On the Planet Earth (open)

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On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Tara Anne Barlow on Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:40 am

The orange-yellow light of the sunset flickered as it's path was cut and slashed rapidly by the trees. The sky was the kind of pink and lavender that she wished would stay forever. It looked so dreamy and unreal, like an impressionist painting. She liked them. Hail had a book of famous paintings, she'd been reading it on the drive. Art was something she'd decidedly come to like. Old art mostly though, somehow so much of the new stuff she saw either seemed ugly or like it was trying far too hard. Tara Anne pressed her forehead to the taxi window as it all passed by bit by bit. Then as the boredom increased she pressed her nose against the glass, then each cheek, then her lips. Leaving a little smudge of tinted lip balm behind.

Feeling the drivers eyes on her, she pulled away from the window. Sitting up straighter for a moment and looking around before relaxing and sliding deeper into her seat to the point where she was nearly horizontal. Slouching was another thing she'd decided she liked. Obvious it hadn't been allowed in Bountiful. That wasn't the sort of way girls out to behave. Too vulgar. But then that was probably why she liked it so much. The car pulled into the driveway and up along the side of a big building. Tara Anne gave a quiet thank you to the driver and got out. There was still her escort. They weren't about to leave until she was formally handed over. She slammed the door closed behind her hard. Leaving a little dusting of dirty blonde hairs on the back seat behind.

As the escort walked her into the building Tara Anne was looking around. Taking in the scene without glass between her and it. All the green and the flow of the land. The valleys. It was all reminiscent of everything she left two years ago. Certainly the hills here were nothing like the Rockies, but.... there was an air there that breathed in the same. She twisted her fingers around a strand, tighter and tighter, until she felt the release of the root from the follicle. That little pop and the tension in both her and the hair disappears. She reached out to catch the door that the escort was holding for her. Following her in.

They spoke to her (she only barely listened), signed the official looking papers (Tara Anne was so sick of seeing those), looked through her things (and took a few), and lead her to her room (empty). They told her that her room-mates would be finishing up evening chores. That free period would be starting shortly and the time was her's. They left here and Tara Anne eyed the room. Bottom bunk. That suited her just fine but she stared at the top and wondered who might be living above her for the rest of ever. She considered unpacking but decided she'd rather not. Instead she only unzipped the top of her bag. Stealing fresh clothes out and quickly changing. She hated the feeling travelling left in her clothes. All sweat and crumbs and recycled air. Whatever the hell else.

She slipped out of the dorm to go exploring. Wandering down halls and stairs. Watching the odd student she spotted doing their chores. Eventually she came to the Solarium and had to take a pause. It was actually kind of lovely. Tara Anne stopped pulling at her hair for a moment and sat down. Taking in a deep breathe that smelt of dirt. She loved that earthy smell, it was one of her favorite things, ever since she was little.
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Dilwen Vaughan on Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:33 pm

The girl now entering the Solarium, on the other hand, did not find the earthy smell comforting. All it made her think of was dirt, and although the dirt itself did not bother her, she very carefully avoided touching it in any way. In fact, at first she considered backing out, but she told herself that as long as it didn't get on her, she would be fine.

The last twenty-four hours had been somewhat bewildering for Dilly. Caught in the storm of her parents' argument about whether or not Highgrove Home was necessary, tormented mercilessly by her older brothers, she was only calm as she left home that morning because of Anwen. Her sister had kindly come along with her parents to drop her off that morning, and it had been Anwen who actually walked her to the door and wished her luck before driving away. Alone, Dilly had listened (or half-listened) to the orientation lecture, signed some paperwork, and looked around the reception area. It was clean, that was the first thing she noticed. Thank goodness. Not that she minded clutter--in fact, clutter wouldn't bother her--but there was no dirt or dust anywhere in sight, and she breathed a little easier knowing that.

That feeling of peace lasted all of, oh, twenty seconds. That was how long it took before the security guard in the room began checking over her things. Dilly didn't mind--the guard had put on a pair of rubber gloves first, so no germs would get on her possessions. However, the security guard pulled her shoebox full of various bottles of scented hand sanitizer--and confiscated it.

"No, please, give them back!" Dilly cried, reaching for the box. "I need those! You don't understand. Oh, please..."

But the guard had been firm--as had the official-looking person who had given her the lecture and the paperwork. Alcohol was forbidden in the student handbook, and all of her hand sanitizers were alcohol-based. Dilly thought that an alcoholic would have to be pretty desperate to drink lavender-jasmine-scented hand sanitizer, and said so, but no matter how much she argued, it did no good. Her hand sanitizer was taken away, and she was taken to her room. Unprotected.

She was already trembling when she got there. She wasn't afraid of heights--which was a good thing, as she'd been assigned a top bunk--but now that she didn't have her hand sanitizer, she made an extra-thorough inspection of the room to make sure that there was not a single molecule of dust or dirt in the room, especially in those areas designated as hers. Satisfied--though far from happy--Dilly put away the belongings she had been left with. Once done, she decided to go for a walk, both to acquaint herself with the important places in the facility--like the bathrooms--and also to maybe sit and read somewhere she wouldn't crack her skull if she fell out. Thus resolved, she put a clean handkerchief into one pocket, fished a bar of wrapped soap out of her belongings (at least they hadn't confiscated that) and put it in the other pocket, pulled on the pair of gloves that sort of matched the outfit she was wearing, grabbed a book without looking at which one it was, and headed out.

