All That Glimmers Is Gold


colette_icon.gif munin_icon.gif

Scene Title All That Glimmers Is Gold
Synopsis Munin happens upon Colette on the rooftop of Cliffside Apartments.
Date October 23, 2008

Cliffside Apartments — Rooftop

From the third story rooftop of Cliffside Apartments, the dirty and gray skyline of Long Island City comes into full view. Surrounded on all sides by industrial complexes, warehouses and factories, this converted mill building views little more than a sea of concrete and glass. To the northwest, the jagged skyline of Manhattan shows the bristling and broken husks of buildings ruined by the bomb, half visible in their gutted states.

The roof itself is spacious, and like man apartment complexes features a small community garden of vegetables in black plastic bins. Tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and an assortment of other easy to grow plants are shared by the tenants, originally planted by the building owner back before the bomb. Some old and worn patio furniture has been brought up onto the roof as well to allow modest relaxation, though much of it is usually occupied by the innumerable birds that seem to gravitate to the building. Ravens, mostly, perch upon the ledges and furniture during most hours of the day and night.

It's a beautiful day in the city, for as much of a lackluster view as this rooftop affords. The skies are a clear sheet of azure blue that spreads from one end of the horizon to the other, marred only by the jagged gray of industrial complexes and distant skyscrapers. Amidst the jumble of small vegetable gardens and tacky lawn furniture, the usual silence and peace of the rooftop is slain by the thumping pulse of electronic music that booms out from a deceptively small portable boombox sitting in one of the lawn chairs. The pulsing beat echoes with an angry voice shouting out over the music.

Say your name.

Try to speak as clearly as you can.

Sitting cross-legged on the dirty roof is a young girl who's head bobs up and down to the music, choppy black hair swaying about as she nods her head up and down to the noise. In front of her a large piece of paper has been laid out, some four feet tall and three feet wide, held down on the corners by loose bricks that had been discarded on the roof.

You know everything gets written down.

Nod your head.

One of her hands is almost completely blackened, with smudges up her forearm getting perilously close to where she's pushed up the sleeves of her black hooded sweatshirt. Her other hand is chalk white, also smudged and smeared. Her fingertips brush and dance across the surface of the paper, making dark and light lines over the inexpensive paper canvas. The girl doesn't seem to be using anything as a reference, and it shows in the rather abstract depictions being smeared out across the paper.

Just in case they could be watching.

With their shiny satellite.

What she's fingerpainting looks to be a city scene, old gray skyscrapers with large, almost cartoonish cracks in them, smears of black and gray on the bottom of the paper create a stylized representation of the sidewalk, windows shaded in hues of gray have smudges of black inside, like dark silhouettes of people waiting within. Nearby, there are small and dirty plastic cups filled with colorful acrylic paint, the black, white, red and yellow tubs are opened, though only the first two look to have been used.

I hope they cannot see.

The limitless potential.

Living inside of me.

The young girl's lips move to the lyrics of the song, shoulders swaying from side to side, occasionally her lips crooking up into an amused smirk as she continues to detail the abstract shapes of other buildings in the distance in dark shades of black, these ones even more crooked and deformed than the last. The wind blows, catching her hair and blowing her bangs to the side, revealing one green and one white eye, brows furrowed in mild concentration.

To murder everything.

I hope they cannot see.

I am the great destroyer!

She runs her tongue over her lips, crawling up to her knees, and settles down one palm on the corner of the paper, imprinting her hand on the surface as clearly as she can, and the paper lifts up some from the tackiness of the touch as she leaves her mark on the surface, and then begins to reach for the red and orange paint, dipping her index fingers into the tubs, beginning to swirl and stroke across the top of the picture, creating a monet-like whorl of fiery colors that dance between and above the buildings.

If there's one good thing to be said about noise pollution, it's that it makes going unnoticed much easier. Were it not for the sound of the music, Colette would almost certainly hear the soft sound of bare feet moving across the layer of gravel that covers the rooftop. She isn't alone. Nearby, a large black bird lights on an old antenna, curling its toes around the perch with such force that it causes the metal to bend like thin pieces of clay beneath its feet. Clacking its beak, it cranes its neck as if to get a better look at the painting, and then lets out a loud, raucous croak followed by a few furious beats of its monstrous wings.

Everyone's a critic.

"You might want to think about doing that down on the street." The voice, though low and gentle, can be heard clearly above the music. It comes from behind Colette and is accompanied by a vaguely human-shaped shadow that casts itself across the canvas as the speaker approaches. "Wind won't take it, but he will if'n you give him the chance."

Turn it up.

Listen to the shit they pump into your head.

