Not Afraid Of Mirrors


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Scene Title Not Afraid of Mirrors
Synopsis An encounter with Tamara brings Niki into contact with another unexpected… friend?
Date June 9, 2009

Staten Island: Somewhere on the Coast

What is it you do when things just never seem to go your way? When you get so close to your dreams, even to the point that you feel your fingertips brushing against them — only the have them snatched away from your grasp.

Living a life filled with an abusive father. Your sister dies by his hands. Then she comes back as part of me. Violent. So violent. Watching your son die. Your husband.. gone. You can no longer hold a job without fucking it up. Sent to prison, and somehow you end up in the future. Ten years in the future. And — you think you found what you're looking for. You can touch it. The separation is there. And it's ripped from your hands.

They offered me a place to stay, but — I don't trust myself there. Not with her. You never know what she'll do at any given time. So here I am. Staten Island. I've been here for weeks. A vagrant. They have been offering soup, and no one gives me any shit.

My name is Niki Sanders.

The hood of her dingy gray sweatshirt pulls over her head, her nose barely peeking out from beneath as she keeps her arms across her chest, huddled with her self as she walks down towards where they are handing out free soup.

She currently finds shelter inside the rubble of one of the vacant buildings with nothing more than a blanket. She used to steal her food, but the soup van has been a blessing, so she hasn't wandered too far off the island as of late.

She's not sure if anyone is looking for her. She doesn't really even give a damn. Screw them all. She continues down the broken sidewalk, dirty. When was the last time she had a real bath or a shower? She can barely remember. Seems like weeks. It probably has been.

She cleans herself down by the river. Not nearly all that healthy, but she makes do with what she can. She decides to clean up first, in fact. Pack slung over her back that has some hygiene supplies that she pilfered from a local convenience store. She never uses the same routine, varying her movements each day. She's almost certain that someone will eventually try to make a play for her. Of course, they'll suffer immensely if they even try it.

As she makes her way down by the riverfront, she looks both ways to make sure there's no one around before she pulls her pack from her back and opens it and pulls out some items. Toothbrush, toothpaste and a towel. Some soap. She puts some toothpaste on her brush and begins to scrub her teeth.

The morning fog that shrouds Staten Island, along with the rest of New York City on this day, makes visibility rather poor. Perhaps that's why Niki suddenly finds herself not alone at the riverbank — a case of accidental convergence. The shape which emerges from the fog, at about what would be 4:00 on a clock with Niki at its center, makes no attempt at stealth nor any move to actually approach; stops a fair distance away, beyond any physical hazard either could pose the other. An eddy of earth-clinging cloud slips past, unveiling the silhouette of a girl perhaps in her late teens, cleaner than Niki and yet more unkempt, long blond hair seeming not to have felt the touch of a brush for a couple of days at least.

She might look familiar, if Niki recalls her time in the future; there's a definite resemblance to the sybil who set so many things in motion. It's in her coloring, the shape of her features, the birdlike cant to her head and the faintly crooked, gentle smile that curves the youth's lips.

"I like coming down here," Tamara states quietly. "It's a good place to think."

The river water. Niki would not recommend it for hygiene purposes, even less for drinking purposes, but she rinses her mouth as she remains crouched. That future. That bright future. And yet, back here that future seems even less certain than she recalls. The voice is younger, still familiar though as Niki adds her portion back to the river — enjoying the fresh clean feeling from having her teeth brushed.

The sun's rare appearance on the island allows the dirty water to reflect her image back to her — though it's not her image she sees.

She keeps her head down as she slowly rises to her feet and turns. Leaving her things on the beach, she turns and pulls her hood down to reveal her face. "Tamara." Niki doesn't have much as far as recollecting Tamara goes, but Jessica does and thus the connection is there. Since her return from the future, and having done well to keep Jessica at bay, Niki has noticed some bleed-over from Jessica's memories into her own.

There were some things that Jessica did — and vice versa — that Niki saw via the reflection, but there were far too many times she was left in the dark. As the hood comes down, her blonde locks — the part that hasn't grown out falls down around her shoulders. Unkempt from being tucked away inside the hood, she offers a small smile to the familiar female.

"I didn't know you were out here." On Staten.

The girl's smile broadens into something straighter, an amiable expression. "For a while," she affirms, head bobbing once in an accompanying nod. Despite that Staten is a place no child should be — and her lighthearted tone, the way she carries herself, speaks of youth. The flavor of youth associated with mental impairment, not simply a lack of years. "It's kinda fun." …Fun?

