iris_icon.gif savannah_icon.gif

Scene Title Starstruck
Synopsis Savannah meets a fan who's a little too adoring and a little more than she seems.
Date March 20, 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.

Prufrock's Books is one of Savannah Burton's favorite hangouts as of late. It's quaint, the staff is great and doesn't particularly mind you hanging around for a while, it's really idyllic. Savannah likes to come to people watch, sometimes writing in a small black hardcovered notebook that she uses for notes. She rarely uses it for prose, it's too tiny. Notes, though, it's perfect for notes.

Today, she's seated on the sofa in front of the coffee table, an extra hot, extra whip mocha in front of her which she sips very very slowly so as not to burn herself. Between sips she's jotting down notes and maybe eyeing the section of the store with her books to see if she can catch anyone looking.

Prufrock's is a frequent destination of Iris Earhart. amd really anyone who knows that shouldn't be surprised. It's one of the primary money sinks in her life, besides her monthly pickups in the market and- well. Whatever the heck else catches her eyes, really. Which is still usually books, journals, spools of paper, just about anything else.

It was pay week this week, in fact, which meant something very: It's time to buy more books. Or, more accurately, pay off the IOUs she has managed to talk the owners into. She has yet to get behind in her debts, despite the fact that sometimes it seems like she's has barely enough money to get by, and never enough money at the moment for what she wants.

With the latest choice of books in hand and her debt cleared for now, She makes her way to the couch - to read of course, one of the books picked out and already open in hand - a mystery novel, by the looks of it. She absent mindedly falls into the couch, humming to herself as she reads.

"What are you reading?" Savannah asks, politely, holding up her own book from off of the coffee table. The title is Bleak House by Charles Dickens. "I thought I'd read something classic myself but it's a bit dry… it's no wonder that it's lesser known by most people."

Going back to her mocha momentarily, she scoots so there's room on the couch for Iris and all her books. "I'm Savannah and I'll shut up if you ask me to."

At first, Iris doesn't notice she's being spoken to. She just continues reading, and about the time Savannah might give up on speaking to the other woman is when she perks up a bit, as if an echo brought Savannah's words back to her so that they could finally register. "Oh! Some corney, thriller or mystery or- something."

She turns the cover so she can look at it - it's called PINES. She blinks, finally looking over at the person who's addressed her. "It looked interesting on the shelf, and I don't really get to read may mysteries, you know? They're all so predictable and a lot of them are so droll, too caught up in the real world! But this one sounds interesting, like there's twist or, something super cool, or-"

And it registers. Her eyes widen. "Or- Or. Or…." A hand moves to cover her mouth, resisting the urge to scream in excitement. Her other hand join the first, book falling to the couch. "oh my god," she says in a low whisper. "a-are you…"

"Mysteries are very cookie-cutter. They follow such tropes and they tend to give themselves away unless the writer is very, very good. That's why I don't write mysteries, I just don't have the skill in that genre. It does help you learn to write well, though, by studying them. There's something to be said about leaving breadcrumbs for readers to find," Savannah wasn't told to shut up, so she doesn't.

When Iris starts to flip out, Savannah reaches down, picks up her coffee, sips once, sets it down, then puts her fingers to her lips like the whole thing is a big secret.

Iris is still for a moment longer, both hands still over her mouth, when suddenly a muffled sound - a squeak - slips between her fingers. "Oh my gosh," she repeats, voice still muffled. "Um, um…" She starts looking around frantically, like someone might be pranking her. "You're my favourite!" she enthuses in a hushed voice, still muffled by thehands over her mouth. "Oh my gosh, what are you doing here?!" Savannah can see the edge of smile forming from behind Iris' hands, the younger woman practically bouncing in her seat. "Oh my- are you doing research for your new book?!" It would make sense to be doing that in a place like the safe zone, after all. And then, wait- isn't Savannah part of the Co-Op? Iris freezes. She's probably been in the same room as her favourite author numerous times and never noticed. "Oh, um- it's a pleasure to meet you," Ms. Burton," she says a bit more politely, hands still over her mouth.

