.

This particular Friday afternoon was heavy with the sweet smell of turning leaves and the last of the summer wildflowers. Sounds of construction echoed through one of the eastern neighborhoods as work continued on the theatre. A few blocks away, the hotel, lovingly restored from the remains of the old highschool, was relatively busy as people gathered there to see the foliage and in preparation for the car show that would be occurring in the park that coming weekend.

A bus squeaked up to the corner near the park, doors opening to allow a few school children off at their stop; they were back from their day in the neighboring town and loaded down with books and backpacks. Similar things were happening in other neighborhoods: people walking dogs, listening to music, and getting in that last hand detailed car wash before the fall rains and winter snows.

Much of the town, except what was directly along the small river, was on one of the mountain's gentle, time worn slopes, and in a few places, children would soon be racing down the hills on roller blades and bikes. Where the town was actually flat, an old railway wove through, subtly mocking the curve of the river. An occasional coal train rolled through, thundering and bellowing and destroying the calm of the lovely little place for a moment or two before relenting and passing on to the next town over.

A few clouds gathered high in the sky and a flock of birds rose to fly across the faded blue. Along Main Street , a few apartments (mostly renovated houses that had been added on to), the town's gas station and restaurant, and the post office spread out. One large building, which had once been the company store, was closed for the time being. Rumor was, it would open in the spring as a small shopping center for local crafters. A small second hand store stood across Main Street from the theatre building, appearing to be almost an afterthought. Other notable buildings on Main Street were the post office and a small doctor's office. The volunteer fire department sat up the hill a bit, it's building looking cobbled together, as if it had been built around the firetrucks.

Roads that led to the town were slightly worn, twisting affairs, dotted here and there with signs advising caution: deer or fallen rocks or ice or slippery when wet. Towering trees grew along the road that would be Main Street in town. Along some stretches of this roadway, chestnuts and buckeyes lie squashed from tires of passing cars. Coming into town from either side, drivers were greeted with a cheerful sign: Welcome to Reminiscence, the Town You Come Home To.

As the afternoon slipped into evening, a faded sunset gave way to clear, deep blue skies, studded with stars. No doubt, tomorrow would be just as lovely as today; weather forecasts called for mostly sunny with a slight breeze.

Streetlamps came on as businesses closed up for the day. Construction projects were abandoned for the weekend, and people went about enjoying their Friday night, many in bed early for once. The car show would have classic car enthusiasts from around the continent coming in to show or gaze at vehicles. Local crafters would also have small stands, selling their wares, and the town's restaurant was to be operating a vendor booth, as well.

As the town settled down to sleep, some of those new to Reminiscence, whether by a few years or a few days, would find their dreams jarringly bright. The scenes would make sense at the time, but be all but forgotten upon waking. All that would remain would be a few disjointed images of hallways, classrooms, or waiting rooms... and the strange feeling that something dreamed about was not an illusion of sleep, rather a memory. If only they could recall just what part. And why.

The sun rose over the mountain, greeting the town. It was time. Time to get ready, to go. The entire town was going to turn out. Opportunity. Chance. Perhaps even adventure or a way to meet those who might provide friendship. A feeling hung on the air, shimmered like the dew on the grass. Something was different today. Something important. Something.... forgotten.
Alexander stood, staring at the door, trying to prepare himself. There were too many people out there, any one of whom might come to him, begging his help. Here, in Reminiscence, it didn't seem to happen as much, but perhaps that was because so many had such close family that they could run to at the first sign of trouble. Still, it happened on occasion, and it seemed that the more people he was around, the higher the chance seemed of finding some poor lost soul in need of a place to stay, a contact, or a friend.

He hesitated a few moments longer, looking himself over in the reflective surface of the door's decorative glass. His hair was mostly tidy, though a few strands were already trying to stick up in an unruly fashion. Gray slacks were paired with a gray vest of a slightly lighter hue over a sky blue button down shirt. Black socks matched a black, braided belt, but the whole outfit was thrown off slightly by the black and green laces in an otherwise normal pair of black boots.

For a moment, his thoughts strayed to the odd, jarring dreams of the previous night, but he put them out of his mind. No need to dwell on such things.

