Rubber Soul

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

Chapter 2 (v.1) - Eleanora

Submitted: August 02, 2016

Reads: 70

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Submitted: August 02, 2016

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It all started with the telephone company.

My mom thought it would be best for her eight year old to be carrying around a three hundred dollar phone while my dad thought that was a horrible idea. Then it moved on to the dining room table; either my father could sell a family-owned relic for a couple hundred bucks that he needed to replace the badly damaged water pipes in my bathroom, or my mother could keep that lousy piece of oak that had only been used on the annual “special occasion”, and leave me without a functioning toilet. Yes, the fights started with stupid petty things like grocery lists and electricians. But after a year, I could hear breaking glass and curse words through my bedroom door. I had been eight when they divorced. They thought it was for the better, but I, Eleanora Howards, begged to differ.

My mom, being my mom, fought as hard as she could for custody over me. And my dad, being my dad, did the same. In the end, because of some legal statements or something, I got stuck with my mother. After three months of lawyers and papers and trials, no one got what they wanted, except for my mom, but she doesn’t count. The hardest part was she didn’t even let me say goodbye. We moved out of Elko, Nevada, across the country to Massachusetts. We packed our bags the day after the legal papers were signed. It had become my mom’s life mission to keep me away from my father in every way she could. The distance between the Massachusetts border and Elko is, if you didn’t know, 2,581.4 miles, which is a lot. When you live that far away from someone, it’s hard to keep a steady relationship if one at all.

I, obviously had no say in any of it; where I went, who I went with. And, as far as I could tell, neither did my dad. My mom seemed to shut him down with whatever she could throw at him to make sure he never got custody of me. Which he never did. I hadn’t seen him for years. He had been the stereotypical awesome dad, one who builds you treehouses and makes you pancakes in your initials for breakfast. We even had this awesome handshake he had made up when I was two. I could probably still do it in my sleep.

My mom on the other hand, is the complete opposite. I guess maybe she used to be awesome, like before I was born, but I know for a fact that awesome wouldn’t be the word I would use to describe her now. When I was younger, she would micromanage my life. I had ended up getting that three hundred dollar phone after the split and she would constantly text and call me. Most people would tell me that it was just because she cares and wants to make sure I’m okay. But that’s not the case here. In almost every sense of the word, my mother is crazy.

She’s not abusive or anything, but she’s crazy. She talks to herself almost 24/7 and nowadays, I’ve realized that she basically ignores me. It’s better than being told what to do all the time but it’s still sort of weird. She doesn’t do drugs, at least not that I know of, but there’s definitely something off. Every time I bring it up, she’ll snap at me the way she always does. Maybe the divorce hit her hard or something. I guess I’ll never know.

I, if I could chose, would have stayed with my dad, but I couldn’t then and I can’t now. My mom’s got a tight grip on the noose she tied around my neck.

Was that a good sentence? I mean like a figure of speech? Like a metaphor? I’m trying out this whole new writing thing and I can’t tell if it’s working or not. I have been meaning to write all this down for a few years but I just never got the chance, everything just got so busy. But if you are looking for a story to read—a story, not some deep, religiously-influenced, meaningful tale—then have I got something for you. Maybe you won’t like it, and that’s okay. But please, just give me a chance. This is all really new to me. But I figured I should at least give it a shot.

I just typed “once upon a time” but then I realized that just sounded really fairytale-ish. And what I’m about to tell you is anything but fairytale-ish. It’s just not. There’s no dragons, no princess, no prince, no king, no frog, no treasure. This is real life. This is the real thing. I also just typed a swear but I don’t know how old you are so I am not going to swear. That and I am not a fan of swearing, it just makes me feel like a bad person.

I’ll start my story off instead on a Wednesday morning in early November.

I was awoken by the blare of my morning alarm, cutting short my dream of giant man eating starbursts. On reflex, my hand shot out from under my blankets and slammed down on my clock. The infernal beeping stopped but I didn’t move. I tried to push away the tired from my eyes, but it hard when there isn’t really any reason for getting up. Slowly but surely, I somewhat sat up. I looked out the window across my room. The sun was still hidden, and it was pitch black outside. I pulled the string on my lamp and light shot into my eyes. The pain cut deep and I squinted to reduce it.

