It's Not That Simple ((Chapter Two))

Fiction By Madeline // 5/13/2011

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I had a lot to think over.

I let myself in that night, pouring myself a cup of lemonade and going upstairs. I stripped down and pulled on a new outfit, since I had already sweated through the other one. The summers here were the worst; incredibly and uncomfortably hot.

I sprawled across my bed, sipping my cool drink slowly. It had to be around five in the morning. I hadn't slept at all. For the first time in my life, I wasn't tired. I sighed and closed my eyes, listening to the sounds coming through my open window.

Brandon obviously didn't like me. The kiss had been nice, however. I shook myself from the thought and sighed, standing up. Once again, I went over to the mirror.

I was sixteen, tall, and plain. How could anyone even see me as pretty? Much less an accomplished, mature tutor. The thought made me blush. Why did this effect me so much? But it wasn't a question. My low self-esteem was why. That's why we had moved from the last place; too many pressures. I was glad to be back home.

I had missed Marion so much. It was weird I hadn't seen her father tonight. Usually he was up along with them; perhaps he had gone to bed. I blushed at the thought of Brandon. Why was I always blushing nowadays?

I stopped my mussing when I heard my Aunt stirring in the other room. I sat up, downed the last of my drink, and slipped out into the hallway.

"Good morning!" I chirped happily, hugging around her full waist.

"Hello," she chuckled, pushing me gently away. "I need to use the restroom, and then I'll be downstairs. Will you be a dear and make the coffee?"

I set some water on the stove, adding three spoonfuls of dissolvable Folgers to the boiling liquid. Coffee was a ritual in our home; both of us needed it to get through the day properly.

"Thank you," Nana said as she came down the stairs. I poured us two cups and we made our way out into the front porch.

"So," she said as we settled ourselves down in wicker chairs, "where did you sneak out to last night?"

I almost choked on my coffee. When I stopped wheezing, I looked up at her guiltily. "You knew?"

She smiled. "Honey, I know everything that goes on inside my walls."

I looked down. "Just to see Marion, Nana. I'm sorry."

"It's quite okay," she said, standing up. "What an early hour to sneak out, though!"

"Can we have them over for breakfast?" I blurted out before thinking, then covered my mouth.

"Why are you always so shy?" Nana asked, kissing my forehead in a motherly way. "Of course you can! Go ask."

"Okay," I said, setting my cup down. I stepped off the front porch and waved goodbye. Slowly, at first, I started for their house. Then I picked up speed, my feet kicking the ground.

Marion was out pulling some weeds when I ran up. I looked at her in confusion. Her father usually did this work. Was he sick?

"Hi," I said, coming up behind her.

She jumped with surprise, flinging dirt everywhere. I brushed it off, then helped her up. "Why are you so jumpy?"

"You keep scaring me!" She exclaimed, opening the door for me. I went in, thanking her, and casually craned my neck to get a better look back into Brandon's bedroom. Was that creepy? I hoped not.

"Nice to see you again," Marion joked, smiling at me.

"Do you guys want to come over for breakfast?" I asked bluntly, sitting down on their couch. "Nana says you can since it's our first day back."

"Don't you all have unpacking to do?" Marion asked, still standing.

"Nope," I replied, popping the P. "All done with that, at least. Thank go-"

"Well, if it isn't Eleanor again!"

I turned with surprise to Phillip. "Oh...you're still here?"

"Didn't they tell you, Eleanor? I live here!"

I looked at Marion with surprise. She shifted uncomfortably on her feet.

"Oh...I didn't know that."

"Yes. Ever since-"

"Um...Phillip!" Marion interjected quickly. "Do you want to go to Ellie's for breakfast?"

"I'd be delighted," he said, bowing good-naturedly. He looked at Marion with confusion. "Well...I'd better be running along, now. I'll see you in an hour."

As soon as he was out the door, Marion exhaled as if she had been holding her breath. I turned to her, my eyes flashing.

"What's going on."

To my surprise, she broke down crying. I stood and wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulders, not understanding what had brought them on.

"Our dad..." She gasped, "Left us."

My stomach dropped. What? Griffin Doles, the good-natured, joking man who loved his children so much? I felt sick.

I turned around and saw Brandon standing there, his eyes watering. Marion saw him and stepped back.

"I had to tell her...she guessed it..."

That was a total lie, but I went with it for Marion's sake.

"Yeah, I did. Brandon..." I took a step towards him, reaching out instinctively. "You don't have to be...ashamed for what he did."

Brandon looked down. "Ellie..."

My heart sped up whenever he said my name like that. Like he might love me, too.

"What?" I asked, realizing he had stopped speaking.