Iris is still for a moment longer, both hands still over her mouth, when suddenly a muffled sound - a squeak - slips between her fingers. "Oh my gosh," she repeats, voice still muffled. "Um, um…" She starts looking around frantically, like someone might be pranking her. "You're my favourite!" she enthuses in a hushed voice, still muffled by the hands over her mouth. "Oh my gosh, what are you doing here?!"

Savannah can see the edge of smile forming from behind Iris' hands, the younger woman practically bouncing in her seat. "Oh my- are you doing research for your new book?!" It would make sense to be doing that in a place like the safe zone, after all. And then, wait- isn't Savannah part of the Co-Op?

Iris freezes. She's probably been in the same room as her favourite author numerous times and never noticed. "Oh, um- it's a pleasure to meet you," Ms. Burton," she says a bit more politely, hands still over her mouth.

"Do I get your name too because you clearly know mine and I would like very much to make your acquaintance," Savannah offers Iris a genuine smile. "I'm here because this is a perfect place to work—surrounded by books, most of which I haven't read so they're perfect for research, coffee fresh and ready to go… it's a writer's dream, don't you think? A reader's dream too."

Savannah reaches for her coffee again, sipping longer now that it'd cooled down a little. "It's a pleasure to meet you too, by the way. I believe I've seen you around before, you look familiar."

"Iris." Still muffled. "Iris Earhart. EAR-ihs, not EYE-ris." Because she's so used to having to make sure people understand that part. "Um, I do a lot of work with the co-op," she admits, and slowly she begins to relax a bit, eyes returning to normal and shoulders becoming slightly less tense.

"I've never- um- writte, but I, uh. I mean, I can read anywhere! All I need's the book, and it's game over!" That mostly hidden smile widens. "It's like a paradise in here though!"

"EAR-ihs. Well, I'll remember that you're not the flower. Iris is a pretty name even if it's easily confused for EYE-ris." Savannah doesn't seem to be too put off by the small lecture about Iris' name, in fact she seems quite amused, if not pleased. She folds her hands neatly in her lap, her coffee and notebook momentarily forgotten.

"I knew I'd seen you around. I knew it had to be the co-op. I meet a lot of people through that these days. Keeps me busy when I'm not writing. Not as much time to just sit and chat. So you aren't a writer? I won't bore you with the writing process chat, I'll just geek out with you a little about how exciting books are. That is, if you don't mind. Because really, that's what got me into writing in the first place. I always loved reading and I just happened to take a creative writing course."

Iris nods twice, keeping her hands clasped right over her mouth. Her eyes positively light up at the prospect of getting to sit and geek out with Savannah Burton. "Um, I work at the… the library. The new one!" Really, she just goes wherever Gillian Childs sends her, having high respect for the woman who's resporing the Library System in New York City.

"I'm… gosh." She tilts her head, looking around a bit. "Surrounded. Always. Almost as nice as the places," yes, plural, "I rent." There's a reason she's always late to pick up books and always short on money, after all. SHe falls silent after that, staring at Savannah until she realises she's staring//. "Oh, um. Um. Actually, the process is-" She tilts her head a bit to the side. "Super interesting, even if I don't understand it?"

Savannah nods slowly, doing her best to put Iris at ease. She drinks from her mocha slowly, paying close attention to the other womans words. "The new children's library? I missed the opening, although I feel it was more a memorial for the man whom the library's name shares so I am glad I didn't tread on anyone's remembrances. I got to see the library a few days later. I'd love to visit again soon, and maybe I'll have you show me around a bit. I'm afraid I didn't get to see the whole place so I could use a tour."

"There's something comforting about books. I like to surround myself with them, both fiction and sometimes some reference books for writing. But even the physical presence of a book just makes me feel safer, somehow. It's like a good sturdy brick wall… you know all of those bricks were made by someone who worked hard at their craft, then those bricks were laid by a bricklayer who also worked hard at his craft to make sure it was done right. Books are the same way with words, built up to make characters and backgrounds and… oh dear, I'm rambling on again, aren't I? I'm sorry I tend to get carried away when I talk about something I love."

