Dinos And Dragons


peyton_icon.gif jim_icon.gif emily_icon.gif

Scene Title Dinos and Dragons
Synopsis A muggy afternoon makes for a great trip to an air-conditioned bookstore
Date August 26, 2018

Prufrock's Books

This tiny bookstore makes up for quaintness and style what it lacks in size and volume. Brightly-painted red doors are an inviting welcome to the little shop. Within, wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling shelves take up three of the four walls, but for the front. There, the cash wrap doubles as a coffee stand, and the cashiers as baristas.

In front of the counter is a small space for a few customers to sit and drink their coffee comfortably. It's set a little like a living room, with a sofa, a coffee table, and armchairs clustered around it, all shades of red, bronze, and violet. On the coffee table sit a few board games, inviting those who wish to stay and linger to do so.

It's a muggy and cloudy Sunday, warm enough that the threat of rain is one that is almost a welcome one, to make a break in the humid, balmy afternoon. Indoors, at least, there's a relief from the over-warm air thanks to fans and drawn curtains and shades. Prufrock's Books is quiet; the morning coffee rush long gone, there are only a few customers in the little bookstore and cafe — shopping for books, buying a snack or coffee (supplies still limited, thanks to food shortages, of course), or simply sitting and reading a new purchase or a potential purchase — or taking advantage of the store's relaxed policy on loitering.

Through the door, Peyton Whitney steps, dressed somehow immaculately in an unwrinkled white linen sheath dress, holding hands with a little boy with a mop of dark curls hair and his mother's brown eyes. "Pick two books for yourself and three for the school library," she says, letting go of his hand now that they're safely indoors. She peers down the aisle to the kids section, to make sure it's safe as Jonah heads that way.

It's a muggy and cloudy Sunday, warm enough that the threat of rain is one that is almost a welcome one, to make a break in the humid, balmy afternoon. Indoors, at least, there's a relief from the over-warm air thanks to fans and drawn curtains and shades. Prufrock's Books is quiet; the morning coffee rush long gone, there are only a few customers in the little bookstore and cafe — shopping for books, buying a snack or coffee (supplies still limited, thanks to food shortages, of course), or simply sitting and reading a new purchase or a potential purchase — or taking advantage of the store's relaxed policy on loitering.

Through the door, Peyton Whitney steps, dressed somehow immaculately in an unwrinkled white linen sheath dress, holding hands with a little boy with a mop of dark curls hair and his mother's brown eyes. "Pick two books for yourself and three for the school library," she says, letting go of his hand now that they're safely indoors. She peers down the aisle to the kids section, to make sure it's safe as Jonah heads that way.

Sitting at one end of the sofa is a young woman surrounded by a stack of books. There's two on the well-worn armrest, a stack of three beside her, and a messy stack of five on the coffee table before her. Laid under her feet and pressed flush back against the couch are a set of matte forearm crutches, and her ankles are crossed over them protectively to ensure she feels if they start moving on their own accord.

Her straw-colored, smooth hair is worn down and across one shoulder as she reads, looking up only for a moment as the bell rings to signal a new entry to the store. Fingers petting down the page she's currently reading, she slowly turns and puts her attention back to the good book before her. Emily's happy to be out of the house, and out of the heat. Having found all these amazing books she's not read in years is just the cherry on top of the cake, and she doesn't plan to sacrifice her seat for anything.

"Look, it's Jim!" says Jonah loudly, as if his mother can't recall the man's name, and he waves earnestly, before heading off to find the books as instructed. Peyton shakes her head and says softly, "Mister Clark," to remind the young boy he's not on a first name basis with adults, but then turns to look at Jim to include him in the use of his name, as a greeting.

"Good to see you. How are you?" she asks, and while it's mundane, there's an underlying sincerity under the question, since the last time she saw the man he wasn't doing as well as he might. When Emily glances up, she gives the young woman a smile, the polite sort you make in a store with people you've accidentally made eye contact with.

Only Jonah's made his way around, down one aisle and up the next to go toward the sofa, to check out the books left behind by former customers — he knows sometimes there are treasures to be found in the abandoned pile.

"Hi!" he says to Emily, while picking up a children's book from the coffee table.

A little chuckle escapes Jim at Jonah's exuberant greeting, and he waves it off, turning back to Peyton. "It's all right," he says. "I'm not gonna say that Mr. Clark was my father because no one really called him that either, but Jim is fine." He leans a little bit against one of the bookcases, though not so hard that it's in danger of tipping over. At least, one hopes. "I'm doing fine. How are you both?"

There's a glance of his own in Emily's direction when Jonah greets her, and he gives her a nod, too, in a similar vein as Peyton's smile, before he turns back to her. "At least, doing better than the last time you saw me, but I know that's not saying a whole lot, is it?" His tone is a little wry, but not too much.

