The Fall of Us

©Molly Looby CampNaNoWriMo '14 !

Enter the world of Tye. The Fall has devastated much of the world as we know it but Tye knows nothing else. He and his best friend Eeli are ready to leave their home as soon as they reach thirteen years so that they can be off on their own and be who they want to be and do what they want to do. At last.

Tye and Eeli could never have imagined how dangerous the real world was going to be.

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23. 23

I let Phee an Eeli be as we walk an find a house fer the nite. There’s only so many ways I can distract myself from their whisperin. I dunno what’s goin on but whatever it is, I don’t like it. I don’t sleep easy an I wake often, sick of the nite by the time the sun appears.

They’re larfin at each other an still holdin hands by the time we reach a lane wiff a huge house at the end of it around midday. I don’t wanna argue wiff Eeli no more so I just keep my mowf shut an pretend that Phee ain’t even wiff us an that he never found us.

We deside to check the house fer supplies an as it comes into site I see a woman sittin in the front garden wiff a big sun hat on an sunglasses like Jax had. She’s got some gardenin tools in a box an she looks up an smiles as she sees us.

I look behind us but no, she is smilin at us.

I pick up my pace an reach the woman first.

“Hi, we’re lookin fer Camrose an I just wanted to check we’re goin in the rite direkshon.” I look back at Eeli an Phee, makin sure they’re outta ear shot.

She pulls herself up, brushin dirt I don’t even see off her dress. “Where have you travelled from, my dear?”

“Croftford.”

She nods. “You’re going in the rite direkshon, yes.”

Her voice is as clear an her English is as good as Udora’s was. Maybe it was somefink about livin round here.

“Would you an your friends like to come inside for a drink? You look exhausted.”

“We’ve bin on the road about two weeks now, I reckon. But that’s alrite, fanks.”

Eeli an Phee catch up an take in the ginormous house in front’a them. It’s in perfect condition like there ain’t even bin no Fall. It’s painted white an there ain’t a crack anywhere that I can see. There ain’t even any moss clingin to it. It must be three levels high lookin at the windows. I wonder how many people could live there if so many of us lived in Nat’s house when I was little.

“Are you sure? Lunch will be ready in a tick, it’s no bother.”

I look to Eeli an Phee an they both pull faces, their eyebrows comin together an their lips pressin.

“I don’t wanna be rude but we don’t know you. We can’t trust you.”

She holds up her hand. “Of course. I have no idea how hard the road is.”

“You ain’t never bin on the road?” Eeli asks.

She shakes her head. “I’ve lived in this house since I married my husband when we were eighteen. Before that I lived in the little village down the road.”

“When there was a village,” Phee mutters.

“I’m Annette White.” Her smile is so sweet I almost don’t believe it. Her brown hair falls in waves just below her shouldas as tho she spends hours a day gittin it just so.

A man comes out the house wearin trowsers an a waistcoat, tho I don’t know what he’s dressin up fer. His hair’s as perfect as hers is.

“This is Garret,” Annette says as the man reaches us an puts his arm round her. “My husband. It really is no trouble. We’re good people.”

“Whaddya want in return?” Eeli’s dropped Phee’s hand at last an comes to stand by my side, arms crossed.

Garret shakes his head. “Nothing at all. We just want to hear your stories. It’s been so long since we’ve had visitors. Not many people come thru here anymore.”

Phee shuffles up behind me an whispers to us. “We git a free lunch outta this. If there’s any funny business we can just scarper.”

I nod, guessin he means run away by what he just said.

“I fink Phee’s rite.” Eeli looks at me. “They don’t look dangerous.”

I send my biggest grin towards the Whites. “I’m Tye Wunders. This is Eeli Star an Phee.”

“Phee Baker,” he adds.

“Tye, what’s wrong wiff you?” Eeli shakes her head. “Dint you know that?”

I ignore her. “We’d love to join you fer lunch.”

We have to leave Nimmo in the garden before Garret an Annette lead us into the house an my mowf falls open as I take it in. Everyfin inside is white wiff black extras. The stairs are white an the banister in black an the chair an table sittin under the stairs. The staircase curves round so that the base is in front of us an the top is above our heads. The floor is made of hard tiles an the other rooms I can see have got wood fer floor. There ain’t no carpet anywhere that I can see. There ain’t no doors neither, just huge archways.

There’s a patter of footsteps an there’s a girl who looks a bit younger than our age starin down at us from the banister. She looks just like Annette, rite down to the waves in her hair.

Then there’s a male voice followin her. “For god’s sake, Lacey.” He stops as soon as he sees us an stares like his sister. There’s no doubtin these are Annette an Garret’s children. They got the same tiny nose as Annette an Garret’s square face. The boy looks our age too, but olderen the girl.

“Art, Lacey, we’ve got guests.”