"Oh! Oh no, you're not rambling! Gosh, it's always so interesting to know what goes into the books I love, you know? I always love knowing, like, what makes the characters who they are, what influences them, where the ideas for a story come from! Some people say it takes all the magic out of the book but I guess I kind like that peek behind the curtain, you know? It's just so fascinating! I mean, it doesn't compare to the story, to to the book itself but oh wow it's so cool! You're so cool, Ms. Burton." All of this is said in what sounds like one long breath.

Iris might be the one rambling.

"What's your favourite book!" The question comes a bit loudly, before Iris looks around, eyes wide, before holding a finger up to her lips to mimic the motion Savannah made earlier. "What's your favourite book?" she asks again, almost whispering. "Mine's… oh gosh. I mean, I love Remnant, but like- Whiteout, did you read that one? That was great! Um. Dreams and Shadows, or Another! House of Leaves? That's a weird one but it's so- fascinating!" As Iris speaks, her hands flap up and down with excitement, before instinctually returning to cover her mouth. "What about, um, um- oh! I love Bronte, too! Charlotte. Jane Eyre? I could die."

Well that seems like a bit much.

“I don’t think it takes the magic out of a book at all. I think recognizing the craft that writing is really is an admirable thing. People don’t realize how much thought goes into the characters and the story. It’s easier for some writers than others but each writer spends time determining if scenes should happen sooner or later, if it makes narrative sense to introduce a character early… all kinds of things. Sometimes you catch yourself up on the structure of a book that you lose the fun of writing it and get a writer’s block until you realize what fun creation is again and you unstick yourself,” Savannah says almost breathlessly, grinning over at Iris. It’s clear she’s having fun spouting about her favorite topic.

Savannah leans forward, gently returning Iris’ hands to her side as she gets overly excited. It’s not an offensive gesture, but a loving one. “My favorite book is Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen because I think Colonel Brandon is a heartthrob and I’m a sucker for romance. When he’s all ‘Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad’… be still my heart! You rarely find romance like that these days and I consider myself lucky to have found one.”

"Hee!" There's a little bit of pause as Iris' hands are forced back down to her sides, worried she did something wrong, but then Savannah continues on and it's like it never happened at all. "Austen is wonderful! Emma is one of my favourites too!" Really, they're like children - all of them are her favourties, her books. She picks another book off her small stack, offering it to Savannah. "This one's called We Are Okay. Have you read it? I haven't yet but it came highly recommended by someone I worked work at the Brooklyn College library, and I just had to read it. It sounds so heartfelt! Sullen, depressing, but maybe ultimately uplifting. That's what I'm hoping anyway." There's enough sad and bittersweet endings in real life these days.

“Austen always makes me think of romance, even with the most stubborn of protagonists. Always have their matches.” Savannah muses before she takes the offered book, examining the cover, then the back, then the book from all angles like each square inch of the book mattered. “I haven’t read this one, yet. I’ll have to take a gander at it.” She pauses to read the description on the back before she nods slowly. “Yes, that does sound interesting. I do hope it ends up uplifting.”

She turns her gaze back to Iris. “You sound as if books are your life, Miss Iris. I mean, they certainly are mine, but it’s nice to find a kindred spirit in the midst of the ruins of New York City.”

"Earhart!" As in, Iris Earhart. "They always kind of have been! Ever since i was young back home in London, I used to love reading. And then in high school and college, I worked at libraries, bookstores - lived above one too - and when I came to America after I manifested, I started working at the Brooklyn College Library!" She beams at this, nodding a time or two excitedly.

"Books are my life. There is nothing like a good book. Nothing in the world. Imagination's a precious thing, and a well written story feel divine in it's own right. Like joy coming off the page, regardless of the story it tells. It's so easy to just… wrap yourself in it. Live it. Be it. Make it a part of you." She looks a bit sheepish when she realises this might sound a little crazy. "I love books, with all my heart. They're a part of me, and I will always accept them."

“I was only making a play on how children sometimes refer to their teacher by their first name with ‘miss’,” Savannah says, chuckling lightly. “I’m certain I’ll remember your full name, Iris Earhart, don’t you worry about that.” She smiles, to make certain that Iris doesn’t take things too seriously. But listening to Iris chronicle her life in books makes Savannah smile more.

“Well, you’re just the kind of reader an author could ask for. Someone who reads to enjoy, but also reads to analyze, to study, to share with others… we all have our hobbies and habits and vices and it’s good to meet someone who knows theirs.”

