Rubber Soul

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

Chapter 9 (v.1) - Cooper

Submitted: August 02, 2016

Reads: 75

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 02, 2016

A A A

A A A

I had never been happier in my entire death.

My ten-mile hike back to the blue house in the big field felt like mere moments in my folly.

Eleanora could see me. Eleanora could hear me.

Eleanora could talk to me. Actually talk to me. I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t possible.

But some weird, celestial force had made it happen. Had made my wish come true. I could talk to the curly haired girl. And, even better, I had just saved her from the biggest mistake of her life.

needed her to meet Bree. If anyone could talk her out of it, it would be Bree. Bree had made me feel better about death, maybe she could make Eleanora feel better about life.

I guessed I would have to wait until tomorrow to find out.

I didn’t know what I was going to say to the others as I floated up the stairs of the blue house. Hundreds of different, clever ways to start up the conference. But by the time I got to the attic, I had forgotten all of them.

Everyone was sitting at the dining room table, looking stressed. Toby jumped to his feet when I entered.

“Where the hell have you been!?” Toby yelled at me. He was actually concerned. This was new.

“Coop, you had us so worried,” Porter looked like a chipmunk, his hands fisted up near his pudgy chin, “we thought you had gone Brodie”.

I was taken aback, “jeez, of course not. Why would you-”

“Cooper, you’ve been gone for hours,” Bree added, she remained seated, appearing only mildly concerned, “we didn’t know what had happened. Porter’s wonderful imagination was freaking us out.”

“I had thought you got mad cause you couldn’t find that girl,” Toby said, still standing.

I replied, “I did find her.”

“The pretty girl from the mall?” Bree asked indifferently.

I nodded.

“Oh, so you’ve just been stalking her for the past eight hours,” Toby sounded sort of angry, like he didn’t believe me.

I couldn’t think of a way to break the news dramatically; so much for all the preparation, “she could see me.”

From the face expressions of the others, I hadn’t needed any climatic emphasis. The notion was fascinating enough.

What?”

“She could see me and hear me, like I was really there.”

Bree, for once, was actually somewhat intrigued, as much as Bree could be. Porter looked really scared, like I had just announced the apocalypse. Toby seemed confused.

“That’s not possible.”

I shrugged, “I thought the same thing. But, I swear, we had a conversation and everything.”

“Dude, we’re dead, we can’t do hallucinogens.”

“I’m not high! I’m serious, I wouldn’t joke about this. She could see me.”

“Did she just suddenly see someone following her around out of the blue?” Porter didn’t sound doubtful, just curious; and really worried, “Or could everybody see you. Because if everyone can see us then that’s really bad.

“Well, I checked and she’s the only one that I know of who can see us. And well, no, it wasn’t random,” I didn’t really know how to put it, “she had, um, been trying to kill herself and I, well, told her not to.”

Bree’s head shot up, “what?”

“Yeah,” I scratched the back of my neck, “well, I figured maybe you could talk to her about that. She seems, uh a little bit-”

“Depressed,” Bree said. I nodded. It had been pretty damn obvious.

“Oh, and, speaking of that, you guys are going to meet her tomorrow,” I was waiting for the adamant “no’s” and headstrong arguments. But they didn’t come. Porter whined a bit and Toby still said he didn’t believe me, but other than that they all seemed okay with the idea.

Bree, for the first time since I had met her fifty years ago, seemed anxious.The only reason I knew was because she kept grilling me with questions; none of which I will disclose because they were all really boring and 99.9% of my answers were “um”. But she did seem more than just a little interested, especially for Brianna Sterling.

I couldn’t sleep again. Not that I needed to. Ghosts don’t have to sleep, but it splits up the days that, otherwise, would all just mush together. Death was long enough as is; sleeping serves as the only thing that still makes us feel, well, alive. And when you’re alive, it makes you feel dead. Sleep is basically the closest thing you can be to death without actually dying. Weird, isn’t it?

