To the Girl on Eleanor Way: A Random 'Word' Generator Short Story Challenge
We skipped last month's Random Generator Short Story because I just had to write a review on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. But not this month!
Random Generator Short Stories are one of my favorite posts here on Kali Kuzma Author and Storyteller. They let me think outside the box when it comes to storytelling and creativity. For any author's out there, I suggest doing this as an exercise to get the creative juices flowing.
If you haven't read my past blog posts then you might not know what I am talking about. Let me tell you. Every month I go to a random generator... in this case a Random 'Word' Generator... and hit the button. It spits out two words which I then must incorporate into the story I'm writing. Sometimes I like to challenge myself even further and limit the word count. See my short story, A Prayer in the Forest, for an example.
Not only do I use words, but random sentences and phrases, too, to keep things interesting.
But, for today, we will be sticking with our two words. So let's see what I come up with in this month's Random 'Word' Generator Short Story.
Random Words: oak and flat
**Trigger Warning: Do not read if you are sensitive to physical, mental, and emotional abuse.**
To The Girl on Eleanor Way
Finding Eleanor Way
They had done it again. I tried to hold back the tears about to spill out from eyes. I dabbed the built-up moisture with the cuff of my sleeve. I was already having a bad day no need to ruin my mascara.
I glanced down the street before heading off in the other direction hoping my friend's giggling faces would appear around the corner. My heart sank more realizing if they had showed up they would've been laughing at me.
It was the third time they had ditched me. Leaving me eagerly waiting for them at the destination. This time only the cashier, in the ticket booth, outside of the movie theater, had given me the look of pity has he handed people their entrance slips. It was almost worse than the time at Burgs & Shakes when I ordered three milkshakes and baskets of fries for us all only to have to slurp them down myself. The melted shakes had given me a stomachache for a week.
Of course, they laughed it off the next day, saying how they couldn't believe I took their joke seriously. Why would they ever hang out at a place like Burgs?
I held my head low putting one step in front of the other. I couldn't go home. Mom would be disappointed. I could see the sadness in her eyes whenever she mentioned the idea of me making friends my age. Never once in my 15 years had anyone wanted to be my friend. I know she meant well, but the older I got the more it would sting when she would point it out.
I thought my bad luck had turned for the better when two new girls, sisters, asked to sit down at the lunch table one day. Apparently, I was wrong. Instead, they constantly made fun of my clothes, and the books I read. I'd seen groups of boys tease each other in the same manner, but I now realized my "friends" didn't mean it in the same endearing manner the boys displayed on a daily basis.
The tip of my converse caught the edge of the cracked cement jetting out from the ground. Caught off guard by the sudden change in motion I tumbled to the ground landing flat on my back. Above me the clouds slowly drifted across the bright blue sky, but a wooden sign blocked most of the view. The wood was dry and withered but the burnt letters engraved on the slab were bold. I cocked my head to the side trying to read the letters peeking out from behind my view. Before I gave myself a headache I pushed myself off the ground turning my body toward the sign.
Eleanor Way the letters read.
The Tin Box
The wooden sign pointed down a dirt path. Bordering it were gnarled oak trees with their leaves shading the grass below them. I hadn't realized how far I had walked when I gazed behind me to see I was on the outskirts of town.
I followed the path in hopes it would lead to something more, but after walking for some time the endless path seemed to go nowhere. I could feel my legs push me forward as I came upon the next tree. They needed a rest. Happy to sit down I noticed the trunk of the tree had grown in such a way my back formed perfectly against it. I snuggled in letting the shade cool down my sunburnt cheeks.
I had drifted off when I suddenly awoke to a loud cawing above my head. There hopped a raven from one branch to another. He was mad at my presence. As I watched the crow and considered dozing off again a tiny shimmer caught my eye.
I sat up peering closer. Inside, what looked to be a hollow branch, nestled a hand sized tin box. Curious, I hoisted myself up in arms reach snatching the box from its hiding place.
Rust lined the seal. One side of the tin was duller compared to the other due to its exposure to the weather. I sank into the truck again turning the tin over to see if it would give me any clues as to what laid inside. But after a quick inspection there were no signs. The raven cawed loudly once more then flew off with a few flaps of his wings.
