[font "Montserrat" He always looked good behind the camera lens. Maybe even more than just good. Decent was a stone’s throw. Sometimes you just win the genetic lottery. Aphrodite blesses the mother’s womb. Surprise! You’re gorgeous,radiant, even? His mom even had the nerve to name him Cypress like he was some special fucking snow-flake. For every bad and horrible, unspeakable, inhumane thing that goes on in this fucked up world, you can be rest assured, there will always be beautiful people. He was apart of the Hollywoods. Perfect face, and an even more perfect smile that you would take a baseball bat to on a good day. No rage or motivation required. Literally, just because. And like all other Hollywoods, he thought he was entitled to things he didn’t deserve. Attention, recognition, validation, money, hearts... leaving behind a trail of destruction in his wake. An utter emotional tsunami that calmed faster than the brewing of its' destruction, in the same speed it took him to force of a half- smile. Clear skies, but grey seas.]
Hollywoods aren’t people. They’re demons.
His ego was stroked more than fingers gliding across keys around here, and that says a-lot: Humble me [b not.]
[font "Montserrat" The hallways were thickly congested with students returning ten pounds fatter from Thanksgiving holiday. Cypress of course, was an exception. High metabolism excluded him from the holiday woes or even the [i freshman fifteen], another one of his ‘natural advantages’. He wore an ugly vomit green Christmas sweater that reeked like the inside of Abercrombie. Despite its intentions of making him look like a walking booger clinging to an inflamed red nose, the garment top still seemed [i oddly form fitting], hanging over the beltline of his pressed jeans. Cypress kept an even pace with his inner circle of beautifuls, creatures posing as men, who like Cypress were more marble statue than human. He controlled the conversation, letting the coastal image of Versailles, France conjure to their unimaginative,feeble- smooth brained minds.]
[font "Montserrat" “We go every year,” He tagged to the end of his sentence, rushed and last minute, like it was more of a hassle than a vacation. “Next year if you guys are free, we should all go together..” A fake, and hanging invitation. That’s how Hollywoods were with each other, an offer wasn’t an offer, it was just courtesy. A verbal tip-off to excuse yourself into doing something better with your time.]
Because not-so-secretly... people were more..accessories anyway.
[font "Montserrat" His slow trot to Psychology physically pained him. “Why is this even required,” Cue the pity. “I’m a dance major,” (No Surprises there.) And whine some more. “At least you don’t have to pay for your tuition this year,” Avery added, casting his six two gaze even with Cypress, “My folks thought it would be [i funny] for me to get a job.”]
No one would care if these two just dropped off the face of the earth, right? [yes]
“Doesn’t your dad own an oil company?” The conversation couldn’t be more upper income tax bracket if it tried.
[font "Montserrat" “Yeah I just sit at the receptionist desk and forward emails. Sometimes I walk his clients to the board rooms, and set up the projection screens. Time goes by so slow,” Cypress gave him a sympathetic pat as if Avery announced he just returned from the war in the middle east.]
Never-mind, the conversation [i definitely] tried.
[font "Montserrat" The looming scent of cologne should have been her first indication how closely she was approaching the circle of plastics. Or the sound of the overbearing privilege cutting razors against her eardrums... should have been a fair warning, but it wasn’t. Bumping into one of the Hollywoods was almost a social crime, not apologizing meant you were asking for the guillotine. But: to bump into a plastic, not apologize, and shove one of them for accidentally kicking your phone several leagues forward was a constitutional no no.]
She was a mess of soft auburn hair and clothes that didn't fit.
All actions have consequences. Giving in to the devil on your shoulder that forces your hand to hit the snooze button just one more time, burrowing your scantily clad body deeper into the safety of your fleece blanket feels like a luxury when you’re steadily faced with the alternative: the outside world. Can you hear that clock [i tick-tock]ing your life away? You move and breathe on borrowed time - every action after your moment of indulgence [i costs you]; in appearance, in comfort, effort, and reward.
