Rubber Soul

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

Chapter 23 (v.1) - Cooper

Submitted: August 02, 2016

Reads: 63

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Submitted: August 02, 2016

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Eleanora was singing a cover of “Yesterday”, by the Beatles, when her dad came downstairs.

I know that I, and this is just personal preference, would probably bring a loaded .44 Magnum with me if I suddenly heard someone playing my piano, but the guy, with his dad-bod, receding hairline, and 5 o’clock shadow, was unarmed.

I didn’t really see much of him as he walked over to the couch and sat down. He actually sat down like it was some kind of performance, which it was but honestly, he didn’t lock his door and, who knows, it could’ve been the ghost of Billy the Kid tickling the ivories. That’s not physically possible though; Billy didn’t play the piano.

But that’s what happened. Eleanora’s dad just watched as she finished off her arrangement of that wonderful 1965 single and didn’t say a peep before she had sung the final note—pretty damn well, I might add. And when she did, he didn’t really say anything either. They just sort of hugged for like ten minutes straight. It was real awkward for me, so I left the house to let them have some much-needed father-daughter time. It made me happy that she was happy, but it also made me sad. Emotions suck.

Bree, Toby, and Porter were all sitting on the front lawn when I got outside.

“How’d the reunion go?” Toby shouted as I jumped down the stairs.

“We heard Eleanora singing,” Bree said when I got closer. I sat down cross legged in the grass. I felt sort of empty.

“It went good,” I shrugged, “it was really emotional. They both cried.”

“Well, no duh,” Bree replied, “they haven’t seen each other in years.”

“Guess she doesn’t need us anymore,” Toby laughed. But nobody else really thought it was funny.

I got this really weird feeling in my stomach.

“What are we going to do now?” Porter said really smally.

I tried to shake off that ugly lonely feeling, “we’ll be fine. There’s a bunch of stuff we can do. We could, you know travel the world and stuff.”

“I guess,” Porter looked depressed. He was like me, flipped inside-out.

“We’ll make it through,” Bree vowed, “and Eleanora isn’t gone yet.”

“Good point,” I added, more for myself than anyone else.

“I’m really gonna be bummed when we leave,” Toby said, falling back onto the grass, “she’s cool for someone who’s alive.”

I banged my head on the grass, “yeah.”

We sat in the grass for fourteen hours. And it was fourteen hours before I saw Eleanora again. I slept through a few of the those long hours, but not enough. We didn’t really do much except talk about random stuff and watch as random people strolled by. Toby left a couple of times, but he always came back. I stayed put the entire time. You could say I was waiting, but I just really didn’t have anything better to do. Just like the good old days.

The morning came and went and there was no sign of Eleanora.

It’s just because she’s happy to see her dad, I told myself, she hasn’t forgotten you.

But by hour thirteen, my hope was slimming. The others were getting restless. Toby suggested going inside and talking to her but Porter quickly interrupted him, saying that that was an invasion of privacy. For once, I actually agreed with him. I didn’t want to, but I did.

Despite the prolonged delay, Eleanora did finally come through the front door of that house. And at the sound of the creak of it opening, all four of us jumped to our feet.

Eleanora, looking happier than ever, bounded down the front steps over to our little gang. Man, was I glad to see her.

She was wearing a woolen sweater and jeans, not appropriate for this sort of weather. I verbalized my concern, because I’m cool like that.

“Aren’t you cold?” I said. Her chattering teeth answered that for me.

“You guys can come in you know,” she replied, rubbing her arms rapidly.

“Good! I’ve been dying for a change of scenery for the past ten hours!” Toby complained loudly.

Eleanora’s face drooped, “you guys have been waiting out her all night?”

I don’t know why that hurt me so much. She made it sound like we had some reason not to sit around waiting for her for. Because, in truth, we didn’t.

“Yeah,” I said, trying to sound casual, “what did you think we were doing?”

Eleanora shrugged, “I figured you had taken a walk or something. I’m sorry I kept you all waiting.”