Sure now of her welcome, Tamara walks in closer to the river's edge; in spite of the mud, damp both from the river's proximity and recent rain, she sits down on the ground without any particular ceremony. This might well offend every maternal instinct the woman has. Hands braced in the mud, Tamara leans back to peer up at Niki. "Do you like it here?"


That's about all that comes out of Niki's mouth as that question — unlike 'how are you?', 'how have you been?' and the like all have pat answers; you give "Fine" "Fine" "Fine" — yet this questions seems to warrant more for an answer. Niki's two front teeth can be seen as she looks down at the girl through a mouth that doesn't have a smile, nor a frown, nor really any expression at all. She runs her tongue over her recently cleaned teeth and turns to sit down next to the girl. It isn't like her clothes aren't already dirty. She really should find a new set and get these cleaned.

"Other than having to brush my teeth in the river, and taking cold baths.." Really, 'bath' is giving it far too much credit, as she mostly just washes herself in one of the portable bathrooms that have been set up on the island — and this happens far less than she'd like. ".. I won't go as far as to say that I like it, but I don't dislike it as well. Better than some of the alternatives."

The blond turns and glances at the girl. "What — what makes all this 'fun' for you?"

Now there's two of them sitting in the mud. There will definitely have to be new clothes after this. "Oh — all the people," Tamara answers easily, a flick of her hand indicating the island at large. "I like talking to them. Sometimes they do silly things, but most people do." The sybil shrugs, a cheerful smile signifying her resignation to that eternal fact. Even if her phrasing raises the question of just what Tamara defines as 'silly'…

There's that headtilt again, the gaze of a curious bird. "If it's only better than some things, then some things must be better," the girl remarks. Though she doesn't come out and state a question, it's implied; her posture prompts for an answer. What would be better? Or perhaps: What would be more fun for you?

Sitting in the mud isn't all that bad. It's not like sitting on a rock. Even a little cushion to it. If you can ignore the 'wet' factor, it's actually quite comfortable.

Of course 'talking to people' is actually a rather novel concept. I mean, Niki's talking to Tamara, but it's not like she goes out of her way to be friendly to others. She rather they ignore her and she'll ignore them. This whole 'getting to know others' has not quite turned out all that well for her in that past (or the future, it seems). It all brings us right back to here.

Then again, Tamara's question is begging for an answer as well. Niki has none. What is fun? When is the last time she had fun? She feels the eyes of the other female upon her — waiting for something. And how does she respond to someone who likes to watch people do 'silly things'?

"Oh, I'd much prefer to have a nice house with a warm bed and a TV." she grins over to the girl. "Maybe someday." She leans back on her hands, as they sink into the wet ground. "What about you? Where are you staying around here? No one is messing with you are they? And you're taking advantage of the soup vans, right?" Motherly concern coming out, perhaps?

Tamara tilts her head the other way, regards Niki thoughtfully. "You could. Not everyone's afraid of mirrors." Her smile broadens as the woman continues to speak, small hands reaching up to shove loose hair behind her ears. A streak of mud is left behind on one cheek. "Can't mess with a ghost; it's like trying to catch the wind. Though some people were better at that than others."

Broadens further yet, a playful glint in the girl's blue eyes, the stretch of her grin. "I'll tell you… if you promise to come visit. You might even find something you like." Maybe, possibility; only time will tell.

Fingers dig themselves into the mud behind her as Niki listens to the oddly insynchronous ramblings of the girl beside her. The banter of prose given would make most scratch their head in wonder, yet somehow, oddly — this all makes sense to Niki. She gets it.

Those days back when Micah was younger and spoke in childish riddles all come back to her like a returning ghost of days gone by and the smile leaves her face for only a mere split second before it returns. She sits up and reaches over to try and remove the mud from Tamara's face, only to realize her own hands are muddy too. Brushing as much as she can onto the hoodie that will definitely need to be swapped out soon.

The girl's request for a promise deserves a response, and Niki bobs her head three times before responding. "I promise. I'll come visit." And maybe even keep an eye on the girl. The mud on Tamera's face stays, but Niki knows it doesn't belong — yet, she's in no position to correct the situation.

The seeress is patiently still throughout Niki's aborted attempt at cleaning her face; smiles with rueful humor. "Good! You should. I'm at the lighthouse most times; not always," she elaborates, with a conscientous youth's pedantry. "But mostly! Colette visits, too." By rights that name should mean nothing to Niki, but it might ring a bell; it's this 'might' that Tamara acts on.

