Ain't Finished


eileen_icon.gif sable_icon.gif

Scene Title Ain't Finished
Synopsis Sable catches Eileen at the end of her daily walk to talk poetry, song lyrics and love.
Date November 16, 2010

Pollepel Island

These days, the chances of glimpsing Eileen are comparable to snapping a picture of a snow leopard in the middle of a Tibetan blizzard, but every storm must eventually abate, and it's in the sallow glow of dawn that she emerges from the frosted trees at the end of her morning walk and seems to float up the embankment that leads to one of the fortress' great stone archways and the entry beyond it. A dense blanket of fog covers the Englishwoman's tracks and makes her silhouette difficult to identify, but not impossible.

Especially if someone knows what they're looking for. She pauses in the shadow of a crumbling stone column covered in thick cords of dead ivy and raises her left hand, coaxing a lone sparrow down from its perch and inviting it to hook clawed feet in the softer material of her lambskin gloves. A nightgown and heavy wool coat paired with walking boots aren't ideal for the winter weather, but it's the same thing she wears every morning when she patrols the island's shores alone and then winds a snaking path through its forests. For whatever reason, she does not seem uncomfortable.

Luck is fickle, a probabilistic coquette, holding back until you reach the limit of your endurance before dropping the least of favors, endeavoring you to press on. For the diligent and the dedicated, luck will exhaust - such people need constancy and progression. They need commitment, and luck does not permit itself to get tied down. For the lazy, idle, or merely itinerant, the dilettante nature of luck can be manageable. On again, off again works well for some, those of an easy going temper.

How easy going Sable genuinely is could be debated. But she's long since dispensed with the belief that luck is something you can chase. Playing it cool, she would contend, is favored by fortune just as often as boldness. As such, while Eileen Ruskin has most certainly been on Sable's mind in a manner that, however intermittent, has been insistent, she hasn't been dedicating herself to tracking said woman down. When it blizzards in Tibet, this particular minute monk stays in her mountain monastery. She has been confidence that when the time comes, their paths will cross. That luck will smile on her.

A mindset much more easily cultivated when you genuinely believe that Fate is stacking the deck in your favor.

While it may be more the Narrative than the Norns that really hold Sable in any sort of regard, the end result is the same. Driven from sleep much earlier than she'd like, strong armed into helping out with the rather meager breakfast preparations, Sable has since escaped into the open air, her own clothing not entirely adequate for the descending temperatures. A baggy BU hoodie, the same she's had on almost constantly within the chilly confines of the castle, a pair of cargo pants that are too threadbare to provide much protection, headphones that murmur softly from their sling about Sable's neck - she's a little more demonstrative about the cold, giving visible shivers that have to be just a little bit put-on or played up.

Ensconced in fog, Sable's able to stand at the other side of the archway, stomping her feet and futzing around in her hoodie's single front pocket, for a fair few seconds before noticing Eileen's shape amidst the mist. Even then, it's only because Sable does a quick scan of the area, a classic 'I'm about to do something not allowed' type proximity search, followed by, appropriately, the extraction of a ziplock bag from aforementioned pocket. Within: two pale, hand rolled cigarettes that probably don't contain tobacco. The contraband is frozen in mid-retrieval when Sable does the double take that finally brings Eileen into the full presence of Sable's conscious notice. Yellow eyes narrow, peering, trying to discern who…

"That..? Who's that there, eh?" is her question, watchful but wary of being watched, halfway between sentry and spy.

The sound of the sparrow's wings aren't quite like the crack of a gunshot. A hawk or a raven would produce a much louder, deeper report. Instead, it makes a noise similar to twigs breaking under foot, but even this is amplified in the absolute stillness of the November morning.

"Eileen," says the specter, and she does not have to say it very loudly for her voice to carry. The curtain parts, or seems to, and she climbs the stone steps that bridge the gap between them. There's no mud caked to the bottom of her boots, which says more about the intimacy with which Eileen knows the island than it does her feelings about getting dirty. That her nails are like glass is probably incidental.

"Good morning."

"Bid me so jus' moments 'go," Sable says, smile affixing itself, if crookedly, to her lips, "I'd've taken issue. But seein' as it's you so biddin' me, I now can't but agree, hon. A good mornin' surely. And I'll say it's about fuckin' time, if y'll stomach foul language so early in th' day."

As Eileen resolves out of the island's cloudy veil, Sable takes a few steps towards her, a minor enough motion, but meant to convey Sable's own interest in closing the gap between them. A thumb slips against the ziplock's zip, her own nail - far from glasslike, speckled white from inconsistent nutrition and simple abuse - digs down and pops the bag open.

