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[IC][Preview] Diorama Time
[IC][Preview] Diorama Time
#1
I actually wrote this something like six months ago to be part of a larger story, but it has some relevance to today's current events so I thought I'd post a preview of the relevant scene.  Enjoy! --BL

Oakwood Pentagon District, Venice
[November 8 2016] 5:30 PM

Sakura thought she was settling into her school life in America, but things kept throwing her for a loop.  They were assigned a group art project in class, but were expected to do most of the work at home.  No club rooms were available in her small school after class, but this was hardly an unusual state of affairs in American schools.  And so it was that Sakura and her besties ended up at the home of a classmate to assemble a scene.

As part of their local history education, they had been granted the assignment given to generations of schoolchildren in the Southland: to build a diorama scale-model of the local Spanish mission.  In this case, it was the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, which had served as the Franciscans' home base to indoctrinate the Tongva people into the Roman Catholic faith and intimidate them into the Spanish social order.

The fourth group member, assigned by the teacher, had an opinion about that.  "I can't believe they would give us an assignment like this.  It just romanticizes the imperialists!  And all that bad stuff they did, right?"  No one else knew quite how to respond to it, but Alanna Emory didn't give them much of a chance to speak anyway.  "Hey Sakura, pass me the scissors.  No, not those. The fabric scissors."

"Um, hai!"

Despite Alanna's complaints about the subject of the assignment, it turned out the form of the assignment was right up her alley.  She had oodles of art supplies spread out in her room, and many more buried in the drawers or under piles of sketches.  It was the main reason that their teacher had assigned Alanna to help her new transfer students, as she had real talent for the arts, and handled the newcomers with her typical aplomb.

As is the case of most group projects in school, a couple of kids were left with pretty much nothing to do.  Occasionally Sakura and Shaoran would attach something or other with the glue gun, but it was obvious that Alanna had creative control.  Tomoyo provided a good share of input on costumes and staging, but could only get so far in the face of Hurricane Alanna.

Had it been her own house, Sakura would have made snacks to stay busy, but even that task fell to Alanna.  Shaoran's primary contribution was to stop Kero-chan from "reenacting" a kaiju attack on the L.A. Mission while Alanna was in the kitchen.

Truly, they were just a little bewildered by the whole thing.  Back at Tomoeda Elementary, the kids would have made an effort to distribute work to everyone, so that everyone had a chance to do their best.  But here in America, in Alanna's realm at least, the creative directors had control and everyone else was working for scale -- or at least the grading scale.

The upshot was that everyone was going to get top marks, since their creative directors had a good eye for these kinds of things.  Their diorama included buildings, walls, European priests, and native farmers.  It didn't depict life all that accurately, but the look showed good craftsmanship and that's all that really mattered in the end.

By the time they were finished, it was well after dark.  The diorama turned out quite a bit bigger than expected, too.  In the end, they implemented Shaoran's suggestion that they drive it back to his home at Aria House, then simply carry it the couple blocks from the apartment to the school the next morning.  Sakura called for a ride home, then joined everyone else in packing up sundry art supplies.

A few minutes later, Tomoyo's private stretch limousine pulled up in front of the Alanna's bungalow.  Double-parked, of course -- on Venice's streets, it was hard enough to find parking for a normal length vehicle.

"You brought a limo to our house?" Alanna complained, "Are you trying to gentrify me out of the neighborhood?"

"Hoe?"

"I was reading about it on Twitter.  The neighborhood gets too nice, and the black folk can't afford to live in their homes any more.  That's gentrification."

While Tomoyo was still formulating the proper apology in her head, Sakura spoke up, "Um, well, my brother drives limousines for his part-time job."  Her answer had the advantage of being technically true, while not explaining why this particular limousine was present.

When the driver got out, the biracial girl couldn't stop her gaze.  He was tall, fair, athletically built, and made those glasses look pretty cute.  He greeted them, "Hi everyone. I hear you need a ride?"

Tomoyo responded, "Thank you.  Can I trouble you to carry our diorama into the car?"

"No problem," Yukito said.

"Here, it's back this way," Tomoyo led him to Alanna's craft room.

"That's your brother then?"  Alanna half-whispered to Sakura, "He's really cute!"

"I know," Shaoran half-sighed.

"Oh, no, that's my brother's boyfriend!"  As he gingerly carried the diorama through the hallway, Sakura introduced him, "Yukito Tsukishiro, meet Alanna Emory!"

"Ah, nice to meet you, Miss Emory."  Not having a hand free to shake, he automatically bowed to her.

She eagerly returned the bow, "Nice to meet you too, Yukito!"  She thought about how respectful the Japanese culture was, so cool.  She had a brief pang of regret about bowing -- was that culturally appropriating?  Nah, he looked happy to accept her greeting.  How cool, she decided, to be asked to experience their culture.

"Well, I'm going to go put this in the car.  Thanks for taking care of everyone."

"You're very welcome."  As soon as Yukito made it outside, Alanna told Shaoran, "Aw man, boyfriend.  Well, at least you have a chance with him."

"Me?"

"You don't have to be ashamed.  We stand in solidarity with our LGBTQIA brothers and sisters."  In this case, "we" referred to herself and the rest of Black Twitter.

"Um, I'm not really…"  Shaoran blushed.  It was a misconception, but a little too close to home.

Tomoyo headed her off, "You are a very enlightened young woman, Alanna."

"Aw c'mon, you guys are all crazy woke.  All my friends are!"  She thought a sec, then amended her statement,  "Um, I mean guys and gals, no offense intended!"

"None taken."  Tomoyo smiled.

The kids said goodbye to Alanna for the night, and piled into the back of the limo.  After the power window slid a pane of tinted glass between him and her, Shoaran groused, "I can't explain why, but somehow she reminds me of Meilin."

Sakura nodded, "Un."  As the car rolled slowly through the streets, she studied the frustration on his face, while keeping a small smile on her own.  After about a minute, she added, "It's okay to miss her.  I miss her too."

"Yeah.  I'm sure we'll see her again."

"For certain."

Tomoyo sat on the seat across from them in silence, camcorder in hand --  capturing this romantic moment, like a precious card, for her archives.

Kerberos finally dug himself out of Sakura's backpack.  "Oh man, we're finally out of there.  I thought that munchkin would never shut up."

"Now, Kero-chan, be nice."
"Kitto daijoubu da yo." - Sakura Kinomoto
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