Rubber Soul

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 18 (v.1) - Eleanora

Submitted: August 02, 2016

Reads: 60

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Submitted: August 02, 2016

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I didn’t bother to forge a dismissal note or copy-cat my mother’s voice over the telephone for pickup, I just strolled out of Clifton High School with glue in my hair, and I didn’t look back.

For the first time in over four weeks, Cooper was not sitting on the bench outside the front lot to greet me, and I had to trudge home alone. It was deja-vu from when Diana had spilled her pasta sauce and scorched through my jeans. I would have to cut my hair to get all this glue out, no amount of shampoo would rid it completely. The sinking in my stomach, the emptiness of my heart. It was all too familiar. Like my life was a broken record; wow, Cooper’s musical influences had really had an impact on me.

But to hell with that boy. What he did was unthinkable, and he had promised he wasn’t like that, that he wasn’t like one of those scary ghosts in Paranormal Activity 4. But he had broken that promise, shattered it. Just like he had been trying to do to Diana’s skull.

Part of me wanted to believe she suffered from permanent brain damage. After everything she had done to me, she probably deserved it. But I couldn’t think like that, it made me seem like the bad person. Still, she had given me second degree burns on my calves and spread rumors that completely annihilated any inkling of my social standing. Taking in the circumstances, I settled with short term traumatic brain injury.

I got to my house around 2:30. I had taken the long way home, through the heart of the city, past the trees strung with mini Christmas lights. Thanksgiving had only been three weeks ago. I had spent it with Cooper, Bree, Toby and Porter, skipping stones at the nearby pond for a whole three and a half hours. I had come home to the blaring of the fire alarm only to find my mom had burnt a chicken breast in the oven. Not a turkey, a chicken, a single chicken breast, without a pan in the oven set at 500°, I might add. But that whole weekend was only a memory now, one I was beginning to wholly regret.

I walked past the Fidelity building and the man selling sunglasses during the brink of winter season. People were giving the glue in my hair some strange looks, but I ignored them; they could think whatever they wanted. It started to snow as I made my way past that Shell Station where Cooper had mocked that poor cashier with the tattoos. Terry Tuber, Cooper had called him. Another memory, another regret.

When I finally got to my house, my mom’s door was closed again. I took a shower and tried to scrub out some of the glue from the split ends of my hair. But after thirty minutes and two bottles of shampoo later, I knew it was no use. I had gotten a fair amount off of my scalp, now raw and red from the consistent scraping of my fingernails against the skin.

After doing a bit of research, I found a decent solution on Answers.com. Slathering my hair with conditioner, I twirled it into a towel and plopped the heavy mass on top of my head. I spent forty-five minutes letting the method works its magic. During those forty-five minutes, I worked on my own arrangement of “Yesterday”. Cooper hadn’t been lying when he had said it was the world’s most covered song of all time. It was even in the Guinness Book Of World Records, I found as I plucked through YouTube for inspiration. I wasn’t doing it because of Cooper, I was doing it because he had brought it up. It could’ve been anyone and I still would’ve thought of it. Or at least that was what I was telling myself.

Forty-five minutes later, I removed the towel from my conditioner-coated locks and found, to my dismay, that Answer.com had lied to me. My comb most definitely did not “silk-fully glide through the affected area”. The glue had become thick and clumpy at the hair extending past my chin. Whatever Diana had used, it was some hardcore stuff; and not meant to be removed easily. I tried a couple more things, including oil treatment and nail polish remover, all of which I spent the time in between finishing up my cover. Covers came really easy to me and took very little time. After you written a bunch of original songs, using someone else's and just making minor tweaks is easy as pie.

Want to know what isn’t easy as pie; getting glue out of your hair. Nothing worked; the globs of white were still just as gooey as before I had applied baby oil to the worst spots. I was getting down to the wire. There was no use in trying anymore; I’d have to cut it off.

I’m sure that’s what Diana had originally intended; first tear down my mentality, then my physical image. But, in reality, I didn’t care very much about my hair. It was brown and curly, like my mom’s, and any resemblance I shared with that woman I was fine with discarding. So, after watching a couple of videos on how to cut hair without looking like 2007 Britney Spears, I shuffled through the contents of my desk drawer, searching for a pair of scissors. For some reason, there were none. I hiked downstairs to the kitchen to ransack the junk drawer. Among the crumpled gum wrappers, sticky cough drops and broken-tipped pencils, there was no sign of a pair of scissors. That was odd, but I knew exactly who had taken them.