I pondered opening the tin. Nothing dangerous could be inside right?
I didn't linger to long on the thought. Instead, I squeezed the sides, rust particles shedding to the ground. Peeling back the lid I noticed pieces of paper folded neatly in a stack. The tin had done it's job over the years keeping out the moisture as the pieces of paper looked almost new. I plucked the top piece out of the box and set the tin down. Opening the note, I saw handwriting across the page. It was dated June 15th, 1972. 22 years ago.
June 15th, 1972 Mommy was crying again at breakfast. I heard hushed whispers coming from mommy and daddy's room this morning, but daddy got mad and stormed out before he could join us for breakfast. Mommy keeps on reassuring Billy and me that everything is okay. Mommies and daddies are allowed to yell at each other. Mommy wanted us out of the house before daddy came back. I didn't even get to finish eating my toast before mommy locked the back door after pushing Billy and I out. Billy threw rocks at me while I tried to play with him and his friends. He called me mean names saying I was dumb and that nobody wanted me. After he and his friends pointed, laughed, and ran off, I cried. He is always so mean to me. I watched the other neighbor kids play hopscotch. Barbra Jean isn't very good. I tried showing her, but she shoved me down saying I wasn't allowed to play with her or the group. I just wanted to show her how to do it right. I only got one scratch on my knee unlike the last time she pushed me down. Maybe this coming school year she will decide to be my friend. I have never had one before and it would be nice to sit with someone at lunch.
I flipped the paper over to see if there was more to the note, but the backside was blank. I read the letter again a feeling of sadness washing over me. I understood what it was like being the outcast always looking in on everyone's fun.
I rifled through the tin seeing several more letters. I unfolded the next one.
August 27th, 1972 It was my birthday yesterday. Mommy made me a chocolate cake-my favorite. It said 'Happy Birthday' on it and I blew out some candles in the shape of the number 12. Mommy invited some neighborhood kids over to enjoy the chocolate cake, but no one showed up. Nobody ever does. Not like it mattered because Billy took my cake and smashed it all over the ground. At least I got to enjoy a piece before he did that. Daddy was on his best behavior and only yelled at mommy once to clean up the mess. Probably because Uncle Todd is in town. Daddy is always in a better mood when he is visiting. Last night, Uncle Todd came into my room and told me he had a special birthday surprise for me. He said I wasn't allowed to tell anyone because it could get me in trouble. He started touching me all over and lifting up my shirt. He said only older girls do this and I mustn't tell mommy or daddy because he thinks I'm old enough. I've decided I don't want to grow up and be an older girl. It doesn't feel right. Maybe that's why mommy cries all the time. At school today a new boy sat at lunch with me. He told me his name was Dillon. I hope he will be my friend. He laughed at all my jokes and he even invited me over to his house to play on Saturday. Maybe I can show him how good I am at hopscotch.
Once again, the note ended this time tears splashing onto the page. So much for not ruining my mascara today. I sat a moment thinking about what I just read. How could anyone treat someone so poorly?
The sun descending over the hilltop told me it was time to head home. I held the tin in my hand; the letters folded neatly inside. I hesitated a moment then closed the lid. I used the outstretched branches to hoist myself to the hollow branch placing the tin gently inside.
A New Friend
I set out early the next morning to Eleanor Way in hopes of reading more about the mystery girl. In my pack I brought a banana and granola to hold me over. I could hear the swooshing of water hitting against the sides of my water bottle as I walked.
The sun was beating down as each step took me farther away from home. Anxious to find out more about the little girl the journey to Eleanor Way felt like a lifetime.
The tall oak trees appeared when I realized I had no idea how I was going to locate the tin box again. There were hundreds of oaks lining Eleanor Way each looking similar to the next. I began lightly kicking the ground and was about to curse myself out for not leaving a way to find the tree when suddenly, I heard cawing. A raven swooped past coming to rest a few trees ahead. It cawed again, tilting it's head as it peered down at me. Feeling as if the bird was speaking to me I took a few steps forward. Before I could get too close, the raven took off, once again, landing a few trees ahead. I, again, followed.
Caw, swoop. Caw, swoop. The process repeated over and over.