I’m going to skip all the petty details of my morning, like how it took me five hours to think of a place where we could all meet up without making Eleanora look like a head case. I know asylums aren’t a thing anymore, but I still figured conversing with a bunch of imaginary people would give her a bad rep. The last thing I wanted was to make her life more miserable.

Either way, around noon, I trekked across town to Clifton High School. I got there around 1. I could’ve been there earlier, but I walked freakishly slow. School didn’t end until 2:30 anyway. 

I just sat at a bench in front of the school. Aimlessly watching the cars streak by, listening to sound pollution mingled with the songs of the birds. I wished I had a radio. People don’t listen to music anymore, or at least not out loud. Everyone uses those damnable ear plugs. Makes my life a hell of a lot harder. Back in the 80s, people would have their boom boxes out on their porches. I could listen to tunes all day long. Now, I barely hear anyone jamming out in public, it’s all so reserved and stuff. That was never what it was about when I was around.

I got really bummed out all of a sudden. I hadn’t heard a Fab Four song for over thirty years. By Fab Four, I mean John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. If you didn’t know, the Beatles were, and will always be, my favorite band. They were so great, I had so many John Lennon posters on my wall at home you wouldn’t believe it. I remember hearing about his murder. Cried for weeks. Last time I heard Paul and Ringo are still alive, but it's real hard to keep up with things. Either way I’d do anything to hear “Twist and Shout” one more time.

I actually sang “Nowhere Man” at the top of my lungs to pass the time. I had forgotten a couple of the lyrics but other than that I thought I remembered the rhythm and stuff pretty well. That’s how timeless the Beatles are. I haven’t heard that song for forty years and I still can recite the words on command. It was a short song; there wasn’t much to remember.

For the next hour and a half, I belted out as many Beatles songs as I could. I actually didn’t get a chance to tell you, but I did that a lot. I still do it. Spend an hour or two just serenading myself. It’s really entertaining. But I don’t recommend it if people are around, the only reason I do it is because nobody can hear me. I don’t want to be responsible for the bill you get in the mail for your next door neighbor’s new set of hearing aids, so I’m warning you now.

The bell rang right in the middle of my rendition of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as I crooned one of Lenny’s high notes. My attention snapped to the front door. Scanning the rampant, rhino mob of high schoolers for Eleanora’s curly hair, I stood up from my bench. It only took me a few moments to pick her from the crowd. She was wearing a grey, knit jacket and reddish, leather boots that extended up past her knees. I don’t mean to brag, but her face lit up when she saw me, or presumably when she saw me. I was sort of worried that maybe the charm or whatever had worn off overnight, but as she bounded over towards me, breaking through the throng of unhealthily heavy backpacks and stressed students, I knew it hadn’t.

“Pretend I’m not here,” I yelled to her as she got closer. But she seemed to already know the drill. Together, we escaped the horde and broke away in the parking lot.

“Good to see you alive and well,” I said.

“Couldn’t say the same to you, I’m afraid,” she whispered with her mittened hand over her mouth.

I grinned at her. Jeez, twenty-four hours felt like forever.

“Okay, so, I hope you brought your leg warmers, ‘cause-”

“Eleanora!” A voice yelped from the crowd behind us. Unlike what I would’ve expected, Eleanora picked up the pace a bit. But before I could ask her what was wrong, whoever had been calling to her caught up and grabbed her shoulder, oblivious to the fact that she was sticking her arm straight through my right bicep.

“Elle,” she gasped breathlessly. It was the redhead from the mall, “Please. Just talk to me.”

Eleanora bitterly shook away her arm, “leave me alone Gracie.”

“I’m sorry!” Gracie pled, “I should’ve stood up for the other day but-”

“Seriously Gracie, I’m really not in the mood for your excuses right now,” Eleanora replied. Once again, I was invisible, “as a matter of fact, I am totally sick of them. If you want to be slutty and popular than go for it! But you can’t be part of Diana’s court and also be friends with me.”

“Can I at least try?” Gracie begged, “Look, I know I can be a bitch but-”

“I don’t want to talk about this right now,” Eleanora finalized, gesturing me covertly to follow her.

“Don’t you need a ride?”