“No worries,” Bree gushed. I don’t know why everyone was so damn happy.

Eleanora led us all inside. Her dad was in the kitchen baking cookies, I think. That was the only thing I could smell, the chocolatey, buttery deliciousness of home baked flour-based desserts. By the look on Porter’s face, I think he just wanted to sit down and cry. I sort of did too.

Eleanora pranced, actually pranced, up the stairs and down a hallway, past a couple of doors and into the room at the very end. 
The only thing in the room was a bed. Other than that it was empty.

“This was my old room,” Eleanora beamed, twirling around with her arms spread out like a bird.

“Looks like the inside of Porter’s head,” Toby said, surveying the white walls and plain carpet.

“What does that mean?” Porter whined.

“It means you're stupid, fatty-cake.”

“That’s mean, Toby!”

“Ugh, you two are so annoying,” Bree said.

Eleanora sat down on the bed. I took a seat right next to her.

“So, how is it?” I didn’t really know how to ask; that was the best I could do.

“Great!” Eleanora exclaimed, she was literally radiating positivity, “my dad’s awesome, and he’s taking care of everything with my mom. You know, all that legal stuff.”

“So, you don’t have to go back?” Bree asked.

Eleanora shook her head, “nope. I’m totally free.”

Free. Eleanora was free. She could do whatever she wanted. She was happy now.

“Guess you don’t need us anymore,” it slipped out before I could catch myself. Jesus, I sounded so needy. This is so embarrassing.

Eleanora, unfortunately, didn’t freak out like I thought she would. She didn’t immediately start telling me that I was wrong and all the fluff like they do in romance movies. That’s sort of what I was hoping for.

“Yeah,” was all she said. Why do girls have to be so closed off all the time? It’s annoying.

“Yeah?” I repeated, “what’s that supposed to mean?” I hate to admit it but I was getting angry. I don’t know why I did. I really shouldn’t of. It was dumb, was dumb.

“Excuse me?” Eleanora did this blinking thing where she did like six blinks in like two seconds, “I thought you told me not to worry about you? And now you’re angry?”

I stood up and I ran my hands through my hair, “I’m sorry, Eleanora, I’m sorry. I’m just, I’m just blowing off steam, that’s all.”

Eleanora looked sympathetic, “it’s okay. should be sorry. I’ve just been so preoccupied with everything.”

“It was only fourteen hours, Coop,” Toby said from the window. He was moving his hand through the curtain like it was some sort of nervous tick.

“Yeah, I know, I know,” I don’t know what was wrong with me.

Eleanora stood up too, “we’ll just have to see what happens.”

“Ellie!” A voice called from downstairs.

“Coming, dad!” Eleanora turned to all of us, “feel free to check out the town. Don’t wait up for me.”

Porter, Bree and Toby left the room but I pulled Eleanora aside for a second.

“I didn’t get to tell you, but that ‘Yesterday’ cover,” I made a circle with my thumb and pointer finger, that thing that lots of Italian people do, “top of the line.”

Eleanora smiled, “thanks, Coop.”

I started to leave but I felt her hand swipe through my elbow. I turned back to her.

“For everything.”

* * * *

Over the next week, Eleanora became scarce. She had to go to a bunch of meetings about legal stuff having to do with custody and then, by day three, she started going to school. That took up most of her time. I waited for her everyday, sitting at the top of her front stairs. Sometimes, she didn’t get home until late, so I assumed that was a good thing. When she did get home, all I heard were positive stories about her day. She was making friends and, after only a few days, had managed to get a solo in chorus or something like that. I was proud of her. I was proud that she was happy again. But, at the same time, I was losing her. I was losing my Eleanor. And that killed me, which is hard to do; it’s hard to kill someone who’s already dead.

I’m sorry that I’m making time pass so quickly now, but you have to understand that this one week was boring. There’s not much to say about it, and if there was, I’m not so sure I want to say it. I don’t like remembering things like this. They make me sad.

