Oh Darling (Open)

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Oh Darling (Open)

Post  Simeon Marsden on Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:01 pm

Anyone paying attention to the treeline on a particularly crisp February morning might have noticed the slight figure that haunted it, but the man was so familiar to those woods he almost blended in with them entirely, and as there weren't many people coming or going at dawn on a weekday, Simeon didn't think he'd attract much notice. If the delivery drivers saw him perched on a stump in the grove that offered a full, distant view of the gatehouse, they just went along with their work, too busy with deadlines to care what someone was doing out this early with an open bottle of wine at his feet and a notebook on his lap. He'd be safe from discovery until the house and grounds began to stir, at which point he planned to gather his things and move deeper into the shadows while the sun blazed indifferently across the sky. Simeon retrieved the pen bound between the spirals and flicked his eyes back down to the letter he'd been writing all night, a letter to nowhere, a letter he'd never send - not knowing where to send it to or if the recipient was still alive - but one he needed to write nonetheless.

The blue plastic pen cap snagged between his teeth as he considered what he'd written so far. It shouldn't have taken this long to get his thoughts down on paper, but words were elusive when he needed them most. They came easily any other time, and it seemed dreadfully unfair that he should struggle so hard when it had never been so important to find the sentiments that would give him some measure of peace after seventeen long years of keeping them bound and restricted. Fishing blindly in the black messenger bag at his side, bloodshot blue eyes never leaving the page, the half-drunk warden produced a pack of cigarettes from its depths and lit one. Nine field-stripped cigarette butts, the night's casualties, jostled one another in the bottom of the pack, sighing softly against the cardboard as he tucked it into the front pocket of the sack. Having made way for the cigarette, the pen cap was no longer caught between his teeth but tapping against each carefully-chosen but hastily-scrawled word as his eyes slowly traced them, committed them to memory. Once he did, he was going to burn them, feed the paper to the fire and watch it crumble into ash. Maybe he’d find some relief then. He didn’t think or hope that his feelings would burn along with the words, because they’d always be with him in some capacity, but he needed to let them go, to make space in his heart for something new. Moving on hurt more than he’d ever imagined it would, but it was past time he did it.

    My Dearest Marisa,

    Things have changed so much since you were here last. You'll be 42 years old now, and I'd be the same if things had gone differently. But they didn't, and I'm stuck, 21 forever, and it's only thoughts of you that keep me sane... either that or drive me ever closer to the brink I've been avoiding. Some days I'm not sure which one it is, but rest assured that your memory is a great comfort to me when all else seems lost. I'll carry you in my heart forever, but I've realized that it's time to let you go. There will be times where I moon and pine for your arms, no doubt, but I need to move on and find happiness in whatever future there may be waiting for me. This letter is my goodbye, so don't be surprised at how long and self-indulgent it may be. I have a lot I need to say before I can restore my soul to the peace I've been seeking since you went away, believing me gone forever.

    Do you have children? Did you find love after me? If I had lived, would we still be together, preparing for grandchildren? These are the questions I find myself asking your spectre the most. Sometimes, when I am outside as I am now and looking toward the rose gardens, I think I see you bent over a hedge, lovingly trimming it back, your golden hair rippling like wheat in a field I was always too happy to lose myself in. Do you remember how I would bury my face in the delicate little hollow of your throat, drinking you in? How our hair would tangle until I couldn't tell yours from mine? It was the same with our limbs too. I would have been you if I could, would have fled with you all those years ago if the grounds had let me leave, but it wasn't meant to be. One hears stories about spirits that can move around at will, but that's not me, nor any of us here. We can’t leave and… maybe there’s a reason for it, after all. There are nights when all I want to do is pop down the pub for a drink, steal the corner table where we first got to know each other and pretend you are sitting across from me, fingering your mother’s silver locket and stealing shy glances at me over your pint of Guinness. Instead, I am relegated to these woods, or the oft claustrophobic confines of my shared cottage, brooding into the distance with a belly full of wine whose warmth and sweetness cannot replicate your own. It’s the best substitute I’ve got, but there’s always something missing… It’s a comfort, but an incomplete one.

    I’ve got to stop thinking about it, Marisa. I know I’ll never forget, not truly, and I wouldn’t wish to, but I need to move on. I wouldn’t banish you entirely. You can return to me whenever you wish, but choose your moments carefully, and do it with my happiness in mind. It’s not right that I should feel so sad when I think of you. I wish to only ever remember you with a smile on my face and in my heart, but those moments have been fleeting lately. Of course I know it’s all my fault, that I’m creating this drama in my head because I’ve nothing better to do, but I’m finally realizing that it needs to come to an end.