Filling you with apat—

Colette reaches over to pause the CD playing when she hears a voice and the cry of that enormous bird, leaving a smeared orange and red fingerprint on the cheap boombox, and the girl's mis-matched eyes go wide when she sees someone else up on the rooftop with her. She startles, landing down on her backside as she looks up to see Bran perched on the old antenna, then back to the wild-haired girl looming over the finger-painting. One hand comes up, scratching at her cheek and leaving a painted smear down one side of her face towards her jaw. "Oh — Hey!" She smiles broadly, only giving a hesitant glance back at the bird, shaking her head in one quick motion to brush her bangs out of her eyes. "S-sorry, was that too loud? I figured it was alright, m'sorry!"

A smile creeps up on her lips as she turns around to fully view her observer, head cocked to the side with one brow raised. "I was down on the street earlier, but there were some sketchy guys across the street, so I came up here." She looks over her shoulder towards the boombox and the painting, "I was totally working out some frustrations! Got this really cheap paint set down on Canal Street and I feel like I'm a little kid again, s'great!" Her nose wrinkles as she stops rambling on, one hand thrust out towards Munin with paint-covered fingers, "M'Colette." Her head tilts to the side, black bangs swishing over her blinded eye, "Your accent is awesome."

Munin raises both her dark eyebrows at Colette, the corners of her mouth turning up into something halfway between a smile and a smirk. "You're the one with the accent," she teases, her pale green eyes full of laughter despite the slight reprimand in her tone. Without hesitating, she reaches out and takes Colette's hand in her own, giving it a short but friendly squeeze that makes the paint ooze through the space between both their fingers. If she had any reservations about getting messy, she must have abandoned them earlier in the day — there's so much dirt wedged beneath her nails that their tips have taken on a blackish colour to match the smudges on her chin and the apron she wears overtop her cardigan and jeans. Tucked behind one of her ears is a single amaranth blossom. "I'm Eileen. D'you live here, or are you just visiting? I didn't see your name last I looked at the callbox."

When she feels the slippery handshake, finally realizing she offered a paint-covered hand, Colette lets out an audible squeak, stepping back a hair and ducking her head as her lips upturn into a wry smile, "S-sorry!" She looks down at her hands, and them just wipes them off on her worn jeans, meeting other paint splotches on them. Her eyes, though, don't ever really leave Munin's form, in one spot or another. There's something magnetic about her that keeps Colette's focus, and whenever it tries to stray some newly noticed article of clothing or detail about the girl just keeps her attention.

"Oh — Um, yeah, I ah, I live in 301," Her head tips towards the stairs, messy bangs swishing across her brow as she does, "I live with Felix Ivanov, sorta' temporary. I don't really have anywhere else to go." Content with at least getting some of the paint off of her hands, Colette straightens and lets her teeth tug gently on her lower lip, eyes that were at one time both nearly the same shade as Munin's lingering on the older girl's. "You live here too? I ah, can't really say I've gotten to know more than one neighbor so far."

At the name 'Felix Ivanov', there's an almost imperceptible narrowing of Munin's eyes as the colour drains from her cheeks and she purses her lips into a introspective expression. Her gaze shifts from Colette to the bird, and then back again. "Yeah," she says, "though I don' know how long me husband an' I plan to stay. I expect we'll be back on our feet before too long." Using her apron to smear most of the paint and some off the dirt off her hands, she moves around Colette's artwork with her head canted at a curious angle — a mirror image of the raven perched on the antennae. When her chin jerks upright again, so does he. "Are you related?" she asks. "To Mister Ivanov, I mean."

Watching the girl circle her painting, Colette looks down to the paper, then back up to those pale green eyes, "Oh — Husband." She smiles awkwardly and nods her head, shoulders rolling a little as her forefingers rub together, wearing flakes of paint from her fingertips. Colette glances back down to the gravel, only now noticing that Munin is barefoot, one dark brow raising slowly, and it only stays raised at the question. "Related? To Felix?" A laugh snorts out as she shakes her head and crouches down, picking up the plastic lids to her paint tubs, screwing them on slowly. "No, I don't have any family anymore…"

There's a silence that lingers for just a moment too long, a bad subject reaches, "I um, actually I'm supposed to be living with a different person — Judah. He got hurt in the line of work though, now he's in the hospital…" She stops putting on the caps, just sitting there with her shoulders rolled forward.

After a moment, Colette looks back up to Munin, watching her carefully as her head tilts to the side, "Felix is a good guy though, I guess. He doesn't mind me bein' out all hours of the night, or not goin' to school n'stuff. Judah's more do something with your life or something like that." Her nose wrinkles, "But…" She shakes her head again, wind blowing across the roof to cause her bangs to fall down in front of her eyes once more. "So, you — you're married?" There's a bit of surprise, "You… you don't look much older than me."