"Been meanin'," she says as she tips the bag and retrieves a cigarettes one-handed, sliding it to her thumb which catches it and draws it out, "t' get ahold 'f y'. Only didn't seem right, things bein' as they are f'r you in yer grandness 'n' importance, t' seek y' out." She pauses from speaking briefly, long enough to use her mouth to press the bag shut again, refusing (for whatever reason) to use her unoccupied hand. Cowardice on that appendage's part, maybe. It's staying safely within the relative warmth of her sweater's marsupial pocket.

"Got a light, babe?" is probably not what Sable's been hoping to 'get ahold' of Eileen for, but it's the most current concern. "I'm more th'n willin' t' share, too, if yer so inclined. You out here on business, or what? Gotta admit, c'n never tell with y'. Y'all play it close t' th' vest. One 'f them girls, if y'll f'rgive me makin' a type outta y'."

Eileen's grandness and importance has her mouth adopting a vaguely sardonic shape. "You're forgiven," she says, reaching into her coat pocket to fish out the book of matches she keeps there after she transfers her sparrow to her collar. Forgiven for making a type out of her, forgiven for calling her babe, forgiven for drawing attention to the position she's inadvertently put herself in — it isn't clear which, but her tone is gentle so it's probably safe to assume that Eileen tolerates Sable doing all of these things to varying degrees.

She twists off a match at its base and cups her palm around the flickering flame to protect it from the breeze teasing at their hair. "I'm out for myself. Every morning. What brings you this way so early?"

Lips clasp cigarette, cigarette tips forward, flame licks cigarette, lips draw breath - the sequence of actions is almost as old as Sir Walter Raleigh (curse that stupid git!). Sable gives a quick nod of thanks before taking a long toke, singer's lungs swelling to accommodate a sizable quantity of acrid smoke. She holds, then releases in a pale plume, smoke and mist mingling. Hand taps chest as Sable makes a few dry coughs. The cherry of her joint gleams dully.

"Much obliged, hon," Sable says, voice just slightly rasped. She, too, could mean a variety of things. Forgiveness or fire, or information, that latter of which, in particular, Sable does not necessarily expect Eileen to be forthcoming about

"Honest?" Sable grins, offering the smoldering cigarette to her companion as matter of etiquette, "tryin' to dodge whatever work needs doin'." There's a slight narrowing of her yellow eyes, an examination of Eileen, trying to see now so much how her purposeful dereliction will go over, but how the shameless admission of said dereliction will go over.

Though it's just a moment she's looking for, a split second reaction, and she's not about to stop talking just to catch it. "Now, I don't figure y' mean t' be enigmatic-like," she carries on, picking up from a previous comment as if there had been no real interruption, "'cause y' pull it off pretty good, 'n' folks aimin' f'r it always look th' fool. In truth, hon, y' leave me wonderin' and hopin' t' pry, but rather then run y' ragged with question after question - which, lemme tell y', ain't hardly beyond me - I figure I got claim t' just a handful, spent wisely, eh?

"So," brows rise further onto pale forehead, "yer poetry. It a matter close 'n' dear, or might a sorry wretch such as m'self take interest? Fair warnin'," a grin flashes, "you say close 'n' dear, it'll be my purpose t' get close 'nuff 'n' dear 'nuff t' y' t' get a gander anyhow."

It's a reaction Sable is looking for, and a reaction that Sable gets: a mirthful twitch at the corner of Eileen's mouth that threatens a smile but shows no teeth. She snuffs out the match, and a thin plume of silver smoke snakes off into the dawn as she gives it a brisk shake, then drops it to the earth. There's more than enough moisture in the air that neither of them have to worry about setting the island ablaze with something carelessly discarded, and it's probably force of habit rather than necessary caution that she places the toe of her boot over the remains.

There are fewer things nearer or dearer to her than the thoughts she puts to paper, but she also values compromise, and while there's reluctance in the uneasy silence that follows, the silence itself does not last for very long. "She climbs the trunk with the tips of her fingers," she says, "finding footholds where his vertebrae meet the yielding oak of his spine. A broken nail's edge traces each branch, crooked and threadbare, before it alights somewhere in his canopy and she presses a kiss to the fist-knot where his shoulders meet.

