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She rolls over onto her side and reaches for him. With skin against skin, her breasts and stomach pressed against his back, she lies there, enjoying the heat radiating from him to her and inhaling his familiar scent. Her fingers run gently over his stomach, feeling both the soft skin and the muscle beneath. Her lips lightly touch the flesh between his shoulder blades before she rests her chin in the curve between his shoulder and neck. After she gazes at his peaceful expression she closes her eyes. Lulled by the sound of his breathing, she drifts off into sleep.
She gazes pensively at the screen in front of her. The light emitted by the monitor casts an eerie glow on her face, further bringing out the yellow undertones to her skin. With a soft sigh, she leans back in her chair, bringing her hands behind her head and tucking her feet underneath her in a cross-legged fashion. Her dark eyes fix on the ceiling, and she lightly bites her lower lip. Suddenly, she sits upright, and a small smile touches the corners of her mouth. Text begins to fill the screen as her fingers tap rapidly at the keys.
With one foot before the other and her weight on her front foot, she stands poised and ready to run. As the Frisbee is thrown she takes off, dodging left and right as she tries to evade the defenders. Her teammate searches for someone open, and she raises her hand as she speeds toward the end zone. The disc flies toward her, dangerously close to the ground. The throw looks short, but she steps forward and reaches low, catching the Frisbee in her right hand. With a quick motion she passes it to another teammate, grinning at the winning catch.
Wearing a sports bra, tank top, chest protector, underarm protector, white jacket, and lamé on her torso, the many layers obscure her petite frame. She wears baseball sliders instead of knickers over her shorts, cross-trainers instead of fencing shoes. The knee-high socks do not completely hide the outline of the brace on her right ankle. One end of a cord threaded underneath her metallic jacket disappears into her pants pocket, while the other is held in the gloved fingers of her right hand. With a mask and a weapon at her feet, she waits for her turn on the strip.
In one hand she holds a box of paper and a sheet of negatives. She reaches out with her free hand and parts the black curtains. After stepping through, she keeps her arm extended, relying on her sense of touch to guide her through the next two layers of curtain. She emerges into a room where all she can see are red numbers on LCD displays and a narrow stream of amber light overhead. Shuffling loudly so that others in the room can hear her movements, she makes her way to an empty station and flicks on the power switch.
She twirls her pen between the middle and ring fingers of her right hand. Her left hand lightly grasps the desk edge as she shifts in her seat, trying to make herself comfortable. She sets the writing implement down and stretches, although despite her lack of height there is hardly enough room for her to make it worth the effort. Afterward, she picks up the pen again and returns her attention to the lecture, chewing on the pen cap. When she needs to take note of something, she touches the ballpoint to paper, keeping the cap firmly between her teeth.
A sound comes from her computer speakers, and she looks up from her textbook to see the message that popped up. A grin appears on her face as she sees the IM window and the screenname of the messenger. She smiles at the familiar greeting, then sets a piece of paper to mark her place in the book. After she puts the text away, she types in a response to her friend's message, her fingers flying, the clicking of the keys sounding in her ears. She stops, quickly rereads her answer, and then presses two keys, sending the message off.
Wearily, she raises a hand to ring the doorbell. She smiles faintly as she sees him through the glass. After he opens the door for her, she leans against him, wrapping her arms around his waist. She remains like that for only a moment before shuffling through the common room and making her way to his bedroom. Her responses to his words are barely perceptible, mere mutterings as she sets her backpack on the floor and takes off her shoes. Yawning, she gets into his bed, giving him a sleepy smile before snuggling beneath the covers and closing her eyes.
She shifts in her seat, bends over, and unzips her backpack. With her right hand she rummages around for a minute before her fingers against the binding of a book. After pulling it out, she looks at the cover and smiles before leaning back in her seat. She looks up for a minute, listening to the lecturer, waiting to hear the information she came to hear. Then she props her feet up on the back of the chair in front of her, opens the book, and finds her placeholder. She tucks the index card away and pores over the pages.
She runs to her desk, rummaging through the stuff to unearth the ringing phone. After pressing the talk button and holding the handset up to her ear, she hears a familiar voice, and she sighs. She wears an expression of annoyance, barely able to suppress the emotion in her voice. A few minutes into the conversation, she loses control of herself, and her voice begins to steadily rise in both pitch and volume. Eventually her tone levels off, and she speaks between tightly clenched teeth, her feet tapping impatiently as the person on the other end of the line continues.