The very notion of an 8AM, general education course is a direct affront to what our ancestors would call, “a good time.” Punishment enough, no?
[i [b Morgan]] [i where are you, now?]
[i [right lost]]
[i [b Morgan]] [i you should have gotten up with my good morning phone call, smh]
No, this is her punishment.
The dreaded [i click-clack] of the screen as it fell prone on the pavement, bounced to its side, and landed face up. The echo stops time, and then comes the deep, [i visceral], errant sigh. You’re not supposed to let people know you’re irritated - social faux pas number one; least of all, a [i Hollowood] - social faux pas number two. Ophelia’s eyes are scanning the ground, not out of shame or regret - she’s searching for where her phone fell.
There’s little time for niceties, that much is clear, in those mellowed brown eyes. From where she’s standing, she can see that the screen is slightly cracked. A curt, “Move,” should suffice enough to get the point across. [i I don’t have time for you]. Her voice is muted, pursed lips nestled safely beneath the warmth of an ash grey scarf. So it isn’t a surprise when one of the tall young men blocks her path, asking her to repeat herself. “Fucking nuisance,” she pulls her scarf down under her chin, and thinks maybe now, he might take the tampons out of his ears and listen a little closer this time, “I said, move.”
“Not sure who the fuck you think you are,” He tucks a finger under the braid of auburn hair hanging over her shoulder and flicks it [i up] into her face. In a more secluded space, with less witnesses, that should have [i ended him]. “In normal human society, the one who bumps into someone usually says, ‘excuse me.’” He’s at least half a foot taller, but Ophelia has no issues meeting his gaze, nor the rest of the stray group of Greek gods, chiseled from stone and given life through lightning - inhaling undue validation, exhaling hubris - more still, while they wait for her apology; a fumbling string of ‘uhm, ah, sorry’ that will never come.
“Looks like we got a bad bitch.” A voice says from behind her opposition.
The urge to mouth off is incredibly tempting, and it hits her like a hot flash, merging indignation with a misplaced sense of superiority. But the winds shift when her electronic companion, thought silenced by its fall, begins to buzz incessantly against the ground. Ophelia makes a swift exit, dipping underneath Avery’s extended arm, and taking the phone beneath her fingers in one smooth motion. Now fielding the bitter army of stares on her back, she can see her savior waiting in the distance, clutching her phone as though they are pearls around her neck.
Morgan grips Ophelia by the sleeve as though she’s just committed a crime against nature itself - the thin fabric of her jacket stresses, keeping the shape of the pinch long after her friend had let go. Her pace is so swift that it has Ophelia lamenting that she chose boots over sneakers. Morgan clops on, unbothered, in stylish beige heels, as if she’s late for a business proposal in a shitty downtown office building.
“Where are we going?”
“The [i long way] to class.”
Ophelia doesn’t argue. She focuses on the inhuman lustre of Morgan’s perfectly coiffed, blonde hair. It moves with every step she makes, and yet, never does a hair fall out of place. You’d have been pressed to believe she had ever been in a rush, if not for the two-minute touchup to her face in the waning minute or so before class was due to begin. “I’ll never understand your aversion to being nice.”
“Good thing they’re literally a handful people in a school of one thousand. Who cares?” Ophelia’s eyes roll so hard - one day, she might permanently injure herself. “Look at how they massacred my boy.” She holds up her phone to the light - an eyesore to forever remember them by. “Will my [i Pepito] ever be the same again?”
Morgan shakes her head, snapping her compact closed, “Girl, you are a nightmare.”
[center [h4 She had a lion's mane, and the teeth to match]]
[font "Montserrat" He rather, [i kind of] liked that. Underneath her bundle of curls and braids was a huntress's glare. Feisty. Deliciously so. Cypress's lips pressed together as he watched Avery attempt to handle his own dead-weight. She couldn't have clocked in more than 5'6, and yet, had Avery's back against the wall. Intriguing. Disappointing. An eyebrow arched when Avery touched her [i hair], bold, yet it didn't draw any opposition from him. Cypress did however, relinquish a sigh when obscenities started to fly. "Avery," Even toned and promptly uninterested in his escalating demands for an apology, he placed a hand on his shoulder. Cypress's eyes fell upon her, taking in every rebellious curl. There was no point in talking to the lessers, so why waste the time? "He's sorry." The apology was dry, and lacking any seasoning. No he isn't, but Cypress didn't care for the truth of it, and while impervious to the student body, didn't plan on missing a class he regretted taking so early in the A.M.]