    There’s someone here who… makes me feel a bit strangely, the same way you did when we first met. I don’t think he sees me that way - I don’t think he’s capable of seeing anyone that way - but I’d like to see where our friendship goes. I had another friend here I thought I felt something special for, but I was wrong, wrong and desperate and trying too hard. My feelings got away from me, and I unintentionally pushed him away and spent a lot of time hurting over it. I don’t wish to make the same mistake again, even if it’s for the best that things turned out the way they did. I don’t want to say why – it would be too strange and you’d probably think less of me. There aren’t many people who would understand. You understood everything once, but seventeen years have passed and I’m sure the world has changed you in ways I’ll never know. I wonder if I’d recognize you if you came back, though I don’t see why you would. Maybe time has made you cruel and cold and you’ve forgotten the boy who once loved you, who still does, and always will. Either way, there are some things I must keep to myself, things I couldn’t write even if I wanted to.

That was as far as he’d gotten. Was it enough? His fingers were trembling and the idea of writing more was exhausting, but he wanted to be sure that he was well and truly done before he packed it in for the day. He was tired as well as sore from spending all night glued to the same spot, but he’d stay for as long as it took to make sure these particular demons were purged once and for all. Leaning his head against the crumbling bark of the tree at his back, Simeon shivered and continued pulling on the cigarette, sucking down the smoke as if it was mother’s milk, something vital as breath. If Chester could see Simeon now he’d probably scold him for his unsavory habits, but it wasn’t as if ghosts could get lung cancer or cirrhosis of the liver, and he wasn’t this bad all the time. The pen was set back down, clipped to the page, and the notebook laid on top of the canvas bag so the pages wouldn’t get wet from the dew-stained grass. Anyone approaching from behind would see the letter out in plain view, but whether or not they’d be able to decipher his handwriting depended entirely upon the individual. It didn't occur to Simeon that someone might come along and see it. It was too early for most of Highgrove to be awake, after all, and when the residents were roused, they wouldn’t be due outside for chores or activities for several hours yet. He had the day off, and would be driven back into his cottage soon enough, but for now, he was trying to enjoy the sunrise, and the last lingering remnants of the wine bottle he lifted to his lips.
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Re: Oh Darling (Open)

Post  Josephine St. James on Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:28 pm

The lightening sky would reveal more to curious onlookers than just the warden writing and enjoying his wine. If those eyes wandered beyond the young man, back into the trees, they would find a head of flowing dark hair catching the light and pale blue eyes peeking around a massive trunk. Her gaze was fixed on Simeon’s back, curiosity dancing in them as she watched. Josie had no idea how long she’d been standing back there working up the nerve to approach but it had been dark when she stumbled upon him. At some point the sun had broken the horizon, forcing its light down onto the slumbering land and bringing it to life. She hadn’t come out to spy, just walk and clear her head of the nightmares that plagued her while she slept. Her nightmare buddy hadn’t been awake and she feared not being able to rouse him without disturbing the other boys in the room. If they woke and started talking they would attract the staff and all would be lost. So instead Josie walked, invisible to the eyes of the living, drifting from room to room in the old house until her wandering brought her out onto the grounds. When she came across Simeon she pressed herself to a tree, silent as the grave, observing him from behind and wishing she could walk over.

Josie wasn’t the type to hesitate and had it been anyone else she would have waltzed right over. However, she recognized the back of that blond head instantly and it gave her pause. Of all the ghosts masquerading as the living Simeon was one of the few she found it hard to be around. He and Julian made her want to turn and walk the other way, not even bother trying to seduce as she did with every other. Her reasons for avoiding the two men were similar; both going back to the fact that Julian had been the one who killed her. Josie was under the impression that Simeon harbored some great dislike for her because of the way she’d treated the boy prior to her murder and after. Could one really blame her though? Everyone knew her ways and that she hopped from lover to lover, giving no thought to those she left behind wanting more. Julian had been another conquest and yet he couldn’t let go. He couldn’t accept the fact that he’d been a one off and she wasn’t coming back. Jealousy pushed him to murder and now Josie had little desire to be around him. When she did was in the same room as him she teased and then walked off, leaving him hanging on. It was his fault. He did this. Not her.