“I’m walking.”

“Oh, okay,” Gracie sounded hurt. Good for her.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Eleanora strolled away, leaving Gracie in the dust. I really hoped she deserved it.

I didn’t speak up again until we were a little farther away from the school.

“Don’t want to push but-”

“It was nothing,” Eleanora snapped.

“Didn’t sound like nothing.”

Eleanora reached into her pocket. She pulled out her phone and pressed it up to her ear.

I looked at her questioningly. She smiled back, “just in case anyone is snooping.”
“Wow, not a half-bad idea,” I said.

She shoved her other hand into her other pocket; it must have been really cold, “so where are we going?”

“To my house.” That surprised her. She looked up at me. She was the first girl I had ever been taller than. It was great.

“Your house? I didn’t think ghosts could sign home deeds.”

“Well, it’s not my house anymore. And, if we’re being technical, we’re not really going to my house, but it’s nearby,” I explained, “it’s probably a half hour walk.”

Eleanora nodded. It looked pretty natural with the telephone adhered to her ear.

“So, I heard you singing during G mod.”

What.

I was so glad she couldn’t see me blush, because the remaining nerves in my cheeks were on fire.

“Oh, um, yeah, I actually totally forgot that you could hear that,” I had never been more embarrassed in my entire life.

“Don’t worry about it, I am a singer too.” I was sorta shocked. This was the first this thing she had personally disclosed to me, besides being suicidal. Wow, that took a turn.

“Oh, no, I’m not...I mean, I don’t...I was just bored.”

What is wrong with me.

“Well, it actually kept me entertained during Algebra,” she chuckled a bit, “what song was it?”

Oh no.

Oh, no, no.

This girl did not just ask me what song I was singing.

My worst fears had been confirmed for this century’s generation; uncultured, uneducated swine.

“Cooper, are you ok-”

“You don’t know who the Beatles are?” I almost screamed it.

“Well, duh,” Eleanora said, “of course I have heard of them! I’ve just never really listened to any of their songs.”

I was flabbergast, “no wonder you tried to kill yourself! You’ve never been blessed by the musical marvels of the McCartney-Lennon duo.”

“Didn’t they do drugs?”

“Yeah, but so did James Bieber and-”

“Justin Bieber.”

“Whatever. I’m talking about pre-LSD Beatles. You can’t tell me you have never heard ‘Love me Do’?”

Eleanora shook her head, “can’t say I have.”

Dumbfounded, I did a double take, “I can’t even believe that you have...I just...what, have you been living under a rock, Ellie, I just-”

“Don’t call me that,” she snapped. Her sudden vicious change of tone struck me.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Why? Do you have a fear of double L’s or something or-”

“Just don’t.”

I was really blowing this whole thing up, “but why can’t-”

“Because,” she breathed deeply, “it’s what my dad used to call me.”

“Oh,” I didn’t know what that meant. So I pried. “What happened to him?”

Eleanora shifted a bit, “nothing.”

“Oh. Then why-”

“He lives in Nevada.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, that’s pretty far. I guess you don’t see him all that much.”

“Never,” she said, “my mom won’t even let me call him.”

“What is he crazy or something?” I was tiptoeing.

Eleanora was kinda hacked, “no. He’s notIt’s my mom.”
“So she’s-”

“Crazy.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“Is that why you were on the balcony?”

Eleanora cracked her neck, “there’s a hundred reasons why I was on that balcony. She may or may not be one of them.”

I knew that phrase. It always meant the preceding option, “well, you’re going to have to tell me why sooner or later.”

“What do you want to know Cooper?” she spun around so she was suddenly facing me straight on; I had really ticked her off, “that-that my social life is nonexistent, that my supposed ‘friends’ think it’s funny to burn my legs with pasta sauce? Or, I know, that my father is two-thousand miles away and my mom is mentally incapable of having a daughter!” 

I shrunk back a bit. I was embarrassed by her outburst, so I did what any logical teenage boy would do; made it worse, “I don’t think that’s what someone would do if they were talking on the phone-”

“Cooper,” she entreated me to be serious. She looked so tired, so glum again.

