Elanor has taken to sleeping in a chair at the back of the shop. She leaves me with some tasks she wants me to complete and then shuffles into her small sitting room. Some times she’ll turn on the TV and I’ll hear the news or the Price is Right filter through to the front. She doesn’t care for Drew Carey much, but she said she puts up with him because she enjoys watching people win things.
“It’s the happiness on their face, so endearing… that’s why I watch the Price is Right.” I could only nod and smile, listening to her chatter on over dinner.
The amount of trust she places in me is something I’m still having a hard time adjusting to. And having this much freedom is starting to make me itch for an adventure, something outside of these dusty walls. Every day I toil away in the store, dusting display cases and sorting through all of the different things she’s collected over the years. It’s obvious she hasn’t sold anything in a really long time. I tried asking her once why business dried up, but she just waved me off and sent me to the grocery store.
The jingle of the bell on the door brings me out of my quiet reverie. I look up to see an impeccably dressed woman come strutting into the shop, her eyes scanning the entire store before landing on me. Her slight frown turns into a deep grimace as I get to my feet.
“Who the hell are you?” She barks at me, her foot steps quickening as she approaches me. I have just enough time to brush the dust of my hands onto my pants when her hand shoots forward and grabs onto my collar. She pulls me toward her, her nails grazing my skin. I flinch, but she doesn’t release her grip, instead narrowing her eyes into near slits. Her hot breath is on my face, and I can smell stale coffee and cigarettes.
“You could use a mint, lady.” I return her stare, narrowing my eyes to match hers. We stand there in a silent stand off for another minute before she releases me and pushes me back. I stumble, falling back into one of the glass display cases.
“What the hell is your problem?” I can’t keep my anger from rising any longer. I stand back to my full height, rubbing my back where I fell into the display case and continue to glower at her.
“Where’s Elanor? I don’t give a damn about you little girl…” She pulls a cigarette from her purse and puts it to her lips. When she turns her attention to her purse in an attempt to find her lighter, I step forward and snatch the cigarette out of her mouth.
“Sorry, we don’t smoke in here, Elanor’s rules.” I crumple the stick in my hands, before letting it fall to the floor.
“How dare you!” She looks at me in shock, pulling her hand back. I close my eyes and brace myself for what I know is going to be a painful slap, but it never comes.
“Ahhh, Sylvia, to what do we owe the pleasure?” Elanor’s voice comes from just over my shoulder. My eyes pop open and I take in the scene before me. The woman’s hand is still mid-air, but Elanor’s bony hand is locked around the woman’s wrist. I’ve never seen Elanor look so infuriated.
“Happy Birthday Mom.” The woman, Sylvia, says. I can’t keep the shock off of my face. Elanor never mentioned her family after our first evening together. Any time I tried to ask her she would distract me with stories about her youth and the trouble she got into. I look between the two of them and witness their silent exchange. Hatred floods through Sylvia’s eyes and Elanor’s anger instantly deflates.
“Viola, will you go down to Sunny and get some things for dinner… I left the list on the kitchen counter…” Her voices trails off, but she never breaks eye contact with Sylvia. Both of them are still locked in their silent exchange, waiting to be rid of me.
“Oh, uhm… ok, yeah… I’ll go right away.” I scurry out of there as fast as my feet will carry me. I realize when I grab the list off the counter that I left my shoes in the front of the shop, but I don’t dare go back. I can already hear their voices, low and full of contempt, as they begin what I’m sure is going to be one hell of an argument. Instead, I head up to my apartment on top of the small shop.
Just inside my doorway is an ever growing pile of shoes. I slip on my favorite pair of flips-flops and grab my purse off of the counter before heading out for the store.
I let my mind wander to Sylvia and the way she interacted with Elanor. I can still feel her hatred crawling all over my skin, sinking into my pores. I shudder against my will and instantly I force my train of thought else where. I look down at the grocery list in my hand and try to imagine what Elanor is going to cook for us today. Recently she’s taken to spending hours in the kitchen, preparing huge meals that neither of us can ever finish. We end up eating left overs for days, but I don’t mind. For the first time in 10 years I can that I’ve had a good, home-cooked meal. And I will gladly keep eating everything Elanor serves.
When I finally get back, the first thing I notice is that Sylvia is no where to be found and Elanor is back in her favorite chair. Her head is slumped forward, resting against her chest. I feel worry flood through my body, propelling my feet forward silently to check on her. When I see the slight rise and fall of her chest as she breathes, I let out a sigh. I take a moment to really study her as she sleeps. The deep wrinkles on her face, the beauty marks spread across her cheeks and forehead. In her youth, she was a beautiful girl and thankfully, she took a lot of that with her into old age. She shifts in her sleep, and the soft glow from the TV highlights the tracks from her tears. I feel a deep anger bubble inside and a protectiveness for Elanor flares inside.
I check the shop, just to ensure Sylvia is no longer there. Disappointment suddenly replaces my anger, and I head back to the kitchen, intent on putting away the groceries. I check through the list one more time to make sure I got everything, when I look down and spy the one item I bought that Elanor didn’t require. I’m not sure how she feels about birthdays, she didn’t even tell me that it was her birthday, but I still want to celebrate this day with her. I put the small chocolate cake in the fridge, hiding it behind the large pitcher of iced tea and some condiments.
I head back into the sitting room and gently wake Elanor. She tries to wipe her tears without me noticing, but I do. I don’t say anything to her though, instead letting her have a shred of dignity.
“Can I cook with you today, Elanor?” I ask. I don’t know what else to do right now, but I know that I don’t want to leave her alone. She looks at me and smiles, the wrinkles on her face deepening in her joy.
“I would love that, Vy, I would love that.”
Odd Trio Redux – Daily Prompt
Time for another Odd Trio prompt: write a post about any topic you want, in whatever form or genre, but make sure it features a slice of cake, a pair of flip-flops, and someone old and wise.
This is obviously just a tid-bit, a piece of you will. I’ve been thinking a lot about Elanor and Viloa since I wrote the first piece. I’m not sure what I want to do, or where I want to go from here, but I do think there’s a story here.
Also, thank you so much to everyone who has followed my blog. I’ve finally hit over 100 followers! That’s really exciting for me. So thank you so much again!! ^^