This is the third part of my ‘scene from a street’ story.
It’s title has always been ‘Angel Juice’ since it was first envisioned about 14 years ago, but I refrained from using it as it sounded a bit silly. But it’s the only title I can think of for it, so I guess it’s here to stay and it has some relevance as the story unfolds.
Here’s the third part then. In my opinion, it’s the weakest installment yet, I have a feeling it’s all a bit scatter-shot and is building up to the point of the story which will make or break it.
Anyway, see what you think…
On top of the roof Ellie finally turns to face Val and looks into his eyes.
He can feel the words forming on his lips when she says in a voice that seems to Val to be too quiet to hear above the wind, “I’m leaving.”
She says it with a weak, unconvinced smile that makes him wince.
“What?” he responds.
“I’m going Val. Tonight. There’s nothing for me here now…”
She realises what she has said far too late to spare the boy the pain so horribly evident on his face at that moment.
“Val, no, that’s not what I meant…”
“No, no, s’okay…I…um…” he shrugs and laughs once bitterly, “The place is a shit hole anyway.”
That sickening, lurching feeling of the whole world twisting, the roof top being pulled out from under his feet like a fucking rug comes right back to Val and he remembers the last time he felt it, when he was seven and his dad pulled his mom, screaming, out into the dusty sunlight of the yard where she took one horrified look at the sun and the street and the bewildered neighbours and then dropped to her knees clutching her arm as her feeble heart gave up its, pale, grey ghost.
All Doctor Cooper’s frustration given vent in a horrible destructive move.
Kill or cure.
Kill it was.
Val watching, dazed and frightened while his father stared at her, then him, saying, “I didn’t mean to…I didn’t mean to…” until the Sheriff came.
Days later Val asked his father why didn’t he fix her, meaning to perform CPR, the child’s meaning was lost on Doctor Cooper who muttered that’s what he was trying to do, trying to free his wife from a house that had become a prison.
But it was only a prison to him, not to her.
Val stares at Ellie, wondering why she is going, where she is going, did her dad hurt her?
As he looks he notices something in her eyes, something new, not seen before, a slight absent look as though part of her is listening to something else, distant, above the wind.
As he thinks this, she actually glances into the air, almost hesitantly.
“Where are you going?” he croaks.
Her turn to shrug.
“Away, as far as I can get.”
“I have to. I have to go. I can’t take…,” a gesture back into town, towards a single storey clap board house, badly in need of painting and with a broken fence, a broken sister and a broken father.
They both knew it was coming and she is already shaking her head as he tells her she can move in with his father and him.
“There’s room, dad won’t mind, he hardly leaves the house…”
The comment blind-sides him, had he really never realised before?
“No Val, I can’t”
He crosses to her, meaning to take her hands but can’t bring himself to touch her without her permission, she winces slightly at his approach and he hates himself for making her feel like that.
“Let me come with you then!”
Again she shakes her head.
“No, it’ll only work for me.”
Another odd look, one of worry, as if she has said too much.
“What?” he asks, “What are you talking about?”
She looks down at her sneakers, all worn and faded, once white, now smudged and grey. Even on the toes of her Converse she once drew little feathers, now they’re almost gone, reduced to an inky smudge.
“I asked you here because you’re the one thing, the only thing I care about here. You helped me so much. You mean so much to me…”
He hates those words, the way they fan that little glimmer of hope inside him, even though he already realises everything is pretty much lost.