Struggling to Sustain


amato_icon.gif nora_icon.gif

Scene Title Struggling to Sustain
Synopsis Looking for fresh air, Nora finds an improvised pasture and a shepherd.
Date December 8, 2010

Pollepel Island

While the best protection from the weather comes from Bannerman Castle, it isn't a place where Amato Salucci can go with his small flock of sheep, and despite the cold air, they can't be cooped up in the stables for days at a time. So, with the archways that lead to the island strategically blocked with fallen branches to make the way impassible by sheep standards, Amato has constructed a small pasture of sorts. It's big enough for the young ram and ewe, and the older ewe with young in her belly is content to lie near where Amato has tucked himself.

He works on the long branch he's claimed as a rudimentary crook, sliding the edge of a knife a bit of the length to smooth a portion of it for his hand. The work is methodical, and accompanied by the soft bleats the younger animals exchange as the play in the snow in between searching for tufts of green to munch on.

The afternoon sun does it's part to warm the small courtyard, if even only to some small degree, but Amato still wears his thick coat. He's traded out the tattered and stained one - the one that has kept him warm for longer than he's been in this country - for a newer, thicker version of the same received not long ago. A scarf hides some of his face, but the bandages that hold his broken nose can't be completely obscured by the strategic knitwear.

A door closes and the small, lean figure of Nora appears; despite coming from inside, she wears sunglasses, as always. Her fingers trail along the wall as she uses what senses she does have to try to make sense of her surroundings. The blind teen is stretching her boundaries more and more each day; this is the first venture outdoors without an escort.

Her head tilts as she hears the braying baaa of one of the sheep, and her nose wrinkles a moment later as she catches a whiff on the cold wind of musky wool or something worse. One brow raises over the frame of the glasses and she smirks, then clicks her teeth and holds out a hand to see if one of the creatures will come to her.

Lucky for Nora, both of the smaller creatures (though not too much smaller than their older counterpart) were bottle-lambs from the spring, and the presence of a person in such a pose may be in possession of something good to eat. Both ram and ewe are soon crowding around her legs, headbutting each other and Nora's hand for some strange combination of attention and nourishment.

That's the thing about bottle lambs. There're never quite right.

Amato watches the whole thing with interest, one eyebrow raised and his knife paused a the start of a new swipe. After a few moments, when the sheep start to bleat in protest over the fact that Nora does not in fact have anything to eat, he chuckles.

"It's the tradeoff," he explains, the odd cadence of his words not without it's clearly humored tone. "They're friendly enough to stay near you, but at the price that it's hard to break free again. Like birdds too long in the nest."

The girl actually laughs when the creatures begin to bleat — the spontaneous laugh is an uncommon sound from her, one heard by only a few since she's been here. She pets them, her hands cupped with fingers together carefully so individual fingers can't get nipped in the sheep's quest for food.

Her brows knit together over her sunglasses at the man's voice. "That's an exotic accent," she says, curiously, a question tacit in the statement, but she juts her chin toward the animals.

"What do they look like?" she asks; revealing the fact she can't see them.

The obvious doesn't need to be stated - not even when Amato becomes fully aware of just why Nora is asking the question. He smiles, the expression easily heard in his words when he speaks again, nodding toward the sheep and looking to them as if to spare the embarrassment of his pale gaze on her. "They're white, or they would be if they were cleaner. They have white faces. And Holofernes there - if you feel under the wool near his ears, you'll find the start of his horns. Careful, though," he cautions without missing a beat. "The right one is sensitive at the moment."

He stands, the sound of his movement on the few fallen stones of the castle mixed with indigenous boulders making his motion clear enough even to Nora, and his feet crunch in the snow as he moves around to crouch next to the young ewe. The sound of the knife being closed is masked by the soft rumple of fabric as it's slipped into a coat pocket. "Dinah is the smaller one, on your right."

Amato places a gloved hand on the young sheep's back, stoking the wool that, he knows, is soft below the leather garment. He offers no futher answer to her question or comment, but simply stays there, close enough to reach out to touch Nora if he so chose to, but content to hold Dinah steady. The ewe looks at him with mournful eyes before turning to look over her shoulder at something in the distance which may or may not actually be there.

