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Viewing Single Post From: Liberty Park
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
The sun was at high in the sky over the Corneria City Metropolitan Area, and the temperature had been blazing at record highs for the season. A couple weeks ago, the weather was wonderful, with temperatures hovering in the low seventies, what with the cool spring winds coming through. But that was just to lull the denizens into a false sense of security. The following week, it rained constantly. Now this week, it was as hot and miserable as hell outside. Mother nature was fickle at times, and a cruel mistress at others.

The air conditioner was on at full blast inside the Volvo XC90—the T6 AWD trim level, in Twilight Bronze Metallic—as it pulled out of the dealership onto Aspen Boulevard in Centurion Lakes. With one hand resting on the steering wheel and with the other holding the service receipt, Amanda glanced back and fourth between the road ahead of her and the sheet of paper. She'd brought the car in for an oil change and a diagnostics test to figure out what the problem was with the Check Engine light was all about. Though it didn't set her back too far, the nearly one hundred-dollar oil change never got any easier, and the steeply-priced labour for simple things like diags were a bit of a pet peeve with her. She just had to pick her fancy foreign cars. But at least the needed repair was free. The check engine code was due to the secondary air injection system having a frayed hose, and that was corrected at no cost since the car still had another five years on the warranty.

She never understood it, but why did the Certified Pre-Owned Volvos have a better factory warranty...?

Tucking the paper into the glove compartment, she tapped her stepson on the shoulder to get him to look at her.

Aaron, who had played hookey to get his braces tightened, and who was in the middle of a Pokemon battle on his Nintendo DS, paused his game and looked at Amanda, giving her his undivided attention.

"Are you hungry?" Amanda said, slow enough for him to read her lips.

The sixteen-year-old Felid/Husky mix nodded.

"What do you want to eat?" she said, again allowing him to read her lips.

Putting his handheld console down, he illustrated a large letter “M”. Amanda was still a bit rusty at Sign Language, but she knew enough to know what that meant.

"Okay."

Pulling into the turning lane to make a left behind a Camry, Amanda pulled out her iPhone from her designer bag and scaled through the contact listing until she found Joe's number...
* * *

Joe was definitely feeling the burn, and he loved it. Today, he'd jogged around Lake Liberty three times, for a total of about seven and a half miles. Drenched in sweat and panting to catch his breath, he stopped at a nearby water fountain to get a drink and wet his face. Being as fit as he was, it didn't take long for him to regain his breath. He looked out across the lake, seeing the Village Pier and Village Center reflect off the water. Looking around, he noticed a public bench, shaded by an old oak tree, and decided to sit and rest. He used to hate running when he first joined the military, but he came to like it after experiencing how refreshing a good work-out leaves you at the end. Taking out his phone, he checked the current time. 1:54 pm. Kiersey should be getting out of school pretty soon. In about ten minutes to be exact.

He was just about to pocket his phone when it began to ring. Knowing exactly who it was by the ringtone he set, he answered.

"Hey, babe. What's up?"

Amanda just wanted to tell him that the car was okay now. It was a minor problem, and since the car was under warranty the, the repair was free.

"Oh. That's good,"

Joe said, getting up and walking the remainder of the way home, which wasn't too far. The conversation consisted of things like Amanda saying how she was going grocery shopping later, and expressing concern about her step father coming tomorrow, who she didn't like. He and her mother had moved into their last house about two years ago when they retired. She'd found him in the guest bathroom lighting a crack pipe. Understandably, she was furious, and hated his existence ever since.

"You know, he's not all bad. Sure, he has a few bad habits, but..."

Joe was the type of person to give second chances, the benefit of the doubt, and understanding. Which was cute and all, but Amanda wasn't trying to hear all of that. As far as she was concerned, the bastard tried her for the life of her. Bringing street drugs around the kids?

"Heh, yeah..." She had him on that one.

They were almost home. They were just stopping by McDonald's for a bite to eat.

"On the subject of food, what are we going to do for dinner this evening?"

Amanda didn't have a clue... Why not put something on the grill? Amanda suggested.

"Well, I thought we'd wait until tomorrow when our folks come to do any grilling."

His wife was about to make another suggestion, but it was her turn to order. She'd figure it out later.

"Alright. Love you, babe. See you when you get home."

Ending the call, he pocketed his phone and continued walking, until he got to a crosswalk at two lane street which was divided by an ornate grassy median. I was about to wait until that black Mercedes passed, but it eased to a stop and the driver signaled for Joe to cross the street. He waved at the motorist, thanking him for his courtesy.

Liberty Park was an interesting neighborhood, especially in terms of aesthetics. The fact that almost all of the houses had rear-loading garages that you had to access via the back alleys behind the homes made for an unique streetscape. However, he couldn't help but to feel a little claustrophobic, the way the houses were built. While the houses were immaculate in their own right, they were built so close together on the smallest lots he'd ever seen, relative to the general size of the homes themselves. Honestly, the houses weren't super huge, but they took up about sixty to eighty percent of the lots, with about ten feet of grass between the sidewalk and the front porch for the front yards, and whatever there was of a back yard was halfway eaten up by semi-detached 3-car garages and a driveway that was barely long enough to fit most compact sedans, so zero space for a private pool. The brochure said “large lots”. Big fat lie. But also according to the brochure, the place was supposedly designed in a way that the residents would be more inspired to use the parks and community pools that frequented Liberty Park.

Those were his main gripes about the neigborhood.

