This One Goes Out to All the Dreamers at Sea

Echo Echo 

 She was nervous? Was she supposed to be nervous? Probably not. She thought about the last time she'd felt nervous, how she'd managed to not set anything on fire in the process. Hopefully, this would be like that - not on fire and pleasant and girl time, like a normal person and not a wizard or whatever. She ran her hands over the corduroy of her overalls, winced as she imagined striking two pieces of flint together and resigned herself to just suffering quietly with somewhat sweaty palms.

 The first band of the local showcase was on stage to her right and further back, unrolling cords and wires and tuning their instruments as they positioned amps and bickered about lighting. She rocked a little in her chair, reminded herself that she had come early to make sure to get them all a decent table. And no, they weren't going to stand her up - Amber was too nice to do that and by association, Natalie would be a sweetheart and this was when she would really strike gold where Mountainside and being social was concerned.

 Their waiter oogled her and she gave him a small smile before she picked up her menu and busied herself by looking it over. Maybe his sixth sense was tingling, maybe he thought she'd been stood up. She hadn't, they would come. She hooked the heels of her boots on the bar of the stool and stretched, pointed her toes downwards as she skimmed over the appetizers once she decided she had earned a beer even if the other two weren't there yet.

Texting and asking if they were coming felt too clingy so she did the next best thing - devised a sort of plan. Picking up her phone once she had ordered and sent their waiter on his merry way.

I wasn't sure if you guys liked cheese sticks or potato skins so I ordered cheese sticks and potato skins. No rush. Can't promise I'll be able to resist temptation though.

She hit send, no take-backsies.


Late again! Ahhhhh. Next time she had the hair-brained idea to run an errand across town right before meeting friends, somebody smack her. Thankfully for everybody, Natalie was far more responsible and was probably already there. Except, Nat didn't really know Piper and Piper didn't know Natalie which could spell DISASTER, unless Amber, the lynch pin of the group, could squeeze herself through traffic and get there already!

Her dumb motorcycle horn sounded like a deflated balloon, so of course these cars were completely ignoring her plight. Amber hit another red light and sent off the faster message of her life.

On wy b there soon !



Natalie was literally walking up to the place as her phone vibrated. She wasn't late was she?! Taking her phone out while adding a bit more oomf to her stride, she read a group message from Piper. Oh gosh, she definitely was if food was being ordered! Coming to the door, Amber's scrolled in. This was the first time Natalie had actually beaten her friend to a place and it was oddly different for how this usually worked out. Hopefully, traffic wasn't too bad for her.

Swinging in through the turning front door, Natalie quickly answered, half paying attention to the keyboard while also taking in the space around her.

Sorry! That sounds great! <3
I'm here :D
Where are you sitting?

Walking in, she stopped where the room opened up, trying to figure out who Piper was. Without a photo reference, it was going to be trickly, but hopefully her text would be answered soon and they'd be found.

 Oh ... eesh they were late. She grimaced at the screen of her phone at the squeal of an amp from the stage, wondered if she'd sounded passive aggressive or - half late! The next string of text messages made her perk up despite the initial and fleeting wariness about entertaining someone new to her by her lonesome.

I'm sort of to the side of the stage, back a ways so we can keep our ears - against the wall. Uhhh, I have red hair and overalls and tattoos and I'll just raise my hand.

And so she did, left hand up in the air as she slowly set her phone down and glance about.

She had flown down the highway and abused a bike lane or two, but she made it. Vibrations from her phone gave her good indication that her friends had likely met up. As long as they saved some of those potato skins, Amber would be one happy camper.

Kickstand down, she hopped off and hurried to the side entrance. Music played through the door. She didn't recognize the band; they must be a local group. Swinging the door open, her view was blocked by a herd of waiters carrying drinks and trays. Amber craned her neck hoping to spot a familiar face. In the back she caught something reddish and began walking with determination. A few close calls with other patrons had her huff with impatience. She had some friends to meet dammit and some appetizers to inhale.

