Welcome to Fiction Friday, a little endeavor started by Jane the Sane, for more participants short stories click on her name. This story is based on the Tori Amos song Black Dove (January) and was a collaboration between Sassy and JimmyEatWorld. For those of you unfamiliar with the song, or Tori Amos, see the video below. I big fat bursty heart Tori Amos and have seen her in concert.
The image below was stolen from this guy and modified by Sassy to fit the story. Sorry random dude, but I am giving you credit.
It was a small room, dirty and sparsely furnished. The faded flowered paper that had once dressed this wall was now peeling from and falling like curls to the floor. There was an old iron bed covered by a tattered sheet yellowed from time. Beside it sat a table with a solitary lit candle burning with a small halo of light reaching weakly from the little flame and beside that table on the floor was a young girl in a blue dress curled into a tiny little ball. The blue dress stood out amidst the bleakness of the room.
This was a room that looked like it had been forgotten by the world and went to a place where things forgotten go. And with that room went the girl because she too had been forgotten. So forgotten in fact that she’d almost forgotten herself as well.
She laid there, curled on her side, her grey eyes wide and unseeing. Mechanically she traced her name in the dust of the floor. Over and over she moved her finger along each letter.
And as she traced, her lips would move almost imperceptibly. If you were to put your ear right to her mouth you might hear the faintest of whispers that sounded almost like a song.
I’m a January girl,
I never let on how insane it is
In this tiny kinda scary house…
By the woods
By the woods
By the woods
Father Father Father Father…help me.
Her eyes focused on a thread of light breaking through the dirt that covered the window. The beam cut a path through the dust and gloom and fell on the floor beside her. Her deadened eyes focused a moment and she looked around. She saw everything in grays and blacks, sometimes dark browns. The light broke up the dreariness of her surroundings with its brightness.
Close your eyes she said to herself, it isn’t real.
E-L-L-A, E-L-L-A, E-L-L-A she traced frantically.
Ella pulled her knees to her chest and shut her eyes tight against the light. She found the light fearsome and unfamiliar. The candle flickered and flickered, loosing its desire late in the evening and extinguishing itself. She willed herself to stand, occasionally shooting suspicious glances at the relentless beam of light. She stared at the bed until she found the courage to walk over and fall down on it. Then she covered her face with her trembling dirty hands, shaking her head softly trying to stop the spill of tears. She could feel herself cracking, her mind slowly losing the war to the crazy her mother promised would come. Out of the oppressive silence she heard a rumble and opened her eyes to see the light. The light, still breaking through the window, tore from her looming straight jacket.
As she regarded the beam almost indifferently something again nudged her toward it and she got up and looked through the window. What she saw was lights brightly shinning on the cold and dark house, illuminated the twisted trees hovering around the little shack she called home. There she saw something that made her feel different. It was a truck not unlike most others, white with more wheels than it needed and too much dirt to tell what kind, but it had a flag on it. The state flag of Texas waving in the wind with a slogan she didn't even care enough to read.
Texas… She thought. Then she thought of her father who was now living there. And in that instant she knew what she had to do. She had to run away. She had to get out of this crazy and ugliness that surrounded her and choked her life away. The sudden longing she felt for her father’s kindness and love was the first time she’d felt something other than despair in a long time and a warmth welled up inside of her. She stared out that window unsure of her own feelings. A new feeling began rising up in her and there, in that moment, she learned of hope and she leaned heavily on that thread.
"If you ever want to leave, look under the dresser, under the floor." She suddenly remembered her brother's cryptic secret from long ago. Her mind must have tucked that away and amid all the chaos, she had forgotten about it until just now. Ella walked, taking that thread of hope with her and anxiously moved the dresser. There she saw a board that looked slightly different than the others around it, it had her name etched into it and wasn’t flush with the rest of the floor . She stared at that board for what must have been only a few seconds but seemed like hours to her. As she stared she remembered Joshua who had left to live with their father. She thought about him looking at her seriously the last time she saw him, pulling her into a heartfelt hug and a whispering the secret before he walked out the door never to be seen by her eyes again. She missed him, he would have made this life bearable.
She had chosen to stay with her mother; at the time she felt so much closer to her. But that was so long ago, too many sleepless night to count. Ella had been the one to choose this life, she was at fault. Her mother couldn‘t help the downward spiral she plummeted into. Ella sunk to her knees and using the nail file she kept for protection, she forced it around the edges of the board worked it until she finally freed it from the floor. A note lay on top of a small pile; the note stood like a large golden key to her new life. Large black letters spoke the name only Joshua knew, Katia. In their childhood games she was Princess Katia of the Fey and he was the brave Prince Vladimir.
