Eleanor - Chapter 3
By the time she got home the sun had
set and an early autumn chill had taken the air. A slight cold breeze had begun
to whip up around them blowing the few orange leaves that had already turned
and fell to the floor. Sebastian only lived a few doors down so dropped her at
her door like a true gentleman. She emptied her bag out on the table and
grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and stuffed a slice of pizza in her
mouth at the same time. A benefit of your mother working in an Italian
Switching on the TV she grabbed her sketch book. The tower rising from the rippled waters didn't look too bad apart for the big dark line going across the page, reaching for a rubber she gently tried to remove the mark.
Her hand stopped, in the ripple of the water at the base of the tower, in grey pencil standing on an outcrop of the bridge was a small stick figure wearing a snorkel. She didn't draw this, why would she have drawn such a silly little thing, totally not her style. Remembering that she had passed Sebastian her sketch book as they talked she cursed him under her breath, not literally of course, she actually did never swear.
She'd managed to get rid of the snorkeler and the offensive dark line, well pretty much anyway, the indentation of it still marked the page, and the page underneath. Deciding it would be pointless waiting up for her mum, Eleanor stomped down the hall, kicked off the converse and stared at herself in the mirror as she brushed her teeth. She'd used the electric tooth brush even through she'd begged him mum for it and rarely used it. Still in her jacket she removed it letting it land on the bathroom floor and took in her reflection. Overall she wasn’t too bothered with the way she looked but she did wish she had a fuller figure. She was slight, thin and wiry for her age, but then again she thought to herself show me a teenage girl who is totally happy with her body. She had a smudge of pencil on her cheek and the pencil lay behind her ear where she'd put it. In her bedroom she removed the pencil placing it on her bedside table, she took her phone and sent two messages.
Cudnt wait up was feeling tired see u in the morning, love u x and sent it to her mum
The second to Sebastian read
cant believe u drew in my sketch book! Good to see u txt me Tomoz. Night x
She put the phone on charge, flicked the light off and fell asleep within minutes.
Waking up, she could already feel the dream slipping away. She hated that feeling, the moment your eyes flickered open from a great dream, still feeling elated but not quite remembering why. Glimpses of colour, sights and sounds. She could remember sunshine and bright green flashes but even they drifted away the only remaining thought, the crooked grin. She been dreaming of that smile for at least a month now and was dying to see who it belonged to but she never got to see the face. She had a feeling it was a man’s smile, and it seemed a happy, safe smile nothing sinister. . She lay in her bed and stared at the ceiling. Looking around her room you wouldn't think she was a 16 year old girl. No posters of boy bands or movie stars on the walls. The walls of Eleanor's room held cinema ticket stubs from nights out, photos of her and her mother, by the sea, eating Chinese feed, decorating the front room. Sketches of the bridges crossing the river, pencils drawings of tourists and water colourings from where she's tried to capture the light bouncing off the water, she even had a few posters from the local art galleries with new collections.
Climbing out of bed, she pulled on her robe and stumbled bleary eyed into the small bathroom. She turned on the shower waiting for their old water heater to kick in. A couple of splutters of warm water and steam began rising from behind the small curtain and she stepped in. The hot water waking her up. A small laugh escaped her lips as she remembered where she'd promised to go with Sebastian later.
Hair dryer in one hand and mobile in the other she one handedly read her mother’s reply.
U were passed out wen I got home, see u when I get back from the pool I'm not working tonight. Chinese? Love u x
She smiled to herself that meant an evening in front of the TV with her mother and Chinese food. She sent a quick message to Sebastian telling him she'll be down in five, he'd arranged to meet her at ten by the coffee shop at the end of their road and it was already quarter past.
Giving up with the hair dryer, she twisted her hair up and slid her pencil through it. Converse on her feet and left her room grabbing her jacket and mobile off the side.
Sebastian sat at a table outside downing the cup as he saw her. He was reading the free paper they gave out on the bus. Three faces stared back at her from the front page. Two men, both with faces solemn and severe looking, one with bright blue eyes, the other mans were green. The third was a woman who didn't look too much friendlier with dark eyes and grey curls.
He looked up and saw her staring. 'I have to keep up on today's current affairs after all on Monday one of those three ugly mugs will be our next great and powerful prime minister' he took a swig from the dregs in his coffee cup.
'None for me' she mused bottom lip sticking out.
He handed her a cardboard cup, 'as if I'd forget it might be a bit cold though'
He smiled to himself he'd only been there ten minutes before she had knowing her tendency to be late. He threw the paper down onto the table and they walked to the end of the street to the bus stop. She made him sit on the top deck, she liked seeing into people's bedroom windows, guess what lay behind the net curtains and blinds. Glimpses of bad paint jobs, dead house plants and the always thrilling naked old man. They were well on their way there when he turned to her.
'Thanks for coming' and he smiled his full grin. His already white teeth seeming even brighter against his newly acquired tan.
'Don't worry about it you strumpet'
'Just call me a slag' he teased knowing she wouldn't swear
'You can't tease me you harlot'
'Jesus Ella who says harlot'
'I’ll have you know...' She cut off as a sudden crash stopped her before her witty come back the bus had just pulled up at the lights waiting for the green, a line of cyclist down the side.
Looking for the noise, Sebastian seemed confused
'What’s wrong’ he asked quizzically his eyes taking in her flushed face.
'That crash it sounded like glass'
'Must have been the traffic'
'No Sebastian I heard it'
Looking towards the back of the top deck, they were alone. She walked along the narrow isle between the seats, Sebastian followed. Glancing from side to side. Two seats before the back a small hole in the glass about the size of Eleanor's sketch pad was letting in a cool breeze which washed her cheeks. The bus pulled away heaving the two of them, Eleanor landed palms down on the seat. A small searing pain cut through her right palm. Lifting it up, a thin ribbon of red blood snaked down her wrist.
'Damn it' her sleeve soaking up her own blood. 'I love this shirt'
Sebastian didn't seem to notice he was staring at a small black pile on the floor under the seat.
'Ella, what's that?' Peeling her eyes away from the small piece of glass in her embedded in her palm she saw what he was pointing at.
It lay under the seat small, ruffled and inky black no bigger than a loaf of bread. Now on her knees she moved hesitantly to touch it but it moved, only slightly, but it moved.
'I think it's a bird' she whispered back to him.
The small creatures head jerked up as if she had called its name. Without turning to look at her the small thing raised itself up. It's glossy feathers, not just black, they rippled with hints if blues and greens. Like oil on a wet pavement.
'Should we help it' Sebastian murmured, he'd never really liked birds, all sharp beaks and beady dark eyes. His gran had two cockatoos which would dive bomb him on every visit and he detested the things.
She went to touch the creature again, this time it turned to look at her. She gasped in surprise and fell back onto her behind. The bird picked up a piece of crimson soaked glass in his beak. Glancing at the pair one last time, Sebastian saw what had shocked Eleanor. The bird didn't have the beady eyes he had expected, they were blue, round, human eyes. The bird managed to fly out of the hole it had created, soared across the road and came to purchase on top of a phone box starring at them as the bus rumbled on.