Ander sighed, figuring he had wasted as much time as he could get away with. He had people to meet, appearances to make, and a picture to pose for. It was time to get to the car show. He pulled open the door, scooping up cellphone, keys, and wallet, grabbing his hat, locking the door and shoving all the items but the hat in his left front pants pocket. He studied the hat a moment, wondering for the hundredth or more time if lining it with tin foil might prevent feeling the emotions of those around him and dismissing the theory once again, perching the fedora on his head.

The short walk to the park where the car show was being held was a simple one, mostly down hill. There were no cab companies locally, there would be little to no actual parking at the show (aside from the obvious parking for the vehicles on display and the other vehicles of the showers), and walking gave him a chance to approach the large crowd and their annoying loud emotions gradually.

Still, by the time he had arrived, he was feeling the strain and waited at the edge of the park, letting others who desired his attention approach him for the moment. He just hoped no one decided to beckon him in while the annoyances of setup were still so clearly being broadcast, both emotionally and verbally, by frustrated car enthusiasts and sales people.

“Just give me a few minutes,” he muttered to himself. “I can do this.”
"What kind of downers were those?" Perry though as he dragged himself out from under his patchwork blanket. The night had been almost pleasant for once, warm enough to get comfortable at least. The sleep was welcome but the dreams... Perry simply wasn't used to his dreams feeling like memories, and for that matter, not remembering it fully. "Gotta remember those..."

Shuffling to his feet, Perry took stock of his possessions. Looking over his things took only a second, just long enough to notice that everything was in place save for a bit of breeze moving things slightly out of place. No matter, he thought, at least I'm not OCD, noticing all that would drive me crazy.

Out came an old pair of scissors from somewhere in a nearby pile and gave himself a quick trim. Nothing special, but at least he no longer looked too scraggly. If he was going to make that car show and maybe see someone he remembered, he wanted to make sure someone might recognize him. If he could find someone to crash with while he got back on his feet... he simply couldn't believe he was thinking of honestly trying to put down roots here... it would make the winter a whole lot easier. Best of all, crowds of people meant dropped change and thrown-out food. Played right he could make a veritable bum-fortune there. All he had to do was let himself notice things.

Shuddering and wishing he could take the edge of details away, Perry shouldered his oft-restitched backpack and made his way to the park, trying to carry himself as more than the disheveled lump of human trash he had become.
Dreams often gave Esther headaches. The one she’d had last night was no exception. It had been unsatisfying and hard to understand, left splotches of color burned on the backs of her eyelids and made her wonder if it was all somehow Freudian. Not a good way to start off a weekend morning.

What else gave her headaches? Coworkers who made her promise to check out their craft booth at the auto show. She was used to the small town hubbub and rigmarole that accompanied such events, but the Old Fiddlers’ Convention back at her childhood home was relevant to her. Cars weren’t. Aesthetically, she could understand why fans were attracted to older models, but she otherwise didn’t have an interest. Her cheap sedan worked just fine.

There was one thing she’d never tried to take, she thought idly, dressing herself in a wash of reds and purples and clasping her rhinestone necklace together. Someone would have noticed if she’d gotten a new ride out of nowhere. She’d only tried nabbing smallish items in the past, things no bigger than her arm. Any more than that and it was difficult to hide.

Esther shook her head, curls flying everywhere as she shouldered her purse and opened her apartment door. Dwelling on her bad habits wasn’t something she needed to do right now, not when Mabel’s booth was nothing but glass jewelry. She wasn’t going to take anything- she tried not to, when she could help it, and God help her if she started robbing the elderly- but it was a permanent worry tickling at the back of her mind, and she had a hard time keeping her sticky fingers off of shiny things.

Her jacket, scarf, and thick tights kept her insulated in the crisp air, but her pace was brisk as she made her way to the show. The sidewalks were crowded, and the convention itself even more so, from what she could see. So packed, in fact, that she was having trouble seeing Mabel’s stupid booth from where she stood. They must have been at the back. Her stomach growling wasn't helping; she hadn’t eaten breakfast. Esther made a mental note to visit the restaurant’s setup at the show.