Iris is just nodding absently, her smile almost vacant as she listens to Savannah. It's not that she doesn't process what the author says, it's just that she's still too dumbstruck to really talk. "Oh! I've never been a teacher. I considered being a substitute, teacher, but then I couldn't work in the libraries!" And that, clearly, is where she'd really rather be. "It seems like it'd be really fun, buuuuuut I dunno!"

She beams, a wide smile on her face, though it turns sheepish after a moment. "It's kind of all three for me. Books. I got yelled at by my landlord yesterday because I was late again. He's super understanding, but I always feel bad…" After a moment she shrugs. "But I always get it worked out, and they love me at the market! So, I mean, I guess- whatever!"

“Have you ever thought about teaching a class in the library? You could do after school tutoring or teach kids how to read… I think you’d be able to do both,” Savannah says, helpfully. Her coffee is finished quickly so she can fold her hands back on her lap and fully face Iris. She’s engaged in the conversation even if Iris is starstruck.

“So books are your life, huh? Tell me, Iris, are you very critical of the books you read? Do you pick them apart or just enjoy them or a little of both?”

"I mean, I do- little shows for the kids at the Children's library! It's actually really appropriate from what I'm told, because, like, there's little paper dolls that I use and I can make them really expressive and emotive and it's almost like a puppet show but not quite. I did it a few times at the college library but they were less into it, the kids though, the kids love it! It's a lot of fun. I get to do stories from books kids don't really read anymore." Iris' smile shows no sign of shrinking back down, hands smacking down on her knees - gently - as she finally takes a breath.

"All books are worth reading," is probably the most serious statement with the most serious expression Iris has had during this entire conversation. "I mean, I have stuff I like, and stuff I love. I have preferences and I have things I find interesting, but if you get too hung up on the details it's hard to just enjoy a book for a book! And really, I'll read anything. Last month I got this really terrible romance novel from the market, Mean Heat, and it was just such a delight." The book was a terrible, trashy romance novel, but even then Iris had still loved it.

“Those shows sound adorable and I don’t mean that in a demeaning way. I imagine that you were great, you’re very passionate about things, I can tell that about you.” Savannah offers a genuine smile. Oh but then there’s that other thing. The blonde maybe starts to sweat a little, turning to her coffee for comfort only to find it empty.

She wrote Mean Heat in a very desperate time in her life. She had graduated college, had no job, was living off her parents’ money, and she was writing like her life depended on it. Some of it was good, some of it was bad, some of it was Mean Heat. She wrote it in a month, a haphazard attempt at some romance with no structure or worry for plot devices, it just happened, not like The Amplified or The Manifested series which were flights of fancy tempered by carefully structured plot and smoothed by tone and pacing. But so many people loved Mean Heat.

“I might have read it. I’ve heard Gladys Potter lives in the Safe Zone too, secreted away somewhere, writing one more romance. That’s just a rumor though.”

"Huh!" Well, that's another living in town she'll have to hope she runs into, Iris having no idea that she already has. "I'll have to keep an eye out! Like I said, it was a really fun read. But yeah, I'll read anything, really. I'll give it all a shot, even from people I don't like. No harm in that, right? A book is a book, but a good book is something special."

She refrained from asking the big question she has on her mind she far, biting at her lower lip. "Um, your next book is coming out this year, right? I don't mean to be rude, I just- you're my favourite and I loved your last one and the ones before it and I really just can't wait to get my hands on the last one. Well, of the series, right? Not the last one last lord, oh gosh no I hope that's not for a long time." She gives a pair of shallow nods. "I promise I won't ask about it again! I don't want to be that person but this is just so exciting."

Euphoria comes out at the end of April. I’m thinking of throwing a grand release party for it but I haven’t really decided on a venue. I do have some interesting wall art going up for it, though, so keep an eye out near the Red Hook Market.” Savannah smiles broadly. “I don’t mind the excitement, it’s kind of what I hope for when I find people who read my books. But between you and me, I’ve got another good dozen books left in me. At least. I plan on working in the same genre for a while, but I might dabble in a little something else at some point.” Or maybe Gladys Potter’s doing the dabbling.