The Solarium was not where she intended to end up, and indeed, if she could have known this was what she was walking into, she never would have. She almost backed out, but then she remembered that, for one thing, she was wearing her long sleeves, long pants, sturdy shoes, and her gloves, and for another thing, she didn't have to touch the dirt. And she could sit on her handkerchief if she needed to. So, taking a deep breath, she entered the room, trying to ignore the smell of dirt.

Looking around the room, she spotted a pretty-looking girl with blonde hair falling around her shoulders. Dilly didn't have many friends, but the girl reminded her powerfully of Anwen, and she was desperately homesick and missing her sister. She took another deep breath and moved towards the girl, a shy smile on her face.

"Er--hi," she said in her soft, high-pitched voice. "Er, do--do you mind if I sit down with you? I just got here. I mean, I'm new to everything."

Okay, maybe it wasn't the most graceful opening statement, but it would have to do.
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Tara Anne Barlow on Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:50 pm

Truthfully, Tara Anne would be rather shocked to hear another girl refer to her as pretty. Tara understood that to a man she could be beautiful. But that's because their sexes were different. Compared to a male of the species Tara Anne was delicate and soft looking. And it was the contrast between that and her actually sexual nature that made her something worth worship. However when compared to someone on equal footing: Tara would admit to being somewhat lacking. Bald patches, scarring, and slightly bucked "bunny teeth" didn't exactly shine off the paged like photos of celebrities and other beauties did. She knew that and she was okay with that. She was who she was and she wasn't at Highgrove to win any beauty contests.

However, she'd call the girl in front of her pretty. At least in a little girl kind of way. She have clear, soft looking skin and hair that had that untouched silkiness that Tara couldn't ever remember having. She could remember the feel from helping her little sisters with their hair back in Bountiful. As soon as she was old enough to manage she was put in charge of some of the little ones when it came to getting them ready in the morning. One of the sister wives, Jean. She hadn't like that. She always accused Tara of pulling the little girl's hair as well as her own and would look the girls over for bald spots. Jean always seemed wary of Tara Anne, ever since she could remember.

For a moment Tara eyed the girl's get up. The long sleeves and boots were no big deal. But the gloves? Inside? There was a chance she just had terribly poor circulation, sure, but Tara Anne figured it was probably something more. This was a home for unstable kids after all. Maybe the girl didn't like skin to skin contact or something. That was a thing, wasn't it? Tara couldn't blame her if that was the case. There was a certain special crawling feeling she got when someone touched her bare flesh without permission. Ever it it was just her hand or arm.

"I'm new too." she replied. Offering a sliver of a smile. Tara Anne wasn't much of a smile-r. Unless she was looking at Vivien, David or even Hail at times. Or if she could hear someone moan. There was something about that one sound that placed happy shivers down her spine. "Yeah, sit. Please." she quickly added the dose of manners. Reflex. Things ended badly when she used to forget. She shifted over on the bench making a little extra room. She didn't like to feel crowd. Personal space was a luxury she coveted.

"Are you in dorm five as well? They told me someone else was moving in there today too."
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Dilwen Vaughan on Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:31 pm

Dilly was relieved when the girl moved over to make room for her. It wasn't that she didn't want to touch her, it was more that...well, the closer they sat, the more likely she would be to get germs, and then get sick, and she couldn't handle that, not now that they had taken her hand sanitizer away. (It was going to take her a long time to get over that, she suspected.) She tried to stop herself from checking the seat, but she couldn't. It seemed fairly clean, but she still took out her handkerchief and spread it carefully on the bench before sitting down. Her jeans were thick, but she didn't want dirt on them anyway, in case she accidentally touched them while she was taking them off at night. The very idea was terrifying.

"Thank you," she said politely, crossing her ankles and tucking them underneath the bench--both because she had been raised that it was polite to do so and because it meant that less of her was exposed to the possibility of someone tripping over her or throwing mud at her. She turned her body slightly so that she was facing the other girl, and now that they were closer, she had the chance to really look. This other girl was taller than Dilly--not that that was rare; an inch shorter and the Welsh girl would be considered a dwarf--and more filled-out. Her nose turned up a little, her hair was blonde and wavy, and overall she made Dilly think of Belladonna, the main character in her favorite Eva Ibbotson book, Which Witch? As Belladonna had been the only white witch in a coven of the foulest, blackest, and--quite frankly--dumbest witches in the world, that made Dilly even more predisposed to like this girl.

Dilly wasn't stupid, and she wasn't naive--not exactly--but because she couldn't stop herself from showing the person she really was to the world between her OCD and her phobias, she assumed everyone else did, too. What she saw was what she got, until proven otherwise. The girl sitting next to her had spoken to her in a friendly manner, and had moved over to give her room. Therefore, as far as Dilly could see, she was a nice, friendly person who knew not to crowd people--especially in a place like this--and would be great to get to know.

"Are you in dorm five as well? They told me someone else was moving in there today too."

Dilly's hazel eyes lit up. "Oh! Yes, I am. I just got myself situated a few minutes ago. Oh, I'm so glad I met you--I was worried about what would happen when it comes time to go to bed if I didn't know anyone in the room. Which bed are you in? I got assigned to Bed Three, the top bunk." Something occurred to her, and she blushed a little. "I didn't introduce myself, did I? I'm so sorry. I'm Dilwen Vaughan."