She was about ready to wade in head-first when she noticed That Guy lingering nearby. Or maybe it was more like The Guy? Esther was sure pretty much everybody involved with the reconstruction knew who Smith was by now- she’d heard of him within days of arriving, considering his dad was partly the reason she’d gotten a job in Reminiscence. Her company was the one working on the theater, and she’d spotted him there a couple times when she’d made some deliveries. He was probably here for a photo op or something. She was sure he’d know where the booths are.

On the other hand, he looked kind of antsy. But she didn’t have much of a choice about pestering him if she wanted to get to Mabel expediently. She approached him from the side and resisted the urge to shuffle her feet. Rich people made her nervous. “’Scuse me, Mr. Smith. Sorry to bug you on such a busy day. Would you mind pointing me in the direction of the craft booths?”
Aaron walked slowly around the park, weaving his way aimlessly through the crowd. His grey eyes lingered sometimes over the cars, more often over the people. He had never cared much about cars.

The atmosphere was festive, full of energy; it had been a good idea to come here. Old friends greeted each other; children laughed and ran, then pouted when their exasperated parents pulled them back. Aaron spent five minutes watching two old men argue in precise technical terms about the car in front of them. All Greek to him. But the passion they felt over their argument was tangible to Aaron. He could feel it, vaguely, like the hint of a warm breeze.

A light wisp of cloud passed over the sun, enough to darken the sky the slightest bit. Most didn't notice, but Aaron frowned. There was a flash in his head of forgotten memory, last night's dream. But the cloud was gone in an instant. and he shook it from his mind. He knew he wouldn't get a day like this again anytime soon. Best to enjoy it. Deciding he was hungry, he set off for the food booth.
Now at the car show, Perry sets himself the task of combing the area for dropped change, discarded food (though so early in the morning there is little to be had), and scanning the faces and attire of attendees, hoping to find familiar features... or at least dull-looking folk with name-tags he can exploit.
Time has passed since, Richard was in a town like this. It was the start of something new. Fresh into a new place, had spelled safe. The clean slate was ready to be written on. The young musician was ready to write it.

Richard was not the type for the technicals of anything. Even in his passion of music, he kept it simple. If it sounded good, keep it. Simple had got him this far, mostly. Life was complicated and there isn't much else to do besides taking it all in. Something like that must be done slowly, to keep general sanity.

"I hope this will be worth it." he whispered.

He lugged around a musical keyboard, as the wind almost blew his hat to the side. The park looked busy enough to play for tips. People kept their attention on the cars. Soon enough, a few would be kind enough to spare a dollar. If not he was sure to least start a little following.

Stopping just down a few yards from the show, the young man set up. A case squeaked, as it opened. Equipment clicked and clanked as it was put together. It was almost show time to him. Maybe this time there won't be any need for violence.
It seemed like a nice day today to sit on a bench and eat a sandwich. That's exactly what Harry was doing. He just enjoyed the weather and sunlight, minding his own business, feeling everything and everyone moving around him. One thing that had him pensive was the weird dream he had, it was more like a choppy memory more than anything. It was weird. Eventually it would come back to him, but it might not. He put it out of his mind for now and focused on his sandwich, which was delicious by the way.
I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe;
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see,
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

Soft, pale lips curved at the corners where they joined, turning an otherwise mellow expression into one of curiosity and slight amusement. The smile, for it was indeed a smile, had been caused by the lush red apple craddled in a hand gifted with long and slender fingers that any pianist would have been jealous of. Any piano instructor, however, would have strongly disapproved of the long, rounded nails that graced each digit. Not that it mattered though because Annabel had never even seen a piano in person, nevermind attempted to play one.

The apple was the cause of her sudden remembering of the strange and slightly dark poem that now echoed in her mind, though she supposed that the tree from which it had fallen was responsible as well. A bit of self pity welled up in her chest as she wished the apple would also help her remember the odd dreams she'd been having lately. Well, odd compared to her usual dreams, anyway...

What was she thinking of? Oh yes.

The forest she currently stood within was that of a mixture of wild deciduous and evergreens. There shouldn't have been an apple tree this far out in the wilderness, and she was one hundred percent certain that no family or even one person alone lived closeby. So why the seemingly random apple tree? She asked herself this as she slowly turned the ruby fruit in her grip, inspecting it with her dark gaze; dark of course because her eyecolor was a deep brown, not because she was in anyway evil.

