Rule of Thirds – Prologue and Chapter 1

All right, here goes nothing. I’m going to do it. Put up some chapters on the blog that is to see how you all react to it. I haven’t heard back from you all, it’s quite a silent room. I’m not a good comedian then. LOL.

Anyways. I’m nervous to let Rule of Thirds out into the world like this, so unprepared. But, I must believe in the kindness and generosity of the people and hope that along this journey, some will help and guide me.

Without further babbling, here is the prologue and chapter 1 from my almost completed novel, with which I am in love with by the way, but that’s just a writer talking. I’ll let Ellenor Grace have her say now. Happy reading!

* * *

Prologue

A Special Gift

Dust rose in swirls as Elle and Chloe raced one another towards the carnival fair. The loud squeals and laughter of hundreds floated to greet them in the air. The clings and clangs of machines and rides rippled along.

Chloe was ecstatic to be leading.  Her dress flapped madly in the wind, her blonde ponytail swinging like a pendulum. “You can’t catch me!” she taunted Elle, who was trailing behind.

“Don’t go too far ahead, girls” Uncle Steve’s booming voice commanded from behind.

Chloe giggled and came to a stop, poking her tongue out as Elle stopped beside her. “Told you. You couldn’t catch me.”

Elle pouted, folding her arms across her tiny chest. “That’s because I’m small. Wait till I grow biggerer than you!”

Chloe giggled again and ran back to her dad. “Then I’ll grow just as big.”

Bert laughed, watching Elle tuck her chin into her chest. He ruffled her hair.

“I’ll grow big, won’t I, Daddy?” she asked looking up.

Bert pulled her closer.  “Not for a very long time I hope.”

Suddenly, Aunty Ester gasped behind them. She remembered something she’d forgotten to gossip about. “Did you hear about the McKinley girl?” she asked Trish.

Trish bit her lip and grabbed Elle’s hand. “Nothing bad I hope.”

“She’s only sixteen, and already a bun in the oven. And I heard she’s almost as big as you,” Ester continued.

Elle knew what was coming.  She guessed her mother did too. Trish’s hold suddenly got tighter around Elle’s hand, and Uncle Steve grumbled from up ahead.

“Must you always gossip, woman?”

“It’s not gossip if it’s actually happening,” Ester fired back.

“Let Trish be for the night. Honestly Ester, we’re here for the kids.” Steve scooped up Chloe in his arms and walked quicker towards the crowd which was growing larger. “Trish don’t give a hoot about who stole your muffin idea or who’s cooking what in any oven.”

Trish handed Elle over to Bert and waved. “You go on with her. The tent’s too packed.” She eyed her swollen belly, “Go on!”

Bert nodded. “How’d you like to be taller than anyone, Elle?”

“Taller than you, Daddy?”

“Much taller than me,” Bert answered, lifting Elle in one sweep to his shoulder, and disappearing into the crowd.

Half an hour later, squealing with absolute delight, and chomping on candy floss, the girls squeezed out from the crowd, holding their father’s hand. The circus! Oh, future plans had already begun.

“I want a cub and when I grow up, I’m going to work in a circus,” Chloe stated.

Elle tugged at her father’s hand. “Can I get a baby tiger too?”

“You can get a tiger when you’re as old as me,” Uncle Steve said with a laugh.

Chatter continued amongst the girls. Excitedly they retold stories of all the animals they saw and the scary rides they rode.

It was past ten o’clock when they arrived at Bert and Trish’s home. The girls were fast asleep in the back of the car.  Flopped over their father’s arms, they were taken to their beds and tucked in for the night.

 

It was mellow autumn morning and Elle scrambled out of bed. She hurtled down the hallway with Chloe at her heels, tumbling into the kitchen.

“I won!” Elle proclaimed with a wide grin, tripping over Chloe’s leg, beaming up at the adults who were forever entertained by the girls’ healthy, competitive spirit.

Bert scooped Elle into his arms and planted a big kiss on her cheek. “Happy birthday, darling!”

“Happy birthday, little Elle” Aunty Ester chimed from behind.

Uncle Steve laughed. “Put her down, Bertie.” He smiled as Chloe hugged his leg. “She hasn’t brushed her teeth I bet. All those cooties,” he teased.

“Do not!” Elle screamed and was suddenly plunked down.

Trish scuttled around the gathering crowd with a tray full of cups and saucers and a steaming kettle. Ester reached for the tray and immediately set about pouring tea.

Trish pulled Elle into a hug. “What would you like for breakfast, honey? It’s your day today.”

“Bacon,” Chloe chimed in, scrambling onto a chair.

“And eggs,” Elle smiled. “Can I open my presents, Mummy?”

“Go ahead.”

No sooner had the words escaped Trish’s mouth than Elle scurried to the lounge room, to the coffee table piled with presents. Chloe wasn’t far behind.

“I wonder what you got!” Chloe, resting her head on her hands over the table.

Toys and dresses later, Elle grabbed a flat package. She shook it. No sound. Excited at what it could be, she ripped at the paper. Inside was an unusual gift, leather bound and beautifully stitched.

“A book?” Chloe wondered.

Excitedly the girls leafed through the leather-bound volume.

“It’s empty!” Elle said, confused.

“For now,” Trish replied, walking into the room.