Just when I thought how crazy it must look to be following the bird it stopped. The raven cawed loudly this time hopping up and down along a branch. Leaning over it pecked. I heard the tin box before I saw it. The raven pecked once more with a loud thump against the box, then flew off.
Without hesitating, I whipped my backpack off my shoulder and climbed the lower branches to reach the tin. Before opening it, I grabbed some granola to munch on. I pulled out the next few letters as I continued to eat. A gap of three years seemed to be missing.
April 2nd, 1975 Billy found my diary hidden in my pillowcase. He read it out loud to the whole class. Everyone laughed and pointed at me when Billy made kissy noises while reading the part where I said I had a crush on Dillon. I ran off before Dillon could say anything to me. I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to be friends with me anymore. The girls in class kept passing notes to me saying no one would ever like me, especially Dillon. I crumpled the notes up and threw them in the trash even though I'm sure what they say is true. Why would Dillon like me?
June 21st, 1975 Dillon told me he like me today! It's the happiest I've ever been. He even kissed me on the lips. Maybe now people will stop making fun of me and be my friend. I wanted to stay with him all day but mommy and daddy made me go watch Billy play football. I don't know why they always make me go. Billy doesn't even like me. The only good thing about football is it makes Billy tired which means he usually leaves me alone. His punches have gotten harder and I've had to start covering up the bruises he leaves on me. He says I deserve it just like mommy does. Mommy says it's fine- boys will be boys.
July 5th, 1975 Dillon and I went to the 4th of July parade yesterday and ate hotdogs while waving at the floats that passed by. Dillon didn't listen to me and got sunburnt because he wouldn't put on sunscreen. We found a good spot on the lake and splashed around in the water. Billy came up behind me and untied my top in front of everyone then pushed me under water. Dillon had to shove him off before he let me up. Billy said some mean words to Dillon before he finally left us alone. Dillon made sure I was okay, but I told him I could hold my breath for a long time. We watched the fireworks and had a fire to roast marshmallows on afterwards. I let Dillon kiss my neck. It feels much different than when Uncle Todd used to do it.
I took a break reading the letters. I thought about my childhood and how I always wanted an older brother growing up, but Billy was a total dick.
An image of my mother laughing in the kitchen this morning made me realize how good our lives were. No, we didn't have a lot of money and there was only the two of us, but at least we were happy. Even when I was sad and lonely at school I knew I could always go home to find a cooked meal and a parent that loved me. There was never any screaming or abuse. Only love.
The mystery girl didn't seem to have that reprieve though. It was as if her life was a constant nightmare. One bad thing after the next. Everywhere she turned people were against her. Except for Dillon. Thank goodness for him.
I noticed another jump in the dated letters. This time only a year apart.
August 11th, 1976 Daddy hasn't come home in a few days and mommy is worried. He has been coming home later and later. Mommy says it's work related but daddy's breath always smells of alcohol. When I folded his clothes the other day I saw a lipstick stain at the collar of his work button up. It's not the same color mommy usually wears. Maybe she got a new one? Billy hit me hard in the stomach yesterday. I couldn't catch my breath and got scared. He laughed then kicked me in the shin and spit on me. I cried all night and didn't answer the phone when Dillon called. I think he is tired of hearing me cry all the time. School will be starting soon which means I won't have to see much of Billy. I hope I get Mr. Jones for chemistry this year. He is always nice to me and gives me cuties during class. Everyone calls me a teacher's pet but I don't mind.
October 28th, 1976 It's been nice not having Billy around. He got a scholarship for football and I won't have to see him until Christmas. I'm glad he is gone because I don't have to cover up any of my bruises. Not as many people laugh at me anymore either. I made a new friend in geometry. Her name is Kathy and she is new to town. She said she was from California. I invited her over and she said yes! I've never had anyone over before so I'm not sure what we will do. Maybe I can show her my rock collection I've been keeping since I was 8, and she can tell me about California. I've always wanted to go but mommy and daddy said we don't have enough money to go anywhere. That's okay, because I would probably miss Dillon too much.
A tear fell from my eye. Not of sadness, but of happiness. It seemed things were looking up for the girl. With Billy out of the picture she could actually make some friends.
I continued reading.