Me, Toby, Bree and Porter did what Eleanora had suggested, taking strolls around the town, exploring the north eastern Nevada plains. But there wasn’t really all that much to explore. We were getting antsy. Bree, without anything to preoccupy herself, was getting distant again. After day eight, it was time to face facts.

We couldn’t stay here forever.

And not just because we were bored, but because Eleanora would age, and we wouldn’t. I don’t think I could watch that. And she didn’t need us anymore. Not in a mean way, but she just didn’t. I had to accept the truth, bite the bullet. It was time to face the fact that had been staring me in the face since day one;

I was dead, and Eleanora Howards was alive.

“I know this is hard Cooper,” Bree was saying, “but we need to go. The longer we wait, the harder it is going to be.”

I nodded miserably. We were all sitting in the front yard of Eleanora’s house. It was getting late and Eleanora had gone with one of her friends—Mindy, I think was her name—to see a movie. Bree brought the issue up to my attention, and once we went down that road, we couldn’t come back. The decision was all laid out for us, we just had to act on it.

Porter had fallen asleep in the grass a couple minutes ago. His portly head was resting peacefully on his sausage fingers. Toby was poking his stomach.

Toby,” Bree whispered sternly, “cut that out!”

Toby looked up and shrugged, unfazed, “it’s not like he’s gonna wake up. Fat people sleep like little babes. Right, Coop?”

I raised my eyebrow and nodded, “it’s the truth.”

Mindy’s car pulled up the driveway not long after. Eleanora was laughing when she got out of the car. It was one of those laughs where you just sort of open your mouth really wide but no sound comes out and you sort of feel like you're choking because you airwaves are all clogged up with happiness and glee. This was the first time since I’d known this girl that a dead person, directly or indirectly, wasn’t the reason for that type of laughter. I should’ve been jealous, but I wasn’t, if you really want to know. The anger inside me shriveled as I realized another truth.

We had done our job, Eleanora was happy.

And it was that simple.

Eleanora caught sight of the four of us, sitting in a mopey circle. Some blues music would’ve gone nicely. Her soundless laughter ceased as she said a distracted goodbye to her new friend. I stood up and walked over to her, everyone else stayed put. Eleanora was glued to the spot. Mindy’s car pulled down the driveway and disappeared.

It was dark enough now that nobody would see her talking to herself, but it was bright enough for me to see her face. Man, do I miss that face.

Eleanora just sort of stared at me for a little bit; she knew what was coming.

“Eleanora-”

“You’re leaving, aren’t you?”

“I think so.”

Eleanora dropped her head, “well, I knew this was going to happen sooner or later.” When she looked up, there was a single, very dramatically acclaimed tear rolling down her cheek.

“It’s not that we want to, it’s just that-”

“You have to.”’

“Yeah.”

Eleanora’s voice caught. She rubbed her eyes with a wooly glove, “why?”

I didn’t think I was going to have to explain so I was sort of shocked when she asked. I don’t know why I had thought this would be as easy. That just made it harder, “because we’re dead Eleanora. And you’re happy.”

“What, so being dead is the opposite of being happy?” I don’t know whether she was mad or sad or what.

I shrugged. Jesus, this was rough. “Sometimes. I’m not sad.”

“But you’re not happy.”

“Eh.”

Eleanora did a shaky scoff, throwing her head back and shouting up to the sky.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

She met my eyes again, “I thought maybe I could help you the way you helped me. Because, you’re right, I am happy. And I thought that I could repay you by helping you be happy.”

“You did make me happy!” I said, “and you don’t need to repay us anymore than you already have.”

“And how’s that?” she spit on the last word.

I sighed, “remember when we first left and you said you were running towards something?”

Eleanora nodded.