If she still had her hand sanitizer, she would have taken off the glove, but she didn't have it and she couldn't see a sink anywhere nearby and she didn't want to risk getting germs--even though she was pretty sure the other girl didn't have any, you coudl never be too careful. So instead she held out her hand, still encased in the soft, finely-woven wool glove that matched her current outfit. She was a little embarrassed by it, but not enough that she would actually remove it. Better to be embarrassed and safe than sorry.
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Tara Anne Barlow on Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:12 pm

"Bed two, bottom bunk." Tara nodded slowly, recalling the number. There had only been a few months of her life went Tara Anne hadn't lived in a shared room. In Bountiful lots of her sisters had slept in the same room as her. They had two queen-sized beds in the big room, about three girls to a bed, four if one of the little ones had a nightmare. Then she'd run and slept in a shared room at the Hope Foundation. For a while after that David and Hail had managed to prepare her a solo room, but it wasn't long before that one became home to a crib and change table and everything else Vivien would need. Still. Tara would rather share her bedroom with her daughter than a handful of strangers. Even at the Hope foundation she'd know everyone there, if not actually related to them in some way.

Dilwen Vaughan. That was a doozy of a name. Even compared to the colony names Tara Anne had grown up with. She'd even had a sister named Radiance. Radiance Barlow. Like those were the sorts of words you could just tack together all willy-nilly. Names at the colony were plucked from what was considered the only worth source. The Bible. But sometimes people would branch out into old puritan types names. Virtues and squished together words like Spendlove.

For her daughter Tara Anne had picked something with as few and far between bible links as she could find. She'd been snuggled on to a couch with Hail and David when she'd first seen it. They'd been watching Gone with the Wind and Tara liked the feel of the name on her tongue. She'd run a warm hand along her belly thoughtfully. The next day she looked it up. The lady in the lake from old legends. That sounded like just the thing, and the root of the word was the final tick in the pros catergory. From the Latin name Vivianus which was derived from Latin vivus "alive"' she'd read. Alive. Perfect. Nothing mattered more than that. So long as a person was alive, well that was as good a place as any to start things.

"I'm Tara Anne Barlow," she said moving to shake the gloved hand. It felt funny to do, all fuzzy and off. The Canadian accent on her voice seemed to be the most obvious when she said her name. The slight drawl. Tear-ah Anne instead Tah-rah Anne. "Yeah, I only got here about an hour, maybe two ago. I must have just missed ya. No one was in the room when I get here either... Did you come a long way?"
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Dilwen Vaughan on Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:16 pm

It was a shame that the other girl wasn't sleeping in Bed Three--or on a top bunk--because Dilly would have welcomed someone to talk with after lights-out. She had never been to a boarding school--her secondary school had been right in Tywyn--and her limited knowledge of such places had been gleaned from a variety of books. Perhaps because of her phobia about germs, Dilly was an obsessive reader, and she often said that she had traveled to the ends of the earth--even into space--from the comfort of her armchair. She had read a number of books about boarding schools, and her favorite of all had been The Secret Language by Ursula Nordstrom. Dilly saw herself as Victoria North, the shy and homesick main character; the whole drive to Highgrove House from the station, she had wondered about her roommate and prayed she would get a Martha Sherman and not an Ann Spear. In the book, Martha and Vicky had made up a secret language together, played outside and built a secret playhouse in the woods, dressed up as ice-cream cones at Halloween and won the costume contest, had midnight feasts, hung sheets over the sides of the bunk bed to make tents, and whispered for hours together after the lights went out.

Of course, Dilly reminded herself, Coburn Home School was an American academy. Maybe things were different in England.

Tara Anne Barlow. Dilly rolled the name around in her mind. She wondered where the name had come from. There was something--foreign about Tara Anne's accent, too. She pronounced her first name to rhyme with "stare" rather than "star", the way Dilly had always heard it. But there had been a Barlow family that lived down the street from the Vaughans in Tywyn, so that name at least was familiar. Dilly decided that she liked the way Tara Anne said her name better than the "traditional" way.

"Not too far," Dilly answered, thinking about the journey. "It took about six hours and I had to change trains three times, but it would have only taken three if we'd driven. Mum and Da didn't want to put that many kilometers on the car, though." She'd spent about half the trip reading the Railway Series by Rev. W. Awdry and the other half staring out the window and wondering. Mostly she wondered about what Highgrove House would be like, although she also occasionally wondered if one could get germs from sitting too near to glass, and how many children had pressed their noses to the glass, and if it could ever really be clean.

She smiled up at Tara Anne. "I'm from Tywyn, in Wales. It's really pretty up there. My da works for the railway and Mum does sewing...what about you? Where are you from?" With Tara Anne's accent, she didn't think the other girl was from Wales, and she was pretty sure that if she were Scottish or Irish she would pronounce her first name "tah-rah", but she could be from London or Bristol or some place in the south of England. Hopefully wherever she came from wasn't too dirty. Dilly didn't want to catch some disease that had been latent in Tara Anne's system for her whole life...
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Tara Anne Barlow on Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:51 pm

It was a quiet moment, despite their speech. Chocked full of normalities. Just two girl in a new place: talking about home and travel and where their hearts were. It felt like the same kind of conversation just about anyone could have. There was no pretext, no baiting. Tara Anne was so sick of all that. Of her every conversation feeling like a chess game. There was something refreshing about the conversations that came with ordering lunch at a sandwich shop or sitting next to a stranger on the bus.

