Woman to Woman


colette_icon.gif sable_icon.gif

Scene Title Woman to Woman
Synopsis A ghost of childhood past haunts Colette in the twilight of the Yamagato Fellowship gala.
Date April 7, 2018

Yamagato Fellowship Center

With the sun set fully, the neon panorama of Yamagato Park burns in vibrant shades of purple and pink across the street from the Fellowship Center. Steam rising up from the city streets fluoresces with vibrant color in midnight shades, and the soft sounds of traffic feel somewhat distant. Faint melodies of piano music, something by Debussy, are piped outside by concealed speakers that manage to maintain a rich breadth of the audio spectrum rather than sounding tinny.

It is in this chilly atmosphere, casting a muted reflection against the curving glass wall that partitions this small outdoor space from the Fellowship Center’s bar that Colette Demsky has chosen to spend the end of the night. With the gala winding down, there is no one out here huddled around the sculpted glass ashtrays, no one to cast tendrils of smoke into the air. Nothing but her thoughts and the subtle piano notes. Gooseflesh threatens her bare arms, and tattoos do little to keep her warm. The brisk chill in the night-time air is thought-provoking in ways that the isolation isn’t, it keeps her focused and alert.

Inside the bar, Tasha and Tamara round off the evening in conversation with one-another. Sibyl stands by a concerned young blonde and her more intoxicated Russian date. Care are departing, rather than arriving, and yet interpersonal threads threaten to continue their weaving.

The face of the city has changed, as have the souls of its inhabitants, but the turn of the seasons gives a sense of consistency that, however illusory, makes this moment part of some seeming series, a continuity that, for better or worse, ties it to everything that comes before. Granted, you can drink pretty hard in an effort to deny the fact of this cognitive fiction, but as often as not you will still end up deep in reminiscence, mired rather than emancipated.

Sable has had a few drinks, something that counts for a fair bit for a woman of her stature. She is feeling pretty *present*, her smile anything but pensive as she gabs away with her be-gowned date, Ygraine, giddy on the strangeness of the whole affair. All the same, when first she laid eyes on Colette - *this evening*, that is, for it is no longer possible to remember an innocent first glance - Sable was overcome by a rollercoaster feeling that is the product of that continuity. In an instant she traversed the peaks and valleys of her life as entangled with Colette’s. She cannot help, for all the time and upheaval that separates the Sable of this moment from the Sable in the streets, the Sable in the Lighthouse, the Sable in the Castle, the Sable of old, but feel all those selves clamoring within her, all with their very forceful affects and opinions.

So she doesn’t at once approach her, not when she sees the other woman so close with her cohorts, her best-beloveds. It’s a sort of cowardice, and one she even recognizes in herself, but one she indulges. Their thread was never so tightly wound as when they were alone, and all she feels is testament to how old habits die hard. Still, she has shown the foresight necessary to not drink any *more* before, spotting her retreat to the chilly outside, she makes her move, excusing herself. Slipping outside. Moseying up. All casual-like.

“Got a light?” is as lame an opening line as they come when directed at a photokinetic, but Sable brandishes it with a smile of supreme insouciance, less what she’s saying than how she’s saying it. An easy cord strummed on strings running parallel into the past.

The look Colette offers at the quip is as haunted as the first time she’d seen Sable in the bar, though perhaps less stunned. There’s an immediate flush of color to her face that isn’t from the cold, and a momentary — if not vestigial — aversion of her eyes to the ground before attention squares back on her estranged friend. For all that time has changed her — physique and decorations — there’s still that telltale expressiveness of her brows and play of teeth on lips that makes this concrete patio feel like a time machine.

I don’t,” Colette breathlessly and belatedly affords in response, uncertainty played out i the way her brows can’t decide whether she wants to show she’s surprised or forlorn. One, somewhat shallow, breath later and Colette is looking past Sable to the tall windows that view the brightly lit bar, then back to the yellow-eyed ghost in front of her.

Silence, again, in the way people get when there’s too many words, not too few. It’s been an emotional day for Colette, and that her eyes take on a subtly glassy sheen after her internal dialogue has worked its course isn’t surprising. “You’re…” she manages to get out before swallowing noisily. “Alive.” Is the honest follow-up, creaky in a way that implies she barely squeaked the words out.