The girls turned around and saw Trish standing poised with a Polaroid camera. She pressed the button and out spewed a glossy piece of paper.

The girls gave gasps of awe.

Trish flapped the snap in the air. The girls gazed as the photo finished developing in front of their eyes.

“It’s magic!” Elle squealed.

“It’s all yours, honey,” Trish handed the picture over, “and you know what you should do with it?”

Elle shook her head.

“You should put the picture in that book.  Keep all your memories safe, and ideas and dreams and plans. Put them all safely in there. You love telling stories, don’t you?”

Elle nodded.

“It’s a special gift for my special girl” Trish hung the camera over Elle’s neck. “Go ahead, give it a try.”

A photo of Trish with half her head cut out, and Chloe smiling ear to ear, slid out.

 

 * * *

 1. Too Many Boxes

The medieval-looking wine goblet, with its three talons holding the glass vessel, gleamed as Elle slid it into a far corner of the cupboard.

“Trust Uncle Steve to give such a hideous gift,” she mumbled under her breath. She wished she could chuck them or give them to the needy, but knowing her uncle, he would one day ask if wine could be served in those very goblets. She unwrapped the last goblet and slid it next to the three others. Their fate was sealed, they would sit forever in the corner till Elle deleted them from her memory.

Hopping off the step ladder, she eyed the disaster area. Piles of cardboard boxes and countless crinkled newspaper littered the floor like the aftermath of a bomb explosion in the middle of her kitchen. There were still two more boxes to unpack, labelled Kitchenware. Elle knew she had a house teeming with boxes of various shapes and sizes, itching to be unpacked.

It could take her days at the rate she was going. For the first time in a long time, she wished she’d taken up her mother’s offer to come and help out for a couple of days.  She glanced at her watch. It was minutes till eleven.  She had been working in the kitchen for four hours straight and by God, she was kaput.

“Should you or shouldn’t you, Elle? That is the question.” She eyed the two untouched boxes and sighed, pulling one to her, “only two more to go”.

Almost an hour later and two more boxes unpacked, she was too tired to give a toss that all the glasses weren’t perfectly lined and sorted by height. She stepped off the ladder for the last time, made her way through the piles of newspaper, and headed down the corridor to the bedroom.  She didn’t care she was dirty and sweaty. For once, she was going to hop into bed in her clothes.

Standing before the closed door to her bedroom, Elle took a moment and relished the silence. No neighbour with their hyperactive Jack Russell barking the night blue and purple.

The shrill ring of the phone startled her out of her reverie and sent her scrambling into the room, stumbling over suitcases in the dark.  She dove next to the bed and found her handbag.

She fished the phone out with annoyance. “What is wrong with you?” The figure on the bed lay sleeping undisturbed.

“I was worried. You hadn’t called yet. Can’t a mother check on her child?” Trish asked.

“Of course, Mother…”

“Can’t I call to see if you both have settled okay?” her mother interrupted.  “You didn’t call as you’d promised!”

Elle took a deep breath and tiptoed out of the room, pulling the door close behind. “I was a little busy, Mum.  Do you realize what time it is?”

“Of course, I know what time it is!” Trish answered, offended. “How’s Maya doing?” she asked, not fazed in the slightest.

“Sleeping or I hope she still is.”

“Why didn’t you say so in the first place? I would have called at a more decent time.”

Elle leaned against the wall.  “That would have been nice, Mum.”

“Well, you should get some sleep too, honey.  You must be tired with all the moving and unpacking. You know, your dad and I still think you shouldn’t have moved away, especially now.  Maya needs her family, dear.”

Elle slid all the way to the floor and massaged her temples.  She’d heard this concerned ranting far too many times to care any more.  It was frankly irritating. “Mum, we’ve been over this.  Let it go!” she mumbled.

“No, I won’t let it go.  You’re my children.”

“And it’s my life and Maya is my child,” Elle answered, holding back her anger.  “I’ll do what I feel is best for the both of us. Now, will you please hang up, so I can take a shower and go to bed? I’m tired.”

“Fine, do what you wish then. Good night.”

The dial tone beeped in Elle’s ear as the call ended. “Good night” she whispered and sat, twirling the phone in her hand.  Something told her that the argument was far from over. How her mother chose to ignore her cries for peace was beyond her.

She was tempted to hurl the phone across the hallway and watch it shatter.  Maybe that’d stop her mother trying to control her decision making.

“If only it were that simple,” she pushed off the dusty floor.

Bottom line, she was tired of people smothering her with their concern.

She walked back into the bedroom and was relieved to hear the soft rumble of Maya’s breathing. She peeled off her dusty, sweaty clothes, grabbed a towel from her overnight bag and walked to the bathroom.

She slipped back into the room and rummaged through the bag for something to wear, pulling out an oversized shirt.  She scrambled into it, snuggling it, wishing it were a pair of warm arms wrapped around her instead, smelling of pine and musk.

She flicked off the hallway light, plunging the room into darkness, and waited for her eyes to adjust. She fumbled her way to the bed and slithered in.

“Mummy” Maya stirred under the cover.

“Yeah, honey”

“I miss Daddy.”

Elle blinked dry the sudden flood of tears and snuggled up to Maya, kissing her soft curls. “I miss him too, honey!” she whispered, “Get some sleep, baby. Mummy is right here.”

…to be continued…

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