My room was pretty simple. My mom, not surprisingly, hadn’t let me paint the walls so they were still a boring shade of white. Everything was totally mismatched. I had a wooden dresser, a white bookcase, a green bedspread and a pair of purple pillows. My guitar, keyboard, and microphone were all crowded in the corner next to the window along with tangled electrical cords that snaked around the floor. Basically, I was living like a very colorblind hobo whose drunken aunt bought all of their furniture. But I didn’t mind, nor did I care.

I stretched my arms above my head and wiped the tears from my eyes. I had my outfit already laid out on my world’s-most-uncomfortable blue desk chair. I jumped to the floor and threw on my clothes; a pair of intentionally ripped jeans and a sky-blue blouse. I had gotten it from my grandmother, the blouse, I mean, for my birthday a few years ago. She was my dad’s mom. She’s dead now.

I took ten minutes in the bathroom. Painting on some mascara and dabbing blotches of foundation onto my painfully-ugly adolescent acne before brushing my teeth, I tried to keep a straight head. I’m always really down in the morning; it’s not like I have that much to look forward to.

When I got downstairs, I headed straight to the kitchen. My mom hadn’t gotten up yet. I knew because the coffee maker wasn’t turned on yet. That woman loved her coffee.

My phone was charging on the counter. I had gotten an upgrade since my last flip phone, but not until I had taken the initiative and called the phone company about it. I’m still pretty sure my mom doesn’t really know about it. And if she does, she hasn’t ever said anything.

The light of the screen lit up the darkness of the kitchen. A message notification displayed itself on my unlock screen.

Mall? It was from my friend Gracie. My only friend, basically. I sighed, that girl is always shopping. My wallet, on the other hand, isn’t being constantly restocked by “Bubba John’s Evening Grub”, her dad’s “county-known” food truck—I’ve tried the food and trust me, how they make any money at all was a mystery. But they’re actually really popular, which funds the manager’s daughter’s weekly shopping sprees, along with degrading my hope in the human races’ culinary speculation.

But of course, I had nothing else to do to pass the time after school, and if wandering around and watching Gracie buy stuff that I couldn’t afford was my only option, I just had to roll with the punches. At least then I wouldn’t be stuck at home with my mom. That has never ended well.

I packed my backpack, made my lunch, did my hair, and ate breakfast in the time span of seventeen minutes. I had gotten really good at taking care of myself over the past few years, and I could make a pretty mean peanut-butter and grape-jelly sandwich. Also cereal. Cereal had become my saving grace; I literally lived off that stuff.

The bus came at 6:55, so after nabbing a second cookie from the pantry, I headed out to wait. It was freezing outside, air nipping at the tips of my exposed ears. My coat, I’m pretty sure, did absolutely nothing to warm me up, just added another layer to make me look fatter. Our front lawn was sprinkled with leaves, leaves of orange and red and yellow. But I didn’t see any beauty in it. It was actually just all brown. All ugly. Like the rest of the world.

The bus was the worst shade of brown, tinged with specks of humility and vain mockery. I hated the bus. The whole idea of it. Its aisle left you completely unprotected from all the horrors of High School drama and cruelness of adolescents. But the school was too far away to walk, and there was no getting my mom up. I wasn’t in the mood for that.

I climbed up those tiny stairs and nodded at the bus driver, who smiled widely back. She always made me sad though. I just couldn’t help but think about how she must of had dreams, must have had goals. But here she was, driving grubby little teenagers to school at 6:55 in the morning; not the noblest of professions, at least in this part of the world. Despite the sympathy I gave the lady, I never learned her name.

I turned into the aisle and witnessed teenage boys in their natural habitat. People were throwing papers, shoving each other and shouting with the vocabulary of the rainbow. Amidst the chaos though, I was glad no one noticed me as I shimmied down and took the third seat on the right.