No, she was not evil. And though her hometown had been bluntly aware of what she was, they had never considered the possibility that she was of the evil persuasion. If they thought anything badly of her, it was that she tended to be a bit...out to lunch, as Old Man Ledreau had once called her. She admitted and had accepted that she often had a wandering mind, but that was only because she was usually so deep in thought. Nevertheless, outsiders did not understand Annabel the way her friends and family did, so it was the utmost seriousness and need that she keep to herself the fact that she was a witch.

Of course reminder drew her thoughts, for a moment, to the satchel she carried with her always. It was slung across her shoulder as she stood by the mysterious apple tree and she could feel the weight of her grimoire as it sat nestled in the satchel and bundled in copious amounts of cloth.

Back to the apple.

She studied it for a moment longer before crouching to set the apple down exactly where she'd found it. Then she righted herself and decided she'd had her fill of mysterious sights for one day and began her trek back into the town. As she walked with a leisurely pace, she heard a few woodland creatures moving about in the thick of the forest. She was not frightened, even after an experienced as terrifying as one from her childhood.

In due time, she emerged from the woods and stepped onto asphalt. Immediately she heard the sound of laughter and music and all round merriment, no doubt coming from the carshow. And since she had decided not to eat that mysterious apple, an alternative was required. She could smell the food booths already and from there, she let her nose lead her along. Only when she had a corndog smothered in ketchup and mustard did she take notice of the people around her.

Most she knew as members of the town. She'd only been in Reminiscence for under half a year but it was a small, close-knit community and it hadn't taken more than a few weeks to learn all of their names and faces. Others she knew were strangers from neighboring towns and perhaps even a few bigcity folks. One person in particular that she spotted in the crowd, or rather, by the edge of the crowd, was the man who just so happened to own the apartment she was currently renting. For a moment she debated on whether to go strike up conversation with him like a good tenant should, but she decided against it in the end only because she'd noticed on each occasion that they had crossed paths that he disliked socializing. Poor guy, she thought, because he was, at that point, locked in conversation with someone.

So instead, Annabel scanned the area for a place to sit and enjoy her corndog, finding a bench not too far away. A man was already seated upon it, enjoying a sandwhich, and so she silently dubbed the bench a designated location for eating finger foods. "Good day," she said with a slow smile after approaching the bench and claiming one half to sit and rest her weary feet. She was speaking to the young man occupying the other half of the bench of course and not the bench itself.

That would have been silly.
"Yes it is." Harry said to the girl who was now sitting next to him, she had a corndog. Those were pretty good, but Harry would rather have a good sandwich, which he did right now. What sucked though is the sandwich would not last much longer. Food never did last long. "Some cool cars over there." He gestured toward the car show, but brought his hand back to this sandwich for a more controlled bite.
Ander had almost managed to steady himself. For the most part, the crowd was happy. It was a lovely day, too. Nervousness. It wasn't his own, but someone was approaching and close enough for their feelings to be distinguished from the crowd. Ander turned as the woman spoke to him, putting on his best air of charming interest.

“Ah, they're directly across from us, actually. Hard to tell with so many people here.” He gestured in the direction of the booths, which could hardly be seen through people and were just raising their signs to try and garner more attention. As he indicated the booths, he was momentarily distracted by another feeling, one of... hope? Optimism? He wasn't sure.

Ander glanced over his shoulder, noting the musician setting up. Well, Ander hoped the man had good luck. However, his presence made it obvious that there would be no room left to just hide away. Might as well step into the thick of it and get it over with. It was like the first dip into a cold lake: one had to get their head under for a few seconds to acclimatise. He gave his attention back to the young woman.

“Miss, if you don't mind, I'll walk with you. I need to get something to drink.” He frowned, thinking for a moment. “I've seen you around town, yes?”
Off to the west, a few clouds were gathering in the sky. They went largely unnoticed by auto enthusiasts and vendors. Set up completed, people started to really get into the spirit of the day. A man called out, offering raffle tickets for a dollar a piece, seven for five dollars! Another gent was settling his various trophies out on a blanket in front of a very expensive looking car. Vendors had their wares out, and the smell of food and cars filled the air.
Sitting on a makeshift seat, Rich took a deep breath. For a few seconds, he just stared at the keys. In every person, there is a state of focus one must achieve. The focus was being mentally sought after. Slowly, fingers ran across the keys. A smile cracked the face. His foot began to tap at a low speed. Scanning the landscape, Rich seemed ready. Focus as found.