Tara Anne was a big reader as well, but generally she wasn't one to pick up one of the fiction novels that Dilly might love. Tara didn't have much use for fiction yet: to her the whole world felt like fiction. There was so much that she'd never heard of when she was living in Bountiful. So much she was sheltered from. Tara Anne didn't need to escape reality. She needed to lap it up from a soup ladle. History books, art books, biography books, encyclopaedia, Wikipedia. She lived on those. She loved learning about all the things she wasn't allowed to know before. She'd read about taxes, about fixing cars, about the layers of the earth. It might seem boring to some but to Tara it was all so terribly eye-opening.

"I was living in Bristol before. Or Patchway actually, just outside. I took the train mostly too. My brother and his husband have junker of a car. It probably wouldn't have made it here." Tara Anne smirked slightly. That car was an eyesore but she'd kind of loved it. They called it Rustchelle and stuck a kitchy hula girl too the dashboard. A souvenir Hail got in Hawaii before he made his way to Canada to work and live. David and Tara's lucky break. It was hard to picture where they'd be without Hail.

"I only lived there 'bout a year though. I lived in Canada before that, in the west." She left it at that. Despite being the second biggest country in the world most people outside of it where satisfied with nothing more than that. Even though it meant next to nothing in reality. Certainly she could just be upfront and say she was from rural B.C. but that would hardly mean anything to anyone. Never mind explaining Bountiful. That was a whole other problem inherit in her home land.

Her right hand reach into the remaining hair at the nap of her neck. Twisting into a strand and pulling. Keeping her brain present in moment thanks to the little pop feeling of release from her scalp.

"It's really pretty here. I didn't like Bristol area much...."
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Dilwen Vaughan on Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:46 pm

While Dilly loved fiction, she was also inordinately curious. If she ran across a word she didn't know, a place with which she was unfamiliar, in one of her books, she often would pause and go for the dictionary or encyclopedia or atlas. Maybe she didn't choose to read nonfiction books--often, although she did like biographies--but she would read them if she thought it would help her understand a fiction book better. She didn't always understand what she read in nonfiction either, but she did read it. Although her home was smack-dab in the middle of the western coast of the United Kingdom, and she had never ventured beyond the borders of Tywyn before today, in her imagination and her books, she had traveled the world.

So when Tara Anne said that she had come from Bristol, Dilly knew exactly where it was and how far from the Lake District it was. She was about to say something when Tara Anne explained that her brother and his husband had a car that wouldn't have made the trip. "Oh, do you live with your brother?" Dilly said, surprised. "Not with your parents? Did...did something happen to them?" That Tara Anne's brother had a husband in no way, shape, or form bothered Dilly. It wasn't that she was particularly tolerant, or that she fought for gay rights; it was simply that the whole concept of homosexuality was outside the scope of her attentions. With her erotophobia, she didn't like questions related to sex or even talking much about Sex Ed; she didn't even like to think about sex, and she had certainly never asked what it entailed. She didn't think there was anything strange or abnormal about men being in love with men, women loving women, or men loving women who loved women, simply because she was blissfully unaware of the mechanics of the situation.

However, Tara Anne's next words drove all other thoughts from Dilly's mind. "You're from Canada?" she squeaked, her eyes lighting up. "Oh, I've always wanted to go there! What part? What's it like?"

Dilly's second-favorite author was L. M. Montgomery. She had been given a copy of Anne of Green Gables when she was six and had the chicken pox; it had been a bribe to get her to stop panicking, and it hadn't worked, but she had fallen in love with the spunky red-headed orphan with a sense of mischief, and when she had discovered that there was a whole series about Anne Shirley, she was over the moon. Since then, she had devoured every single book L. M. Montgomery had ever written, even the obscure ones. She often dreamed that someday she would go to Canada--how, she was never quite sure--and see all the places where Anne Shirley and Sara Stanley and Jane Stuart and Emily Starr and Pat Gardiner had lived and walked and studied. For hours, she had lain on the polished, dust-free floor of her bedroom with her L. M. Montgomery books in one hand and her atlas opened to the pages about Canada under the other, trying to find out exactly where things were in Canada, and she was delighted every time she found that a place or a city was real. (She had been crushed to learn that Avonlea was made-up.)

The discovery, therefore, that her new-found friend was from Canada absolutely thrilled Dilly. She wasn't so stupid that she would ask if Tara Anne had ever met anyone described in the books (even had they been real, they were probably all dead by now), and she guessed that Tara Anne had rarely, if ever, been to Prince Edward Island, since she had said she lived "in the west" and P.E.I. was in the southeast--and Canada was a big country; it had taken up several pages in her atlas. Still, the thought of Canada was enough to make her feel bouncy. She was hungry for details and hoped Tara Anne would share them.

