That evening, Eleanor seemed to be preoccupied. She was walking ahead of me. From my vantage point, I could see the back of her skull etched in the backdrop of the amber sky.
I knew better than to ask what was bothering her. Because it was Eleanor. The Hot-headed Eleanor. The Strange Eleanor. And I knew better than to disrupt her thoughts. That’s when I started to wonder what could’ve happened to ruin her so.
Behind that pale face was a shimmer that shone through those deep sockets of her eyes reminding of a side of her that was now lost. The freckles that spread from cheeks to neck made her look prettier than anyone I knew. But again appearances could be deceiving. One moment she was this calm composed person, the next… not so.
With such thoughts swinging about in my head, we walked up the hill. When we reached the top of it, she sat down on the damp grass. Following cue, I sat down too. She looked away at the distant horizon and as her hair swayed lightly in the wind, I realised I had never seen her styling her hair as most girls her age loved to do.
I wondered what it was like to choose to be this different, and in the blink of an eye the truth dawned upon me – this simplicity was why I fell in love with her. But then, what tormented me was what had happened in those few months that she had vanished? The changed Eleanor had much to do with what transpired then. But what did transpire?
Ever since the Great Disappearance, something about her changed, like a bulb turned off. Three months of no school, no friends, no getting out of that damned house. What troubled me most was the queer tendencies she had developed. For instance, what would you call someone who painted her room black, all by herself? And what was with the incessant chopping down of blossomed flowers in the lawn? Once she served tea to a visiting neighbor, only she kept stirring the empty cup. The horrified neighbor claimed Eleanor’s possessed and never set foot at her door again.
Lost in these ruminations, what he didn’t notice was the crescent scar on her neck. It had started to glow red and was getting stronger with the rapidly growing dark of the night. As if on cue of the looming catastrophe, the sun hurriedly dived into the sea leaving behind a blanket of darkness save the brightly glowing scar.
This story was written contributing to ‘Finish the Story‘ Collaboration with Tanmay Jain.
Today’s story was written for the prompt by Bonnie: One never knew with Eleanor. Appearances could be deceiving – one moment she was very calm, the next … not so.
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