The both come runnin towards us as Annette calls them. The girl, Lacey, puts her hands behind her back as she stops, swayin a little as she halts too soon. She’s wearin a dress like her mother.

The boy, Art, stops runnin as he reaches the bottom of the stairs an puts his hands in his pockets as he strolls towards us like the rush has left him. He’s dressed like his father.

I feel too scruffy in my dusty combats now an I see Eeli playin wiff her hair beside me. I raise my eyebrows at her as Art offers us his hand.

“Art White,” he says as I shake it. He’s got this pleasant smile on his face that looks like he’s bin practicin his whole life.

“I’m Tye.” I nod in hello.

Eeli’s steppin in front’a me to git to Art before Phee. I know her smile is real as she shakes his hand. I can see it in her eyes.

Phee don’t grin, he gives a nod like I did.

Art motions to his sister. “This is Lacey.”

“Hi.” I wave at her an she blushes which makes me smile.

“Right!” Garret’s voice bounces off all the space in here an makes my heart jolt. “Would everyone please make their way to the dining table? Lacey an I will serve up.”

We follow Annette an Art thru a sittin room an into a dining room. The table is longeren the one at Nat’s but is only set up fer eight people where Nat’s could hold twelve of us at least. Annette an Art sit opposite each other next to the head of the table nearest the kitchen where Garrett must sit. The three of us go to the other side’a the table an stand there, waitin fer some kinda instruction.

Garret returns wiff plates an bowl an larfs at us standin here. “Sit wherever you like. You can even have the head of the table if you wish.”

I give a smile in thanks an sit at the other head of the table, feelin big an important tho I ain’t done nuffink. My rucksack is on the floor rite next to me, the strap wraped round my ankle. Eeli sits next to me on one side an Phee on the other. When Lacey’s finished goin back an forth from the kitchen she drops into the chair next to Eeli, lookin at her like she ain’t never seen anyone like it. Phee is sittin next to no one on his other side an by the way he sighs an relaxes into his chair, he must be glad’a the fact.

Garret comes back wiff a glass bottle. He holds it up proudly. “I know it isn’t much past midday but we’ve got guests so we’re allowed to celebrate.”

He pours the liquid into Annette an Art’s glasses. It comes back a faded yellow colour. Lacey gits some too but a lot less than her brother. I screw up my eyebrows as Garret pours the three of us a whole glass.

“What is it?” I ask, inspectin it close.

“Saveenyon blonk.”

I give Eeli a look an she shrugs. “Ain’t never heard of it.”

Phee shakes his head.

“It’s white wine,” Annette says wiff a larf underlyin in her voice. “Have you never seen it before?”

We collectively shake our heads.

“Have a taste.” Garret sits down, takin his own glass an holdin it up to us before drinkin.

I’m worried about the look of it but Eeli’s already takin a swig. It hits her tongue an her eyes bug wide and she swallows whilst wavin one hand up an down. She sticks her tongue out an shakes, makin a sound of disgust.

All four of the Whites larf.

“Ee,” I hiss. “You fort Apple was tryin to poison us. Why ain’t you as cautious now?”

She shrugs. “I dunno. They’re posher.”

“So?”

“I guess I dunno why they’d poison me, it all came from the same bottle, Tye, we saw it bein poured.”

I shake my head.

“It’s gross anyway.” She grins. “You don’t wanna taste it.”

We dig into lunch, the table fulla food. They’ve got vegetables an meat an bread an cheese an all sorts, all fer their tiny family. Fer lunch.

I eat until my stomak feels too close to explodin an then I stop, food still coverin the huge table.

It makes me feel sick.

“What happens to all this food?” I can’t help but ask.

“We’ll save some for tomorrow but it’ll probably end up bein thrown away.” Annette finished eatin ages ago. I don’t fink she had enuff to be full.

I sit up in my chair. “What?”

“Excuse me is a more polite way of saying that, Tye.” Annette snaps, that sweet smile still there, clangin wiff her words.

“Sorry. I mean, excuse me?” It’s weird sayin it an meanin it in a ‘polite’ way. Me an Eeli only ever say excuse me when we’re annoyed at someone.

“We throw some food away,” Garret says. “It’s fine. Don’t get worked up over it.”

“Could we at least take away wiff us whatever you throw away?” I ask.

Eeli nods. “We don’t find much of anyfink on the road. We’ve still gotta coupla days before we reach Camrose.”

Annette wrinkles her nose up an looks to her husband before addressin us again. “Of course you can. If you really want someone else's left overs.”

“Most’a this food ain’t even bin touched.”

“Most of this food hasn’t even been touched, Tye.”

Phee an Eeli are lookin at me, smirkin.

“I don’t see the difference.”

“Oh there’s a difference. What you’re saying is incorrect.”

“No it ain’t.”