My mom was sitting in the front family room, that one room in the house that every family has but never uses. It was furnished very poorly, solely with an old wooden rocking chair and a bookcase with only a few reference books and a tiny ceramic bowl. My mom was seated in the rocking chair, swinging gently back and forth, her body swaying perpendicularly to the movement of the chair. She was just staring out the window, at the white flakes of snow defined against the darkening sky.

“Mom,” I said, trying not to startle her. She acknowledged me, but didn’t turn, “do you know where the scissors are?”

normal daughter would not assume her mother had simply snatched the only good pair of scissors in the house from the junk drawer and hidden them somewhere ridiculous, but that would only imply that the mother too was normal. My mother was anything but that.

She did it all the time, snatching up supplies like pens and, one time, even a pepper shaker and placing them somewhere completely irrelevant. I can’t tell you how many times I had found my flip-flops in the freezer or the television remote in the shower.

My mom spoke very softly, “in my room.”

“Where in your room?” I asked patiently.

My mom shrugged. I didn’t push; a general location was impressive enough.

“Thanks,” I said before heading back upstairs. I paused at the door to her room. I hadn’t been in there for a while, I was sort of worried what I would find. But as I swung open the door, I found nothing of immediate abnormality. The bed was neatly made with precisely angled pillows and skillful blanket folds. The brown curtains were drawn and the floor was clean. I was impressed she had maintained this level of cleanliness, considering she was crazy.

My eyes scanned the top of her bureau for the scissors. There were bottles of perfume and a couple of books, but nothing out of the ordinary. You would never expect her mental state based off her room.

I started checking her bureau drawers then, starting from the top left. Along that row, I found clothes in each. Socks, sweaters, jeans. And that’s all I found until...

Until I reached the third drawer down. Where, inside, I found paper. Peering in closer, and scooping up a handful of sheets, I realized it wasn’t just any old paper.

It was filled with letters, at least a hundred of them. And all of them, I quickly discovered, were addressed to the same person.

Me.

And the return address, scribbled in blue pen....I knew that address. Because I had lived there for eight years.

My hand’s shaking, I carefully peeled apart the glue of the envelope, revealing a piece of lined paper inside. The date at the top was very recent, like two months ago recent. I didn’t need to read any further than my name before I knew who the author was.

Because there’s only one person in the entire world who I let call me Ellie. And that person was still living at my old house in Nevada, in the same house as the return address.

I read the letter so fast, taking in every sentence, every word, my eyes darting. My heart was racing until I reached the last line, where it stopped completely.

My dad had signed his name with a smiley face. The majority of the letter was a basic update, random things that most families would discuss during dinner. He said nothing about my mom.

I threw the letter to the ground and picked up another, tearing the envelope opened fiercely. After that one, I opened another, then another. There were years worth of correspondence hidden away in this single drawer. And I had never known. My mother had never told me, after all these years, that my dad was trying to keep in touch. That he even remembered I was still alive. I had just assumed he had given up on me, that he figured it wasn’t worth going through my mother to get in contact. And after eight years and no response, he had never stopped trying. My mom had just never told me. She was keeping me away from him, after all this time.

It took me thirty minutes to read through all of those letters, and each one got me more emotional than the last. He asked about my music career and discussed his own. He had started a band, one letter claimed, and he had saved a spot for me; that got mentioned over and over again.

At least five times he had asked whether I was coming down for the holidays. Then, in the next chronological one, he acknowledged my absence or my seemingly cold shoulder he had most likely assumed I had turned his way. But he didn’t make it offensive, it was actually rather polite and.....understanding. Almost as if he had known my mom was keeping us apart.

My mom. In that moment, I forgot about the glue entangled in my hair, and the anger I had towards Cooper a few hours ago erupted into something more dangerous and volcanic than before.

He had been trying to talk to me, after all these years. And she, that woman, had kept me away from him, kept me chained down to her and her maternal delusions. I had been right all along. She wasn’t just crazy, she was psychotic.