December 5th, 1976 Dillon told me that if I wanted him to stick around I needed to have sex with him. After school one day, he pulled me into the back of his car and started taking off my shirt and pants. I didn't want to, but he said if I loved him I would do it. It didn't last long. Dillon seemed to enjoy it though because he kept making funny noises. One of the schoolboys saw us and ran off to tell everyone. People have started making fun of me again and calling me whore. Dillon keeps telling me he is busy with schoolwork and can't hang out, but I see him hanging out with the football guys after school. I think he is avoiding me. Kathy says not to listen to what people are saying and that I should break up with Dillon. But I love him and he would never do anything to hurt me.
I gasped and reread the letter. DILLON! How could I have trusted in Dillon? He was the one who was supposed to get her through the worst. He was supposed to be her best friend, and he betrayed her.
I went to grab one of the last few remaining letters, but I was to upset. Instead, I packed up my snacks and slung my bag over my shoulder.
I tucked the tin box back in place, but before I lowered myself to the ground, I untied the ribbon holding up my hair. With a few quick twists the ribbon hung loosely from a twig.
I jumped down wiping my hands together. At least I wouldn't have any trouble finding the tree tomorrow.
A Turn of Events
"Where are you going?" my mother asked as I turned the knob to the front door.
"Ummm... to meet a friend," I said wondering why I would say such a thing.
"A friend? Who?" My mother asked with a smile over her face.
"Eleanor. Yeah....Eleanor," I smiled back proud I was able to come up with a name.
"Eleanor. What a cute name! Well have fun sweetheart," my mother turned back to finish the dishes in the kitchen happy I was meeting a friend. I quickly closed the door behind me and began the trek to Eleanor Way.
The cool shade of the oaks was refreshing compared to the sun's beaming rays. It wasn't long before I spotted my ribbon swaying slowly from the slight breeze. The tin box hiding beside it.
The night before I thought long and hard about the idea of trust. The concept though easy on paper did not seem to be executed well when it came to real life. Dillon was someone proving this theory in the girl's mystery letters. Would she be able to ever trust anyone?
February 14th, 1977 Billy found out the names people were calling me at school during Christmas vacation and told daddy. Like everyone else, daddy also started calling me a whore. He slapped me across the face like he does mommy. He said if he heard anything else I would be left for dead. Mommy told me everything would be okay and she would talk to daddy. I don't think it went well because she had a black eye the next morning. Dillon started talking to me again saying he was sorry. I forgave him because I know he didn't mean it. Kathy thinks I'm being stupid taking him back, but she doesn't know him like I do. He is taking me to get milkshakes tonight. He said he would get my favorite, chocolate. Kathy is having me stay the night at her house this weekend. We are going to read magazines and paint our nails. Daddy won't approve of the nail polish so I'll have to take it off before I go home.
May 13th, 1977 Daddy hasn't come home in over two weeks. Mommy tried to stop him from leaving. She clung to his leg as he tried to walk out the door but he shook her off. When she grabbed him again and begged for him to stay daddy swung his luggage bag hitting her across the face. Mommy looked as if she was sleeping peacefully on the floor but blood dripped from the gash on her head and daddy didn't help her. Daddy called her a mean word and spit on her. He told me I was no longer his daughter as he didn't raise no whore. I was able to pull mommy to the couch. I started to worry but she woke up. She grabbed me close and cried. I can sometimes hear her crying at night. Mommy told me daddy didn't love us anymore. I think he left us for the lipstick lady. Billy told mommy he won't be coming home. He wants to stay with daddy from now on. I'm okay with that. I think I might enjoy this summer.
September 9th, 1977 Dillon broke up with me and it is the saddest I've ever felt. Even Mr. Jones' cuties don't cheer me up. Dillon told me it was for the better but I don't know what that means. I thought he loved me. Kathy has been acting strange. She won't invite me over to her house anymore or hang out with me. I don't know what I did wrong. I don't have anyone to talk to anymore. Even mommy just sits on the couch and cries. She won't look me in the eyes.
November 2nd, 1977 Kathy told me today she was pregnant. Her parents told her she has to give it up for adoption or else they won't pay for her college tuition. She wants to keep it though. Kathy said she was going to run away and marry the dad because he made her happy. She showed me the ring he got her. Apparently it was a toy ring from those plastic containers you get at the toy shop. He plans to get her a better one when he has more money but Kathy doesn't care. I asked his name and Kathy told me Dillon was the father. I haven't stopped crying. Why does he love her and not me?