So would walking up on Simeon while he seemed to be having a private moment be wise? What if he threw a fit at her and wrote her up for some bullshit offence just to get her in trouble? What if he called Branbury and got her in trouble that way? Simeon was lucky in her mind. He got to be a staff member, like Branbury, and live a adult life with no bed checks or group therapies. He could hide out in the woods all night and drink wine, leave his work on the shoulders of the other wardens, and find some peace. Josie had a bed time, a breakfast time, the same class work year after year, and then a lights out. She would never know the freedoms he did. She felt the same about Branbury and the other ghosts who died after they’d grown up. As cool as she once thought it might be, forever stuck in the body of a sixteen year old wasn’t fun at all.

When the notebook was placed on the grass and the bottle rose to his lips Josie inhaled a soft breath, held it, and moved around the tree toward him. She debated whether or not she wanted to act like herself or let some of that wall down. Those who called her insecure and lonely were right but she wouldn’t let them know that. They would never see the tears she wanted to cry when she was by herself in the attic or curled up in the nurse’s quarters. Josie’s palms flattened against her pants, pushing out imaginary wrinkles. She was hoping it would calm her and boost her confidence. If she approached attempting to be sensitive and gentle he would very likely call her out on it. She wasn't like that around people. Why would she suddenly behave like a normal person? She needed to find that sass she was known for and latch onto it. She did not think she’d be able to sneak up on him but if successful she would slide her arms around his shoulders and lean against his back. This was the Josie they all knew, the one not afraid of crossing lines and pushing boundaries to their breaking points. “Hey Simeon. Whatcha doing out here?”

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Re: Oh Darling (Open)

Post  Simeon Marsden on Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:04 am

Simeon was too preoccupied with the sloshing of the wine in its bottle, trickling slowly toward his lips, to hear Josie stealing up behind him. Even if he had heard the footsteps, he wouldn't have looked back. Sometimes it was better not to know what (or who) was behind you. Looking the other way was a skill Simeon had learned over the years; it wasn't always advisable, but sometimes it kept you from seeing things you didn't want to see. Like him. Either way, the arms that slid around his shoulders from behind startled him, and he yelped, the wine en route to his mouth cresting over the lip of the bottle and artlessly splashing down the front of his t-shirt. He bit off a curse and futilely attempted to pat himself down with one hand, but the shirt was black, rendering the effort pointless. He gave up within seconds, trying to ignore the way his skin crawled with her breath so close to his ear, the wine finding its way to his lips once again and blessedly going down right this time. What the hell was she doing here? How long had she been watching him, intruding upon the sanctity of this oh-so-private moment? He didn't want to think about it lest violent thoughts steal into his brain and plant their seeds there. He didn't like the girl, but he didn't want to hurt her. His job here was to protect the residents, not to harm them, even if some of them were downright infuriating. Case in point.

Disentangling himself from her arms as gently as possible - and rather clumsily, too, courtesy of the drink in his system - Simeon leaned forward and wrenched his head around so he could look her in the face. She-devil. Harlot. Heartless wretch. A multitude of slurs and curse words came to mind in that moment, but he didn't give voice to any of them, much as he wanted to. The emotion had been wrung from him like rain from his hair after a downpour, and even the anger directed toward the raven-haired seductress was tempered to a dull roar of agony he barely had the heart to feel. The writing of the letter had taken a lot out of him, more than he cared to admit to someone who, if given the chance, would completely disregard his feelings as null and void. Josie didn't care about anyone's feelings, least of all Julien's, and though the boy had hurt him, Simeon still couldn't help but feel some measure of loyalty and gratitude toward him. A part of him felt he owed Julien not to treat with the girl who had broken his heart and driven him to murder, but now that she was here, he wasn't sure there was much else he could do but flee, and that was the coward's route, an easy out he wouldn't pride himself on taking. He wasn't a teenager anymore, even if most of his days were spent with them.

Sighing, he returned the bottle to the damp, worn-out hollow between his feet and ran his hands through his hair in what could only be described as an exasperated fashion. His tongue ran over his lips, stealing the remaining droplets of Merlot that still clung there. "I'm writing. What are you doing out here? Shouldn't you still be in bed, or getting ready for breakfast? Just because you can sneak out whenever you want doesn't mean you should." Even as Simeon said it, he knew he'd probably be doing the same thing if he was in her position. Dying wasn't fun no matter how you went or how old you were at the time, but he supposed he was lucky that the reaper had waited until he was a proper adult to take him. A fake ID was easy enough to obtain in this day and age if you bit the bullet too early, but it was better when Simeon didn't have to lie, and easier on his conscience. He couldn't imagine how difficult and monotonous it must be for the kids who had died at Highgrove. Not only could they never leave the grounds, but they had to go on attending classes indefinitely, at least until a break was warranted, and even that wasn't much of a relief. It meant never being able to see anyone, clinging to the shadows and staying out of sight. If you weren't on the roster and someone saw you on the grounds and started asking questions, there was going to be trouble, and a lot of string-pulling and covering up to do. Branbury must really hate it sometimes, but no doubt he saw it as part of his duty, and Simeon was glad that someone was willing to take care of the dreary particulars that kept them all from discovery. He wasn't sure he could have done it. It took a special sort, that was for sure.