I grabbed an envelope and marched down the stairs, my head and heart fit to burst. She was sitting in that comfy armchair in the living room, staring at the static tv; the snow piling up on the roof must’ve caused a problem with the signal. Or, my mother was sitting on the remote.

“Mom,” I said harshly, stepping into her field of view, “what the hell are all of these doing in the drawer of your bureau?” I shoved the limp form of the envelope out in front of her face, her dour, sunken face. I had never seen her show so much emotion as her eyes focused on the letter.

“Where did you find that?” I couldn’t read her; maybe because it had been so long since she had indicated any form of surprise or anger or anything; I had forgotten her mood-specific expressions..

“I just told you. Now why do you have them?!” I shouted at her, my hand clamping so tight around that paper that it started to crinkle and rip.

My mother’s eyes narrowed; I recognized that as anger. “Because.”

“Because?” I said, “Because you don’t want me to have anything to do with my own father.

“He is crazy,” she said.

“You’re crazy!” I screeched, “you’re nuts!”

“I am your mother,” she shot back at me, “you do not talk to me like that.”

“No, you are not my mother! You are totally unfit for raising a child! That’s why dad kicked you out, isn’t it?”

“You are my daughter!” my mom yelled, getting to her feet, “and you will do as I say, without question!”

She rose from the chair and marched into the kitchen, ignoring me once again. I turned my body towards her. “I tried to kill myself a couple weeks ago,” I said boldly, without shame.

My mom didn’t turn. She was concentrating on a kettle of boiling water. “What, dear?”

I repeated myself, “I tried to kill myself.”

“Well, you know what they say,” she replied, stirring the water in the kettle, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

That was it. The final straw. I was officially done.

I didn’t take a final look at my mother as I marched upstairs, and packed my bag. My baggage was limited and half of it had already been packed; a toothbrush, at least $400 dollars in cash, some sweatshirts, socks, my computer and a couple of other odds and ends. I was sure to leave my phone sitting on the lip of my desk; I didn’t need anything to remind me of what I was about to leave behind.

I took my coat from my closet and snatched $300 dollars more from the envelope hidden behind the DVD collection, leaving a few hundred. I didn’t say goodbye as I grabbed the keys off the counter and left the house, my mother barely noting my exit at all.

I don’t think she realized I wasn’t coming back. But even if she did, she didn’t say anything.

Night was in full swing as I ducked outside, as was the snow, speckling the air and thinly coating the grass. I looped around the driveway and hopped into the driver's seat, putting my bag underneath it, slamming the door behind me.

I wasn’t surprised to see someone had already called shotgun.

“I guess NECCO Wafers are officially inedibly gross since the terms of our original agreement have been broken,” Cooper said from the passenger seat. I wouldn’t say I had been expecting him, but his presence wasn’t unexpected.

“You broke your promise,” I said hollowly, not daring to look at him.

“Yeah? Why else would I be here?” Cooper replied.

“I’m just waiting for that apology,” I said bitterly

“Oh, I’ve already apologized. What I need to give you is an explanation.”

“Please stop with all the clever comebacks, Cooper, it’s not funny.”

“Who said I was trying to be funny?”

I rolled my eyes.

“Listen, Eleanora,” from the corner of my peripheral vision, I saw him jumble around in his seat for a second, “what I did was bad. Really bad. I never should’ve done it. I was just angry, and look, I know that’s no excuse for what happened, but it just did. And you want to know why? Because I care about you, Eleanora. Jesus, I care so much it’s actually bad for me. And that’s why I did it. Because watching people hurt you ticks me off and it ain’t gonna fly.”

I shuffled a bit. I knew he cared, he had never tried to hide it. But hearing him say it outloud, hearing anyone say it outloud, made something inside me, whatever was broken, repair itself.

“Sorry, Eleanor, but you’ve got to understand that when someone cares about you, there’s nothing you can do to stop them from caring. You can yell at me all you want but I’ve made enough mistakes in my lifetime to let you go again. And I’ve got nothing to lose, I’m dead, Eleanor, I’m dead and you’re not. And I’m intending on keeping it that why for as long as I can. And sure that makes things confusing at hell but it doesn’t matter. I care and that’s that. So there you are. There’s my heartfelt apology, and if that doesn’t satisfy you, then, as an added bonus, I swear I will never let it happen again.”