"Holofernes," Nora repeats, fingers curling in his wool, scritching his head before reaching into her pockets to pull her gloves onto her fingers, the cool air starting to seep into her — the coat she wears is not meant for snow; the gloves are thin and knit rather than snow gloves as well.

"Is that Greek?" she asks, nodding toward him. "Is that where you're from?" she asks, tucking her hands in her pockets despite the sheep nudging her for the food she doesn't have. "I'm Nora, by the way. I haven't heard your voice before."

"Not Greek," but Amato doesn't offer a true nationality. Holofernes was Assyrian, but he is recorded in the history of the ancient Hebrews - Amato would have to consult more sources than his own memory to answer well. "My name is-" but he pauses, furrowing his brow. These people were betrayed by their own, so there is no telling who among them is responsible.

Or rather. There is.

Amato shakes his head and tries to smile again, the strain evident in his voice. "My name is Amato." Honesty is, as they say, the best of policies. "Like Holofernes, I am not Greek. But I am also not a New Yorker, and he is. It is a pleasure to meet you, Nora."

“Oh,” Nora says a little vaguely, nodding. “I am. I mean, New Yorker. Not Greek.”

There’s an awkward pause before it is interrupted by a brash and braying bleat from one of the sheep that makes Nora laugh, before her nose wrinkles.

“We’re not going to eat them, are we? I’m not a big fan of knowing the names of the things I eat, you know? I mean, we’re going to use them for, like, milk and cheese or their wool, or… “

Nora pauses mid sentence, as if realizing that in their situation, such sentiments might be considered juvenile. “You know. They’re more sustainable that way,” she adds.

“They are,” Amato says with a chuckle. “It isn’t up to me,” he adds, his brows furrowing somewhat. “But the wisest choice would be what you suggested.” With a sigh, he stands, and without his hand on her back, Dinah prances away, with Holofernes not far behind her. “Sustainability,” he muses. “If we can do it with sheep, you’d think we’d be able to do it with people.”

Shaking his head, he looks to Nora, one eyebrow quirked higher than the other as he studies her, knowing full well that she can’t see him doing so. “We had a vegetable patch at the Garden,” he muses. “I can only imagine the other safe houses had something similar. To help sustain.”

The lean girl exhales, condensation clouding the air and a strand of dark hair floating away from her face before landing back where it dips across forehead and one cheek.

“It’d be nice,” Nora muses, “if we could do more than merely sustain. I think people deserve more than that, y’know?”

Amato nods his head, adding, “Of course,” as an afterthought, forgetting for a moment that his agreement can’t be seen. “But needs are naturally prioritized. We need shelter and food before we can support stimulation and growth. Sustainability must precede evolution.

“We are struggling to sustain as it is.” Amato looks away from Nora, back to the sheep and beyond them to the tangle of island wilderness the castle juts up from. “But to sustain, we must ask others to evolve - not in regard to their genetic structure. That takes thousands of years, and is, by comparison, quite simple. What we need is an evolution of philosophy.”

But from the sound of his voice, it’s a fair bet to say Amato isn’t holding out much hope for that.

“Yeah,” Nora says, her tone no more sanguine than Amato’s before she pulls one hand out of her pocket to reach for the wall, clearly intent on navigating her way back inside. “Nice to meet you. Do me a favor and let me know if we’re having mutton for dinner before I eat any, all right? I’d rather not eat Holofernes or Dinah, even if it means going to bed on an empty stomach.”

With that she begins to grope her way back toward the door to the castle’s interior.

It doesn’t surprise Amato that the young woman doesn’t care to get into the weighty discussion of sociological issues regarding - what would they be called? Genetic relations? Or would the SLC+ be better off defined as a separate racial group? No, he isn’t surprised that Nora would prefer the warmer if less academic company of those inside the castle to the bitter air and his droning opinion.

So he smiles easily, nodding to Nora before he picks his own way back toward the pile of rocks where he was perched before her arrival. “Of course,” he says simply, to close to wallowing in his inability to perpetuate small talk to be more polite than that.

“Of course.”

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