The boy doesn't go unnoticed as he rushes (or at least to Emily it seems like rushing) up and down the aisles, and eventually to the coffee table. Hand still on the page, she can't help but stare at him as he earnestly greets her. She can't remember the last time she's really been around a child, so she's not even sure where to start with him. Are introductions creepy? They probably are. Stranger danger. Best to not introudce herself unless asked.

"Hi there." she greets back nonetheless, very still as she watches him. She seems to fear for the other books on the table, at least until he picks up one that's clearly designated for children. At that point, she gives the boy a kind smile. "That's a good one." she advises him conspiratorially, one treasure hunter to another. "Have you read it before?" The book in her own lap is much thicker in comparison, but has a brightly colored cover as well. From its position on her lap, the frizzy cloud of natural hair is visible in the middle of a lavender sky dotted with clouds. The letters 'Ursula K.' are visible superimposed over the images.

"No… I mostly read about dinosaurs but my mom says I have to broaden my horizons," Jonah says, before adding, helpfully, "horizon is like what you can see in front of you, as far as you can see. I can't really make it very broad in the city though. The buildings get in the way."

He climbs up on the couch, at least giving Emily a couple of cushions of space, to begin to look at the book — it isn't about dinosaurs. After a moment, he looks back up to Emily. "What are you reading about?"

Peyton glances his way, to make sure he's not being too annoying to the poor young woman who he's decided to befriend. "Let me know if you need some quiet," she says softly in that direction, since, well, Jonah's not usually that quiet, his childish voice over-loud in the small bookstore.

"That's very good to hear. We're okay. Very busy getting ready for the school opening, but Jonah's been a trooper, so we're on a break to find some reading material."

Jim is mostly listening to Peyton, but he can't help but overhear Jonah's words to Emily, and another little snort of amusement escapes him. "I used to love dinosaurs," he admits quietly as he glances over to them again, but only briefly before he looks back to Peyton. "I think I wore out the Jurassic Park tape that we had." His smile widens a little bit at that, before he shifts his lean a bit against the bookshelf, his empty hand sliding into his pocket instead.

"I bet you have a lot of stuff to do," he agrees. "If you need any help, let me know. I don't know if there's anything I could help with, but I can move boxes around or put stuff up on shelves. Or even take stuff off of shelves." This is a full service helper here, guys. Or something like that, anyway.

The warning that he could be pulled away by his parent if needed is DEFINITELY an appreciated one, but for right now Emily finds the boy endearing. His desire to explain and to help, sounding so matter of fact about everything, makes her crack another small smile. "The buildings do get in the way. There's less now than there used to be, though, so you can see more of it than you could when I was growing up." she says back, just as helpfully.

She tilts up the cover of her book to better be seen by him, revealing the rest of the young woman holding a book, in the middle of a desert. 'Voices' is printed on the bottom as a title. "I'm re-reading one of my favorites. This is the second of three books in this fantasy world where there's magic. All the stories are about people with powers, and the impact they have on the world around them. This one…" she taps her index finger on the back cover. "is about a girl named Memer. In really tough times, she's brave and becomes a hero." At this point, she realizes she's rambled a little and she adjusts the cover around the book delicately. "It's a bit long!" she recovers with forced cheer. "But it's good."

Jonah's head tilts as he looks at the cover and listens. "People have powers here but it's not magic," he says thoughtfully. "Just science," he says, and then he adds, with a brighter smile that reveals missing bottom teeth, "Science is like magic except more reliable! But I like both," he adds diplomatically, lest she take offense. "Like dragons are kind of like dinosaurs… but magic. And dinosaurs are science. He points to the book. "What is Memer's power?"

Over by Jim, Peyton smiles, and it's not hard to see the similiarity between hers and her son's. "That is so nice of you. If you'd like to, I wouldn't say no. In fact, tomorrow we're trying to set up the library, so if you want to pop by… I'll bring coffee and bagels, if I can find some. I have some people helping, but there's a few that are still on vacation or traveling that won't arrive until closer to the start of school. After Labor Day — the good thing about a charter school, none of this early beginning of August start nonsense."

"Sure," Jim says with a shrug, "I can help out with that. I got today and tomorrow off, and when I'm not at the hospital I always like to find other stuff to do." He straightens up, his hand sliding out of his pocket so that it can get passed the book instead. Even the movements don't seem restless, though — less like he's fidgeting, and more like they have purpose, even if the purpose is not obvious. "I bet the kids are happy about that."

He looks over to Jonah and Emily again as he catches the former's discussion of dinosaurs vs. dragons, and he shakes his head, but his smile widens a little bit. "Magic and science," he says. "You got a smart kid there."