The rest of the ride was exactly the same. No one sat with me nor talked to me, which was awesome; I really don’t enjoy holding conversations before 8 A.M., especially with people who I have no interest in being acquainted with. Leaning against the frigid glass of the window, I watched my cloudy breath fog up the surface, repeatedly scripting my name across it before wiping it away with my sleeve. I was so tired.

The bus arrived at the school at 7:11, only twenty minutes before the bell rang. I hated the school more than I hated the bus, hated it with everything I had, with the fire of a furious storm. Scratch that, with the fire of a thousand suns (that’s better). I hated the walls, the homework, the bathrooms, the teachers, the students. Everything. The only good thing about it was that my mother’s presence was in short supply; I didn’t have to deal with her here.

But I had plenty of other things to deal with as a result.

And, in an attempt to avoid those things, I kept my hood up, as I trudged up to the front doors of Clifton High School, my personal version of the deepest reaches of hell.

My “friend” group always met at the intersection of the science and math hallways. The group consisted of six individuals, excluding me, and, on occasion, eleven, if you counted the boyfriends. But I don’t. Those guys are all dinks. But then again, so are the others. Somehow, I had been adopted by the clique a few years ago. They basically ruled the school, made up of the makeup-faced stereotypical cheerleaders that put designer mascara on the top of their priority list. I didn’t fit in, but they were the only group that gave me a passing glance. Apparently I was “popular girl” material. I disagree, but I needed friends at the time. It’s complicated.

I wandered over to them after fishing out my books for first period from my locker. Gracie gave me a subtle smirk and a nod. Gracie’s face was narrow and pale, her eyebrows were, what most would say, “on fleek”. I think that she just spends too much money and time on her facial hair. Her actual auburn hair was always tied up in an effortlessly perfect ponytail. That’s what I mean about the skewed priorities.

No one else really acknowledged me. It wasn’t because I was me, which is normally the source of all my problems, but they all just had this silent, freaky form of communication that I have yet to fully understand. I didn’t really like any of them, and I’m not so sure any of them really liked me either; it was a steadily mutual relationship that I was totally fine with. Almost preferred.

Today, there were eight of us, Diana Newton’s boyfriend included. Diana Newton, don’t even get me started.

Diana was one of the sluttiest girls I knew. Despite the weather, her breasts were basically falling out of her ridiculously low-cut tank top, like always, and her jeans were skin-tight and ripped far beyond repair. Makeup caked on, she had the appearance of a transgender drag-queen. I’m not exaggerating. She was someone who I knew didn’t like me. Consequently, I didn’t try to hide my own antipathy towards her entire being. Being at the top of the food chain makes you a predator, a nasty carnivore, and in High School, multiply that viciousness by four thousand million and you’ve got Diana Newton.

“Hey Eleanora,” she called over, her sweet little, seductive laugh clawing at eardrums.

“Good morning, Diana,” I replied, trying to limit the rancor that accompanied my words. Just a tad, though.

Diana smirked evilly, “the same to you.” She didn’t say anything else to me directly, but I saw from the corner of my eye as she whispered something into Aaron Nellson’s ear.

Gracie gave me a side glance, she was obviously catching on.

“Did you guys understand the math homework?” Alexis Larson asked. She was this skinny little thing with long blonde hair waterfalling down to her hips and bright red lipstick always painted daintily on her lips. I guess she wasn’t all that bad. At least she didn’t verbalize her dislike of me like some of the others did.

“Who does math homework?” Diana cooed, “only nerds do homework, Alexis.” Despite the venom in the comment, Alexis barely flinched. Diana was really good at putting people down, but Alexis was one of the only people I knew who could take a hit. But I still really hated it when Diana was rude to her, or anyone for that matter. But I kept my cool. It was dangerous to lash out in these types of situations; Diana Newton was dangerous. I had to keep my head.

But she was making it very difficult.