“Well, so were we. And we are still running, Eleanora, we will always be running.We’ve got no place to be so we just keep finding new places to go. And you’re the one who got us started. Goddamit, Eleanor I’ve been moping around that same damn town for fifty years. You’re the only reason why we left. As I told you that you shouldn’t be taking anything for granted, I was teaching myself the same thing. Because of you, four hopelessly depressed ghosts saw what it means to be free. And we’re taking it to heart. And we’re running. We’ve always had things to run from, but now we’ve got things to run to. And that’s why we can’t stay here with you, because, thanks of you, we’ve got places to go. And you, now you’ve got a reason to stay. You ran and found a place where you’re happy. Now, we’re off to do the same thing.”

Eleanora, whose head had been directed downwards during my entire impromptu speech, looked up. Her eyes were all red-rimmed, but she didn’t look nearly as sad.

“So I guess I shouldn’t keep you then, since you’ve got places to be,” she said, her voice cracked somewhere in there, I can’t remember the exact word.

“And you’ve got things to do,” I said, and I knew I was right, “can’t be talking to imaginary friends when the Beatles need reviving.”

Finally, I got her to crack a smile, “oh, yeah. I forgot I made that promise.”

“Well, it’s your responsibility to do my generation proud, live out your dreams, and get the Beatles back into the mainstream,” I announced triumphantly, “the fate of the Rubber Soul album is in your hands.”

“Your’s too,” Eleanora said.

“Technically, I can’t hold anything. It’d fall right through.”

Eleanora tilted her head and rolled her eyes, “I suppose you’re right. But forgetting a promise isn’t that easy. You still, even after you’re gone, can’t let yourself turn into Brodie.”

She was really direct with that; didn’t use no euphemisms or nothing. Big word, huh? You know you’re impressed.

“Whatever you say, m’lady,” I did a really dumb bow. But she chuckled a bit. Then we were quiet. I hate awkward silences. They’re my downfall. And they always break the mood you have going.

“Well, I guess I better go say goodbye, then,” Eleanora said.

But the others ended up coming to say goodbye to her. Toby had poked Porter hard enough to wake him up and was dragging him by the flabs of his fat over to us. Bree was right behind them.

Our goodbyes weren’t nearly as sappy as they should’ve been. Porter wasn’t awake enough to engage in a proper conversation and Bree made her farewell short. Toby even ended with a crumby insult. Eleanora, I’m pleased to say, shut him down without hesitation. I won’t tell you exactly what they said though; Toby would strangle me.

When it came down to me though, I felt myself slipping. This was the last time I would ever see Eleanora. And there was so much I had to say. As I stood there in front of her, I knew that this was my last chance; I couldn’t screw this up.

“Eleanora I-” My communication skills were junk. Eleanora was looking at me now, pleading me to say something worthwhile. But I couldn’t get it out. So, instead, I expressed myself in the only way a misunderstood sixteen year old from the sixties could do so; I turned to the Beatles.

“‘There are places I remember,’” I started to sing, “all my life though some had changed.” “In My Life”. That’s how I said goodbye. I wasn’t as good as when Eleanora has sung it back in Chicago, but I was in a tight second place with Bette Midler.

Eleanora laughed as I began dancing away. Then, despite the fact that we were in the middle of a populated community and it was only six, she started to sing too. Man, did she one-up me.

Go listen to the song, it was everything I had to say all packaged up nicely and tied with a little pink bow. Thanks Lenny, I owe you one.

And that’s where I’m going to leave it, with a song. One, because I’m lazy, two, because this way I’m marketing the Beatles, and three because that’s how it actually went. I skipped away from Elko Nevada singing that song, I skipped away from Eleanora singing that song.

Sorry if that’s not all that satisfying, but I have no regrets. That’s how it happened. It’s one of the first times ever that I felt like I had finally done something right. Sorry, but I’m the one writing the story, not you.

There’s not that much more to say. It’s been a couple of years and me, Toby, Bree and Porter have been traveling the world. It’s way cooler than the blue house in the big field, and we’re only getting started.

Death Valley was good, but there wasn’t nearly as much “death” as the name implied, which was a good thing; I had enough death for a lifetime. All there really was was a lot of sand and rocks.

