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Free as the Fountain

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OOC: Realistic RP, no more than 2 others to join. Short 3-5 paragraph posts preferred, but I'm not going to be a stickler, do what feels right for you. Someone can take over as the man introduced below or add a new character. 1 post every 1-3 days as a max is fine. Fin.


It takes a special man to stand out in front of a public, landmark fountain, wearing an all black tuxedo in 90 degree Fahrenheit heat, 80% humidity, grasping a hot pink balloon by a short string while the sun blazes down on the concrete lawn and upward onto to pale, moist skin. Or is it a desperate man? An entertainer about to start a show? Someone confident who has a plan, or just lives by his own rules? A poor pawn being set up in a prank, or for money, or as a surprise? One who has lost his way, or maybe ran away from some big event he’d had enough of?


Many people take a glance, or stare, or walk past like he’s part of the landscape, nothing to mind at all. Of course, I’m one that stares, observes, and questions the story that has him standing there, 20 feet away, a focal point in my view of a sea foam ocean. Thank God for this breeze. I breathe in deeply the mixture of fresh sea air and street fumes and soak in the sunshine as I sit on the ledge of the fountain behind me, then sigh aloud at the looming storm clouds at the horizon.


My eyes wander around the periphery of where he stands. I take my right hand and tug back and forth at the front of my yellow peasant style blouse, airing out the sweat rolling down my chest and stomach, then adjust my legs on my concrete seat, hoping the sweat doesn’t soak, too badly through my pale blue shorts. By small bag and water sits beside me, cell phone inside has been quite for an hour. As a visitor in this town I thoroughly enjoy using my time to take in the sights and watch people going through what I can only expect is a typical day. But as interesting as the view is with its natural elements and the people who travel through it, I’m growing more and more tired of waiting, wondering if this will be the time they show, or just another disappointment.




So I thought I was defaulted to student, but after posting this I see I've been added as graduate, so thank you very much for not making me start over, sorry for the error in posting it under student, it can be moved and my boyfriend is begging me to move on for dinner so thanks and bye.

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It's an act.


Well, it's more like my job. The performer permit badge attached to the lapel of my suit says it is. Yes, you may tip me; the top hat is next to my duffle bag. Thank you, I say, through a generous head tilt. We may never see each other again, but at least I have done my job. I made you smile or I made you think. You gave me a dollar. The transaction is complete.


I have always been infatuated by street performers. It's so gypsy-like. So off-the-cuff. I spent several summers on the sidewalk playing a guitar or trumpet or whatever other instrument I could get my hands on to earn some extra allowance. My parents were always so overwhelming enthralled to help me with whatever dream I had cooking inside my head. When I saw my first living statue, I spent all the money I made making elaborate costumes and going to the streets again, grabbing attention and awe from passerbys. Through high school and college, performing, arts, and textiles have been my life. And I'm pretty good at it.


This act started off as a social experiment. It's a combination of my two favorite forms: miming and living statues. I talk with my body, but hold poses for very long periods of time. The difference is that I look normal... Well, relatively normal. I have one simple prop with me that changes every time I perform, sometimes it changes several times during one session. Today, it's a hot pink balloon, filled with helium and tied to a hot pink string. I hold it at my side, rigid and at attention like a solider in line. I've been like this for nearly fifteen minutes. Of course I've remembered to bend my legs. Once you pass out, you never make that mistake again.


The worst part about trying to make a living at this is that you need to perform as often as possible, regardless of outside conditions. So here I am, black tuxedo, hot pink bow tie, hot pink balloon--all boiling and sizzling under the humid summer sun. The balloon is sluggish, drooping sadly to my elbow, its regular sheen fogged by the warmth of the day. Sweat drips down my back, my legs, my arms--everywhere. I hear another clang of change being deposited in my top hat as I hear a couple walk by and comment on how crazy I am.


Yes. I'm crazy. But I love what I do. Nothing comes easy.


Stance change. I stretch lightly as I turn myself to face the park's fountain. It was constructed a hundred years ago or something, a statue of a general atop of a horse adorns the center of it. His importance having long been lost like the dreams upon the pennies that litter the shallow watery depths. My new position consists of kneeling down to one leg, my left hand over my heart and my right hand presenting the balloon as if it were a wedding ring. It only takes a few minutes to hear a couple of teenagers giggling as they walk by, clamoring about how upset they'd be if their boyfriend proposed to them with a balloon.


My glance stays straight, and I catch somebody looking back at me. A girl, sitting on the opposite side of the fountain. She doesn't stop looking at me. I know my job consists of being watched all day, but I don't like being stared at. I try to ignore her, but there's something about her... What is she here for? What is she waiting for? Why is she looking at me like that?

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Suddenly, the man I’ve been watching takes a turn and is facing me at the fountain, down on one knee, a beautiful beachscape background, presenting the balloon like… a proposal? I watch, puzzled, and then it hits me like a bad dream.


I grew up a simple girl, in a simple family that got by making due with the bare necessities. That was until high school, when dad remarried and suddenly life and property was presented like some grand show on display. My stepmother at my side, I gained some confidence and learned to love the finer things of life – jewelry, parties, dinners, clothes, and accessories, any of the latest and greatest trends. But while I was living it up, that piece of “simple†never left me. I would tell the story of the crazy things the store clerks would say in their country accents after bringing home bargains from the village thrift store, which I considered their products a garden of colorful roses with a sprinkle of weeds, much to my step mothers disdain.


