This writing is the result of a "popcorn writing" exercise with Esther.
Every day, Ellie walked up the hill. And every day she rolled herself back down. On some days, the clouds rolled in above her and soaked the hill with rain. She'd take off her clothes and roll down anyway, for lack of anything to hold onto. In the wintertime, it was covered in ice, and it was dangerous. Ellie knew a boy once who died flying down on his sled on Christmas Eve. Ellie didn't know him after that.
Ellie was a Dandelion. Nobody planted her, but her seed grew roots in a place of complacency. And so, she sprouted. Yellow and stark as a porcupine, until a stiff breeze comes to send her away. Until that day, she sits like a yellow freckle in my thick, green lawn, and I watch her drinking tea at my living room table.
I've known Ellie since I was in my mother's womb, and she's known the world just a bit longer than that. We grew up knowing that we would always be together. But still somedays she's nowhere to be found. Even the whispers in the wind fall silent as the world waits. For her, it always waits. And from out behind a tree or a truck tire she springs, humming like she's arriving right on time.
"What'cha looking at?" She asked me from across her double bed. They call them sleepovers, but we never did sleep. I was looking at the lashes of her left eye, which she'd singed off trying to light one of her mother's cigarettes the night before.
"Nothing El," was all I could think to say. She stared at me, absent-mindedly. She never really listened to me at all. Sometimes it made me mad. This was one of those times. Of course I still said yes when she asked if I wanted to go on an adventure instead of sleep. Her mother was with a "client" that night, and she'd never realize we were gone.
"Where are we gonna go?"
"Stop asking questions. Feel the wind blow. We'll go with it."
And we did. It was cold outside, and my pants were too short so my ankles stung in the slush. Ellie was fast in the daytime, but she was lightening at night. I could barely keep up. Every other step fell in a puddle and my feet were growing numb.
"El!" i yelled. "Wait up!"
And she did. That's the thing about Ellie. She's narrow-minded, but she'd never leave a man behind. Even as a child, you could feel her soul had been around for decades. She has character. She carried me. I was almost asleep when I heard the first whistle. My eyes bounced around the ground and then I saw the train.
"El…" but it was barely there.
She ran, with me over her shoulder as the train crept by at a pace that was still fast enough to remind us it was the master. She threw my body into an open door. I heard hers land beside me with a thud. We were only nine years old.
Ellie loves that story, but she doesn't actually remember it happening. I think she thinks I'm making it up and that in reality she's just a regular Joe. Even though that's far too far from the truth.
I miss the look in her eyes when she could see herself as she really was. A warrior, a temptress, an animal. Now it's like these memories are too powerful to sync and she's left with a shell of her enormous humanity. She's a shadow, a falling leaf. She's the boy on the sled, she's an echo.
Chicago-born citizen of the globe, rich in the things that really matter. Let's get weird.