Like the mystery girl. I couldn't stop crying. I read the words 'Dillon was the father' over and over again.
It took awhile before I finally decided to read the next letter. I felt like I was going through an emotional rollercoaster, and I didn't know when it would stop. I reached for the tin box and peered inside. There was only one letter left. I dumped the letter on the ground to be sure. It couldn't be ending so soon! It just couldn't.
Seeing nothing else at the bottom of the tin box. I picked up the letter and unfolded it to revel a lengthy note.
May 23rd, 1978 Mommy is happy I'm graduating. She thinks I will be getting a job as a secretary over at the law office with her but I don't want to work there. The men are mean and grouchy. They like to grab my butt whenever I visit mommy for lunch. Mommy says it's fine but I don't like it. Mr. Jones is helping me apply to colleges. He thinks I will get a scholarship based on my grades. Mommy and I don't have any money so I hope it works. Mr. Jones says I'm good at chemistry and should keep studying. We haven't seen daddy or Billy since daddy left. Mommy seems happier. She doesn't cry as often. She's been talking to Mr. Hines, the town's librarian. He makes her laugh. They go to bingo every Tuesday. They don't ever win but that's okay. Billy got in trouble with the police after harassing some girl at a bar. He asked mommy for money but she said no. He got kicked out of school because of his behavior. Billy said he didn't like school anyways. The other day I ran into Katy and Dillon. They were taking a walk with the baby by the lake. The baby was sleeping. She is very cute. They called her Mary Grace after Kathy's grandma. Dillon looked sad when he saw me staring at the baby. I'm not mad at him or Kathy anymore. Sometimes I wish they were still my friends but I know that won't happen.
Like the very first letter I read I flipped the letter over to see if there was anything else. But that was the end. I sat and cried. Thank goodness I hadn't worn mascara today.
How could it be the end? What happened to the mystery girl? Was she happy or sad?
Starting from the beginning I read the letters over. So much emotion filled each page. When I had had enough I packed up the letters and left. My ribbon still flying in the wind.
Goodbye to Eleanor
The raven flew high over the oaks leaving a shadow on the dirt path below. He followed me until I saw the shimmer of the tin box.
I kneeled, slowly unpacking my bag with the tin box by my side. I found the pencil I was searching for with a jab to the palm. The notebook was easier to find. I sat back letting the trunk of the oak support me as I let the words flow.
July 23rd, 1994 To the Girl on Eleanor Way, I'm not sure how to write a letter to you as you have seemed to capture my attention through your words. But I do want to tell you this. Your letters and the words you penned have made me feel things and think about life more in the last three days than I ever have. Your hardship and struggles you have faced make mine seem dumb and minute when compared. For this I am grateful. Not to see you suffer but to realize how grateful I am to live the life I live. Your letters have a strong underlying message to care for the ones you love no matter how mad or angry you are at them. Trust does not come easily but when it does take it for what it is worth and no matter how many times you get knocked down always get back up. These are lessons I will take moving forward in life. Even though your letters seem to end abruptly I hope you are living life to the fullest. I sincerely hope you found a friend or lover who has your back and supports you through your endeavors. Just know, if that is not the case, you can always find a friend in me. I will always to thankful for my time spent on Eleanor Way.
I folded the paper nicely placing it on top of the others. I squeezed the tin box closed and hoisted myself to its hiding spot. I stared for a moment then proceeded to pack up my things. I started my journey down the dirt path with the town in the far-off distance.
Before I got very far I heard a flutter of wings and a caw. I turned and spotted the raven hopping on the hollow branch hiding the secret letters. The raven cawed once more tilting his head at me. After a second he pecked at the ribbon untying it from its place. With one final look, he soared down the dirt path of Eleanor Way.
Now this is what I mean when it comes to thinking outside of the box. I loved this challenge so much and this story here is the reason why. This is honestly my favorite Random Generator Short Story to date. Even though hard to swallow at some points the emotion and story are strong.
Every night I was excited to work on it and see where it was going to take me. I could definitely see this as a movie or short film.
I hope you enjoyed reading this short story as much as I enjoyed writing it! Until then,