Though it wasn't all bad. Since the yard was so small, there wasn't much to mow, and they did make the best of it by having a summer kitchen built on the rear terrace and installing a fire pit in what little they had of a back yard. And you could barely tell that it's a cookie cutter neighborhood. The neighbors across the street had the exact same floor plan (just a reversed footprint with few different options and amenities), except their house looked like something out of the Victorian era with light blue siding and a wrap-around porch, while the one Joe and his family lived in looked like a fusion between neo-Mediterranean and something out of the Spanish Renaissance, with the light earth-tone stucco and dark terracotta roofing tiles.

Joe stopped at the cluster mailbox to check the mail. Another interesting feature of the neighborhood. Normally, you'd have your own mailbox right outside at the curb, but in Liberty Park, these cluster boxes were placed strategically on the streets. Supposedly, it easier and more efficient for the mail carrier.

Then he realized he didn't have the key to their box. Drat. Oh well. He'll get the mail later.

A little farther down the street, he reached his humbled abode, Walking up the steps, he approached the door and took out his phone. He scanned his home screen for the Vivint app and work it's magic. With a couple taps of the screen, there was an audible 'click' of the deadbolt releasing, along with an elecrtonic beep and a green light. And so, like magic, the door was unlocked. Okay, not really magic, but home security and automation with smart phone apps that allow home owners to remotely lock and unlock their doors. Anyway, with that said and done, he entered his home, closing the door and locking it behind him.

* * *

It was a good time to live in Corneria City. Building was booming but you could still drive a couple miles to the nearest city park to have a picnic in the pastures. The air quality had improved in the past ten years, as had the unemployment and crime rates. Along South Haven Boulevard, a thoroughfare that connects downtown with a couple of fringe districts, the property values rose proportionately. It was the perfect place; not too far into the suburbs, where you'd have to drive through some long wildlife corridor, and not so close to where you'd have to deal with downtown Corneria City's constant traffic and lack of ample parking. There was an S-curve along the boulevard, that takes you up a small hill--lined with aged oak trees and a mixture of new and old homes, all of which we pristine and well kept—the points you back west towards Westin. The caution sign said to slow down to 25 mph for the curve, but Amanda usually just flies through it at nearly twice the suggested speed. Once you're out of the curve, you get hemmed in by the retaining walls of two gated neighborhoods on either side, chock full of multi-million dollar mini-mansions that were built about two years ago. A mile further, and she'd be at the turn off. Willow Ridge Road.

Merging into the right turning lane, she came to a stop at the intersection, waiting for the pedestrians to cross before she turned onto the road. Immediately, she had to jostle with other motorists to get into the correct lane, seeing as how it immediately merges from four to two lanes as soon as she turned. Along the road, it was definitely an older neighborhood, with older and more modest ranch style homes on either side of the street. She passed another entrance to that gated neighborhood with the started castles.

What's it called again...? Songbird? Windbird?

Windsong. That's what it's called. She'd read the name at the entrance when she passed it.

Pulling up to a stop sign, she checked traffic before easing across the intersection, and the scenery changed dramatically. She'd just entered Liberty Park, at one of the newer stages of the neighborhood, with houses in various stages of completion. Some sites were almost complete, where all they had to do was lay down the sod. Others weren't even houses yet, just concrete slabs with shipments of bricks and plywood on top just waiting to be assembled. A couple of houses were complete, occupied and already lived-in by their residents.

There had been an influx of new neighbors lately. Amanda wondered what interesting stories they brought to the community.

* * *

At 2:15 pm, the final bell at Liberty Park High school rang, prompting the students that it was time to go home for the day and do it all over again tomorrow. The hallways, breezeways and courtyard became aflood with students who'd had enough school for the day. A few went to their cars in the student parking lot, some got on their respective school buses, but most were residents of the Liberty Park, so they could just walk home.

Even though she didn't live too far from campus, she still didn't want to walk in the blazing heat today. She regrets not driving to school. On most days, she sees it as a pointless waste of gas, but it would have been better than getting baked by the sun on the walk home.

Then, she lucked out. Hearing a car sound the horn behind her, she turned around to see her mom's SUV pulling up next to her. She needed no invitation to hop in.

"How was school?" Amanda asked her daughter.

"It was okay," Kiersey said simply, more interested in finding her phone than talk to her mom. Not that she was upset or anything, she was just a teenager, interested in teenager things. And one of those things were her phone, which was her gateway to her social life.

By this time, they were already in one of the older phases of the neighborhood, where they lived. They reached their street which was a couple of blocks down. To Amanda's chagrin, she had to navigate around everyone and their mom's parked car. The Property Ownership Association had no ordinances against parking in the already narrow enough streets, but that was still not an excuse to park your full-sized SUV in on the damn street. Unless you were a guest, and/or if there were parallel spaces along the street--in which case, you'd be parking ALONG the street, not IN it--there was no reason why you shouldn't pull your Hummer, Escalate, or Denali XL around back and park it in your three-car garage.

After helming through the tight street around every full-size SUV known to man, she turned into the alley, a small one-way, one-lane street, to gain access to the garage. Pressing the HomeLink button on the sun visor as she got close, she inched up to the garage door as it rose, and pulled into the building completely once it was open, parking between Joe's black Dodge Challenger and Kiersey's blue Wolfsburg Edition VW Jetta. While Kiersey and Aaron went into the house, Amanda collected the leftover trash from when she and Aaron went to McDonald's and took it to the Waste Management trash bin, which was next to the driveway at the edge of the alley. Dumping the trash into the bin, she looked up and down the alley. Not really finding anything out of place, or even anything in particular, she followed her daughter and stepson into he house.

Welcome to the neighborhood!
Liberty Park · Roleplay