We also fooled around in Hollywood and Warner Bros studio and stuff, especially on the movie sets. You never know, you could be sitting in one of those reclining movie seats watching Hugh Jackman juice up your screen and Toby could be right there in the back twerking his ass off and singing Miley Cyrus. But you’d never know, now would you?

California was fun, there were a ton of concerts with flashy lights and overbearing percussions. The last concert I had gone to was to see the Rolling Stones with Ben. He hadn’t really been a huge Beatles fan, but had a major man-crush on Mick Jagger. When we were sophomores, we had snuck downtown to a sketchy tattoo parlor and he had gotten that mouth logo tattooed on his bicep. Man, I wonder what it looks like now.

But the concerts nowadays are hardcore. I honestly had known almost none of the artists we went to see but it was still cool. A few of the times, when we did know the songs because they were on the radio twenty-four-seven and had been embedded into my brain through sheer repetition, we would snake through the crowd, up to the stage, and sing along with the famous person. It was wicked fun, made me feel like there were thousands of people cheering for me, which is a pretty good feeling.

It would be a lie to say I don’t miss Eleanora and that there hasn’t been a single day since I left that I haven’t thought about her. I try to, you know, watch the news whenever someone leaves their television on to see if she has gotten famous yet. A few weeks ago she performed on Good Morning America, I think that’s a good sign. I just hope she’s happy. Because I am.

Traveling around is a blast, and New York city is pretty cool. Granted, there’s no superheroes flying around Manhattan or anything, but the place overall ain’t tacky with it’s flashy lights and stuff. Some of the broadway shows are interesting. I think Eleanora would’ve been good at it.

New York is also, as we’ve found, a hot spot for ghosts. We’ve met a ton, just like us. I don’t know, maybe there’s just something about the Empire State that’s just really appealing to us. I don’t know, I like it.

If you were wondering, everyone else is good too. Bree smiles a lot more, which I guess is the only difference. Porter still whines and Toby’s still a perv. Especially in New York. That guy belongs in the sewer.

I still sing a lot of Beatles tunes, but I do sort of miss having the ability to listen to the original recordings at my disposal. Me and Bree sort of have this duo thing going. Since she knows most of the lyrics, we just randomly break out into song while we’re strolling through the city. Sometimes we reenact scenes we see in movies. I really like the happy Bree, I think Eleanora did her good.

I’m running out of things to say. And you’re probably just dying for this story to be over. I apologize for any bodily harm inflicted upon you during the reading of this story. I know it sucks, but look at the bright side, you made it through! And it—hopefully—didn’t kill you. So, therefore, you are stronger.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, I kept my promise. And we’ve been looking for Brodie, but it’s a big world, and none of us have the slightest idea where he could’ve gone. He could be in hell right now for all we knew. Man, he probably is. That bums me out.

Jesus, now I’m just depressing myself. I miss Eleanora. But at least I don’t regret anything. I got really lucky, too. Meeting that girl. Sure, maybe I saved her, but she saved me too if you really think about it. I’d probably still be MA right now, watching crappy movies and wallowing in self pity over the fact that I can’t change the TV channel. Instead, I’m in NYC, enjoying the colorful productions of the Broadway theatre and whatever other weird shit happens on the sidewalks; trust me, it’s a crazy city.

I have a curly haired girl to thank for that.

I may be dead, but I’ve never been more alive.

And it’s because I’m free now, and when you’re alive and barred behind something oppressive, keeping you from running loose, well, you’re as dead as I was before I met Eleanora. In a way, we were both dead before that night on the balcony. Because dead isn’t dead unless you think that you’re gone, that there’s nothing left for you. Dead isn’t buried in a hole in the ground or bits of sand stored in an urn on your Great Aunt’s mantel, it’s when you give up on life. And, I may be a ghost, but I’m still here. And I’m gonna make the most of it until my immortality runs dry.

Because, like John Lennon said, “reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”

Actually that has nothing to do with anything. I get off topic sometimes...


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