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san diego
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set in january, 2018

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 brother, can you spare a dime?, esme + phoenix
ines esmeralda dubois
Burlesque Dancer
PRONOUNS: she/her
MSG NAME: musenna #4406
MSG CHOICE: discord
The morning sun poked through the bent pieces of her blinds: an unwelcome, daily wake up call that always elicited a pained groan. She really needed to fix those damn things.

Her lament was cut short by the vigorous gurgling from her stomach. Ah yes, breakfast. This time of year was always difficult. Payments were due at the end of the month and hours were hard to come by. Even dancing on the street didn’t produce much what with having to compete with a dozen charities clanging their bells like some chime to count the guilty who passed by without a second glance. The end result was always a week of struggling to find her next meal, foregoing groceries for small snacks whenever she could find them. Merry friggin Christmas.

She lay there for a long while, sprawled out across her bed and staring pointedly at the ceiling. The holidays had left her unable to deposit her latest paycheck (another thing to add to her to-do list for the day), leaving her with a meager chunk of change. She chewed lightly on her lip as she calculated how much money she ought to have and came to the conclusion that – yes, she could manage to spring for something to eat at the coffee shop down the street.

She threw on a pair of leggings and a sweater that sat on the top of the pile of clean laundry draped across a chair. After pulling on her boots, she stuffed a scarf into her bag, just in case it got chillier as the day wore on. That was the blessing of living in Southern California: bearing through real winters in her flimsy winter wardrobe had always been torturous, but now she never had to worry about potentially freezing to death. She could understand why so many people longed for this place with a romantic glint in their eyes. She walked to the shop and ordered on autopilot, fishing out what she thought was the correct change.

“Er…one second,” she said, the feeling of dread overtaking her as she shoved her arm into her bag. Its’ contents clattered against each other as her hand brushed along the bottom, desperately searching for any rogue coins. Twenty-five cents. She was short twenty-five cents. Here she was, working endlessly until her feet felt like they might crack and shatter from right beneath her just to barely scrape by. Every cent was so carefully curated that she could make an auditor weep with pride. And yet, she had slipped up somewhere. Maybe she should have walked to work more often, or maybe she should have waited to buy a replacement of her favorite red lipstick. That's what she got for treating herself for once. She had hurdled every obstacle life had thrown at her only to be thwarted by a missing quarter.

Unable to withstand the increasing ferocity of her grumbling stomach, along with the heightened anxiety of the line growing behind her, she let out a sigh and waved her hand – a white flag waving in defeat. “Forget the coffee. I’ll just take the muffin.”

phoenix archer schuler
computer repair
PRONOUNS: she/her
MSG NAME: air bear #9821
MSG CHOICE: discord
It was an early morning for Phoenix. He had made sure to give Marian her morning kiss before getting up and getting ready. Soon he was ready for coffee, but the coffee wasn’t ready for him. He hit the coffee maker lightly a couple of times in hopes that it would work for him, but it wasn’t going to work.

Sighing, he went and found his wife, seeing if she wanted anything while he went out to get coffee and maybe a new pot (though Marian couldn’t drink much, so maybe it was better he didn’t for now). Giving her another kiss, he headed out to get some coffee before he started his day.

The line was long, giving Phoenix enough time to figure out what he was going to get (and debate if he wanted something else). He was certain that he was going to get to order next when the woman in front of him started digging through her bag. Phoenix watched, not with anger, but wonder if she needed a helping hand.

She did.

”I’ll get your coffee,” Phoenix told her, stepping out and pulling out a couple dollars from his wallet and handing them to her, wanting her to take it and not just the cashier. He had learned that not everyone was thrilled with getting a little help in a place like this (or at all for that matter).

Stepping forward, he ordered a coffee himself, thanking the barista and standing to the side to wait. They were quick to get his drink out, but not quick enough for him to grab a table. The whole place was full, bustling with people typing away on their computer as they sipped their coffee while others chatted with one another. Eventually, he caught sight of the woman he helped, slowly he made his way to her table, knowing that this could go one way or another. ”Would you mind sharing a table? It’s busy this morning.” There was a little smile on his face as he tried to seem as friendly as possible.


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sknned by vanessa of shine and caution