“Oh, hey! Speaking of nerds, look who it is!” Diana called out, gesturing lazily to someone coming our way.

Levi Mendoza was sulking down the hallway past us, a slow motion blur of black and ear-gauges. As much as I despised over-sized body piercings, I had never felt so bad for anyone in my entire life. Levi had it rough, he had no friends. At least I had fake ones, Levi had nobody. He had peed himself in sixth grade after getting spooked at one of the middle school Halloween bashes. Nobody had ever let him live it down.

“Levi! How are you, my friend?” She said sweetly as he got closer. Aaron snickered, as did a few other members of the group. Levi kept his face calm, controlled. Goodness, I would kill for composure like that. “I heard that you joined the engineering club!”

Levi turned a deep magenta. Levi didn’t do anything, he had no interests, no hobbies, or at least none that weren’t creepily droopy. But he had told me personally about his enthusiasm for engineering. Not like I knew him personally, he had just mentioned it one time.

Me gusta la ingeniería,” he had said one time in Spanish class. To be honest, the only form of communication we’ve had together is in Español, and half the time I have no idea what anyone in that class is saying. The only reason this particular point stuck with me was because of the unnatural gleam that glistened in Levi’s eyes as he talked about it. That only happens when you’re really excited about something. And for Levi Mendoza, that was like a beached whale in the middle of the Sahara. A depressed goth with a passion for engineering, how much more interesting could you get?

And now, Diana was ridiculing and degrading the only thing that meant anything to him. Poke fun at his dangly ear wear or his ridiculous leather trench coat and you would get a mild evil glance in your direction at the most. But making fun of something that mattered to someone, that was crossing an entirely different line.

“That’s so great,” she continued. Levi was beet red. Everybody else was laughing. It was dehumanizing. “You want to be an engineer, then?”

Levi didn’t reply directly; but the way his eyes shifted to the floor said enough.

Diana gasped in phony surprise, “who would’ve thought! I heard that that requires a lot of studying up. Are you sure you have the brain capacity for that? I’m sorry to say, but I don’t know if you’re smart enough, Lev.” Levi looked like he wanted to die. I’m pretty sure he probably did. I, on the other hand, needed life to slap Diana across the face. “Again, I don’t know why all of you dorks spend so much time on school. I find those types of things very distracting. I for one don’t spend my free time chasing down dreams that are too far out of reach.”

I was totally done with this girl. The walls I had built to contain my anger crumbled. “Well, obviously judging by your grades you don’t. And we all know you spend most of that 'free time’ shoving your tongue down Aaron’s throat,” I snapped. She immediately stopped laughing. No one else took any notice; they all figured it was friendly banter. It was far from.

Levi was staring at me; no one ever had ever stood up for him. Especially against Diana. And for split second she was totally speechless, and I thought I had her beat. But it take more than one stomp to kill a cockroach.

“You should know,” she hissed before spatting out the last word, “stalker.” I tried not to let her see how much that comment stung. Four years ago, someone spread a rumor about me, claiming I was a full-fled, stalking, predatory psycho bitch. How that conclusion was made, I have no idea, but the gossip spread like wildfire, and I was marked as the Creeper of Clifton High School. That’s why I was taken in by the arms of the peachy group of people standing around me; the story brought me into the spotlight, got me noticed for the first time since I had moved here. And that’s when—when I had finally found a name for myself under the category “psychotic freaks”—Diana branched out and took me under her loving wings; although I’m still 99.9% it was the mistress herself who started the rumor in the first place.

So, just like any other teenage girl whose dwindling dignity was being threatened, I rebutted, “trust me, Diana, if I was a stalker, you sure wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of my stalkee list. I have absolutely no intentions of watching you undress. Oh, wait,” I scanned her revealing top and thinning jeans disapprovingly, “I see we’ve already crossed that bridge.”

The circle went silent for a moment. Diana narrowed her eyes, “wow, that’s a mouthful coming from you. I’ve barely ever heard you speak more than two words. Why so chatty today, Howards?”