For as much as he wanted to hate Josie - and most days he was convinced that he did - Simeon couldn't help but feel for her, sympathize with her plight, just the tiniest bit, but not the part of it that included leading Julien on, even after death. Would the girl never learn? Love wasn't a game and people's hearts weren't things to be toyed with. She'd never get rid of Julien until she flat-out refused to acknowledge him, but instead, she kept stringing him along, renewing the false hope he had in her every time it was nearly gone. It drove Simeon mad. She could get her rocks off with whomever she so pleased just as long as she stayed away from his friend, assuming they were still friends. Simeon had no idea. His world didn't make sense anymore, though he wasn't sure when it ever had. The last sense of normalcy he'd felt, he supposed, had been with Marisa, but he couldn't let that keep plaguing him, which was exactly what had driven him to the woods in the first place. It wasn't forgetting, just moving on. The former was something he was incapable of doing. He didn't think the dead were capable of forgetting. All they had were their memories. The latter he wasn't so sure he could do either, but he was determined to try. Josie's unexpected presense wasn't helping matters, only making him moodier as the moment stretched and rippled like taffy between them, but she was the type of girl who'd only go when she was damn good and ready to. Because his opinion counted for naught, he refrained from telling her to go away and waited for an explanation of why she was there instead.
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Re: Oh Darling (Open)

Post  Josephine St. James on Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:50 pm

Both Simeon and Branbury seemed to be on some crusade to change her, make her into a saintly young woman whose ghostly existence was dedicated to helping the unfortunate of Highgrove. Simeon less directly but she figured it was safe to assume that he wished she’d give up her lifestyle. Josie hated the lectures, the looks, and the cold shoulders; wishing that the two men would just leave her alone if they weren’t interesting in sleeping with her. However, Branbury made a habit out of turning up when he was least wanted and when she did cross paths with Simeon she could smell the disdain clinging to him like a heavy, cheap cologne. They were waiting their time and energy if they thought foiling her every endeavor was going to make her see the light go from nympho to nun. If anything, their attempts to force her to turn over a new leaf only fueled her desire to act out. She would get inventive, find new hiding places and new ways to evade detection. The fact that her shoulder angels were also ghosts made it a little more difficult since they knew the house better than the backs of their hands but it was something to work for.

The only thing Josie felt like she owned at this point was her body, or whatever it was. She sometimes wondered if it was real or not. People could touch her as they could when she was still alive but her body was buried somewhere. So what was this? At any rate, it was all she had. She would never change from the pretty little girl she’d been in 1997 and so she lived it up, pun not intended. She did what she wanted with it, let who she wanted play with it, and then pass it along like a show and tell teddy bear. If the celibate assholes that were wrapped up in tragedy had a problem with it they could go fuck themselves. She wasn’t about to spend the rest of forever alone because they thought there was something wrong with her. Even though her promiscuous ways brought her to Highgrove and ultimately got her killed she had no intention of giving them up.

A smile snaked its way over her lips as Simeon choked on his wine, watching the red dribble over his pale face and down into the dark fabric of his shirt. She remained against him as long as he allowed, leaning into him. The closeness of another was soothing but she knew it would not last. Simeon didn’t seem to like being in the same room as her for any length of time. There was no way he would remain in this proximity for much longer. She did not hold on when he began to wiggle and her arms slid back from around him, taking as step back. Her hands clasped behind her back, her head tipping slightly to the side. Anyone unaware of her or her talents would think the pose cute or innocent, her bright blue eyes hiding the depravity that lurked beneath expertly. “No one was awake when I got up and I didn’t feel like waiting around. So I came outside. I didn’t expect to find you here, though.” By now the staff members were probably slowly coming to life and preparing for the day before the residents were woken up. She probably should be back in bed, pretending to sleep, and then go about the same day she’d been stuck repeating for the last fifteen years.