Yet, that’s when I met Pete, the handsome boy down the street who loved soccer, guitar, and listened to his parents. He was great. Always warm and welcoming, cheering me on when I started college, the kind of looks that rarely if ever fit a such a kind, pleasant personality, and so smart, too. I really thought he was into me, and we had a few intimate moments… I mean, we were high schoolers, then in college, and neighbors who practically lived at one another’s houses.

One seemingly typical day, I made my way up to the park just past the plaza where I would often sit by the creek bed after a day of browsing and would often meet up with Pete after a soccer game, as was the plan today. But as I made my way nearing my usual bench, I saw two people standing on one of the larger moss covered rocks near the creek bed. Pete? On his knee? What? That can’t be happening.


In that moment my heart was breaking, bursting, throbbing, and crackling like wood into cinders. I manage to remain standing, body frozen and stoic, in shock as my expectations of the fun that the day would bring, let alone the future I imagined with Pete, went down the drain. The scene was surreal and the girl’s giddy, tearful embrace touched a soft spot in my heart. It hit me. I knew the girl. She wasn’t exactly a friend, but someone I’d seen around and known at distance for some time. I was friends with her brother through our work at the Zippy Mitch gas station once I left college. She was so quiet, sweet, not a mean bone in her body – that I knew about. How could he? How could she? It the proposal it was beautiful – I had such excitement towards watching her giddy, joyous embrace. My freeze frame felt like an hour, but only a mere minute – I ran.


The breeze picked up and water from the fountain splashed my side, and I realize I was still staring in the eyes of my tuxedo mystery man. I smirked and chuckled to myself. That day had changed me so much and the scars were evident here and now. Since then I had come to question people more than usual – their stories, their motives, so that way I could be ahead of the game and see their weakness before they found mine. And I have no way of knowing if I was any good at it, but it’s what I did.


Being in a new place always brought out a little more spontaneity in me. Heck, being in this location now was mostly spontaneous. I was ready to give up waiting for someone to show up, but I didn’t want to just up and leave. Without dwelling on consequences, I left my few belongings where they sat, took a few steps along the ledge of the fountain, and stopped in front of the man, as thunder began to boom in the distance. “I have nothing to give you. I have just myself, and to your offer, I accept!†Then I slowly raised a hand and reached out for the balloon.

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My not so secret admirer keeps her gaze on me, until finally she stands up and makes her way toward me, her belonging still sprawled out where she had been sitting. She comes up to me, curious, but a little bit playful, accepting my tiny offer of a pink balloon. Determining that now was a good time to take a break from character, I relaxed my pose and smiled at her. "And yourself is all that I ask, my fair lady." I bow my head slightly as I release the balloon to her, but our fingers just graze across each other and the string slips through both our hands. Both of us crane our necks to the darkening sky above, my mouth hanging slightly ajar, watching as the balloon spirals up into air. It wobbles and bobs as it gains altitude, its little pink tail wagging as it flaunts its new found freedom. A misshapen bird, flying off to its new home.


"I'm sorry, little lady. It looks like it just wasn't meant to be." I frown, my expression exaggerated, still slightly in character, I suppose. "I assure you, it's me, not you." I smile again, turning to my small bag of tricks and pull out a silk rose. I spin around and present it to her, "But accept this as a sign of gratitude and happy wishes." 


Another roll of thunder bellows through the sky. Pretty soon, it will be time to close up shop. A summer thunderstorm should hopefully break the heat index a bit, but that doesn't mean I want to be caught out in some torrential downpour. I gather up my things, mainly the hat filled with tips, into the blood red bowling bag I carry with me that contains all my "props". The bag used to belong to my father. He was an avid bowler right up until he passed away. I always admired the bag--and of course him. I took the bag while my mother and I went through his belongings--sorting out what could go to charity, what we wanted to keep for memories, and what was good to throw away. I've always considered myself very lucky to have had two exceptionally understanding and supportive parents. I know my dad would be proud of me now. He always liked the idea that I did what I wanted to do, no matter how risky it was. He spent most of his life at the same factory job, confessing in me that he wish he had travelled more. Lived a little. He could tell you exactly how to get around our little town of three thousand residents without a second thought, but he'd never been more than three hundred miles away from home.


So I did. And I have. I've been living on couches and in tents and across hotel rooms (if I'm lucky) for the past year, and I couldn't be happier. I don't stay in one place too long, and I've been across most of the country at this point. The people I get to meet and the stories I get to learn. I might not be rich, but I'm certainly rich in experience, as cheesy as that sounds. My carefree lifestyle has left me to be free of myself. Free of fears and fears of others. What's fear but a hinderance to living life? I won't live with regrets like my father did.


So when I ask the mystery girl out for an innocent drink, I'm not at all ashamed or shy. I want to hear her story. "Or, you could come have a cup of coffee and a scone with me at that cafe right over there." I point a finger to the building that is several yards away, past the fountain. Its beachfront property not the most expansive, but had enough indoor tables to accommodate the two of us for a few minutes. "No need to get soaked when the sky decides to open up and rain cats and dogs. I hate to admit that I'm rather allergic to our furry friends."

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