"Phillip's a good guy. He came to town right after dad left. Moved in with us. I'll never be able to re-pay him. So I'm going to become a tutor like him and follow in his footsteps. It's what he wants from me."

 My jaw dropped. "B-but, Brandon! You said you always wanted to be a carpenter..."

"Not anymore Ellie!" He suddenly exploded. "Things have changed since you left! Get over it, okay?"

I was furiously trying to blink back tears. In the several years that I'd know him, Brandon had never yelled at me before. I stepped away, expanding the distance between us.

"I'm sorry," he said at once, looking down. "I didn't mean to..."

"It's fine," I said, embarrassed as how choked up I was. "I get it, Brandon. Bye." I spun and burst out the door, letting the screen slam behind me. I was crying relentlessly, keeping my eyes on the ground, when I slammed into somebody.

"I'm sorry," I said instantly, looking up with a frown.

Phillip grabbed my shoulders and steadied me, smiling. "Well, what have we here?"

"Let me go," I said, pulling away. I instantly realized my rudeness. "I'm sorry, Mr. Ray-"

"Call me Phillip, Eleanor," he corrected me quickly, "and it's okay. I suppose they told you?"

I nodded. "Not much, though." I suddenly felt like telling someone my feelings. Phillip seemed to sense this, and grabbed my wrist, leading me in a different direction than I had been going.

"Where are you taking me?" I asked.

"Let's talk," was his quick reply.

He pulled me towards the trees that bordered our small town. To my surprise, there was a little pond there, and right next to it was a fallen log. It created a perfect bench, and we sat down there.

"So," Phillip said, breaking the silence he had created since his last words. "What happened?"

My lower lip trembled. "I...Brandon came in and he was really upset. I don't think he wanted me to know. And he said some things and yelled at me." I almost burst into tears again but took a few shaky breaths, and that helped. "He's never gotten mad at me before."

Phillip smiled wryly. "You should have seen them, Eleanor, when I came along. They were both broken down sobbing. Their father left one note, and all it said was 'not coming back.' Not "I love you" not, "I'm sorry." Just, 'not coming back.'"

"Mr. Doles wasn't like that," I argued, trying to defend him. "They were everything to him since Mrs. Doles left them!"

"Her name was Annie," Phillip said quickly. "Brandon told me. Actually, he told me a lot of things. Their parents were Annie and Griffin Doles. Father and mother to Brandon Leigh and Marion Anne Doles. They all either had October or July birthdays."

"Brandon's is July seventh," I said wistfully, remembering several years back. "We celebrated on July fourth and had a huge party. Almost everyone in their neighborhood was there. He could've played with the popular boys or talked to the popular girls, since he was twelve, but instead he took me and Marion away from the crowds, he knew they scared me, and we went off on our own."

"He cares a lot about you two," Phillip said, causing me to shake my head.

"Not me...just Marion. I'm more like...he had to care since I was her friend."

"Do you not see yourself?"

"Huh?" His question brought me up short.

"Eleanor, you're beautiful and talented, an excellent student, and you've got so much ahead of you. Anyone who knows you cares. You're just worth it."

I stood up quickly, surprised by his words. "No! Please don't say that."

"Why not?" He argued.

"It makes me feel horrible," I moaned, steeping away. "I don't deserve that."

"You've been carrying around a lot of guilt," he said sternly. "It's time to let it go."

"It's my fault my parents died!" I yelled suddenly. All suddenly went deathly still. Even the birds stopped chirping. The wind died down, the world itself seemed to stop. There. I had said it. What I had been thinking for years.

"Tell me what happened," Phillip said quietly, reaching out to grab my hand. "I'd like to know."

I took a shaky breath. "What happened? It's a long story."

"I've got time."

So I sat down and told him something that had been bothering me for years...

Comments

Wow!

This definitely is not simple!

 

This is sooooooo awesome! 

Does Phillips really like him?

Kassady | Mon, 05/23/2011

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

Wow, HomeschoolGirl, this is

Wow, HomeschoolGirl, this is really intriguing! The only things I saw that I would change are some spelling errors. Other than that, way to go! Write more, please :D

Laura Elizabeth | Tue, 05/24/2011

*************************************************
The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --

http://lauraeandrews.blogspot.com/2014/05/dont-tell-me-hes-smart.html

Oh wow...thank you guys!

I wasn't expecting such comments!! Thanks a lot for taking the time to read this--and I'll go through and correct those mistakes! Haha! I never proofread. I really should, though!!! Thank you Laura Elizabeth and Kassady! 

~HomeschoolGirl

Madeline | Tue, 05/24/2011

everything was better when/you would call and I'd be like/yeah babe, no way

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