I needed her to talk to Bree; my communication skills weren’t up to par with this. But Bree could talk her out of it, I knew she could.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “I’ll stop being a smartass now.”

We were silent for a second.

“So your mom’s like actually crazy?”

She was warming up to me, “yes. Like stroke a throw pillow like it’s a cat sort of crazy.”

We laughed. Thank god, I hated deep conversations.

“So tell me about your friends,” Eleanora insisted. We didn’t have much farther to go until we reached out meeting spot. Suppose she deserved a fair warning.

“Not much to tell,” I said, “you’ve got Porter; he’s fat. You’ve got Toby; he’s a hunk. And then you’ve got Bree and she’s.....sulky.”

Eleanora did this weird thing with her lips and nodded, like she was thinking it over, “hm. Those are interesting descriptions.”

“Well, they’re interesting people,” I shrugged.

“What if I can’t see them? What if for, some reason or another, I can only see you?”

“Then you can consider yourself lucky,” I chuckled. I didn’t mean that. The words just kind of slipped out. I mean, I really enjoy Porter and Toby and Bree and all, but....well hanging out with the same three people for almost fifty years wasn’t really....adequate, to say the least.

“Is the Bree the one who-” Eleanora started.

But I knew where she was going, “yup.”

Eleanora did that lip thing again, “how did you come across all of them? Just randomly?”

“Well, Bree was at my house when I died. So when I came back as a ghost and stuff, she was kind of already there,” I never liked talking about my first decade as a dead guy. It isn’t the happiest story; I don’t know what I would’ve done if Bree hadn’t been there, “and then we found Toby strutting around town a couple years later. Porter, well, he had been weeping like a babe behind Clifton. Heard it from miles away.”

“So there’s only four of you?” Eleanora asked.

I scratched the back of my neck, “well, um, there had been another one of us. But he, um, left.” I really shouldn’t have even mentioned anything. I hated talking about this.

“Oh,” unlike me, Eleanora didn’t pry. Thank god.

“What was his name?”

Spoke too soon.

“It was, uh,” I hated remembering; I had worked for so long to forget. But it was my fault, I had brought him up. “His name was Brodie.”

Eleanora stopped pushing after that. Man was I relieved.

We reached where I had been leading us only a few minutes later. Eleanora wasn’t impressed.

“We’re meeting in the woods?” she said. I couldn’t tell if she was being sassy or was genuinely concerned; I didn’t dwell on it.

“Listen, Eleanor, if you want-”

“It’s Eleanora. With an A.”

“Oh, sorry,” I hadn’t really been paying attention, “I was just thinking about the Beatles’ song, ‘Eleanor Rigby’. Obviously that’s about an old lady, which you’re not. But the names are similar.”

EleanorA gawked at me for a second. I felt weird.

“You’re like a fourteen year old girl obsessing over One Direction.”

That offended me. Call me ugly, call me fat, but don’t confuse my bands with modern dream boys who can’t even sing. “Excuse me, well at least the Beatles’ give me something to obsess over. One Direction, blah. Either way, the only reason we’re meeting in the woods is because I don’t want people to give you any more trouble than they already do. It’s just to be safe.”

Eleanora was grinning a bit. She kept the phone locked tight up against her ear as we stomped into the forest. It was the woods surrounding the blue house in the big field, and I knew each and every tree, rock, and patch of moss by heart; I spent my entire childhood scavenging this area.

From behind me Eleanora started talking, “so you really like the Beatles I take it?”

“Duh, what’s not to like? And yeah, they’re amazing.”

“Who’s the best singer?”

“Oh, Paul, by a long shot.”

“Best guitarist?”

“Paul, again.”

“Best looking?”

“John- wait what?’

Eleanora was laughing. I hadn’t even realized what I had said until-

Oh, damn.

Eleanora seemed to be getting a pretty good laugh. I was turning red. But she couldn’t see that, or at least I don’t think.

“Ha, ha, very funny, Eleanor,” I said sorely.