"Well, Bristol's a harbor, isn't it?" Dilly remembered what she had read about it. It was one of the biggest, most populated cities in England. Places with lots of people, in Dilly's opinion, tended to be three things: noisy, ugly, and dirty. And the water wouldn't even be pretty, not if there were a lot of ships fouling it up. "And it's a city. Cities are pretty ugly. Tywyn is a little village--well, a town really--but it's small, and it's cozy. It's not as pretty as here, but it's nice enough. I didn't go outside too much, though. My brothers liked to throw dirt at me."
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Tara Anne Barlow on Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:29 pm

A small smile. It was little, but genuine enough. As bitter, as angry as she might be about her former home, that was the colony, not the country it's self. Try as she might to grumble about government negligence, about how someone there should have protected her, she just couldn't fault the country. They try after all. When she'd escaped she'd picked up the newspaper whenever she saw Bountiful in the news. Winston Blackmore had always been adamant that Polygamy's ticket into true legality was via the gay marriage debate. He'd even gone so far as to have two of his wives legally marry each other to bring attention to it. Tara Anne knew from being at the Hope Foundation Shelter that people all around the country wanted to see their colony regulated. There just wasn't a good way to go about it legally, even when Winston traipsed around flaunting his crimes.

"There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation"

That was a quote that rang in the ears of the Canadian consciousness. Spoken by Pierre Trudeau the country's fifteenth Prime Minister. To so many it was a triumph. To Tara Anne it sounded like a damnation.

Still, when she thought about being grown, being entirely free and happy and whole. It was hard for her to picture not going back. Even if the politics made her heartache. The Rockies had no part in that. They were simply Home. Welcoming, if wintery at the moment. She couldn't imagine living out the fullest part of her life anywhere else.

"I lived in British, Columbia. In the interior, the Rocky Mountain range. But not in some hut in the snow on a cliff or anything. All the towns are in the vallies. It's really pretty: with fruit orchards everywhere-mostly peaches and cherries- and all these big, beautiful lakes. And we supposedly have a lake monster too like the Loch Ness. Only our is called the Ogopogo. It's a First Nation's word that means 'lake demon'. I lived in a couple places there but they were all pretty small. The last one was a real tourist spot though. So lots of skiers and snowboarders and watersport types. Wakeboarders and boaters."

"Sounds like your brothers are jerks," Tara Anne gave her a sympathetic look. She knew the feeling. But more over, maybe that explained the gloves, the hankie. She didn't like to get dirty? Tara couldn't imagine that. Good ol' fun outside was someone of the singularly great times she had as a kid. Sandcastles, mudpies, and snowball fights. "I had a few like that. David is one of the good ones." She left off a number even if she could feel the opportunity for the question there. Tara Anne didn't want to lie to the girl, but if given the opportunity she wouldn't specific.

"Did you have any sisters to hang-out with? Staying all dirt-free?"
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Dilwen Vaughan on Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:29 pm

Dilly found herself responding to Tara Anne's smile, however small it may have been, with a huge, sunny grin of her own. She liked people when they were friendly, and people always seemed friendlier when they smiled. Tara Anne was friendly anyway, of course--most people wouldn't talk to Dilly when they saw the gloves, the long sleeves and pants, the hand sanitizer that it still upset her they had taken away from her--but when she smiled, she made Dilly think of Anwen. In fact, the girl looked an awful lot like Anwen--tall and slender and pretty, with lots of golden hair and clear, open eyes that seemed to see into infinity. Except, of course, that Tara Anne looked right at Dilly, while Anwen always seemed to look past her, or through her. Dilly knew her sister couldn't help it, but still, it was nice to be looked at just the same.

Her face lit up as Tara Anne described British Columbia. It sounded exactly like the kind of place she had imagined in her dreams. She remembered Annika and Zed from The Star of Kazan discussing whether or not Annika would do well in Canada, and Annika looking up the coast of British Columbia in an atlas. Wild and beautiful, she had said, and Tara Anne had said the same thing. Dilly's eyes sparkled as she spoke of the fruit trees. "Oh, I would love to visit there some time. It sounds exactly like I imagined."

When Tara Anne described the Ogopogo, however, Dilly's jaw dropped open. Few people realized exactly how credulous and naive the young Welsh girl was, but sometimes she had difficulty distinguishing between fiction and reality. It wasn't just reading books--she did often feel as though she was reading about real people--but she believed legends. She believed in Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman, and the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui. She believed that people were really abducted by aliens, that there really was a fairy who took teeth from under your pillow and gave you money instead, that Father Christmas left presents under the tree and an anthropomorphic rabbit left eggs on Easter Sunday full of sweets. She believed in the Loch Ness Monster, so the concept of the Ogopogo was not difficult for her to believe.

"Wow! Really? I've never been to Scotland, so I've never seen Nessie. I didn't know there was one in Canada, too! Have you ever seen him?" She bounced slightly. "I've never seen anything like that. It's like that poem by Shel Silverstein--'all the magic I have known / I've had to make myself.'" She shrugged slightly. It was a shame, but at the same time, if someone else had touched that magic...well, maybe that would be good enough, at least for now.

A wry smile twisted her lips when Tara Anne called her brothers jerks. "They are big jerks, both of them. Iago is the worst, though. Sieffre sometimes chases me with his hands all covered in mud, but Iago rolled around in a mud puddle and then came into my room while I was trying to clean." Dilly shuddered at the memory. "I didn't know it was him at first, and I panicked and threw my bucket of water at him. Only there was bleach in it, so I got in trouble. I think that's why Mum and Da had me sent here."

"Did you have any sisters to hang-out with? Staying all dirt-free?"