Tamara pushes herself up to her feet, the mud around her hands squelching softly as they are pulled free. She looks down at her fingers with a mildly puzzled look, as though the mud clinging to them were an unexpected inconvenience; scrubs her right hand on her jeans until it's some semblance of… well, less muddy, at any rate. Her hand disappears into a pocket; reappears with a cellphone, the kind that are cheap and disposable, without contract or name or much in the way of ties. Especially not when given by someone else. She sets it on Niki's thigh, with the explanatory murmur of "There's someone who wants to talk to you." Leaning in to plant a brief, familial kiss on the woman's cheek, Tamara smiles gently down at her. "Have a little faith. In everyone."

And then the sybil begins to walk away.

In everyone?

Niki offers her cheek when the girl moves in to kiss it. As the girl disappears from the waterfront, Niki's eyes fall down to the phone that rests on her leg. She hasn't moved to touch it yet — a concerned look on her face. What if Tamara needs this phone? Having already wiped her hands on her sweatshirt, she picks up the phone. She pushes a few buttons on it to see who may have called before or if any numbers are stored on it.

There's someone who wants to talk to you.

But who?

Niki stands and moves over towards the water. If Tamara is telling the truth — is there anyone really that Niki wants to talk to? She squeezes the phone into her fist, gripping it firmly as the has this urge to see how far into the river she can throw it. As she glances down she sees Jessica's reflection in the water — rippling with the subtle waves that come from the center of the river. It's Jessica who shakes her head, so Niki uncurls her fist and then tucks the phone into her hoodie pocket, then kneels down to wash the dirt from her hands. A small towel is picked up from her things as she tucks it back into the plastic grocery bag, along with the rest of her things. The hood is pulled back up over her head as her face disappears inside.

She moves to leave the riverfront and head back to where she currently resides — the hole in the wall somewhere — out of sight — out of mind — out of touch.

Except this cell phone that seems to weigh heavy in her pocket.

No calls. No numbers, no names. It might be a brand new phone, or one recently wiped, for all Niki can determine.

It remains a silent weight, but not for very long. It doesn't ring in Niki's pocket — it chimes, the double-note of a received text message.

Hi, Niki.

It's been a while since she had a phone. The chine of the text startles Niki as she tugs the phone from her pocket. The screen is lit up and she clicks to read the message.

The greeting takes her off guard, then she considers that Tamara is playing with her.


There should be a question mark there, but she doesn't spend the time to scroll through all the symbols listed. She ducks into her cubby hole that she's been concealing herself in for the past few weeks and then shifts to turn the sound off on that phone. She doesn't feel like attracting any attention.

Niki finds her weatherproof bag and that a change of clothing and pulls out a set — to include a new hoodie. She'll need to wash some clothes soon. She begins to change into dry clothing.

No. I'm a… well, I hope you'll call me a friend. Maybe someday.

The reply is almost instant, and despite it being nothing but text, the phrasing implies one of two things — either the dry cunning of age, someone seeking to manipulate; or enthusiastic naivete, the hopeful eagerness of someone not yet mature.

I go by R.Ajas.

She's pulling a t-shirt over her head, covering her torso when the phone lights up again — no sound this time. She sits down on her 'bed', which consists of several blankets laid out on the floor and opens the message.

"I can only imagine what kind of friend you're looking for." Niki turns her head towards the broken mirror that she found, only to see Jessica giving her a 'what the fuck?' look. Then types in:

What do you want with me

He/She goes by. Not, 'I am'. She looks at the name backwards. "Sajar." She removes that period. "Rajas." Nothing. None of this means anything to her.

She hits 'Send."

To help you, the person on the other end replies.
I want you to be okay.
Safe, is added at the end, as if to clarify the prior statement.

Right now, the less people involved in her life, the better. Niki's response is simply:

Im fine

I don't believe you.
You wouldn't believe me if I told you that.
If — if you knew me.

There's a momentary pause, a few breaths of figurative silence. With the phone's volume off, literal silence is well in effect.

If you… change your mind. If you — need anything.
Give me a chance.
I'll hear anything you send me. No matter when or where it is. I promise.

Niki should go out and see if the soup van is around. Her stomach grumbles, testifying to that particular suggestion. The message on the phone comes through and she reads the screen.

"Who are you?" she asks out loud, to no one in particular. Unfortunately for him, promises from a stranger don't mean shit to Niki at the moment. She sets the phone aside without bothering to respond this time as she sits up and reaches for a clean hoodie and pulls it over her head. Time for lunch. She steps back out onto the streets of Staten Island, where the sunshine threatens to actually make this place a pleasant place to be.

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