“Thass fine,” Sable says, with a rolling shrug, “don’t smoke anyhow.”

She’s different as well, not just behind her strange eyes. Beneath the clean lines of the tux is a leanness of a different quality from yesteryear’s vagabond. On her face are lines of care that lasted long enough to make a mark. Still, they are inescapably themselves, and so eternally out of step. For all that Colette is averse, Sable is steady. For all that she is tense, Sable pretends ease. And for all that she has trouble speaking, Sable - true to form - talks.

“Sure ‘bout that?” she replies to Ms. Demsky’s revelation. “Could be the Ghost of Christmas Past. Need to pinch me t’ be certain, dontcha?”

It is a very particular kind of flirt, this, and the distinction is in the tone. Not roguish. More rueful. A fondness mingled with a contempt that is mostly reserved for herself. As with most over-nursed wounds, Sable’s is by now more her fault than anyone else’s. That’s what artists do, after all. They take a feeling like that and memorialize it, generalize it, learn to love loss itself, its contours bearing the shape of the thing even in its absence.

“Hell. Figure your odds were worse than mine. And you still made it. That surprising yours truly stuck around? You didn’t think I was ‘bout to stop bein’ an inconvenience for you, did you?”

“I didn't…” Colette's voice is momentarily small, younger sounding than she is now. “After the war I didn't hear about you, nobody— I was afraid to go looking.” Afraid to ask after the ghosts of friends, for fear of them winding up gone. “If I didn't look, it— you'd still be there somewhere. If I didn't know— ” then she wouldn't be dead.

It takes a moment for Colette to collect herself, to steady and center, to really see Sable for who she is now, rather than a long shadow cast from yesterday. She gets quieter, but also more assessing, looking Sable up and down with a slowly growing smirk that never quite makes it all the way to a smile. Neither of them really look themselves here, in off-rack finery. Dresses and suits tailored to impress, but not to really identify.

One of Colette’s hands moves, almost raising for some aborted gesture. It is stopped along with the pensive look she was giving. “I'm glad you made it out ok,” is the most reserved response she could've given. “I thought about you. A lot.” That, perhaps not so much.

“Guess that worked out, cause I was there somewhere. ‘n’ now here I am. In th’ alleged flesh.” Sable’s forgiveness is off-handed enough that she can joke about it, evidently. Really, it’s the giddiness of proximity, the vibration of her voice. Her voice. What’s to forgive? They’re here. They’re here. And as Colette reaches out to her…

…she doesn’t just see an incomplete gesture. Maybe if her attention weren’t as focused, the sense of her body in relation to the other woman’s so acute. Maybe if not for these goddamn eyes. But in such a state, she has to see. She senses not just the gesture as it is, but as it will be, its trajectory, its intended end-point anticipated, and so for a moment, to her heart and mind, it is good as completed. And so when it is not, it is not just a prevention, it is a retraction.

“Jesus…” Sable says, tone hushed despite their privacy, as if she must avoid the notice of the angels. Her steadiness is lost, and in reaching for something firm to grasp she finds the hard edge of the truth. “I still dream about you. Good and bad.”

No truncations. No performance. The confession comes out without her habitual distortions, something too true to twist. Something she hadn’t planned for. As ever.

“What ‘bout you, though? You made it out f’r th’ most part?” As quickly as that, her bit back. Not inauthentic by any means - she’s playing herself - but without that moment of rawness. Too old to indulge that in herself, anyways. Better to play in the margins, avoid reading the main text. In just that spirit Sable looks Colette over, with the very fine excuse of taking in her ink. “You look good, t’ be sure. But those don’t look like careless fool tattoos.”

Something Sable says causes Colette to cover her mouth with her hand, brows tense and eyes averted to the floor. There’s a conflicted look spread across blind eyes, followed up by a look up to the yellow-eyed devil before her. “I made it out,” is all Colette offers, and after too long a moment of silence between them. But the open back of her dress and the reflection in the glass behind her shows a different story, of a pair of bullet scars below one shoulder, a knife wound in her lower right back between kidney and spine. Nothing she’s ashamed of, from how the dress reveals the injuries, but also nothing she’s volunteering on.