Hum sounds filled up his throat, quietly slipping out. Subtly, right-handed fingers pressed keys within a few steps to middle C.


The left hand lifted and hit an lower A octave. At that moment, Rich started to actually play something. It was intended to be the baseline for this particular cover.

Right: A-C-A-C-G-A-C-A-C-Ab​-A-C-A-C-F-C-A-C-F-C-A-C-F
Left: A oct..........Bb​ oct...F oct........................
Bb​ oct.....

His words were, for the most part, soft and deep. It was barely above a whisper.

I am colorblind,
Coffee black and egg white,
Pull me out from inside,
I am ready,
I am ready,
I am ready,

I ammmm,
Taffy stuck and tongue tied,
Stuttered shook and uptight,
Pull me out from inside,
I am ready,
I am ready,
I am ready,
I am...fine,
I am covered in skin,
No one gets to come in,
Pull me out from inside,
I am folded, and unfolded, and unfolding,
I ammmmmmmmmm,
Coffee black and egg white,
Pull me out from inside,
I am ready,
I am ready,
I am ready,
I am...fine,
I am.... fine,
I am fine....

The final octave and F combo trailed off, letting the moment sit. Finally, eye opening, he looked to see if anyone had come to listen. A few. The ones that did clapped and cheered. Rich waved slightly, smiling.

"Thank you." he retorted to the cheers.
“Yup. Tell me about it.” Esther followed the line of his finger to the booths, which had only just magically come into sight under the guidance of Smith’s digit. Briefly, her gaze lifted upward, studying the clouds. She hoped it wasn’t going to rain; she hadn’t brought an umbrella, and she looked like a drowned rat when she got wet.

She glanced back at Smith when he spoke again. Initially, Esther was surprised he remembered her. After living in a big city for a while, she sometimes forgot she was hard to miss in a small town. Then she realized that it was probably part of his mission in life to remember and coddle people, being wealthy and whatnot. Make them feel cozy, and such.

Still, he was being nice, and she always appreciated a kind word her way, even if she didn’t think anybody really gave a damn. She offered him a half-smile in return, beginning to walk at a leisurely pace. “You’d know better than I would, Mr. Smith. And I don’t mind at all. This crowd would drive me to drink, too.”

Glittery though they were, the trophies didn’t catch her eye as she passed them- they didn’t serve a practical purpose. As they walked, the singing she’d heard died away in the roar of the crowd. She hadn’t really been listening to the words, just the music and the tone of his voice. Pleasant stuff.

“I’m a peon under HDD Contractors, so you probably saw me handing out coffee and donuts to the supervisors over at the theater,” she drawled, putting a hand to her stomach like it would muffle the sound of it growling. “They’ve sure done a good job keeping that old thing upright. Can’t imagine what it looked like before they got hold of it.”
"My Gawd" Perry thought to himself as he hoisted his prize from the trashcan, "Who throws out a hotdog after only one bite?!"

A quick nibble revealed exactly why... but still, yannow, free hotdog. Luckily no one had seen his little excursion, being that the trashcan was placed away from the show-floor.

Strolling triumphantly towards the crowd, Perry noticed the orange Saleen S7 with the minor scratches on the hubcaps where someone had obviously been careless while transporting it, the indents on the seats where someone roughly 4'6" and 150 pounds... a fat child likely... had sat in it likely during an imagined joy-ride, the way that the dirt of the showlot only made it a short way on the tires indicating it had been rolled off the truck who's tread-loaders were off by apparently 2 inches if you accounted for the way that the left rear tire was less inflated...

"Gah!" Perry shouted suddenly, tearing his eyes from the otherwise beautiful car... where was a downer-dealer when you needed it? even half a phenobarbitol would reeeeally help right now...