I felt Gracie’s hand brush against mine as I dangerously advanced towards her. But this wasn’t Gracie’s fight; I had had a grudge against Diana Newton for a long time. Aaron’s fat eyes grew wider, his arm quaking to retreat from its position draped around his girlfriend’s neck. I got right up in her face, ignoring the stares from the rest of the group.

“You have no right to talk to people like this. You’re rude and cocky and I’m sick and tired of you being so full of yourself,” it wasn’t my best comeback, or even in the top fifty, but I was so angry at that point that the only other words I could’ve uttered in that moment in time would have been more expletives. And Alana Ramsey, another member of the clique, was a dedicated Christian.

Diana pulled her lips back and flashed one of her pompous, all-knowing smiles just as the bell rang, “I’ll see you at lunch, Eleanora.”

Diana and Aaron pushed past me, Aaron cursing my name as they did. “I’ll be counting down the minutes,” I whispered to myself. God, I hate this place.

I had totally forgotten Levi was still standing there, mouth wide open. The shock on his face made me really sad. He seemed to be trying to say ‘thank you’, but he really just didn’t know how to react. Neither did I. It was sort of awkward. So I went with my instinct.

De nada.

Gracie grabbed my arm and began dragging me away from a furtherly confused Levi down the hall, Alexis, surprisingly in tow.

“What was that about?” Gracie demanded through clenched teeth. Her grip around my wrist was becoming unnecessarily tight.

I shook it off, “Diana is getting on my nerves. I’m done with her.”

“She said one thing, Elle,” Gracie said.

“Yeah, please don’t ever do that again, I’m not in any place to make enemies, and, as far as I can tell, neither are you,” Alexis added. I spun around, temporarily halting the traffic in the gridlocked hallway. “What? I didn’t stand up for you. Did you not hear what she was saying to Levi? She has-”

Gracie continued to pull me forward.

“Sure, she was being a bitch, but that’s Diana for you,” Alexis responded, as we made our way towards the chemistry room.

“Why do you put up with it?” I have never understood in the four years I had been semi-acquainted with the group, how anyone could simply stand around and listen to Diana jab and poke and prod everyone to their breaking points. It was just stupid. High school is just so messed up.

“Because she’s Diana Newton,” Gracie put in snobbily, “and anybody who wants to be anybody has to make becoming friends with her their first step to popularity.”

Gracie was somewhat obsessed with the whole “popularity” scandal. I knew that she didn’t personally enjoy Diana’s company, but apparently she just dealt with it because it got her social standing. As for me, the only reason I did it was because Diana and her posse were the only people in the whole school who didn’t watch me like I was on the verge of chopping off the heads of everyone around me within a nine mile radius. I still don’t understand why.

We finally reached the chemistry room and took our seats at the back of the class. Martin Hobbs and Chanel Burke were back there as well. In the mean girls clique—I’m going to just call it that because it is the legitimate only name for it—you claimed your territory at the back of the classroom whenever you could. It was one of those “we-are-better-than-you-so-we-can-sit-wherever-we-want” sort of gestures. They seemed to take advantage of those whenever they could.

I sat down, but didn’t feel the chair as it slide out from under me. My butt hit the floor so hard I almost cried out. The pain flamed up my back.

“Oh, oops, sorry Eleanora,” a sarcastically vile voice said from behind me. I scampered up to my feet. Martin, who was seated directly behind me, had his hand clamped around the back of my chair; a few feet away from where it was supposed to be.

I ripped the crappy piece of plastic seating from his grasp and pulled it underneath me. I hated Martin so much. Not as much as Diana, but the two were neck in neck on the jerk scale.

“I heard you pounded Diana this morning,” he pressed, that kinky arrogance smothered all over his each and every syllable. Alexis and Gracie were seated around me, but they didn’t say a word. It wasn’t that they were afraid of him, he was actually just really hot. Like really really hot. Even I, who hated his guts couldn’t deny it. But he was also a player. A typical testosterone-driven seventeen year old who had the common sense of a dead squirrel.