Dilly smiled, looking up at Tara Anne. "Only one. Her name is Anwen. She's twenty, but she still lives at home with us. She's not ready to move out on her own because she can't get a job or really do much for herself. She stayed inside with me a lot, but not for the same reason." The smile faded slightly. "I don't go outside because I might have got dirty or sick or--or gotten germs--or anything like that. Anwen didn't go outside because she says things move too much. In the house Mum and Da never rearrange the furniture. Even Iago and Sieffre don't tease her like they tease me, which is good." Dilly raised her eyes to Tara Anne's. "Anwen was born blind."
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Tara Anne Barlow on Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:16 am

Did England have mountains? Tara Anne had never heard of one calling the island home. Really, it seemed that an arching crest of stone would seem out of place on such a small piece of land. Still, England did suddenly seem much bigger when she'd actually arrived there. It had been a practical map dot when she first found that was were Hail came from. She'd opened an atlas to get a good look at it again. Comparing it to the mass of land that was her home country. Even though so much of Canada was still a mystery to her, her homeland felt big. Always. Wide, sprawling. You could feel it's expanse. All you had to do was look skyward and it would tell you all you needed to know.

But England had a certain length to it. It was a place where you could feel the age, Tara supposed. History like the roots of a tree. Growing deep down instead of out and away. There was something about that that Tara Anne seemed to like. There was a wisdom there. Far from the folly of a youthful nation that she was once trapped within.

"Oh, I'm not sure. Sorry." Tara Anne's lips showed the ghost of a smirk. This girl was so shiny and bright and sweet. Ernest. Far from the jaded state of mind that Tara found herself wrapped up inside. She played along. Kind of wishing she could have that sort of blind faith and hope. "It's kinda hard to tell from a distance. Lake monster or driftwood log... they look a lot alike if you don't have binoculars. And the driftwood can be really big. As long as two or three people sometimes."

Tara Anne listened carefully to the younger girl. The names were so strange to Tara's ears, she'd never heard anything like them. It seemed this girl got the best of her siblings. Dilwen sounded nearly normal next to... Iago? Still, Tara Anne did her best to commit them to memory. It seemed like an important thing for her room-mate, though Tara Anne would never wish the same treatment going vis versa. A little cringe was detectable on her face when Dilwen got to the blech related part of the story. That was... horrifying. There was something about the seeming innocuous nature of what appeared to be water and being something much worse that scared her deeply somehow. That night Tara would lay away in the dark and wonder exactly why.

"It's probably really nice for her to have a sister like you. I bet your good at helping people take care of themselves, huh? Washing up and such?" Tara Anne smiled slightly again. Happy to move the conversation from thrown corrosive chemicals. She glances around the solarium at the dirt and plants. "Are you okay here? Would you rather go talk someplace else?"
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Dilwen Vaughan on Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:14 pm

Dilly felt slightly deflated when she heard that Tara hadn't actually seen the Ogopogo. It wasn't that she had really expected it, but she had hoped. "I understand," she said quietly, hoping she didn't sound too disappointed. After a moment, though, she brightened. "I bet you have a lot of ghosts in Canada, though. Settlers and trappers and Native Americans and all that. I never saw a ghost, but I heard lots of them. We weren't that far away from the railroad tracks, and sometimes at night, if I listened hard, I could hear the whistles of the old steam locomotives. Ghost trains, you know?" She shrugged. "Iago couldn't hear them, but Anwen could, and she agreed with me that they were ghost trains. Have you ever seen a ghost?"

It never occurred to Dilly that Tara didn't fully believe in the Ogopogo, in ghosts, or in any of the other supernatural beings in which Dilly placed so much faith. Surely she wouldn't have brought the creature up if it didn't exist? Dilly didn't believe in magical or cryptozoological creatures any more than she believed in cats and rats and elephants. She just assumed they existed. It never occurred to her that she needed to believe in them if they were actually there. So if Tara Anne said there was a creature called the Ogopogo in Canada, there was a creature called the Ogopogo in Canada, and that was all there was to it. People didn't lie to her--at least not about things like that.

She noticed Tara flinch when she mentioned throwing the bleach water on her brother, and immediately wished she hadn't brought it up. Quickly, she added, "I really didn't mean to--all I saw was the mud, not that there was a person underneath it. And he's okay. They only kept him in the hospital overnight to make sure they'd got all the bleach, and he was fine and ready to come home the next day, and I was waiting for him with a big 'I'm Sorry' card and a bunch of flowers to say how sorry I was. He said he forgave me."

Actually, the day he came home from the hospital was the nicest Iago had ever been to her. At first Dilly had thought he was afraid she would throw bleach at him again, but later he said he felt bad for messing up her room. It still had not occurred to the petite girl that what her brother actually felt sorry for was for teasing her, especially since he had teased her again when she was packing her things to leave for Highgrove. If she had paid a little more attention, been a little more aware, she would have noticed that while Sieffre had said things that were meant to be hurtful, Iago's teasing had been almost affectionate. It never occurred to her that her brother would miss her--or that she might start to miss him.

Dilly blushed when Tara said kind things about her being helpful. "Oh, goodness, Anwen can do all those things for herself," she stammered. "I do a lot of the cleaning, but Mum always does, too. She likes a clean house as much as I do. And I don't really do the dishes unless I'm wearing rubber gloves. People eat off of dishes, you know." The inanity of the statement made her blush deeper. Of course people ate off of dishes. What did she expect them to do, eat it off of thin air? "You can get all sorts of germs. Meningitis and AIDS and that sort of thing." Not that she had ever heard of anyone who got those diseases from washing dishes, but why take the risk? They were still germs.