Dragging her feet, she slowly makes her way across the basketball courts to the back of the gym, where a few of her teammates are waiting by the vans. She slips the straps of her backpack of her shoulders and drops the bag by the rest of the stuff to be loaded. After muttered hellos to everyone, she slowly climbs the stairs up to the gym entrance, squinting at the bright light that greets her as she enters the building. She steps through the double doors of the equipment closet, picks up her bag, and slings it over her shoulders.
Her ear cocked toward the computer speakers, she listens to the song for a moment before clicking the right mouse button, pausing the file. She rotates to the right in her chair. Her fingers curve over the keyboard as she attempts to reproduce the tune. She lifts her hand from the keys, humming softly while she takes the pencil from behind her ear. After making a few markings on her music paper, she places her left hand on the mouse and her right hand on the keyboard. She rewinds, presses play, and moves her fingers in sync with the music.
As soon as she steps inside her room, she throws her bag to the floor, takes off her shoes, then moves toward her computer desk, where she uses her big toe to hit the power button on the tower elevated a mere inch off the carpet. After hitting the monitor's power button with her right index finger, she goes to the kitchen, then returns with a glass of water. She sits, setting the glass on the desk. Seeing the computer fully booted, she reaches to click the right mouse button, then leans back as she hears the modem dial up.
With her foot she clears some of her floor space, kicking stuff aside. She reaches into the closet, picks up her hamper, and sets it onto the free space. The area surrounding the hamper becomes messy again as she steps carefully around the room, picking up pieces of clothing. When the stuff lying on the floor has been sorted, she moves back to the hamper, reaches into it, and starts pulling out articles, throwing them onto this pile or that. Afterward she picks up one pile and tosses it back into the hamper, which she then wheels out her door.
As the name of her group is called, she and the other group members stand and make their way toward the microphones in the front of the room. Her eyes wander around the room briefly, taking in the small crowd of people while one of the members introduces the group. She waits for her turn to introduce herself, then steps forward and makes a crack about her lack of height before saying her name. Finally, one of the girls hums their starting note, the soloist steps forward, setting tempo with a movement of her hand, and they begin the song.
Along with the other girls in the room, she looks at the sheet music and listens as the tune is plunked out on the keyboard. As somebody interrupts and makes a comment, she lets out a barely perceptible sigh, exchanges frustrated glances with another group member, and begins to lightly tap her fingertips against her leg with impatience. The stream of conversation grows louder as more people join in. She rolls her eyes and glances at the clock. Finally, she cuts in with a remark that she would like to finish learning the music, and the group returns to business.
After sliding open one of her closet doors, she begins opening dresser drawers. She sifts through the sloppily folded piles of clothing, eventually giving up and slamming the last drawer shut. She opens the other closet door, stares at the stuff hanging for a minute, then yanks a pair of pants off its hanger. Then she sorts through the pile of clean, wrinkled laundry sitting on one of her chairs, tossing this article and that onto her bed, finally pulling out a long sleeved shirt. Not finished yet, she starts grabbing socks from the pile, looking for ones that match.
She takes a quick step forward, extending her arm as she does so, and lunges. She hears the clash of metal on metal, as well as the sound from the black box on her left as the touch is registered. Out of the corner of her eye she sees two colored lights flash briefly. After turning to the director and finding out who is awarded the point, she sighs, turns around, and paces a little before taking a deep breath and returning to face her opponent. Urged on by her teammates' shouts of encouragement, she assumes the en garde position.
She lies back in her seat, her eyes closed, listening to the sounds of the bus as it continues on its way, allowing her body to feel when and where the vehicle turns. The low hum of conversation reaches her ears, and she struggles to keep the sounds from lulling her to sleep. Soon enough her eyes open slowly, and she sits up. She peers through the scratched, dirty window, watching the buildings go by in a slow blur. The bus stops, and half the passengers depart. A moment after the drive resumes, she reaches up and pulls the cord.
After checking her watch and noting the time, she quickens her steps. She makes her way toward her destination, trying to eat and walk rapidly at the same time. As soon as she makes it to the right building, she stuffs paper plate and plastic fork into the garbage can, then turns toward the door. She pulls at the handle, but the door refuses to give. With a sigh she tugs again, using all her weight to finally pry the door open. She steps in, enters the hall, and glances at the film on the screen before finding a seat.