Hastily he scanned the crowd, noting the glances of worry, disdain, concern, and revulsion that greeted him from those who had bothered to look after his outburst. He did his best to look innocent and benign, playing the part of the 'junkie with problems' and hoping that some trumped-up mall cop didn't decide to stick his baton into things.

All was well, they came to look at cars, not bum-y twenty-somethings. He was soon ignored.

Here was an interesting sight. Two folks talking on a bench, sharing a corn-dog and a sandwich respectively... by the looks of things either he had sat down first or he was a much faster eater than her. They looked roughly the same age... but it was never a sure thing... and he was taller. he had glasses she didn't, man did she love costume jewelry... none of which seemed particularly impressive... and he...

Blast it! Perry turned away from the two. He was fixating again! Breathing... that was the thing. Focus on breathing... Don;t notice the cigarette smoke... the WD-40, the cleansers... every... damn.... breath!!!

Perry shook his head violently and moved to a more secluded area. Looking out into the crowd again, he spotted a man, dressed in grey and blue, fedora... weird shoelaces... talking and looking important. Even from this distance Perry could see the strained smile that gave away that this man was uncomfortable in this crowd and only here to be sociable... keys, wallet, cellphone... pocket contents if the bulges were anything to judge by. And fine clothes too. More expensive than most around him... he was...

'That must be that Ander fellow from the paper!' Perry recalled with delight. 'I do wonder how he'd react to my appearance. Perhaps I can fake being an old school buddy or something... crashing at HIS place would probably put hotels to shame.'

Damn someone was playing some... disagreeable music. Worst yet, it was downright catchy. Perry hated it when someone played something he didn't like well... especially if it stuck in your mind. The guy was talented and all, but...

back to Ander. How would he do it? He was talking with some lady... a lady with some mighty twitchy fingers... someone who appraised almost as good as he did by the looks of things...

how to couch-surf a rich guy's pad... hmmmm
Ander nodded once, strolling through the crowd. The skin around his eyes tightened as his discomfort grew in the mass of people. He did his best to force himself to appear relaxed. Only the most discerning eyes would have picked up on the fact that his jaw was slightly clenched. To top everything off, his leg was hurting him today. At least it was a distraction, but it likely meant rain.

Ander glanced to the sky, frowning at the gathering clouds. They were moving this way, getting darker as they neared. He could have sworn the weather was supposed to be mostly clear. The wind was picking up, too. He dragged his mind back to the conversation, forcing a rather convincing smile.

“Ah, yes. I remember you, now. The theatre is a bit of a pet project, to be honest. I'm hoping we can get some good plays going there, maybe a community theatre to perform. We're also going to show old movies for a dollar a ticket; give people a chance to see things on the big screen that they haven't in years, or are too young to have in the first place.”

His foot hit something, a bit of trash that bounced off into the crowd. For a moment, he let it catch his attention, diverting him from the crush of emotions around him. Unfortunately, it was only barely a diversion; he soon found himself drawing to a stop and shaking his head.

“Apologies,” he offered. “Bit of a headache.” He reached into his pocket, pulling out his wallet. “I am most thankful for the work you are helping with at the theatre. Perhaps we could talk about it more?” They were nearing the craft booths, but Ander had spotted a nearby drink stand. “Would you like something to drink while you're looking at crafts?” He withdrew a twenty, holding it up to indicate that drinks were on him. “A lemonade or a snow cone?”
Delicious breaded assemblage of meat slathered in a tangy sweet mixture. Unfortunately Annabel had to pause every few bites of that corndog just to push back her hair from her face, giggling softly as she felt the ends of her wavy brown mane tickle the patch of her lower back that was left exposed from her shirt riding up on her hips.

'Birthing hips' her grandmother had called them and coming from Granma, that was a compliment. Annabel smiled to herself as she wondered for the millionth time what her children would look like. It didn't matter of course, because she would love them all the same, but she was still curious. How many would she have? Would she pass along her powers to any of them? And then she reminded herself that she first had to find a husband before she could have the answers to those questions; that she was being impatient and getting ahead of herself. Giving her head a little shake, she let thoughts of the far away future tumble out her ears and hoped they wouldn't crawl back inside until their appropriate time but rather remain resting on her shoulders like a well-behaved parrot. And so she was content to sit, eat, and listen to the sounds of the little Fair: a sale call for tickets, children laughing or stomping their feet in a tantrum, a keyboard and singer.

