The first time I met Eleanor Sayers was after school in the girls locker room. I was wedged into the corner of a shower stall heaving tight, squirrely sobs and plucking at the loose threads on my knee socks, which I balled up between my fingertips and threw limply(more) at the drain.
A perfectly manicured hand clutched the shower curtain and ripped it aside, and there was its owner, white hot with a devilish spark in her eye. I could only gasp and watch slack-jawed as Eleanor yanked the shower handle up, unleashing a weak, achingly cold stream of water onto me.
"You two were just toddlers holding hands in the dark," she spit, each word tumbling out like it had come from somewhere damp and deep. "Finding each other by chance. Then clinging to each other out of desperation." She must have overheard Reggie dump me just minutes earlier outside the gym. "Nobody," she said, squatting down to my height and pulling the handle back down, "nobody worth loving appreciates being loved for those reasons."
Afterwards she wrapped a towel around my shoulders and we shared a cigarette in silence. She was stone cold; steady in gaze and unwavering in posture. I thought if I cut her she might not bleed. "Why do you care?" I finally asked between dregs.
"Because you shouldn't."
That was the only time I saw her. During a pep rally in the spring I thought I saw her face in the crowd, but only for a flickering moment. When I looked back it was someone else.(less)
The soles of my shoes have finally worn down to the heel. Funny how you don't notice until the hole has eaten all the way through.
Looking ahead I see a diner, I'm not sure how long it has been since I last ate. The diner is what you'(more)d expect for rural Midwest, red leather booths with black-and-white floor tiles. It's hard to determine whether the style is deliberate or simply leftover from another era.
The waitress approaches me with a limp hinting that she's been working too long. Dry frizzy hair tied up in a bun, blue eyes that have lost their color, and a face that has seen hardship. Her appearance strikes a cord with me. I would say I pity her, but I don't want to sound arrogant.
"What'll ya have" comes out of her dried lips with a rasp, but with kindness underlying. I tell her "the usual" which gets a relative laugh out of her. Presenting the loose bills from my pocket I tell her to surprise me, and to keep some for herself. She smiles at me, but I hope she is not offended by my charity.
I watch her walk away with that subtle limp, black, white, black, white. How long has she worked here? 20 years? Why stay in a place like this? No opportunity for growth. Just grain, cows, and road.
She still smiled though, something I'm not entirely sure if I can do anymore. Sure the muscles move, but I can't experience the joy. Who knows, maybe she can't either. Even still, she has the courage to stay somewhere, and I envy her. I sincerely hope she does not envy me, because I have no idea where I'm going.(less)
I am called Wanderer, Vagrant, Aimless Vagabond. I have no home, hence my name. I've never stayed in one place for long, not for a very long time. It's been so many years since I've been home, since my name was last uttered.
(more) The name I was born into has long since been forgotten. When I was taken in , I was stripped of my name and given a new one.
When my family first found me, I was on my own, walking down a muddy street all on my own. I was only ten. My birth family was killed during a raid when the king searched for a fleeing refugee. Papa hid him in the cellar beneath the house. And there the man stayed until I opened the cellar door for him.
Because my family was dead, and the soldiers had raided the house, taking anything of value-including food and drink-I set off on my own. When my new family found me, I was wandering in circles, too tired, too hungry, to go any farther.
I met a man a few days ago. He seemed lovely. All that was kind and sweet and noble. His eyes were wide, warm. His voice!...oh his voice. Velvety and rich and full of life.
For the first time in many a year had I yearned to hear my name whispered into my ear, intimately, lowly.
We spoke for a while and when he asked my name, I said Wanderer.
"No," he said and shook his head. "What is your name?"
I hesitated, the word stuck on my tongue, glued to the roof of my mouth. Slowly, I opened my lips and said, "Noreen."