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Revision as of 21:34, 20 March 2020

Start Over
Dramatis Personae

Catriona, Sarah


"It's not all of what you gave me," she says in a rush. "It's most of it, but I can make payments on the rest until it's all there."


Tompkins Square Park

[Takes place after *Vignette - Kairos*]

The snow that was left the past few days has unfortunately been melted away by rising temperatures and sunlight, though it's still chilly enough for Sarah to be wrapped up in coat and hat and gloves. Her rainbow of colors doesn't exactly seem to be reflecting her mood; there is an underlying worry and sadness to the attentiveness she seems to be giving to the path in front of the bench she's occupying. None of the people wandering by seem to be who she's looking for. Perhaps most stark is the lack of sketchbook and pencil case and her hands wander for it; clutching the bottom of her jacket now, trailing up to shove into the pockets soon after, crossing over her chest a moment later. Ending up wringing in her lap after that.

Catriona is still shaking from the conversation with her parents. She's pretty sure her voice was steady; she must have been convincing, anyway, because they agreed to let her stay in New York for Christmas, and didn't even say they'd come up and see her. Mom must have told Dad about the picture. Maybe they just want her to feel alone for a while.

It's going to backfire on them. She's determined it will.

She takes a gulp of cold air, then makes herself relax her shoulders and puts her gloved hands in the pockets of her coat. There's always dogs in Tompkins Square, somebody will let her pet one.

Sarah does not exactly perk up when she sees Catriona but there is a slight steeling in her spine, before a hand raises to wave and hopefully catch her attention. "Hey!" She almost, awfully, calls her Rich Girl; it has been her name around the apartment for the past few days. "Catriona," she trips over the name a bit, face heating. "Hi. Are you free to talk?"


For a second Catriona is _sure_ she's talking to someone else. Never mind that Catriona isn't exactly a common name, this is New York and there have to be at least a hundred. Anyway, why would Sarah want to talk to her? Sarah doesn't even like her.

But Catriona doesn't have anywhere to be, and she doesn't mind talking to Sarah. Maybe she can redeem herself a little.

"Sure," she says, and smiles a little. "It's nice to see you again."

Doing her best to answer with a small smile of her own, Sarah gestures to the rest of the bench in invitation. "You're still okay with the painting, then?" she asks, wincing a bit at her lack of tact. "Sorry. It's nice to see you, too. I've been, uh, wanting to talk to you, actually."

"It's beautiful," Catriona says, and smiles bigger just thinking about it. She has it hanging over her desk, at the foot of her bed, so she can look up and see it anytime and remember why she is where she is. "I love it. So much."

She tilts her head at the followup, and sits down next to Sarah. "Oh? Um, well, lucky we ran into each other then. What can I do for you?"

"Oh. I'm glad you like it still," Sarah answers, eyes widening in surprise as much as she tries to hide it. There is a moment of silence after where she visibly fumbles for words. Finally, she simply pulls a battered, bulging envelope from her pocket and holds it out, nervously glancing around. "It's not all of what you gave me," she says in a rush. "It's most of it, but I can make payments on the rest until it's all there."

Catriona blinks at her for a moment before it really registers what Sarah's trying to do, and even then she can't quite understand it. She's trying to give the money back? "Oh, no," she says, and puts her hands up, palms out, to push the envelope away. "No, you earned that, you should keep it. You have no idea..."

She trails off. No idea what the painting means to me, no idea how much it helps, no idea how it's changed my life already. If she says any of that she's going to sound like a crazy person.

"You earned it," she repeats.

Biting her lip, Sarah shakes her head and pushes the envelope at Catriona again. "I don't think I did. My sister--" The two words she shouldn't say slip out before she can do anything about it. She freezes, hesitates, lowers her eyes. "My sister can be persuasive," she finally continues in a small voice. "I'm just. Not sure about the amount. It's so much."

"She didn't persuade me," Catriona says, confused. "I offered. I thought it was worth that, maybe more. I still do."

Really, $2500 isn't all that much where she comes from, especially not for art. Her mother routinely pays five-digit sums, and that's when it's not something particularly famous. And for what Catriona gets out of it, it's a downright bargain.

"I don't want it back," she tells Sarah.

"I don't understand." Sarah's face heats, the tips of her ears burning under her hat. "I'm sorry. It isn't that I'm not grateful. I am. I just..." She looks rather helplessly at the envelope in her hands, finally pulling it back with an air of defeat. "I feel like I need to do something more to earn this, I guess?"

Catriona is at a loss for words. What more could Sarah need to do? The painting is amazing; how could it be better? And more, Sarah's put up with Catriona and not yelled at her even though she keeps hurting Sarah.

"I don't... understand," she says, slowly. "The painting's incredible. It reminds me..." oh, what the hell, Sarah thinks she's stupid enough already. "It reminds me why I'm in premed. Why I'm here in New York at all. And it makes me feel like..." She swallows. "Like maybe someday everything might be okay? Maybe? I don't know. I know it's stupid."

"It's not stupid," Sarah answers, still quiet. Her eyes now wide with surprise as she looks at Catriona, it does nothing to help the tears that suddenly spring up. They fall down her cheeks, leaving cold tracks behind. Hastily wiping at her eyes with a gloved hand, she apologizes again just as fast. "I'm sorry. The past few days, I've just been thinking--well, I guess it doesn't matter. I don't think that's stupid at all. I really like that it makes you feel like that."

"Oh," Catriona says, and pats at Sarah's shoulder. She doesn't really know how to comfort a crying person. Even in high school it was mostly just... pat and hope. "It makes me feel really good, yeah. I really do love it. I'd pay that much again for it and think it was a bargain."

She shrugs, and then tries a little smile. It wobbles, but it works. "You'd have to give me a little whole to get the money though."

Sarah gives her own wobbly smile, bright and shy, and shakes her head. "No, I don't--it's fine, really. This is more than enough. Thank you." The envelope disappears back into the pocket of her big puffy coat; without it to hold, her hands return to trying to find something to do. Her fingers clasp and unclasp, thumbs twiddling, before she abandons that to tug on the hems of her sleeves. "I'm sorry. This has probably been a really weird conversation. Do you want to start over?"

Catriona tilts her head to the side-- Sarah actually wants to talk to her? "Actually," she says, a little shyly, "I'd like it if we could just start... everything over? So I'm not horrible at you first thing."

"You weren't horrible," Sarah lightly protests, eyebrows raising. "I mean. You weren't great. But you still apologized and you haven't, you know. Done anything since then." The lightest pink dusts her cheeks as she rubs at the back of her neck. "I thought I ended up scamming you the last time we met. That's way worse than asking some rude questions. So I'm fine with starting with a clean slate if you are."

Catriona smiles at her, big enough that her cheeks start to hurt. "Hi," she says. "I'm Catriona Stewart. I'm really pleased to meet you."

"I'm Sarah Obenhaus. It's nice to meet you, Catriona." Sarah returns Catriona's smile. "I work at a café near here. Do you want to go get a cup of coffee?"