But now that she’d engaged Simeon in conversation she had no intention of going back to the dorm. Let them sweat it out when they discovered her missing. They could punish her with seclusion all they wanted. She could sneak out with no issue…as long as Branbury wasn’t on duty. He somehow always managed to land that duty when she got locked up.

Josie’s eyes turned down to the notebook in the grass and her head twisted to an angle that would allow her to see the writing better. “Writing, huh? Writing what? Can I see?” She moved around him, reaching out to pick it up and read the private words the man had just been writing. When she’d been back at the trees watching she wondered what he’d been penning so furiously but when they began speaking it had flown from her mind. Now it was back and she was not the type to politely ask about it. She would rather take and see for herself. She see reached her eyes quickly darted over words, trying to pick up what little she could in case her actions were stopped.

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Re: Oh Darling (Open)

Post  Simeon Marsden on Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:18 am

Simeon knew Josie probably thought he was some kind of tight ass, but she could think that all she wanted. What it came down to was that he simply had more class than she did. Besides, it was easier for a young woman to parade her assets than for a young man, and even if it had been the other way around, it wasn't Simeon's M.O. He knew he'd been handsome in life, but it wasn't something he exploited or even thought much about. Either way, it wasn't as if he was celibate by choice. Well, maybe partly. For the most part, it all came down to cirumstance. He had standards that Josie obviously didn't. If there was anything or anyone she wasn't willing to do, he didn't know it. Also, it wasn't as if he had his pick of the litter at Highgrove. He wanted to be close to someone, but he was discerning about who he chose. There had to be some sort of connection there, and morals came into play as well. With the exception of Julien, who wasn't really a teenager anymore, Simeon didn't go for the younger crowd. That kind of behavior was predatory and inherently wrong. He'd sit with them, listen to their problems, share stories, and be there if and when they needed a friend, but he wouldn't take it any further. He was an authority figure, someone to be admired and respected, looked up to. True, he didn't wield much power when compared to his superiors, but he still had a responsibility to these kids, and taking advantage of their youth and vulnerability wasn't an option. Besides, he didn't think of them that way. In order to be intimate with someone, they needed to be his equal. He wasn't into power plays.

His brain felt as if it had been wrapped up in cotton, thick and fuzzy, so he didn't notice at first when she swiped the notebook from the ground, her eyes coursing hungrily over the page. His reaction was delayed as he stared at the ground, the dew clinging to the grass like sweat on skin, and then he realized that something was amiss, that the lined notebook paper was missing from his peripheral vision. He swung around, head reeling, eyes straining to focus on the girl and her prize, a faint throb of alarm sending him into panic and motivating him to action when he saw her devouring his private sentiments to his long-lost love. "Hey, give that back! That's mine. I didn't say you could read it." He struck out with one hand, fumbling clumsily, his fingers hitting nothing but air. Swaying to his feet, Simeon finally managed to swipe the thing free from her grasp, wondering just how much she'd seen in the short time it had been in her possession. "This is private, you hear me?" He shook it in her face, cheeks flushed hotly, blue eyes blazing with fury. "I don't know how much you saw, but go ahead and get your laughs in now. Go ahead and laugh at silly, stupid Simeon. You think I don't know how ridiculous this is? But you wouldn't understand, would you? It's all a joke to you. You don't know what love is. You don't know what it's like to burn for someone."

Flipping the notebook shut, Simeon hastily returned it to his knapsack and turned back to Josie, lips pressed together in a grim line. Before he knew what he was doing, he was stalking her, backing her up against the trunk of the nearest tree, arms braced on either side of her shoulders, caging her in. She was a lovely girl to look at -- it was too bad her insides were so rotten. He could almost forget about it, almost, and likely would have if she hadn't pried into his innermost thoughts, reminding him of her wickedness, her lack of shame, her complete and total disregard of anyone's feelings but her own. He was lonely, after all, and her lips looked so inviting he could almost forget how abhorrent she was, but he could smell the poison on them and thus took care not to get too close. "What do you want from me? Are you here to try and fuck me up too? Believe me, I'm fucked enough without your help." The muscles in his arms trembled, straining, keeping his body as far from Josie's as he could while she remained trapped between them. She could easily duck out any time she wanted, but she was probably getting off on it. Once Simeon realized this - and it didn't take him long - he abruptly spun away from her, running his hands through his hopelessly mussed hair as he paced back and forth. It stood up in wild swoops and tangles that exacerbated the haunted look to his eyes, the gauntness of his cheekbones. He ought to just grab his things and go, but she might follow him if he tried, and that was a risk he wasn't willing to take. Better to see if she'd leave on her own first.
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