[font "Montserrat" The best part of waking up, is hostilities in your cup.]
[font "Montserrat" "Let's [i go.]" Again, sorry about that shattered screen, that neither of us will absolutely pay for. But, good luck. She was chaperoned away by another woman, whisked into the sea of bodies where she, and her attitude promptly disappeared. Avery split from Cypress, fuming over the obvious L he took sharply up his own ass. It was always this way between them. Avery, a loud insensitive ogre, Cypress the collected one. It always made Cypress look [i so] much better, standing in the same light as his idiot friend.]
[center [h4 Oh yes, psychology]]
[font "Montserrat" The digital screen on his watch let him know that he was [i in fact not] late, and while there was no brownie points for being on time, he would like to think that his procrastination in waking up was justified. The extra rolls around in his sheets, flipping the pillow over to the colder side, and who can forget the incredibly daring task of [i just closing your eyes for a minute']! oh no. Satan was not going to get him today. Or so he thought. Unless that Satan had springy hair, soft bronze skin, knife sharp eyes, and a glare that could send him to Mars. Cypress was told once that the devil wore Prada. Not exactly, she wore an army green heavy coat, with a coffee brown V neck sweater underneath, faded grey pants with boots that came up to her ankles. Definitely [i not] Prada.]
[font "Montserrat" There's a magical mysticism about the invisible forces that merge two people together. Or college credits. Take your pick. His elbow touched hers in the most annoying way, and so did his knees, as Cypress stubbornly kept his posture wide and open. If he had to be honest, he craved the tension. The spark, the teeth of defiance. His rouse was shortly interrupted by a hunched figure, languidly entering the lecture hall.]
[center [h4 You know where this is going right?]]
[font "Montserrat" After instruction, Cypress turned to his right, and with a perfect smile announced his intentions: "Hello [i partner]. We're going to research Freud." For the rest of the semester. Nice to meet you.]
Morgan. The only friend Ophelia had known since high school, and whose presence didn’t directly irritate her, simply by virtue of breathing the same air. She is sweet, kind, and bearably pretentious - but only because she had known her for so long.
Always the bright eyed sucker for a pretty face. A chiseled jaw and a flirtatious smile were all you needed to win the presidency in the United States of Morgan, and to the republic for which it stands. So, of course she had notified Ophelia to the universal, resident “hottie” seated precariously beside her, third seat from the right - via text, unapologetically trying to feign her attention on the professor’s long rehearsed drawl.
[i [b Morgan]] [i Cypress. Hunter. Is next to you. OMG.]
[i Relax]. Ophelia thinks. She reads the message, but feels little inclination to respond. Who is Cypress Hunter - and why does he [i matter]? She rolls her eyes and looks at her lovestruck friend - but Morgan is reluctant to understand her friend’s ineptitude as recognizing royalty when she sees it.
[i [b Morgan]] [i Only the most popular guy of our class? How can you not know?]
And she can’t help but think - because it’s not important. Cypress is not a God, nor someone whose influence affects her grade - he does not move mountains, part seas, or guide souls on the River Styx. He’s an annoyance who, after class, makes himself known with a statement of confidence mixed with absolution.
“Excuse me?” Ophelia narrows her eyes, incredulous.
If the devil wears Prada, then his lessers court fire in Armani suits. Ophelia cranes her neck towards the demon in her midst who has strong brows and deep set eyes; a shit-eating smile, and an atrocious green sweater. Giorgio Armani would [i never].