She opens the refrigerator with her left hand and holds it open. Bending over, she peers into the fridge's depths, then frowns. After closing the compartment again, she reaches up to pull the freezer door open. She gets up on her tiptoes to look into the freezer, shakes her head, and closes the freezer door again. Still searching, she moves to the right and makes her way to the large cabinet beside the sink. After pulling open the double cabinet doors and staring at the shelves for a few minutes, she finally reaches up and removes a package of pasta.
She carries a folded butterfly chair between her hands, with various objects tucked between the folds. After making her way through the hallway and living room, she sets the chair down before the sliding glass doors. She unlocks and slides them open, then slides the screen door open. She picks up the chair again and walks out onto the balcony with it before setting it down in the corner. As soon as she unfolds the chair, she pulls out the objects and sets them on the ground. Finally she drops into the chair and reaches toward the pile of stuff.
She tosses her bag down, then strides confidently into the kitchen. In response to the greetings from her family she grins and makes a flippant remark before bending over to hug her mother. She embraces her father, then leans over the table and takes a slice of turkey between her fingers. With another smile, she takes a bite of the meat, savoring the taste as she chews. Her mouth full, she holds up a finger on her free hand in answer to her parents' questions. In the silence that follows, she stuffs the rest of the turkey into her mouth.
With her sister a step ahead, she sets foot into the store. She looks around for a moment, absorbing the atmosphere. Hearing the music blast and seeing the swarms of people, she shakes her head slightly, then turns to the nearest rack and starts browsing. Her eyes light up as she pulls out an article that interests her, but as her fingers bring the tag within her field of vision, she sighs. She starts a search for one that is the proper size, but by the time she is done sifting through the rack, she is grumbling under her breath.
She stumbles out of the car, reaches back in, and pulls out her small suitcase, not without some difficulty. After saying goodbye to her father and closing the door, her fingers close around the handle of the luggage, and she rolls it along to where her mother stands waiting. In near silence, they walk down the sidewalk to the terminal. She blinks as she steps inside, her eyes adjusting to the brightness of the interior, and she looks at the nearest television screen. With a barely perceptible shrug, she turns to hug her mother, then walks to the security checkpoint.
After retrieving her keyboard from her boyfriend's car, she walks back to where her friends wait. She sets her keyboard down on the wooden steps and she shoves her hands as deep into her pockets as they will go. Only half listening as her friends converse, she takes several steps away, turns around, then walks back. She continues to pace, her expression growing considerably harder as she sees the locked door at the top of the steps. She pulls her hands out of her pockets and crosses her arms tightly over her chest, bouncing up and down to keep warm.
With her camera bag slung over her shoulder, she steps inside the gym and makes her way to the bleachers, where one of her teammates sits watching the practice. She makes conversation as she sits down beside him, unzips her bag, and pulls out the camera. She removes the lens cap and drops it back into the bag. After turning on the device, she presses a few buttons and turns a dial until she sees the proper light reading on the LCD screen. With a mischievous grin, she turns suddenly to her unaware friend, focuses, and presses the shutter button.
She finds herself suddenly awake. After blinking a few times, she brings her left wrist close to her face and squints at the watch. With a sigh, she sits up, turns, and adjusts the pillows. She lies back down, sighs again, and reaches up to punch at the pillows a few more times. Finally satisfied, she reaches to pull first one thick blanket, then another up to just below her chin. Rolling over onto her right side, she tucks her right hand beneath the pillows, her left hand resting on her stomach beneath her shirt. Finally, she closes her eyes.
She rings the doorbell, and without waiting for a response, she turns the doorknob. The door swings open, and she slips into the apartment, making her way for her friends' room. She announces her arrival just before she strolls in, drops her backpack on the floor, and squats beside it as she stars chatting. A minute later she is up and moving again, bouncing on the balls of her feet. Soon enough she is pacing. Despite her air of impatience and her need to keep moving, she is listening attentively, her expression constantly changing in reaction to her friends' remarks.
She turns her back on him and curls up into a ball, squeezing her eyes shut. Still, a few hot tears escape from beneath her eyelids and trickle down her cheeks. Because she is getting over a cold, the sniffling does not clue him in at first, but soon enough she feels a light kiss on her right cheek and his warm breath in her ear as he asks her what is wrong. Unable to answer, she rolls over and holds her arms out. He leans in toward her and she holds him tightly, burying her face in his shoulder.
The Tip Jar