Wide smile at the news about Euphoria - Iris nods again in excitement. "I would love to go if you do! You don't really get to see many of those anymore - well, back in London we only saw but so many anyway and not really as many as I was looking forward to not nearly as much, but that's okay. So, a big party!" Iris gasps, her hands moving back over her mouth. She looks down at her books, then back at Savannah. Down, up. Down, up.

"C-Can I help plan? I can make all kinds of decorations and other things, I know how to do lots of neat things with paper. That's my thing after all, paper, papyrokinesis though I never really liked that word, it's not quite accurate, you know? But neither's bibliokinesis - byblokinesis? Whatever! I understand if not, but I guess it never hurts to ask. Even though we just met. And I won't stop talking."

The apologetic look that follows actually looks sincere.

“The Safe Zone needs a big party or two, I feel. Something with music, space for dancing, conversations, a table for signing books, maybe a big bowl of punch. That’s what I picture. Something maybe a little dressy but not formal… “ Savannah presents her image of the party visually, gesticulating as she presents each item to Iris’ rapt attention. But then she hears the offer. The blonde slowly tilts her head and leans forward.

“So what you are saying is that you control paper? That’s a fascinating power… and one that would be most useful for decorations. I know we haven’t known each other very long, but I think you’d be the perfect candidate to help plan this party. Give me a number where I can reach you and I’ll leave you a message with all the details once I’ve conferred with Kam. Most every decision goes past his eyes first.”

If Iris' eyes could get any bigger, her smile any wider, they absolutely would. Her hand darts into her coat pocket, pulling out a crumpled piece of paper, and then another one. "I always try to have some handy, you know, just in case? I mean I paid attention to everything that happened over here during and before the war, so I know that you always need to be prepared, you never really know what's going to be waiting for you around any given corner, and it's not that much like a book but sometimes I wonder if we're all actually in a book or someone's writing, or is that too crazy? Because it gets pretty crazy around here!"

There's a pause, and then some nervous laughter. "Oh, um, right!" And for probably the first time, Iris falls entirely silent, eyes instead moving to the crumpled paper - which begins to uncrumple itself, wrinkles fading as it returns to being a pristine piece of paper, full sized and ready to be used. She doesn't stop there, instead holding up the second piece of paper between two fingers - and suddenly, it becomes as rigid as a piece of steel. The bibliophile leans back a bit from Savannah, and suddenly slashes through the air in front of her - half the larger piece of paper falling away as if cut by scissors.

In a fluid motion, the rigid piece of paper is thrown up and into the ceiling, where it sticks like a dart thrown into cork. The two flittering pieces of the larger sheet are quickly captured in her hand. A moment passes, and Iris throws one hand back out, opening it at the end of the motion and sending a butterfly made of paper flying out towards Savannah, letting it land on her shoulder. The other hand gives a flourish, paper in captured within forming to resemble a short stem rose, which Iris offers to Savannah. Above them, the rigid piece goes limp, falling back down to earth as the effects of Iris' ability wear off. As it nears them, she snaps it out of the air, and in an instant, places it on the side of her head, in the shape a little fashionable hat.

And then she just smiles. It's a performance piece, clearly - she couldn't move that quickly or fluidly in more serious moments. But it looks flashy, and for this, that's all Iris cares about.

“Being prepared is important. I’m terribly unprepared at just about any moment. Kam’s the prepared one. He makes up for the both of us… he got us out when the war started, he found new publishers when our old ones were gone because of the war. Don’t know what I’d do without him, to be honest.” Savannah would ramble further on about her husband were it not for that magical display in front of her.

“Ooooh,” the blonde murmurs, transfixed by the whole presentation. “That was very impressive. Maybe you could do something like that at the party? Something you can handle, of course, but on a grand scale. I think that would impress the party guests. I mean, obviously whatever you’re most comfortable with. Gosh, what an ability to have. I’ve interviewed a lot of people with abilities but never one like yours. It’s clever.”

"I can extend through anything I touch, so-" Iris reaches back into her pocket again, and this time she pulls out what looks like a long strong of papers, almost like a whip - certainly longer than what logically could have fit in her pocket without being noticed. She lets it fall to the ground beside the sofa, limp but still connected, until suddenly she snaps it upwards. Like a whip, it cracks with a sound that resonates out through the small book and coffee shop, getting the attention of everyone around them.

