I just don't like this kind of living!

Outskirts 
#1
At almost fifty years old, Marybeth had already endured many pains. She knew what loss and fear were before she ever moved into her little apartment in Mountainside. An unexpected death floored her for a week or so, literally lots of time on the floor whimpering at the chat history of hers and Cris's texts, but around the 7- or 8-day mark she woke up from her dead sleep and felt that she was a little bit ready to face the world again. Or to at least break out of her coffin and get some fresh air.

Soberly, she outfitted herself in hiking gear, tall boots and green pants with a reassuring amount of pockets. A big knit cap and a big coat which made her feel snug and secure. Then she exited her apartment and rode a series of buses that would take her more or less to the edge of town, not so far from the Eden Project. She tugged on a pair of wool mittens and began her trudge off into the winter-dry prairie, on a solo mission to find peace (and perhaps see some owls).
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#2


Vidya was no owl! She wasn't, currently, any animal. She was herself, as a human woman, out in the evening for a cool night air stroll. She had been in Magic Hollow for her salon's Holiday party, and after a few drinks and being surrounded by a lot of people, she figured she needed a walk before heading home.

The landscape was nice, if not a bit quiet. That was, of course, until the sound of someone down the path from her came to her attention. The jaguar perked up, and she let herself take in a few deep breaths through her nose and mouth. What met her was the smell of death. Vidya's nose crinkled and her brows knitted. Death, nearing her. A vampire.

Vidya liked to think she was an accepting sort of woman. Never one to judge or assume. But the smell did put her on edge, and she found herself slowing down and turning to face the path, not at all comfortable with turning her back to an approaching vampire.
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#3
Marybeth trundled, her eyes fixed on the sky. Cold and dark and quiet, with not much more than the sound of her boots on the ground. Winter nights made her feel small and alone, though in a way that was peaceful; the stars above and the indifferent earth reminded her that her pain and troubles were very, very small.

She was so busy feeling small that the presence of someone else caught her completely off-guard, startling and wiping her mittens down the shapeless front of her coat. "Oh! Um, hello." What was that smell? She knew that smell. ...JAGUAR?
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#4
She watched a woman round the corner, and it was certainly not what she expected. A middle-aged blonde woman. Someone that looked like one of her clients. A mom of three, or something like that. Vidya was taken off guard, but admittedly relieved. The picture she painted of vampires in her head was much worse than what they likely were. Still, she was cautious. "Hello." Vidya called back, shifting in her step a bit. "Were you looking at the stars?" She had seemed a bit distracted.
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#5
Marybeth stood with her feet glued to the ground, feeling shy; she felt a homesickness, too, for the days where she'd been able to jump into random conversation, trying to make a friend out of everyone. Now it was hard even to walk closer, to a normal distance for talking. "Um, yep." She glanced down at her mittens. "Are you a jaguar lady?"
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#6
Despite putting judgement aside, she did stiffen as the vampire guessed her exact species. The cat shifted uncomfortably, and her eyes likely betrayed her. She blinked and cast her gaze down to the ground. "How do you mean?" She asked with a stiff jaw. It felt wrong to willingly agree with the woman. It was disconcerting that she knew. Could all vampires tell? How?
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#7
Marybeth's mitten rose up to muffle her mouth. Maybe it didn't always feel good to be identified right away like that, and she had been rude? The reverse had happened with the last Magic Hollow catman, but this one looked tense and offended, just like last time! She bit at her lips. "Sorry, I didn't mean it in a mean way."

She didn't notice the eye color change, because she was staring busily at the woman's feet. "This is the only time I can go out walking, is all. I was just trying to get out of my house." Oh, no. Even thinking about that made her throat tighten.
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#8
Her eyes flickered back up when the woman apologized. It was very, very hard to be too cautious of a woman that looked like she belonged in a sitcom, and apologized so openly about being forward. Vidya found herself smiling despite herself, and despite the cat's irritated rooing. What the woman said next had Vidya's brows relaxing some. "It's good to let your head air out some times. I hope things are not too bad at your house..." She had become so used to being the ear for people's troubles, that it came naturally to coax whatever the woman was escaping out of her. Vidya gave good advice! Or so she had been told.
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