She almost lets out a sigh as he points out the people have powers here, too. It's true, and ruins most of her reading material. Thankfully, the boy isn't stuck up, and tries to make her feel better about it. With dinosaurs, of course, because why would they NOT segue back to his most favorite thing ever?

"She has the ability to…" Emily starts to say, then has to pause, wondering if she should try to dumb it down. She decides to go for it. "speak to a higher power. The power has answers to things, which comes to her as she reads books. Her power isn't what makes her a hero." she feels the need to clarify. "Memer's already a hero like she is. She's brave and sneaks out to go see things in her city with her own eyes, and to go make change happen." Her brow arches upward, as she clearly finds that to be the more important piece and wants to stress it. "She's able to find a way to end a war using her words. She's brave enough to find a way other than fighting."

"So, she's pretty cool." Emily segues, leaning back into her seat before nodding at him. "What's that one you've got there called?"

The pride on Peyton's face couldn't be more apparent when Jim says Jonah's smart. "Scarily smart, really," she says. "I barely got out of high school. And yes, the fact I run a school is not lost on me or my biggest critics." She cracks a wry smile, but it's clear it bothers her as well. "I definitely can use your help, then. It's so kind of you to offer. I can pay you, too, if you'd rather not volunteer, but you know, I won't say no to volunteering."

Jonah listens, brows knitting together in a thoughtful way. "It's harder to say things the right way than to fight, sometimes," he says after a moment of thinking about what Emily has said. "I don't like to fight, but once I hit my friend when he took something that didn't belong to me. I should've just said how I felt, though."

He looks down and peers at the words. "I am Am-ee-lee-uh… Ear…hart." He opens it to a page he was looking at. "There's an airplane in it. Airplanes are kind of cool. I got to fly in one when we came to New York."

Peyton looks at Jim with a small tip of her head in the direction of Jonah, and moves that way, coming up behind him on the sofa to peer down at the book. "Is that for you or library? You're slacking on the job, Mister Charm," she says lightly, before mouthing to Emily "Sorry."

"Eh," Jim says with another little shrug at Peyton's words. "There are plenty of people who went to school for years but who don't have a whole lot of common sense. Not that school isn't good. I went for a lot of years, too. But it's not the end all be all. I bet you're really good at what you do, no mater what the critics say. And no need to pay me. Like I said, you'd be doing me a favor getting me out of the house."

The little gesture of Peyton's isn't lost on him, though, and he nods slightly, schooling his face into a more serious look, though there's still humor in his eyes as he starts that way as well. "Looks like a good pick, though," he says of the title, before he looks up to Emily. "Afternoon. Jim Clark." He gestures to himself, just in case the name wasn't clear enough.

"Yeah, she's pretty cool!" Emily advises brightly. "She flew all over around the world… a super famous pilot." she trails off, growing more curious about the detail that the boy shared about not being from New York. And about having come by plane. "Are you not from here…?" she starts to ask, faltering into silence as she sees the boy's mother come up. No smiles for the adults, despite having tried for the kid's sake. You should ALWAYS try for the kid's sake, she believes.

She shakes her head lightly up at Peyton to reject the apology, closing her book without marking her place this time, and setting it facedown in her lap. "Don't worry about it. We've just been chatting up some of the lesser-known greats."

At Jim's introduction, she looks up at him, taking in his appearance while she brushes the sweep of hair on the right side of her head back behind her ear. "Emily," she greets shortly in return, leaning over to set the book aside, which gives her an excuse to straighten her posture out from the slouch she'd been sitting in before. She wears a light blue t-shirt that until a short while ago was stained with sweat, but appears to be drying out. Her pale, thin legs are bare below the knee, and she wears comfortable-looking gray tennis shoes.

"I'm Canadian," Jonah says, as if it's some exotic and far off land. "I better go find more books. I'll be right back!" He hands Peyton the Meltzger book as a keeper. "Library, but I get to read it first," he declares, like a true lover of books.

Peyton shakes her head, tipping it to look down the aisle to make sure it's still clear — of course she can check on Jonah in other ways if she needs to.

"Thank you, Emily," she tells Emily. "It's so nice to have grown ups who aren't me instill in him the love of reading. That was Jonah. I'm Peyton," she says, noting the slight tension in the younger woman. "You have a nice way with kids." She bends to pick up another children's book from those set aside on the coffee table that are clearly not part of Emily's little horde.

"Hi, Emily." Jim may notice the tension, the terse greeting, the absence of a smile — but if he does, he certainly doesn't mention it, and his demeanor is still the same as it was before. "Nice to meet you. Looks like you're set for the next couple days." He nods to the piles of books around her with a little smile, but it's friendly, rather than anything else. He glances down at the book in his hand, "Maybe I should pick up some other ones."