When the young gentleman beside her spoke of cars, she nodded in agreement, lifting her free hand to point in a slightly different direction than he had. "There too," she said in a simple tone and returned to her meal.

Together, they ate in happy silence until Annabel had cleaned the popsicle stick her corndog had once clung to. Only then did she tilt her head to the sky and take note of the clouds in the west. She smiled up at that sky, wondering if what humans knew about clouds was correct or simply an assumption. What if, she thought, the clouds had conscious thought? What if a thunderstorm was a family reunion turned sour? What if snow was a cloud at the barber shop for a trim? And even if they didn't have intelligence, did they at least have feelings? If so, then the ones that rained down on the human world were probably sad that they didn't have names.

"Marcus," she said after a moment, pointing at the clouds. She moved her extended finger a fraction of an inch before saying, "Danica." Ah... Her imagination was running wild again and that poor gentleman beside her probably thought she was batty!
Harry crumpled up the aluminum foil he had wrapped his sandwich in and tossed it in front of him amongst the crowd; he'd probably pick it up later. He stretched his arms above his head and let them rest along the top of the bench. The weather had been pretty sunny so far but it looked like clouds were muscling in to block out the sunshine. Rain was okay, but if he got too wet his clothes would start smelling funny. Harry heard the chick next to him giggle, but he didn't inquire why, assuming she was remembering something funny or that she was crazy.

After a while the possibly crazy young lady spoke again. At first Harry thought she was calling him Marcus but soon realized by observing her outstretched arm and pointing hand that she was naming the clouds. "Friends of yours?" he said dryly in good humor.

Entering through his field of vision from the right, Harry saw Alexander Smith walking through the crowd. The only reason he knew the guy's name was because the town was so small and the dude was so rich, making mucho contributions to the development of the town and being mentioned a lot. Which really was a swell thing. Harry watched with some amusement as Alexander's foot connected with his aluminum wad. The movement of the little bundle of trash registered on his 'radar' and he made note of it in case he wanted to pick it up and throw it away. Which he probably would.
“Plays, huh? The old folks’ll get a kick out of that.” She wasn’t as sure about the young ones. Old Hollywood glamour appealed to her, so the movies sounded good, but plays? Not her thing. Where were they gonna get actors, anyway? Were they expecting them to move in after they finished sprucing up the town? They were doing a good enough job so far, but Esther still had her doubts.

The wind blew her hair into her eyes. She brushed it out of the way just in time to narrowly miss bumping into a man she vaguely recognized as one of the cooks at Reminiscence’s restaurant. He hadn’t looked happy the last time she’d seen him, and he didn’t look happy now, either. She scooted out of his way, catching up with Smith in a few quick steps. It wasn’t hard to; he’d stopped abruptly.

“Don’t worry about it,” she told Smith when he apologized, eyeing him. Something about his demeanor was off, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. “We can chat if you’d like, but to tell you the truth, I don’t know too much about the project. I’m not from around here. Just moved in a few months ago… A lemonade sounds lovely. Thank you,” she added, grinning wholeheartedly this time. “I like snowcones, but it looks like it’ll just get rained on.”
Aaron felt a place deep inside him drink up the feelings around him. It was a different feeling every time, but each time it was pleasant. He maneuvered his way through the crowds, trying to find something to eat. He avoided the booth run by the restaurant where he worked. His eyes scanned the food vendors, but in truth his mind was elsewhere.

He liked the town of Reminiscence, and in the nearly twelve months he had lived here he had come to know it well; or at least as well as a homebody with few close friends could come to know a town. But he couldn't stay here. There wasn't anything here for him. He had come hoping to find other people like him, and so far had found nothing. Finding nothing, he had decided to move on. The only problem was where to go.

His thoughts ran away with him, and he barely noticed himself collide with a woman as she walked past. In conversation with her tall male companion, she didn't notice her necklace fall to the ground. Aaron looked at it for a moment, then picked it up. He walked over to where to she had stopped, still talking to the tall man.

"Hey, you dropped this."
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