She was pleasantly touched when Tara asked if she was all right in the Solarium. "Oh, thank you, but I'm fine," she assured her new friend. "As long as we're sitting on the bench I'm okay. I mean, I'm not afraid of dirt itself, but I have panic attacks when I get dirty. That's why..." She gestured a little vaguely to her outfit, which her brothers called her "biohazard suits". "And I don't want to get sick. Even with the dirt, at least it's kind of healthy in here. Not so many germs. And there's no dust." She looked at the neatly swept paths, which were indeed free of dust and dirt, then at the bench, which she had already examined closely before sitting down. In a small voice, she added, "I wish they hadn't taken away my hand sanitizer, though."
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Tara Anne Barlow on Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:17 pm

"I would have guessed you folks would have more. Y'all have the history for spooks and spirits. The West is a lot younger, you know?"

She gave a little shrug, she didn't know anything all that. Honestly she wasn't convinced she believed in ghosts at all. Ghosts were little kids in white sheets at halloween. Spirits maybe...

Tara Anne immediately regretted her knee jerk reaction and how it showed on her face. She could feel it there. Ugly and wrinkling her skin. Trying to etch it's way into permanence in the brief time it had. She could already feel it creeping in, the innate need to keep this one protected. She seemed so delicate. Like a little doll made of porcelain up on a tidy shelf. Not to be played with. And Tara had no doubt someone in this place would try to do just that. People were cruel, dark, but they'd see that Dilwen wasn't and they'd want to snuff it out of her. Tara Anne could feel the distant memory of that light living in her at some point, but it was so long gone in past not even a hint of it's warmth lingered.

So, yes, she wanted to protect her, even she was just protecting Dilly from her own jaded nature. As exhausting as that may seem.

"We all mistakes. Don't worry. I've made much worse ones than that."

She gave a decisive nod. Trying to keep her voice as upbeat as possible. Everyone made mistakes. That was like her mantra, like every breathe that met with her lungs. Because if she didn't have the reassurance, what did she have? The potential to kill? She didn't want that, not permanently in her. Lying and waiting to upset her calm and make her mistakes worse and worse. Not wanting to distress Dilwen any further with talk of dirt and germs she turned the conversation back to where it was happiest. Her sister and her homeland.

"Oh, I guess I should have known that, huh? They aren't helpless. I don't know. I've never met a blind person before... Or a Welsh person not that I think about it. At least not that I know of... Does everyone have names like your family's?"
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Dilwen Vaughan on Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:33 pm

Dilly shook her head when Tara said that her country was much younger. "No. The white man's history is much younger in Canada and the United States than it is here, but you all still have a long history. And there are all sorts of things. Gandayaks--I think I'm pronouncing that right--they're Native American water spirits, anyway. And dryads--I know there are dryads in Canada." Granted, her knowledge came from Anne of Green Gables, but that made it no less real to her. "I'm sure there are ghosts and spooks and things. Maybe just not where you were." She remembered something she had once been told. "Places aren't haunted. People are haunted."

If Tara had any kind of negative reaction to Dilly's innocent statements, the smaller girl didn't notice. Dilly was so innocent and trusting that she took Tara's words at face value. To Dilly, Tara Anne Barlow was a goddess on earth, that thing she longed for and needed--an older sister. Anwen had never lied to Dilly, never told her she believed something to be true when she didn't, but at the same time never flat-out told her sister that anything was a lie. Anwen believed in some things, like ghosts and woodland spirits like dryads and nymphs; she didn't believe in other things, like Father Christmas or the boogeyman. But she never told Dilly that they definitively did or did not exist; she only said that she did not believe in them, and time would prove which sister was right. Tara had given Dilly the impression that she, too, believed in these things, and Dilly was comforted by that. She was not alone. She had someone to discuss ghosts and things with.

Tara's questions perked Dilly right up. She had been dwelling a little on how bad she felt about throwing the bleach at Iago, but now she was able to think about something else--her home, her family, even her name. "Most of them, yeah. Welsh is kind of a tricky language. It's got more letters than the English alphabet--there are twenty-eight, and eight of them are called...I'm not sure what they're called, but they look like two letters. I don't actually speak Welsh myself," she confessed, "or very little anyway. I can sing 'The Ash Grove' in Welsh, but that's about it. Not a lot of people in Tywyn speak Welsh, actually, and the government's kind of upset about that. But if you think my brothers and sister and I have weird names, you should hear some of the others. There was a boy in my class--I mean, before I stopped going to school--his name was Culhwch." She giggled a little. "That's spelled C-U-L-H-W-C-H. 'W' is both a consonant and a vowel. Weird, huh?"
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Tara Anne Barlow on Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:56 pm

"But ghosts haunted houses and things right? We don't have super old buildings like all the castles and such here... The First Nations weren't... rooted down like that. They were more... fluid."

She picked her words carefully. Trying to pin down how to say exactly what she wanted to get across. Tara's vocabulary had grown a lot since she left Bountiful but sometimes there was hesitation there. The time she needed to make sure she was using the exact right ones in the exact right places. Even if all the care she felt overly formal a lot of the time. Just didn't possess the same slang-filled laziness of standard teenage speech. She wasn't always sure she wanted that though.