I was so glad it was dark. The blushing in my cheeks was unworldly. But I couldn’t let my guard down again this easy; I had to be better about who I trusted, and this was me starting.

“That’s what you said last time,” I tilted my head towards him.

He shrugged, “well, maybe we just need to rearrange the terms than.”

“What?”

“Maybe I should swear on something that matters.”

“Like what?”

Cooper leaned in close, like he was revealing the secret of the meaning of life, “I swear on the 1965 Rubber Soul album.”

I raised my eyebrows, “I’m afraid you have yet to expose me to that one. And I thought you said that the Beatles weren’t something to meddle with?”

“Oh, touché,” Cooper rocked back into the car seat, “that’s exactly why I chose it. If I break this promise to not become the spawn of Satan again, I will be bringing shame to the Fab Four, and that, Eleanor, is an unexcusable sin greater than the crime of manipulation itself.”

We were quiet.

“You had that all planned out didn’t you?” I smiled.

Cooper smiled back, “how’d I do?”

I laughed out loud. “Not half bad. At the very least,” I took a deep breath; it was possible I was making a huge mistake, “I have forgiven you.”

The relief was visibly plain on Cooper’s translucent face. The “whoop” that followed was a telltale sign as well. “Good, good! Now, we can focus on more pressing matters, like what the hell you are actually doing?”

It took me a moment to remember. After that moment, I was turning the key and starting the car.

“I’m running away,” I said plainly. I didn’t need to hide the fear, because there was none.

“Great! So are we!” Cooper exclaimed.

“Wait, what do you mean we-”

“BOO!” Toby’s sudden appearance as he lunged over the center console almost gave me whiplash.

“Can we come out now?” Porter’s hushed voice whispered from somewhere behind me.

Bree’s annoyed rebuke was cued, “Of course you can, did you not just hear Toby?”

I shifted around in my seat to find three ghosts squished into the back of my mother’s 2010 Honda Civic.

“Well that was adorable,” Bree said.

“I thought it was gross,” Toby sassed.

“Shut up, Toby, I did the best I could,” Cooper retaliated.

“Not much of a charmer are you?”

“You should talk, you-”

“What are you all doing here?” I interrupted.

“Didn’t Cooper tell you?” Toby said, “we’re running away!”

“Why? What are you running from?”

“What are you running from, Eleanora Howards?” Bree said, scrunching Porter’s already restricted space into a fixed minimum, “and we’re not running away from anything, we’re running towards something.”

“Yeah,” I put the car in drive, looking beyond the windshield, “well so am I.”

“Hey, woah, woah,” Cooper was startled, “I thought you couldn’t drive?”

“I can’t,” I said sternly, “but I’ve decided that I don’t care. Nobody gets pulled over anymore.” 

Cooper looked reluctant still, “Eleanor, are you sure about-”

“Oh, can it bud,” Toby piped up, “she’s fine! I used to drive without a license all the time.”

“Yeah, and look where that got you,” Bree scowled.

Cooper turned back to me, “do you even know where you’re going?”

“We can’t go anywhere!” Porter hollered, chewing his fingernails nervously, “we can’t wear our seat belts!”

As Toby began to viciously lecture Porter on car safety, I grabbed the envelope from my back pocket, showing Cooper the address scrawled in the top left corner, “I’m going home. To my dad.”

“Nevada!” Cooper yelped, glaring down at the piece of paper, “that’s across the country!”

“Well, then, let’s just hope there’s enough Beatles material to keep us entertained,” I slowly lowered my foot onto the gas pedal, “it’s going to be a long drive.”

“Well,” Cooper drawled out; the car inched forward, “I suppose I do need to have you listen to Rubber Soul before our promise can be made official. And car rides are a great place to-”

“STEP ON IT ELLE!” Bree yelled from out of the blue, “LET’S LEAVE THIS OLD LIFE IN THE DUST!”

I don’t think Cooper noticed the car jerk forward towards the end of my driveway; he was too appalled by Bree’s sudden outburst to fret over anything else. But, even if he wasn’t paying attention, the car did, in fact, rocket forward by the undeniable command of my foot. And as I told it to do so, relying on only the experience I had driving Gracie’s Mercedes around the Kmart parking lot, I did just as Bree had said.

I left my old life in the dust, and didn’t look back.


© Copyright 2017 Emerson Grey. All rights reserved.

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