"When he shifts, the earth moves. His breath is the wind passing through the memory of leaves. A voice creaks in the dark and she wraps arms around him, rests a cheek against his roughness." Eileen's focus is abruptly elsewhere. The sparrow's too. "Sap tastes like salt," she concludes. "One breath fills her with the loamy smell of him."

It has been argued that music falls under true poetry's auspices. That poetry contains the musical, while music may not contain the poetical. One can quibble over definitions and distinctions, but one thing can likely be agreed upon - the musician and the poet are cousins in their arts, adjacent and often intermingling.

I mean, only a blasphemer would dare say that Paul Simon wasn't a poet.

This can account for Sable's reaction. She doesn't bliss as she does with songs, but she does close her eyes, a gesture to sensory reduction. A narrowing of the perception so as to commit the mind more fully to the remaining band. In this case, the audible. The sound of Eileen's words. Though the words themselves, highly sensate, invite imagined perceptions. And the mind's eye works best when the body's eye is closed.

When Eileen finishes, Sable's eyes slip open and she gives the slightest of frowns. "That ain't done," is her first reply, "don't feel done, 't least. Feels like- I feel like I ain't gettin' as much 's I want," her look becomes momentarily suspicious, "or is that th' point?"

Eileen does not know whether to be impressed or embarrassed by the accusation. She's right, of course: There is more to that particularly story, but she's being as honest with the other woman as Sable is with her when she confesses, "I don't write down everything."

Maybe she should have chosen less sensitive subject matter to share. "Some things ought to stay between just lovers."

"I hear that…" Sable says, tone one that can only be described as casually reverent. Maybe it's the psychotropics. Of which she takes another, comparatively smaller draw. The smoke is allowed to curl out of her lips and her nostrils as she goes on. "Love gives y' a secret language. Words that got power. But they gotta stay secret, or they get dimmer.

"Shit, it simple f'r you?" Sable asks, clarifying just a beat later, "Bein' in love?" She fidgets with her hood a bit, tugging it up, halfway over her head, before tugging it back down. "I feel like mebbe sometimes it c'n be simple. But I f'rget if that's true 'r if it's just me rememberin' it simple."

Following Sable's question is an apologetic breath of what could be laughter if there was more air in Eileen's lungs and she didn't speak so quietly. "Love is." Simple.

The sparrow's eyes snap back to Sable's hands, watching her fingers pull and crease her hood for lack of any other movement to track. Dark clouds float by. Dead leaves to stubborn to fall jitter in the trees. There's water churning in the river — they can hear it — but the sun has not yet burned off enough of the fog for it to be seen. "People aren't."

"Darlin'," Sable says, a brow arching, "what th' hell's love without th' folk y' feel it f'r? Y' don't call a lover a lover f'r no reason. It ain't no lie when y' call th' one y' love 'my love'. Too fine a hair f'r me t' split, whippoorwill."

Out comes Sable's tongue, though not in the interests of showing disrespect; this is just business. She wets her index finger and thumb, that cowering hand finally venturing out to do some good. A pinch snuffs out the ember at the end of the joint, leaving only the mixed smell of ash and hash. Sable sticks the cigarette, only about one third smoked, behind her ear.

"Dead serious, when I say I'd dig it 'f y' wrote me somethin'. Somethin' t' put t' music. And I won't hold y' t' singing it, though," the taller (finally!!!) girl smiles, brightness directed, purposeful, attempting persuasion, "I still want yer fiddle on m' first record."

Now, Eileen decides, is not the time for debate, whether about love or credits or the absence of. Later — if there is a later — she will insist that the origin of her contribution stays between them, but for now she tucks her hands into the pockets of her coat and starts to move past Sable, continuing up the fortress steps withour craning her neck back to address the woman behind her.

That's the sparrow's job, and it twists in place to perform it. "What do you want me to write about?"

"What it's like t' have th' weight 'f th' world on yer shoulders," comes Sable's answer, springing, whole, from her lips without hesitation or delay, "and mebbe a little 'bout what makes that burden lighter." She stays put, letting Eileen walk away, one eye closing to better goggle at her back with the other.

"I take it back, hon," Sable adds, "y' do mean it, just a little. But y' wear it well."

With Eileen's back to Sable, the transformation that her face undergoes — if it undergoes any transformation at all — will forever be a mystery. Pebbles tinkle in her wake and she rounds a ruddy corner, disappearing around the side of a mossy red rock that supports one of the towering buttresses above.

"They'll be missing you wherever you came from," her voice calls back down at her, but there's something teasing in it that masquerades as reproach but isn't really. "Get back to work."

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