Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Story: Eleanor Eleanor

“Eleanor! Eleanor!”

She was in her room, playing her compiano. Over and over again, testing out the notes in order to get them just right. One two three four notes perfect then add a few more and play it all.

“Eleanor! Eleanor!”

It was Chuck, her older brother of eleven years calling for her to come see their new tree house. He and dad had been working on it for quite some time and apparently, it had just been completed.

“Eleanor, come on and see!!”

One two thhhhree four five six six seven notes almost perfect… one more time, one two three four five six seven eight- PERFECT!” She flipped the switch off and sprang up from the floor and out the door to her impatient brother.

“Ay Caramba!”

It was glorious! It had to be taller than any tree house ever made and without the aid of a single tree to hold it up. It was a tree all it’s own, a new species. Chuck demonstrated the ladder and the door above his head, climbing up into the new structure. He closed the door behind him and Eleanor heard his dancing footsteps above her.

“Come on up, sis.”

Chuck called, as he opened the door a crack and stuck his freckled nose out. She clapped a few times in glee and grabbed a hold of a wooden rung, pulling herself up to step on the bottom one. She made her way to the top and pushed up on the door, one hand still on the ladder.

“Move it, Chuck!”

She grunted as she tried to make the door budge. There was a thump of chucks shoes on the floor, and the door opened with ease, letting her climb up into the open space.

“Wow! It’s huge!”

“Yeah, aint it great?”

“What are we gonna put up here?”

“I don’t know, but look at this-“

“No way! A table?!”

“Yep, and a bench.”
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Eleanor was awoken one night by the back door shutting behind her father. He unlaced his boots and pulled them off as she peered around the door.

“What were you doing?”

She asked him, moving closer.

“Raccoons in yer tree house. I had to get ‘em out of there”

“Raccoons?”

Eleanor moved to the window, standing on her toes in order to see the fort in the back yard. The moon shining behind it cast long shadows on the grass, and made the fort look so strange. She had never seen it at this time of night. Were there really raccoons inside?

“They don’t know how to open up the door from the inside. We’ll have to put a lock on it.”
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The next night, she pushed the keys on the unplugged compiano, practicing silently in her bed. She lay awake until everyone was asleep. And when she felt it was time, she tip-toed out to the window where she could keep an eye out for raccoons.

Eleanor stood at the window near her parents’ room until her eyes were almost too heavy to hold open. She exercised all of her willpower to stay awake and to stay quiet.

Redirecting her gaze to the skies, she became entranced by the perfectly round moon above. It was hypnotizing. It captured all of her attention and held it there.

For a moment, she thought nothing, and just before the glowing orb could lull her to sleep, something moved in the corner of her eye.

Here it was. What she had been waiting for all night…
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Two fat raccoons and one scrawny tag along creped along the horizon towards the stilted structure. Eleanor squinted through her spectacles as she watched them carefully climb the ladder, and then disappear from sight.

“So it is true.”
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The dewy grass squished beneath her bare feet as Eleanor ran up the steep hill leading to the tree house. She knew that the creatures were unable to get out on their own, but there was still a sense of urgency for her to get to them as soon as her legs could carry her.

As she grew closer to her destination, she began to slow down. A sudden wave of apprehension washed over her. What was she doing here? Why did she come to meet these animals?

Eleanor decided she must at least see them. She crawled up the ladder slowly, finally pausing at the top.

She remembered her first time climbing the ladder. Nothing had stopped her from springing up through the door but her teasing brother. This time, her own fears were the only thing holding her back.
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There was a creek of the hinge as Eleanor hesitantly pushed up on the door. She scanned the room and all she saw was the dusty floor.

“Did I dream it all up?”

Eleanor thought to herself. She climbed in and sat Indian style on the floor, resting her chin on her balled up fist.

Before another thought even had a chance to surface, she felt a presence behind her. Eleanor turned her head and was suddenly face to face with a big fat raccoon.
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The animal before her did nothing but sniff. Eleanor would, every once and a while feel the cold wet nose bump into her skin, or feel the long whiskers brush up against her as the raccoon explored her scent.

The other fat raccoon was crouched down in the corner hissing his distaste at the intruder, while the small skinny one yowled into the air.

Eleanor was frozen. She wanted to run, but as she sat and watched the reaction of the three animals, she discovered that they were just as scared as she was- perhaps even more so.

Pushing through her nervousness, she held her trembling hand out to the raccoon that seemed most friendly- the one sniffing her. It smelled the outstretched hand and placed its front paws on top of it, pulling itself up to look Eleanor in the face.

The other two beasts fell silent. With a look over the shoulder, the raccoon near Eleanor gave the sign that the human could be trusted. They came over at once, as if they had never been suspicious at all.
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Eleanor opened the door to the tree house and jumped down with the raccoons. They led her away from her home and into the woods.
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The raccoons taught Eleanor a different sort of life. It was the life of a raccoon.

They napped in trees and snacked on cat food. They showed her how to clean food in the river and how to find treasure in the human’s trash.

Living their lives both in the woods and in the town, there was no place they were afraid to go. Under the cover of night they explored the city unnoticed and then slipped back into the woods during the day to rest.

Eleanor had never known life like this before. She began to forget what it was like to live in a house, sleeping in a bed at night and going to school in the day.

Time meant nothing to her now. She vaguely noticed the changes of the moon in the sky, signifying that she had lived in the wild for at least three months. But the time didn’t concern her. She didn’t have to wake up at 8:00 for school every day or be in by 6:30 for supper. When she was hungry, she ate, and when she was tired she slept. This is how the raccoons lived.
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“Eleanor! Eleanor!”

“Eleanor! Eleanor!”

Sometimes, in the day, Eleanor would wake up to shouts. She would hear voices calling out a familiar yet forgotten word.

For a moment, it would distress her. She knew it somehow, she knew it was important, but Eleanor had not spoken that language in so long. She would wrack her brain for the meaning of the word, but would soon fall asleep and forget about it in the night when she got up.
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One night the raccoons led Eleanor out of the woods and up a big hill. As they got closer and closer to the top, she began to get the feeling that she had been there before. Then she saw something that made her remember everything she had forgotten.

It was a tree house…

The tree house…

Her tree house!

She climbed up the ladder ahead of her raccoon family, but when she reached the top she discovered that she could not get in. Her father had installed the lock that he had talked about.
The conversation between her and her father suddenly felt like only yesterday, yet more than three months had passed since the day she ran away.

Eleanor looked down the other side of the hill and saw her house. She looked closer and saw the silhouettes of her mom, dad, and brother inside. They were getting ready to go to bed.
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Eleanor began to cry.

She wanted to be tucked into bed by her father and kissed on the forehead by her mother.

She remembered that she was not a raccoon; she was a human child with a human family.

But she had become like family with these animals as well. She couldn’t just leave them now and forget all that she had learned from them. She could not abandon them like she had done with her human family.

Eleanor did not know what to do.
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With a great leap, Eleanor came down from the ladder and with a look back to the raccoons, she ran toward the house.
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A multitude of kisses, hugs, tears, and laughter engulfed Eleanor (despite her outdoorsy stench) as she entered the house and made her presence known.

How could she have forgotten about this love?

speaking of love...

wasn’t it love Eleanor felt towards the raccoons?

Eleanor expressed this thought to her mother, and asked if the raccoons could move in with them. It’s only fair.

“Raccoons are filthy creatures dear,” her mother replied, “they carry diseases. Now go get in the tub.”
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The End

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