“No it isn’t.” She larfs. “Did you not learn this as a child?”

“We was too busy workin on our farm to be busyin ourselves wiff words an letters.”

“You can’t read?” Lacey’s eyes grow wide. She blushes as I meet her face again.

“No, we dint have time to learn somefink useless like that.”

Annette reaches out fer Lacey’s hand but can’t reach across the huge table. “Don’t listen to them, Lace. It’s not useless, it’s the most powerful tool in the world.”

“Try keepin yerself alive off words. You can’t.” I clench my fists under the table, tryin to keep my voice even as I talk.

Eeli pulls her chair closer to mine an her hand’s on mine, squeezin hard. “They don’t know,” she whispers.

I let out a slow breath an nod.

There’s quiet at the table as the Whites look to one another like they don’t believe what they’re hearin.

Garret stand up, his chair scrapin across the floor as he does. “Art, why don’t you show our guests into the lounge while we clear up.”

We all nod, pickin up our bags an followin Art thru two archways to reach the livin room. I would’a offered to help but I dint fink I could watch em wayste even a mowfulla food wiffout shoutin.

“Please, sit down.” Art motions to the three sofas that are plumped an spotless, all facin a coffee table made’a glass. I tiptoe over the rug an sit myself as gentle as I can on the cushions, not wantin to make any kinda dirt patch. Eeli an Phee sit down too, Eeli in the middle.

I gaze at the white curtains an vases of flowers. How could one house be so neat an tidy but still have people livin in it?

“So you’re traveling?” Art says as he sits down on a different sofa.

I nod. “Fer the moment.”

“What’s it like?”

“Whaddya mean?”

“Out there, in the world. What does everything look like?”

“We’ve bin thru fields an towns an ruins.”

Eeli’s noddin beside me. “Ain’t you seen any of it, Art?”

He shakes his head. “I’ve been in this house my entire life. I go shopping with them when I can just to get out.”

“It’s pretty nice here,” Phee says. “It’s not this nice out there, you should know that.”

“Phee, that don’t matter.” I scowl at him. “Mine an Eeli’s home was nice but we couldn’t live there forever. How old are you, Art?”

“I’m fifteen years old.”

“See, me an Eeli’re thirteen years an we’re out in the world. You should be too. What do you even do here?”

“Nothing much. We learn our lessons but that’s it.”

“What, do you just trade this stuff fer food an that?”

“Yeah.”

“What happens when you run outta stuff?”

“That won’t happen for a long time, we have a lot of things.”

“How did it all survive The Fall?”

“This was my great-grandfather’s house. He kept it as normal as he could for my grandfather as he grew up during The Fall.”

“This house has been like this fer seventy years an no one’s made’a mess of it? I can’t believe that!”

“It’s true. My grandfather grew up and married my grandmother and they had my father. Eventually he got the house and here we are.”

“So, what?” Eeli moved forward on the sofa, restin her arms on her nees. “You’ve gotta find a girl an settle here an have chillren an keep the house?”

He shrugs. “There aren’t many people living around here anymore. I don’t really know anyone outside of this house.”

“This is stoopid.” I larf. “What do you want, Art?”

“I don’t have a choice.” He mutters it quiet as Lacey comes into the room. “Don’t say anything like that to her. Leave her be.”

“Mum said you can join me for my piano lesson if you want, Eeli.” She starts off loud but seems to lose confidence as she goes on, meaning Eeli’s name’s whispered.

Eeli’s eyes grow wide an I chuckle. “You gotta piano?”

Lacey nods, grinnin now.

Eeli squeals an jumps up, rushin over to Lacey an takin her hand. Standin side by side like that they was the same hight. Eeli’s hair seems crazy next to Lacey’s controlled waves an the dirt on her face from yesterday seems darker. Considerin all Eeli’s bin thru an all the scratches on her from Nimmo yesterday an the dust an sweat still clingin to her, she’s obviously the more beautiful. Lacey may be pretty but there was somefin about Eeli. There’s always somefin about Eeli.

“We gotta go,” I say, standin up. “We got somewhere to be.”

“Please, Tye.” Eeli’s eyes eat me up. “We’ll leave before nitefall, promise.”

“Yer the one who told me you’d blame me fer missin Wren Song when I was havin breakfast at Jax’s. This ain’t fair.”

“It’s my dream, it’ll be my fault. I’ve always wanted to see a piano.”

“God, Tye.” Phee huffs. “Just let her go will ya?”

I spin round to glare at him an I hear two pairs of feet leave the room.

I clear my throat an take a few breaths before facin Art again. “So this is what houses used to look like before The Fall?”

Art shakes his head. “This is what a mansion looked like before The Fall. Ordinary people didn’t live like this.”

“Is that how you see us?” I sit down on the only spare sofa. “As ordinary?”

“Yes. But I want to be ordinary too.”

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