“I heard you did too a few nights ago,” I shot back.

He smirked. Jesus, his teeth were so white. “Man, Elle, you’re really pissy today aren’t you?”

I didn’t snap back this time; I really wasn’t in the mood. I was actually never like this, so mean and witty. I just wasn’t having a great day. Everything was so dark, so sad, like this haunting shadow in the back of my mind, like a ghost.

The door swung open and Mr. Marsh walked into the classroom and the hurried whispers and flying papers ceased. The guy always stood up really bone straight, which only made his beard look that much longer. In his left hand, he carried a black suitcase that was rumored to carry the ashes of problem students; Mr. Marsh was the meanest teacher in the school and had earned himself a stellar reputation in being so. He was like the Severus Snape of Clifton High.

The class began and Martin finally shut up as Mr.Marsh stuffed us all chalkfull of information regarding the structure of the atom. He didn’t talk to me for the rest of the period, and neither did anyone else. The whole day went on like that, keeping my head down and my face hidden. How I had stood up to Diana had made its way into everyone’s conversations; even the group of goth kids who always huddled around the water fountain in the language hall were whispering about it. Standing up to Diana Newton was a big deal, whether I thought so or not. Personally, I thought it was dumb. I had barely said four words to the girl, and now the whole school was practically forming a social revolution around me. Or at least that’s what it felt like.

Lunch was quiet, thank god. I wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone at all. There was just this big, dark, stormy cloud raining down on me. I couldn’t explain it if I tried. I sat with the group, Diana flipping her hair and making rancor jokes that weren’t funny at all despite the onslaught of laughter that followed every meaningless, bland punchline. Even though I was sitting with them, chomping away at my homemade PB and J, I felt completely, utterly, and miserably alone. Not even Gracie could talk me out of it. Not that she, or anyone, ever could. Probably because no one knew.

After algebra, the last period of the day, I met Gracie outside in the parking lot.

“Ready to shop till we drop!” She exclaimed as I neared her bright blue Mercedes. That was the motto she pledged by.

I gave her a weak smile before scrambling into the passenger seat. I was sixteen and six months and I still didn’t have my permit. Driver’s ed had never really appealed to me; I didn’t have the determination to get my liscense. Plus, my mom wasn’t going to pay for it and I was unemployed, but riding around in Gracie’s luxurious 2014 C-Class Sedan Mercedes-Benz to the mall every Tuesday afternoon wasn’t a bad gig.

“How much money did you bring?” Gracie asked, shuffling through her purse.

“Uh,” I hadn’t brought much money at all. Stuffed in my wallet was two fives and a coupon to Joe’s All American Grill, which I’m pretty sure was expired.

“Bubba John’s catered a wedding last weekend. Got a pretty nice tip on my allowance,” Gracie pulled out a fan of money and flapped it around a bit. I know for a fact that Gracie’s “allowance” was basically her salary for existing. She probably didn’t even know how to plug in a vacuum.

“Nice,” I fakely drawled; I legitimately didn’t care.

Gracie stuffed the cash clumsily back into her purse, laying it down in between her legs. She looked at me sympathetically, “I know you don’t like Diana—don’t even try to deny it—and that you were just trying to stand up for Alexis, but you didn’t have to be so mean about it this morning.”

I tried my best to keep from scoffing. I was not the one who had been a self-loving little tramp, but I wasn’t going to break the news to Gracie. Until now, seeing the passion in her eyes, I hadn’t realized how much that she worshipped the girl. How Gracie basically kissed the ground she walked upon, glorifying her, attending to her every whim.

It was disgusting.

“Yeah,” I rested my head against the cool tempered glass of the car window. Against my cheek, I felt as Gracie put the car in gear and began to pull out of the lot, the gushy skin began to vibrate. It sort of hurt, but I didn’t bother to move it.

Outside, people were still filing out of the school, carrying backpacks slowly crippling their spines and books cradled in their arms. And looking at it all, I couldn’t help but feel sad.


© Copyright 2017 Emerson Grey. All rights reserved.

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