I know that you love Mom and Dad very much and that this hurts you just as much as it hurts me. Please don't be mad at me for going with Dad, I can't choose between Mom and Dad but I have to stay somewhere. I've spent more time with Dad and I feel more connected to him, you know. I'm mad at him too, for what he did, what he did to our family. But I think that he might need me.
Always remember Katia that no matter what happens, I'll be there for you. Nothing can come between us. Nothing.
Here is $150 and a map of Texas with directions to Dad's on it. That should be enough money for a bus ticket and some food. Just get to the station in Lawrence however you can but BE CAREFUL!
Vladimir the Brave
Under the note and the money there was a compass. Not just any compass, but his compass. It was her Dad's childhood compass that he’d given to Joshua on his tenth birthday, telling him that this was a special gift that cannot be lost.
"Remember son, you can't lose this compass because if you do, how are you going to find it without any directions?" he would say with a wink and a pat on the back every time he found Joshua pulling it out of his pocket to check which way was north.
She remembered this exchange and her tears seemed to betray her. She had cried many many times before out of deep sadness but this was different. She wasn't sad at all. She felt joy and hope as she closed her hand around that old bronze compass. Her fist clenched it tight as tears hit the back of her hand; each one acting like another bead of hope to whisper to herself that things were going to be different. She turned it over and traced her fingers along the JRB, their initials. Them. She had to get to them. In that moment before she even realized she’d considered it, she decided to run away.
With sudden determination Ella took off the beautiful blue dress that her father had sent her for her last birthday, folded it very carefully, and placed it in a small sack. She put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt then slipped on the sneakers turned brown with the dust of the woods around her. She shoved the compass and money into her jeans and slung the bag over her shoulder. Then carefully she put the board securely in place and as quietly as she could she slid the dresser back into position.
Mother should still be sleeping. She won’t discover this. She whispered internally like a mantra as she summoned her courage to move to the window. She had once been Katia the Lioness, the Princess of All Being and now she had been beaten and belittled into a mouse. A frightened weak mouse.
She had never let on how insane it became in this little house by the woods. They would have come if she’d let on, but she was afraid and someone needed to make sure her mother ate and remembered to pay the bills. At first it hadn’t been too terrible, her mother was normal for the most part. The loving mother she knew even though she seemed prone to the occasional dark mood. But after awhile the pressure of life began weighing her mother and she began drinking, then the pills, then the men started coming. Ella pretended nothing had changed but as time passed she grew thinner and her grey eyes became increasingly hallow. Then the hitting started. Now when ever Ella was home she would hide in her room and hope her mother would forget her like the rest of the world had seemed to.
Finally, after painfully slow minute passed, she reached the dirty window and once again looked out. The truck was still there, it probably belonged to a man, one of those men. Ella could hear muffled voices coming from the other room, her mother was awake. She had to move fast. She lifted the window as silently as she could, just enough to get out. The voices grew louder, she heard her mother screaming something and a distinct sound of flesh hitting flesh. Then crying. Ella was also used to this, her mother’s men weren't the chivalrous type. But then she heard something that she should have expected, something she should have guessed would come for her eventually. Heavy footsteps tread toward her room, followed by the quicker softer ones of her mother.
“Leave her alone” Ella heard her mother yell. The knob rattled then the sound of scuffling just outside the door. Ella was frozen in fear, she knew an awful fate was outside that door trying to get in and now was her only chance to save herself a lifetime of misery. Finally it was her mother’s scream that woke her from her fear.
“Run Ella!” Her mother shrieked, still having some mother lion left in her after all. Ella hopped out the window quicker than she ever thought she could move and ran desperately toward the running vehicle. Thank god her daddy had taught her how to drive when she was 14.
Behind her Ella heard more screaming, a man swearing and her mother screamed for her to run again. Ella reached the truck, yanked open the door, slid in and locked all the doors just before the man began pounding his fists on the window. He had a rage in his eyes unlike anything Ella had ever seen and she knew now that if he got a hold of her he would kill her for sure.
She looked fearfully at her mother, “Mama,” She screamed tearfully at her. She was so afraid of leaving her mother alone with this man. At that moment her mother suddenly became the ghost of her former self. Her skinny haggard body rose up straight and her eyes shone with the light of the woman she had once been. The mother she had once been, Ella’s mama. She stood there calmly and full of an uncharacteristic long ago strength.
“Go baby. Its ok, go now.” She said, waving a slow sad kiss to Ella. Ella nodded grimly, and blew her mother a kiss back. With tears clouding her vision she floored the truck and peeled out of there, running over her tormentor's foot in the process. Ella prayed silently that it would keep him from killing her mother long enough for her to call the police from the pay-phone at the bus station. And with that thought of her mother she smiled a sad bittersweet smile because her mother had pushed her from the nest and set her free. That was the last act of her mother’s life and it redeemed everything.
to read more about Ella later in life, click here for Grey Sky Eyes
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