"Places aren't haunted. People are haunted."

Tara Anne's lips cracked into a little wicked smile. That was a sentiment she could get behind. Who wasn't haunted by something. Even though some had more spirit than other. She could be her own haunted house. Full of howling and slamming doors and rattling chain. The kind of place where no one can sleep and the creeping feeling on un-seen eyes on your skin persists where ever you go. The kind of house that no one lived in very long with a revolving "for sale" sign on the lawn. She could dream of the day when they'd finally all give up on her and eat the loss. She'd stay there: alone and deteriorating. Become a legend for the local children who dare each other to run up and ring the doorbell.

Culhwch. Tara Anne tried to repeat the name after Dilwen. She nearly gagged on the sound of it. So entirely far from anything she had to wrap her tongue around... ever. She tried a few times but never quite nailed the sounds Dilwen had made. She couldn't seem to do it. Tara gave a little chuckle and stuck her tongue out. A slight pause. Tara tried think of what else to say to the girl. So much of the shit that normally popped off Tara's lips seemed inappropriate. Talking to Dilly in a way seemed like talking to a child. But Tara wasn't about to go off and ask her if she wanted to colour or something. Finally she came on to.... something.

"What do you think life is going to be like here?"
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Dilwen Vaughan on Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:18 pm

Dilly didn't know how to explain what she had meant when Tara carefully told her that the First Nations weren't likely to have haunted a place because they hadn't lived rooted-down lives, so she let it pass. But surely the spirits of Native Americans who had for some reason not been able to make it to the Happy Hunting Grounds were roaming about Canada? And what about the settlers--the explorers? Surely some of them had become ghosts? Age didn't matter, Dilly knew that. Abraham Lincoln haunted the presidential mansion in the United States, and he'd only been dead a hundred and fifty years or so. And there were World War I and II battlefields that were haunted. Sometimes at night when she heard the ghost train whistling on the Tywyn Railway, she would imagine herself as a passenger on that train. Anyone could become a ghost. Why not her?

"What do you think life is going to be like here?"

The question surprised Dilly. What was life going to be like? "Different" was probably not the answer Tara had in mind, but right now it was all Dilly could come up with. It was going to be like nothing she had ever experienced before, of that she was certain. They had taken away her hand sanitizer. She was sleeping in a room with five other girls, in a bunk bed. Her day was regimented strictly--when she could eat, when she could sleep, when she could shower, when she had to do chores. She would have to attend at least some classes, but they would be at the pace determined by the teachers, not by her learning speed. And she couldn't leave. Not that she had ever wanted to leave Tywyn, not that she had ever really even wanted to go outside much or go visiting, but the fact was that if she had wanted to, she could have. That was no longer an option.

"It's going to be...different," Dilly said at last, unable to come up with any other answer. "I mean, it won't be what I'm used to. But...but it should be fun, right?" she added, looking up at Tara Anne. "I mean--look around. Did you have a room at home where you could go outside without being outside? 'Cause I didn't. I didn't meet many people because I stopped going to school, so if I was still in Tywyn, I wouldn't have any friends--but now I've met you." She smiled shyly. "So it's gonna be different, but in a good way. That's what I think, anyway."

Dilly tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear and looked up at Tara again. "What about you? What do you think it's going to be like?"

Tara Anne was older than Dilly, so the petite Welsh girl instinctively respected her opinion more than her own. Whatever Tara felt the place would be like must be right.
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Re: On the Planet Earth (open)

Post  Tara Anne Barlow on Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:15 pm

Lonely. That was the first thought that came to her mind when she considered what her life at Highgrove would be like. Her daughter seemed impossibly far away. And though she was innocent as anything Dilwen couldn't really match the amazing beauty that was in the smile of a toddler. That pure joy without a cloud in it's sky. That was something that already felt impossibly missing. Like someone had removed one of her lungs and sat laughing as she struggled to breathe. Gasping.

Tara Anne liked that Dilly said it might be fun. She certainly didn't see it that way. More over she wasn't sure how anyone could. Especially not the one's like them who actually had families to miss somewhere. Tara understood that a lot of their house-mates were from foster families and group homes. Maybe it could be fun for them. But compared to her life at home, this could only be a nightmare, surely?

There was the sneaking reminder in her mind, nodding to why she was there. The fact that if she was there: there could very well be those opposite to her. Masochists. The ones who liked pain and punishment. How she could come across them. There remained the problem of what do do if they didn't announce themselves. She'd been so used to the internet where the mask of a screen meant people could shout their proclivities from the roof-tops. Here things would have to be handled a bit more delicately.

But she shouldn't be thinking about that. She should be thinking about "getting better" or at very least looking the part. Anything to get out of there and go home to Vivien. She had to try. Tara Anne knew she was terrible with temptation. Now that she was out from under the thumbs of her father and Raymond and the church.... It took a lot to hold her back. Everything was a forbidden fruit and her mouth was just perpetually watering for a taste.

"Huh. Well, I guess I never had much for friends either. Thanks for putting it that way... It's hard to say I guess... We did just get here. Maybe we should figure it out. Go exploring. You up for that?"

Tara Anne gave a pause and let the other girl respond. Once she had her yes Tara smiled and stood up off the bench. Waiting for the young girl and her... "quirks". The two headed out to see the place more fully and get a sense of what their futures held.
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