There is context missing from this New Age American tragedy. First, Professor McCready - a man of few words and fewer instructions - had briefly given his outline for the long con assignment of the semester; based equally in deliberate laziness and the inherent disbelief in the essentialness of his general education class. Second, is that Cypress Hunter had unilaterally decided that Ophelia Hawthorne was to be his partner, without any rhyme or reason. Third, partners were determined solely on the class roster, not on preference - and Morgan’s surname was as far removed from ‘Hunter’ and ‘Hawthorne’ as the Kardashians are from the Joneses. Yes, there’s a difference. No, they are not the same.
He is staring at her, an inescapable vortex - a plague, a pox upon her everyday life. A disruption.
“Freud, huh…” He couldn’t have picked Niesche, Hemingway, or a predictable serial killer? “How boring.”
Morgan ribs her from the other side - the shores of salvation - a faraway surname. [i Don’t screw this up,] her eyes say, [i this could be good for me].
[font "Montserrat" [i How boring], she chided under her breathe, letting her opinion of his decision fill the air and space between them. "Easy," he corrected. How [i easy], work smarter, not harder. It should have been noted that he failed to ask or even register what her counter suggestion would be. Academics were meant to be boring, but they were also meant to be coasted through. Cypress allowed his gaze to take in all of her. Earthy bronze skin, a flattering silhouette, and a shock of curls that just beckoned a stroke of his hand. Not that he would be so tourist enough to do that, but the temptation did melt over him like butter. He invited her scent to linger against his nose. It was ceremonial, like jasmine and rain. Something simple, lacking every familiar note of Dior, Gucci and the like.]
[font "Montserrat" "Your phone, let me see it." His perfectly groomed eyebrow raised at her. A king doesn't ask a servant twice, but his delivery fell rather short on her. She stalled in any kind of movement, which puzzled Cypress. She spoke English, correct? So why did she not immediately hasten to retrieve her device? Ah, then it dawned on him. "Please," The tension in her brow lessened, and after an internal battle waged and warred within her, did he finally lay eyes upon her device. Cracked worse than a three dollar whore. It would be impossible to make any kind of sense of the words displayed on her screen. To think, Avery.. The phone was slid to him by the tips of her fingers, Ophelia eyed him. It was so horribly outdated, perhaps maybe Jesus used this model? Cypress revealed his own phone, perfect screen in tact, encased by glossy black marble. Immediately his screen switched to display Samsung's homepage. A few mundane clicks through the checkout process and, "Your new phone will be here tomorrow." He hovered the back of his phone over hers, sharing his contact information, and her screen illuminated in response. Cypress's watch registered the transaction, and exchange of information almost immediately. "Ophelia", The taste of her name in his mouth resembled a sour patch kid.He rolled it over his tongue, extracting its sweetness over the center, yet completely unprepared for its bitterness.]
[font "Montserrat" It was the least he could do, he should be praised for this right? It was his one good deed tossed into the ever empty, endlessly bottomed well called karma right? Yet, when he could feel the heat and electric energy in the atmosphere spike between them, it gave him sudden cause for alarm. No, she did not love this. It did not woo her. Immediately, Ophelia grabbed her bag with enough force that as it slid off the table it struck him in the shoulder. She departed without saying a single word. Perhaps he did leave her speechless! Had no one ever been kind to her before? [i Poor] girl!]
[center She had always been against violence first, but with him, it appeared to be the only logical option]
[font "Montserrat" How could he express to her that this was no financial burden to him at all? "Hey, wait up..!" She had been so moved by him! So utterly in disbelief that she had to physically relocate herself! Cypress had seen this type of reaction before, at times people would even pass out when faced with overwhelming generosity. She probably needed air! [i That] was why she left in such a hurry. Though in his experience, women often ran towards him, not away from him. So, why did this exchange leave him feeling lightly unsettled? At the risk of his perfectly beautiful face staying in tact he shouted to her retreating form, "You're welcome...?!" Her friend trailed fastly behind her, there was still a good hour left of the class, how could she leave so suddenly?]
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