Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wednesday Story: Eileen and the Wings of Glory

I have been working away on a "short" story that I hope you will all enjoy. Now if you will endulge me as I give you one of my most favorite genres ...

Eileen McGovern knelt on her chubby knees, her round bottom high in the air, scrubbing the bathroom tub with all the strength she could muster. True, there was not as much elbow grease left in her scrubbing, but she hated housework, and under the circumstances this was as good as she could do. After a whirlwind summer of soccer practice and art camp, Jamie, Clarke, and Bonnie had finally headed off to school leaving Eileen to scrape clean the summer grime. Flicking her drippy brown hair out of her equally brown eyes she squeezed more Super Scum Remover on the drain area. The yellow band around the tub reappeared no matter how much she rinsed. The scum was out to get her.

She could feel her hair creeping slowly down into her eyes again and a ribbon of sweat dripped steadily onto her nose. Eileen tossed the sponge at the tub, “What a joke. All this work and I’m still not done.” After a full week and a day of straight cleaning, speaking to herself was as exciting as it got. She made a fist and pressed it into her back, catching a glimpse of the ceiling out of the corner of her eye. “What a mess!” she screamed. There was mould up there too.
Things had been going badly all day. She had forgotten to pack the lunches the night before, Clarke refused to wear anything but a grubby jersey, and Bonnie had clung to her leg during the entire walk to school. To top it off she had locked herself out of the house and had subsequently been stuck for half an hour in the basement window, wondering if she could wiggle her way into the house before the neighbours called the police. It was not a good day.

“Argh!” Her head felt like a balloon. The Super Scum Remover was supposed to leave everything sparkling. “But notice,” , she said rubbing her nose furiously, “there’s no ‘stinky’ symbol next to the explosive symbol on the side of the can!” It was time for some fresh air.

Hard as it was to ignore the layer of dust on the window sill, she steeled herself and threw her shoulder into the bottom of the frame. The window slid up with a grunt, and she breathed in. There was no fresh air at all. Outside something pressed up against the screen, blocking all the air. Something big, and white.“Just one more fantastic surprise! Great!” Eileen flicked the screen to push the thing away. The thing moved. On its own. Trembling she watched as the white thing turned around and a pair of brown eyes came swaying into view. It was a horse. She blinked twice. Yes, a horse. Actually, that was a bit of a surprise.

She took a big breath in and squeaked,“I’ve been in the bathroom too long.” Racing to the door she quickly turned on the fan. “All those chemicals! It’s no wonder.” She cautiously looked over her shoulder; the horse was still there.

The horse tilted his head, “Eileen McGovern?”

Eileen blinked frantically. She rubbed her eyes. She looked around. “Clarke? Darren?”

“Actually, the name’ s Bruce I...”

Eileen slammed the window down so hard it shook. Then, quickly shutting the door for good measure, she ran into the hall and leaned panting for breath against the wall. “I must have mixed the cleaners.”

She glanced into Jamie’s room. The shades of paint splashed on the walls were very trippy indeed but that was just the way Jamie liked it. All the clothes were still strewn across the floor, her stereo sat cockeyed and open above her bed, and her stuffed bear, the large one that her boyfriend had won at the carnival, was sitting very still on the middle of her bed. It didn’t appear to be talking. Just to be sure Eileen walked across the room and poked it. The bear didn’t move. She breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m not hallucinating that much.”

Actually, the bear felt rather soft and more than a little comforting, so, feeling rather silly, Eileen clutched the bear in front of her, and tiptoed to the bathroom. She took in a few more deep breathes just to clear her head and slowly opened the door. Through the frosting on the glass she could just make out a large white shape, moving gently side to side. It still looked remarkably like a horse. Like the rear end of a horse. If it was a real horse, which she doubted, it was wedged into the yard pretty tightly. Eileen and Darren could only afford a semi, and even then the yard was barely more than a glorified path to the garage. Who ever thought this prank up had some serious time on his hands! Still, if it was a real horse, which, again, was highly unlikely, it would come with some real poop, which, in turn would mean more cleaning. Her hands clenched tightly around the bear’s throat, “not today buster!”she yelled.

Brandishing the bear high above her head Eileen ran screaming out the back door, down the steps, and came to a complete stop. This wasn’t just any horse standing in her yard. He was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. His hide was so white it glowed in the sunshine, and as the wind ruffled the leaves on her neighbour’s maple, the hide rippled, changing texture and colour like facets of a diamond. Perhaps most astonishing of all was the soft white wings folded along his body. Eileen wasn’t sure she could breathe.

“That’s a most unusual way to greet someone. Is the bear a gift?”

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