Almost there ladies! Amber could see them now.

During the wait for the answers, Natalie looked about from her spot, trying to figure out if anyone looked like a 'Piper'. Which was flawed logic, but she could try. Shrugging off her jacket, she folded it across an arm. Buzzing had her attention within seconds though, saving her from arriving at the wrong table all together. The place chosen was nice to know it'd been so carefully chosen. The description triply helped as did the raising hand that'd she'd see as soon as she looked up.

Noticing the hand being raised from across the room, Natalie made quick strides over, avoiding the various people going about their ways. "Piper? Sorry, for making you wait. I'm Natalie," she smiled, taking a seat, offering a hand. Piper looked so nice and while she was a bit nervous about meeting someone new, everything she'd heard about had seemed really positive.

 "That's me!" She perked up immediately, lifted halfway out of her chair and gave Natalie a firm but brief shake. "No apologies, I'm usually behind for everything - this is basically a solar eclipse in punctual form." Waving off the idea and motioning vaguely to the two other empty chairs space around the roundtable.

 "I just wanted to make sure we didn't have to sit by the front door and - Amber's said a lot about you. Good things, I mean!" Excited and quick to correct any misconstrued tone or implication.

Imagine Amber arrive a few minutes after they met :)

They had found each other, no doubt thanks to texting, but Amber liked to imagine they were drawn together by omniscient forces rolling the proverbial dice on their lives.

Anyway, Hurricane Amber had finally arrived! She sailed on in and launched straight into introductions. "So happy to see your girls. Piper this is the marvelous Natalie and Natalie this is the illustrious Piper. I'm sure you're good friends already." She pointed at each in turn, assuming the role of saleswoman. Had she less maturity she'd have ended with, "and now kiss!" But alas, she would refrain.

She claimed an open seat and snatched up a potato skin. "As the last one here, I can get the next round." She used a hand to cover her mouth. This place served some stellar food.

Yay, so she had the right girl and the joke on her behalf had Natalie giggling a bit, shaking and letting go. Still she felt bad, but at least it was forgiven. ”Thanks and I totally get that.” It came out as a breath of relief. It wouldn’t do to make bad impressions before she even got here. Thankfully, that’d been nicely waved away.

Putting the jacket over the back of the chair, she listened as Piper explained the sitting situation, nodding along. But the kicker was that Amber had spoken a lot about her? That had Natalie looking at her with worry that melted into understanding as Piper kept going. ”Oh! Well, same here. She had a lot of cool, nice things to say about you.”

And as if right on cue, Amber strolled up and Natalie offered a small wave with a smile. As soon as Amber was at their table she went right into over the top introductions that had her laughing a bit. ”Yep.”

 Elephant in the room: had Amber said anything about powers? It seemed like the answer to that was no, considering that Natalie was holding a pleasantly mundane conversation with her. Silently grateful for the discretion but deciding not to say anything about it just yet - she made a point not to look down at the food as if to avoid the temptation altogether.

 "You should be late more often if that's the case." Now that everyone was accounted for, reaching out to casually steal a cheese stick from the plate. No one in their right and balanced mind liked those cold, after all. "How have you been?" Covering her own mouth with the back of her hand and flipping the cheese stick to dip the untouched end in the communal marinara. People were weird about doubling down.

"I've been marrrrrvelous." She said between potato bites. There was a waitress heading their way and Amber took the time to order herself a Moscow mule and a request to head by their table later for another appetizer order. She licked some greasy residue off her finger and jumped back in. "Had the spookiest thing happen to me. Went to that old mansion in Bella Vista and found some bones. Alerted the police and everything. Haven't heard anything, so I'm pretty sure they were just a prank." She still had the photos and the experience would be a great blog entry for next year's halloween. I found bones in a haunted house! That sounded nice and click-baity.

She nudged the basket of wedges towards Natalie. She'd eat them all if someone didn't start participating. "Nothing much else of note." Those bones didn't even rank on the scale with all the supernatural business going around, but if felt tame enough to mention on a casual outing. Amber plopped a straw into her drink and crossed her legs, getting nice and comfy.