A short breath concealing a laugh is had at Jonah as he boldly declares his nationality, lifting one hand in goodbye at him as he runs off again. The circle of introductions completed moments after, Emily nods up at the two. She's… not sure how to respond to Payton's remark that she's good with kids. Is she? She just hopes that kids these days don't grow up with dead, undreaming eyes given the sorry state of the world they live in. Luckily, Jonah seems to have a good mother to keep him curious and hopeful about the world.

Jim's comment causes her to look back down at the stacks she's immersed in, some silent concern overtaking her. He's right. These won't last her but a few days, and she's already not got enough on her to buy them all. The lax loitering policy probably doesn't extend to reading through entire books, (though who knows, it just might!) and multi-day trips aren't going to be a frequent thing.

She lets out a resigned sigh, patting a hand on top of the book in her lap. She'll have to settle for something that can be read and re-read to tide her over until the next time she comes back to this part of town. "I wish I could take them all with me, but you know how it goes." she says in the same vein as that weary sigh from before.

"I've got to say, I've seen stuff in here today I've not in years. It's an amazing bookstore." The last bit she says a little more loudly, looking pointedly past them to the bookkeeper behind the cash stand in the hopes of eliciting a smile, or some kind of recongition out of them for the comment.

Really, though. This entire setup deserves a lot of props for operating the way it does.

It's not long, away from people, for Jonah to make his selections, and he hurries back with four books, one of them a dinosaur book, which was probably foreseeable. He hands these to Peyton who laughs and moves to the cash register to make the purchases, then has a hushed conversation with the clerk, a quick nod back in the direction of Emily and Jim.

Jonah looks up at Jim. "You are coming to school tomorrow?" he asks, before looking to Emily. "You can come too. It's at the college. But it's for kids. Not big kids like up in Toronto. You can still help, though. Or you could come to the gallon." (He means gala.)

Jim's eyebrows raise slightly at Emily's words, and he looks to the stacks, before he glances over his shoulder at the clerk. "I sure do," he says after a moment with a little wry smile, and he lifts his one book in commiseration — seems that he's not going to go for another after all. "We should have a book swap or something at the co-op," he says as he looks back to the other two.

His attention is caught by Jonah's question, though, and he nods, continuing, "I sure am. I'll see you then, yeah?" He smiles, lifting the book once more, this time in farewell. "Nice to meet you, Emily. Jonah, Peyton, I'll see you tomorrow." With that, he turns to start toward the register.

Emily's brow arches upward as Jonah outright invites her to a school, presumably his school, a little more shocked than before at his forthrightness. Also his assumption that this perfect stranger is anyone reputable enough to help set up a school of any kind … wait, what school, anyway? "Um… What school where, Jonah?" she asks as politely as possible, trying to not turn him down immediately. At this point, she looks up toward Jim hoping for any indication if this is just him playing pretend, or if there's any actual school involved. But Jim's already on the way out, leaving her with just the kid. She leans forward slightly, feeling responsible at this point. Since Jim isn't around for her to bounce her concerned glance off of, she looks back to Peyton, hoping the transaction's done soon for her to notice.

Finished with her business, Peyton turns around, eyes narrowing just a little as she hears Jonah inviting adults places he probably shouldn't. "God save me from extroverted six-year-olds," she tells Jim as she passes him on the way back to gather Jonah, tucking the five books into a market bag she's unfolded from her purse.

"We're opening a K-6 school over at the college. It's a sister campus to our academy up in Toronto. There's a gala for it in a couple of weeks, for fundraising, which is what Jonah means," she explains, pulling out a flyer from her purse as well — she's got a mom purse, there's a lot of things in there. This she unfolds and hands to Emily. "Really, you don't have to come to anything. He's just very welcoming, isn't he?" Peyton says with a laugh. "It was a pleasure to meet you. We better get going. But we're always happy to have volunteers and everyone's invited to the gala of course."

Jonah looks a little embarrassed. "Gala," he repeats, before turning for the door. "Bye!"

Jonah's a little endearing. And Peyton's exasperation with him makes her smile a little. What else has Emily got to do anyway? Volunteer work might be a good excuse to get out of the house for a bit, maybe even regularly. On top of that, there's zero expectation involved from her, and she's free to leave at any time.

"Tomorrow?" she echoes back, looking down at the flyer for the gala. This is the first time she's hearing about all this, and wonders just what else she's missed out on by having her head stuck in books and screens. "I'll … um …" she's unable to get her words together in time before the two are already walking out. "I-I'll stop by if I can. It was nice meeting you too!" she rushes to call out after them, her cheeks rushing red with color as she looks back down at the flyer. Could be a nice break from the usual? she coaches herself, trying to pep her up for the potential excursion. Then she sees where it is and lets out a groan. Brooklyn College was going to be a trek.

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