Munin takes a seat on the edge of the roof, perhaps a little closer to the raven than is probably wise. "Does that surprise you?" Rhetorical question. "Lots of people get married for things other'n love," she says, "especially these days, with the way things are." She holds out her hand to the raven and waits, patiently, until he edges closer and begins to nibble on her fingertips, exploring the residues of Colette's paint with the edge of his beak. "I found a glimmer of happiness an' snatched it up so it couldn't get away from me. Now he's all I have." Her voice remains serene, the look on her face content, but inside she's sick with worry. Nobody told her that they were living in the same apartment complex as Felix Fucking Ivanov. Worse, she doubts it was intentional. "You ought'a come over sometime," she offers. "For dinner, maybe. He'll want to meet you."

Tilting her head to the side, Colette watches Munin make her way to the edge of the roof, then as she settles down to sit by the raven, there's a momentary reaction as if to call out a warning. But in the way Bran reacts, the way the bird gingerly seems to only investigate, there's a dawning look of confusion that comes over Colette, "Woah that bird is tame." She starts approaching, perhaps a little too carelessly as she talks, shoes crunching the gravel underfoot

"I… I don't really think I'll ever get married." She says with a hint of sarcasm, slowing her approach as she gets within an uneasy closeness of the bird, "M'not the type… really." Her eyes wander from Bran to Munin, "You're lucky, though, to have someone who cares about you." There's a mild smile, "You know, the kind that's not one-sided. S'hard to find…" Her eyes flit back over to the bird again, fingers curling and uncurling, like she wants to reach out for it.

"Yeah," She says with a smile, only her response giving her pause, "I could totally do that sometime, been trying to make some friends, you know? I met Gillian Childs, down on floor two. She's really cool, helped me get Felix's cat back inside when he ran off." Her nose wrinkles, "I… kind've don’t have very many friends."

"If you didn't have people who cared about you, you wouldn't be up here with me," Munin points out, urging the raven to shift his feet from the antennae to the veiny skin of her wrist so she can lift him within Colette's reach. He's more than happy to oblige. "You'd be languishin' in a gutter somewhere. Candlelit dinners, rose petals an' satin — all that frilly, lovey-dovey stuff? S'overrated. Worse, it don't last. So long as you got somebody who'll hold you when you wanna have a good cry, things is gold."

A little color comes to Colette's cheeks as she listens to Munin, and something of a bittersweet smile. From the sounds of the older girl's words, there's some experience speaking there, and she can't help but understand the hurt in that, but it doesn't make what she says any more wrong. "Yeah… I — I guess I have that." Her smile grows more honest, "She's kind've flakey though." Her nose wrinkles, smile growing a bit as one hand very carefully reaches out for Bran, then withdraws slowly, "Um, is… is he your pet? I mean, that like really cool, but is he gonna bite me? I like my fingers." She wiggles them, as if in example.

"He'd be real cross if you tried to treat him like a dog," Munin says with a laugh. "He's nobody's pet. Just used to people." With a slight bounce of her wrist, she encourages the raven to hop from her arm over to Colette's. His claws tangle in the fabric of her hoodie as he awkwardly shifts his weight from one foot to the other and tries to find purchase. "Careful you don't get up in his face," she adds as an obligatory warning, "I doubt he'll nip, but you're better safe'n sorry."

Colette's eyes go wide and she freezes stiffly and awkwardly as the frightening bird takes alight into the air, only to settle down on her arm. Her mouth hangs open slightly, breathing in and out short, scared breaths. Though, when Bran remains steady, tail feathers tipping up and down to help maintain that precarious balance, there's a hesitant smile that creeps up on her lips. "He…" The sound of her nervous swallow quells her words for a moment, "He's heavier than he looks…" But her tone has a sense of child-like wonder to it. "Are… are all of the birds that come up here your friends? Like, I think I scared 'em off with my radio…" She, briefly, looks down to Munin as that is said. "M'sorry about that, I'll be more considerate next time…"

"They shouldn't be roosting up here, anyway. No need to apologize." Munin glances back toward the open door that leads downstairs, into the apartment complex proper. "I gotta be getting back," she says, a small frown beginning to settle across her features, "I told him I was just gonna pop my head out to see what all the ruckus was about. Don't want his mind to wander to places it ought not."

Colette smirks slightly and nods, holding her arm out with Bran upon it back towards Munin, "Best take him with you then, right?" She smiles gently, "I'm not sure i'm much of a bird person, but he is cute." Her nose wrinkles, "In his own angry-looking way." When she tilts her head to the side, the girl looks Munin up and down again, "Maybe I'll fingerpaint a picture of 'em next time."

"If'n you do, I'd like to see it." Rather than return to Munin, Bran takes the opportunity to spread his wings and leaps off Colette's arm into the air, wheeling around the rooftop a few times before he swoops over the edge and out of sight. No, he won't be going with her if she plans on heading back downstairs — you couldn't convince him to come inside even if you fed him. "Take care, Colette. An' keep your chin up, yeah?"

October 23rd: Forget Me Not
Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

October 23rd: Paper Frogs Like Cottage Cheese
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