At the question towards how Amber had been, she looked expectantly towards her friend. Just then, the waiter came by and she was quick to just get a water and lemon.

Amber and her had had a long phone conversation, but some things could’ve been missed. And boy! She’d totally had not heard that bone story. Listening, she took one of the potato skins and tried her best not have it fall apart upon biting down. Luckily, everything was home free, even while breathing in a bit of a sigh of relief at finding out it was a prank and not she crazy murderer hangout. Thank goodness.

As Amber scooted the appetizers more her way, Natalie put them back into the center of the table, taking another to go.

”That’s still really exciting. If they tell you anything you should definitely let us know,” she said with excitement. Not wanting to leave the other girl out, she turned to her, curious. ”What about you Piper?”

 "You what?" It was almost immediate, nearly tacked on before Amber could finish the thought as she hovered one hand under the other to avoid a mess, took another big bite of potato skin. "Mm, still a cool story." Not so quick to dismiss a pile of bones no matter if it was authentic or not, especially not in the bizarre place they called home.

 "Uh -" A little caught off guard when conversation volleyed to her, she glanced warily to Amber as if to reaffirm that for the sake of this night out she was entirely normal. It definitely felt like something that would've come up by now, if Natalie knew about it. But then there was the elephant in the room that was her Halloween night spend as a garden fairly dressing up mice and riding on the heads of unicorns.

 Now that felt like something that would get her weird stares and awkward silences, no physical proof of it as far as she knew. "Not much, just a lot of work but I guess that's good with the holidays coming." A far, far safer bet. "I take it you're with me on the new bone pile train?"

"Hmm?" Amber's head was lost in appetizer world. So greasy and delicious. They needed more stat.

Oh right the bones. Gotcha. "I almost wished they were real, but there's been enough violence in the city." She snapped her mouth shut. That was an unpleasant avenue of conversation and one she didn't think they'd all agree to go down. Amber commandeered the napkin dispenser, pulling out napkins two at a time. She'll try to steer this baby back to some nicer topics.

"I told Natalie how we met at that record store and you both have excellent taste in music." They did. Piper's recommendations had been great and Amber was always stealing songs from Nat's shared playlists. Together they might achieve the impossible and get Amber out of her dance music craze. "Either of you listening to anything new?"

Piper's life sounded pretty close to how hers had been lately. Just work and looking forward to the holiday. "Same here." At the circle back to the bones though, she nodded, looking back towards Amber in question. Bones were really weird to find, but it almost seemed too fitting to find them at that supposed real haunted mansion.

The comment while not intended to, had Natalie tensing a tad while shifting in her seat a bit, not really wanting to go anywhere near where the violence in Cordova comment could spin off too. And luckily, Amber was quick to change topics to something very different. She smiled at that and considered. "Yeah she did, I'd love for any recommendations." Expression turning quite sheepish she then leaned forward a bit, table pushing back into her arms. "I haven't listened to anything new lately, just different Christmas song playlists."

 What had she recommended to A- her fleeting confusion shifted at once like a light switch that had just been unceremoniously flipped. "I told Amber about Gogol Bordello, I don't know what you listen to - but it's an experience." Fair warning to Natalie, not wanting to leave her in any way out of the loop. She glanced back to Amber, quickly shook her head no. "Nothing like them I'm afraid, I'm pretty tame otherwise." If not variated.

"Outside of Christmas, what do you listen to, Natalie?"

Amber sat back and happily munched on her last potato skin. Piper and Natalie were circling around the beginning of a beautiful friendship. All thanks to her. Mental pat on the back for that one.

As the conversation turned away, Amber flagged down a waitress to order more appetizers and a refill for Piper. She handed over her card along with a compliment on the woman's earrings. One leg swinging over the other, she grabbed her drink and bit down on the straw. Amber teased the plastic between her teeth, dividing her attention between her friends.