If that hadn't, the fact that the paper whip explodes into fluttering leaflets of paper afterwards would have.

Realising she's gone a bit too far, Iris lets out a sheepish laugh as she looks over towards the counter - she receives a withering look, scratching at the back of her neck. "Sorry about that," she says quietly. "I got a little too excited." A piece of paper flutters down, landing on her little paper hat. "They tolerate me because I spend so much money here. I feel bad whenever I make a mess, but there's never too much of a fuss." As in, yes, this happens. In some form or another.

Grabbing at the pieces that sail down towards them, she musters a smile again. "But yeah! I can do grand! I'll have to practice a LOT but I can do it! And any other decorations you want! It'll be so fun!"

Savannah claps, albeit softly so as not to alarm any other customers and cause more of a spectacle than was already there. “Bravo, that was spectacular, Iris. Like I’ve said before, I’ve never seen someone with a power like yours. And what you do with it? It’s very clever. You probably have dozens of ideas, things I couldn’t even dream of, for the use of your power.” She picks up a stray piece of paper and toys with it between two fingers.

“Could you, say, make a ceiling of paper vines, like a jungle with closed blossoms on them that slowly start to open at various times of the night and then culminating in beautiful paper blossoms that float down on the partygoers? That’s my idea but I’m sure you have tons of your own. I love the idea of paper plants and animals, there’s something magical about that.”

Iris looks thoughtful for a moment, the complaints or worries of anyone around them already forgotten. "I don't- really know? I have trouble making things too big, and when I stop touching things, whatever I do goes away after a bit." She's quiet just long enough to think a bit, before snapping her fingers. "Oh, oh! If I tie the paper vines together, tight but nothing that would come undone, they can be strung up! They have have little lotus pods on them, folded closed with blossoms inside, and then at the big moment, I'll touch it and they'll open and all fall down!" She doesn't know if that'll actually work - she knows she can manipulate any paper that's touching her point of origin, but she doesn't know exactly what the limitations of that may be.

No better time to find out.

And she's clearly excited about this from the squeal that follows. "Anything I shape, as long as it's a way something could reasonably hold it's shape, with ties or twists, should stay. Tape might be needed, but that's fine! I can make it happen!"

“Ah, I see,” Savannah nods. “So long as you could reasonably make it out of paper you can make it happen. I think we can come up with a design that could work. Maybe make a test set of vines and put them up to see if they work as intended. But you definitely can handle the decorations for the party. What about other details? I know you aren’t a party planner but I have a hunch you’re pretty good at organizing things. Either that or you’re terrible at it… one or the other. No in-between.”

She folds the paper between her fingertips, turning it over and over slowly. “I think we’ll make a good pair, you and I. We’ll make a party unlike any the Safe Zone has seen before.”

"I can do that!" Iris has no actual idea if she can or not, but damn if she isn't going to try. "I mean, I learned decimal systems and organisation standards when I was 6, but that was all for books, papers, and stuff. I am really good at keeping everything straight and organized, but I think handling a party would be a different kind of organising right? Organising people. People I'm not always the best with, but I mean I can give it a try, and if I can talk Ms. Childs into helping I bet we'll have it solid in no time at all because she's really good at keeping me on track. I think it'll be-"

Oh my god.

She just registered that Savannah Burton said they'd make a good pair. Literally nothing else in the world matters right now. Iris' eyes are wide and might as well be full of stars.

“Party planning is an art, one I’m not skilled in, but I’m sure you can handle organizing it. I’ll see about having Kam help, he’s far more organized than any person has any right to be. You’ll like him.” Savannah seems sure of what she says, then realizes that Iris is star struck again.

“You’ve got this, Iris.”

"Riiiiight…" Iris's eyes are as wide as saucers, voice slightly distant and drawn out as the moment replays in her head. After a moment, her gaze shifts back up to Savannah, and she claps her hands together twice.

This was going to be the most fun she'd had since she found that old turn of the century copy of Pride and Prejudice in a pile of refuse back in the summer.

…it's a higher bar than it sounds like.

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