Eleanora wiped some tears from her eyes. Seeing her laugh made me happy, even if it was at my stupidity and lack of contemplation. Jeez, did I fall for that one. “I’m sorry. I just had to know which one you had covering the walls of your room, just to get a picture.”

I was sure as hell lucky Eleanora didn’t see me stop dead in my tracks.

We were quiet for a minute, with the exception of Eleanora’s occasional snorts or snickers. She had the best pig snort I had ever heard.

“They should be right up here,” I said, pointing forward, “in this clearing.

They weren’t.

I looked around worriedly. Where were they?

“Um, Cooper, am I just not seeing them or-”

“BOO!”

I think I jumped higher than Eleanora did as Toby, Bree and, part of, Porter popped out from behind the trees. Damn stereotypes.

“Haha! I got you good son!” Toby gave me a ghostly noogie, screwing up my hair. Or I assumed it did.

“I told you guys not to scare them,” Porter removed himself completely from cowering behind his tree, “we don’t want to make a bad first impression.”

“Crossed that bridge already,” Bree said, floating over to us.

“Everyone, this is Eleanora,” I announced, bowing to her, “and, as far as I know, she can see us.”

Eleanora, by the look on her face, could definitely see the lot of us, “it’s nice to meet you all.”

“Wait, your name is Eleanora?” Toby started, “has Cooper made his Beatles reference yet?”

“Yup, he did,” Eleanora laughed. But that was a different laugh, it was a-

Oh, no.

I hadn’t even thought about-

“I’m Toby, by the way,” he slurred the words to make them sound cooler. He even reached out and tried to shake Eleanora’s hand.

Oh, no.

“Hey Toby,” I said, breaking up their little hand-shaking fiasco, “can I talk to you for a second. Bree, Porter,” I gestured to the other two, hovering around innocently, “keep her occupied.”

Porter went onto politely, and timidly, introducing himself, as I dragged Toby away from earshot of the others. When we were far enough away I turned to him.

“Really?”

“Really, what?” Toby was confused.

“You really can’t not flirt for two seconds, can you?”

Toby was aghast, but I think he was joking, “Coop, you’re asking me to not flirt?”

“No, I’m telling you not to flirt. You’re going to make it awkward.”

“Dude, telling me not to flirt is like telling Bree not to sulk, or Porter not to have wet dreams about cannolis.”

“Okay, first off, I did not need to know that and second, just please, just for once can you do this for me? Please.

I don’t know why I was so desperate. Maybe it was because I knew Toby couldn’t resist eyeballing any girl who had boobs bigger than a B cup; and that girls couldn’t resist hot males with abs. Just look at the media.

“Fine, fine,” Toby agreed, “I’ll stay away from your little crush.” He yelled the last word, directing it towards ‘no one in particular’. I wanted to slap him; it was becoming a reoccurring trend.

Everyone turned to us. Eleanora, who had been chatting it up with Bree and Porter about God only knows, smiled.

I knew exactly what she was thinking.

“Who? You mean John Lennon?”

Dammit, Eleanor.

I scrunched my face up as everyone laughed. Toby, not surprisingly, was getting the biggest kick out of it. But at this point, I didn’t mind. We were all friends, I guess. In the slightest sense of the word. I use it lightly.

“Okay now, let’s all sit in a circle and discuss our complicated feelings and help Cooper sort out his sexuality,” Toby declared, taking a cross-legged seat on the pine needled rug of the forest floor.

I sat down too, and so did Eleanora, right beside me in fact. Bree and Porter did too. It was like a close quarters knitting circle.

“It is very nice to meet you Eleanora,” Porter said, “we haven’t talked to anyone alive for-”

“Ever,” Bree put in.

Eleanora grinned, “well, if you have any questions about the modern world, I’ll be happy to answer them.”

Toby raised his hand like an excitable three-year old, “ooh, ooh!”

“Yes, Toby,” Eleanora responded as a strict, middle-aged teacher.

Toby cleared his throat, “how are babies made?”

And I'm sure that, even in death, Toby Anderson got a bruise from the slap I sent his way.


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