As soon as Piper said the name, Natalie was tapping it into the search on her phone so she wouldn't forget. She'd never heard of them so it would maybe open up her music scene a bit. The addition that Piper was nothing like them, she wondered just how intense this band was then and it'd be a mystery to solve later. "I'll definitely check them out."

Looking up and to the side in thought, she tried to shorten the list to something concise. "Umm, a lot of what I listen to has strings and vocals, like Bluegrass and Indie. I also like musicals," she explained.

 It felt like, if she was going to look like the world's most awkward duck, it would be because she was trying to plan two steps ahead. Listening to Natalie, processing what she had to say, but trying to decide how to reply already to look cool and chill and not make this weird. They were at a concert venue - clearly, they all liked music, chill.

 Quietly she tried to decide if it was worth the splurge for fried pickles, happy to see everyone grazing. Not worth it - stop looking for distractions, chill. "Mm," She finished her cheese stick before she spoke, wiped the very tips of her fingers on the edge of her napkin. "Do either of you sing or play anything? Because let me just put it out there that I'm jealous."

Another waitress passed by with a food tray, tragically serving it to a different table. Amber frowned before returning to her drink.

Piper's question got a head swivel, the straw popping out of her mouth. "I played a little piano as a child but never kept up the lessons." Amber looked skyward, contemplating her skill level. "As for singing I'd give myself a solid 6 out of 10." Her neighbors hadn't ever complained, but she sure wouldn't be winning Grammys anytime soon.

Gratefully taking a sip of her water to get the cheese out of her mouth, she slightly tilted her head at the question. Amber speaking up had her learning something new: piano lessons, but to no avail. The talk about singing had her giggling a bit at the self assigned scale.

Jumping in to answer afterwards, she shrugged. "Singing in the car is as close as I get. I don't even want to rate myself on it," she finished, feeling a bit of embarrassment at even that thought. "Though, I'd love to learn how to play something eventually. I think it'd be pretty fun, don't you think?"

 "I think I'm a solid five out of ten on the everyday scale where singing is concerned, a good seven in the confines of bar karaoke." Half of an offer, but she would save that for another time if this turned out well for all of them. "I like the idea but my fingers don't move as fast as my brain, but I'm told that's all practice." She shrugged it off, seemingly accepting of her own shortcomings where the musical world was concerned.

Someone said the magic words. "Karaoke!" Amber straightened up, knocking a used napkin into her lap. She flicked it casually towards the empty chair. "We should go one time. Share our mediocre talents with the world." Song choice, song choice. What songs had three female vocals? Destiny's Child, TLC, Dixie Chicks, plenty of options. Amber waved her fists about, they totally should do karaoke.

So they were all on the same musical scale basically, nifty. She'd never been to a karoake bar either, but it sounded fun. And to Piper's mention of it taking practice, she nodded in agreement. If Piper really wanted to learn something to play, Natalie had no doubt it could be done. Taht went for all of them too. Just would take a lot of practice.

Amber's outburst at karoake had her giggling a bit. "That sounds like a lot of fun, I'm down anytime. I've never been to one so I don't really know what to expect."

 "Karaoke!" She was louder, more confident this time as she repeated the suggestion and drummed her fingers on the lip of the table just as the opener for the evening officially took the stage. Reaching out, she plucked a couple bacon bits from the empty potato skin plate and popped them into her mouth, glanced curiously to the stage before she looked back.

 "Expect to drink, like, a lot." The best way to enjoy yourself when singing to a hoard of strangers, as far as she was concerned. Slowly but surely, acclimating it seemed - less on guard as she hunched a bit and prepared herself for more food and chatter. Nice in a way, nice and normal and not on fire.

That was something Amber could easily get behind. "Oh, I can't wait." she raised her glass in a mock salute, lips drawn up and eyes glittering. Karoke plan was a go y'all.

The rest of the evening looked to be shaping up to more drinks, greasy good food, and nice easy conversation. Socializing with friends was such a good idea Amber. You rock at this.

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