“You look… like you’re doing good too,” Colette offers diplomatically. “They’re— the tattoos, are for people I’ve lost, people I’ve held on to. For me.” Some of the symbolism is easy enough to understand, the three triangles on the back of one hand, the wordplay of the fox at her shoulder concealing another — older — bullet scar, one Sable knows the story of. But it’s the tattoo on her neck that is the most visceral. An EKG report broken by a semicolon, covering a thick scar.

“I’ve got my job,” Colette says casually, as though it were a 9-to-5, “Tamara, Tasha, and I have a home. Together.” Blind eyes meet yellow ones at that last word, searching for inference before briefly flitting away. “I make better life choices,” the corners of her mouth twitch in an almost-smile. “Mostly.”

“Somethin’ like good, at least,” Sable avers, “better than a lot, ‘n’ a whole lot better than quite a few.” She glances at her feet as she says this, her weight shifting to something steadier for a moment, jauntiness suspended. Nothing like remembering the lost to make your cognizant of the ground, to ground you. “I’ve been playing all ‘round, as long as it’s nearly nowhere. A one woman tour, y’ know? Which- what I’d always done, really, only just a little more respectable-like.”

The significance of home-having might serve well enough, but Colette drives the point home. Together. Like anyone should need to explain themselves in the 21st century. The wolf-eyed woman catches Colette’s look, a pure expression coming from the blind. She smiles lopsidedly - not a smirk but not not a smirk - sign of some strange gratification. “Thass real fuckin’ groovy,” is her assessment.

She clicks her tongue, her own persisting smile an encouragement for Colette to follow suit by way of mirror neurons.

“Don’t worry. We’re still young. Plenny of chance t’ fuck it all up.”

“I really tried to get that out of my system when I was a teenager,” Colette admits with a slight incline of her head and a flushed smile. She's quick to maneuver the topic around in another direction.

“You might be the only person I know who didn't give up on their dream,” is a mighty depressing truth from Colette. “Tasha gave up art to pursue law once she was out of physical therapy, Sis is literally a federal agent now, and…” Colette waves a hand at herself. “I guess if you don't have dreams you can't be disappointed in yourself. So, I'm just doing what I've always done I guess.”

Awkwardly, Colette wraps one arm around herself and looks through the glass wall into the bar. “Ygraine looks happy…” is a somewhat distant sentiment. “Haven't seen her in years either.” She makes no attempt to change that, either.

“You should go see Nicole,” Colette firmly directs the conversation back to Sable. “She misses the hell out of you and your ability to conjure impulsive decisions. Plus, my niece is adorable.”

“Suit y’rself,” Sable says, seemingly satisfied, at least judging by her expression. The mention of her ‘dream’ makes her snort with all the grace of a miniature wildebeest. “Well, difference mebbe that I never really had th’ option.” Imagine Sable the law student. Just try. Even Sable the Fed is more conceivable. “How I got by then, how I get by now. Dunno how much good I do, but I figure I’m mostly harmless.” The wink is obligatory, more vaudevillian than anything else.

“Yg is Yg,” she says, taking a glance through the glass at the woman she walked in with, “discontent ‘til Judgment Day, when we c’n finally sort things out. Happy as she can, though. And folks need the help.” The contrast is present if not stated outright. Some people are helpful. Others had best be harmless. A war-weary ethics.

She perks up a bit at the mention of the other Demsky sister. “That so? Might jus’ hafta. Actually might feel like we’re talkin’ woman t’ woman now, ‘stead of punk to proper lady.” Talk of nieces gets a squint. People have nieces now? Of course. Of course people have nieces now. “Adorable’s all well ‘n’ good but what music is she listenin’ to?”

“She really likes Digging for Fire,” Colette admits with a lopsided smile, “but Nicole and I both like the Pixies. She’’s got a good pedigree there. Uh, I can’t say the same ‘bout her dad, but… he’s nice, at least.” Glancing through the wall of glass that leads into the bar, Colette hesitates on spotting Tasha’s silhouette looking around. She turns her attention back to Sable, eyes partway lidded for a moment, then cast to the side briefly.

Smiling, if distantly, Colette steps toward Sable and then starts to walk past her, pausing long enough to lay a bare hand on the other woman’s shoulder. “We were kids,” she says quietly, “I think this is the first time we’ve legitimately been able to talk like this.” Her blind eyes square on the yellow-eyed woman. “I’ve gotta go, but…” Colette squeezes that shoulder. “We should talk like this again…”

“Woman to woman.”

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