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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25. 25

I stand in one of the archways facin the stairs, waitin fer Eeli an Phee to appear again. I shut my eyes an breathe slow, listenin to Nimmo barkin an whinin outside. I can’t hear Eeli anymore. Phee musta calmed her down a bit. I can smell cookin meat comin from the kitchen an I wunder how much the Whites eat every day.

There’s a tap on my arm an I open my eyes. Lacey’s there lookin at me, a shy smile jumpin to her lips all at once. I shake my head an smile back.

“Mum wanted me to ask you if you’re staying for dinner?”

I scratch my head. “I dunno. I fink we probably are seein as they ain’t come back yet. Go ask them.”

I slide down to the floor, lettin the frame of the archway dig into my back as she disappears again. Lacey’s footsteps sound on the stairs an then they patter into the kitchen an back into the hall wiff me. I hear her breathin close to me as she sits down too.

“Mum said she really likes Eeli.”

I look at her as she speaks. She’s got her nees up an she’s restin her head on them.

“She said she could turn her into a proper lady.”

“Well she ain’t gonna. Eeli’s fine how she is. She don’t need all this.”

She nods. “Why did you say that to her?”

“That she looked weird? Cause she did.”

“She didn’t tho. Phee was rite. She looked beautiful.”

“I ain’t seein it. Eeli don’t need dresses an stuff, she don’t need anyfink. We ain’t never had anyfink like that.”

“You really upset her. Don’t you want to apologise?”

“Fer what? I dunno what I did.”

Lacey looks at me till her face turns red an she buries it in her nees. She mumbles thru the fabric of her dress. “I would be upset too.”

“I never meant to upset her but I ain’t ever lied to her. That’s what’s most important ain’t it?”

“I suppose.”

“You don’t have a best friend, do you, Lacey?”

Her hair swishes as she shakes her head.

“Then I don’t fink you can know what I mean.” I pull myself up. “She’ll forgive me. This ain’t the first time we’ve fallen out over nuffink.” I make my way to the front door, needin fresh air rite that second.

The breeze sets the hairs on my arms to standin an I pull my jacket outta my rucksack. Nimmo’s at my feet at once, bouncin, tail waggin like crazy. I sit on the steps to the house an let him lick my hands an face. The cold seeps into my combats at once. I larf at Nimmo an ruffle his cool fur.

“Least you still like me, Nimmo.”

The sun’s almost dropped off the horizon an I can’t see the end of the path leadin to the Whites’s house. We’re gonna have no choice but to stay here the nite.

Nimmo calms an sits at my feet, tail still bouncin offa the pavement.

“I fink I’m gonna have to sneak you in. You’ll be cold out here. I ain’t gonna leave you, don’t worry. I reckon yer my responsibility, eh?”

My eyes are so used to the lite I don’t notice it’s almost full dark until someone opens the front door an lite comes streamin over the steps. The smell of cookin makes my mowf water, tho my stomak ain’t empty. Nimmo jumps up to greet whoever it is an the high pitched squeal means it’s Lacey again.

“He won’t hurt you.”

She’s pressed herself up against the outside of the house on her tiptoes, wimperin.

Nimmo’s rushin around her feet but sits as she does nuffink. He cocks his head to the side as he looks at her, tail still waggin, always waggin. Lacey peeps open one eye but still don’t move.

“Nimmo, stoopid dog, come here.” I pat my leg an he darts over. I put my arms round him, grabbin the scruff of his neck so he don’t go nowhere. “It’s okay.” I tell Lacey. “I got him. He’s just friendly, I promise.”

She comes down off her tiptoes an edges closer to us. Nimmo’s tongue is stickin out an it looks like he’s smilin at her.

“Where did you get him?” she asks.

“We saved him bout three days ago. He was trapped in a shop. He kinda follows us now.”

She nods.

“Do you wanna stroke him? He’s good, he’ll only lick ya. I ain’t never seen him bite anyfink.”

She presses her lips together but gives a quick nod.

“Here.” I take her hand in mine an place it on Nimmo’s back. Her hands are slender an only a little smaller than mine.

A smile creeps up her face an she giggles. I take my hand offa hers but don’t let Nimmo go.

“You be good.” I tell him an it’s like he understands me cause he sits all proud an lets Lacey stroke him.

“I haven’t seen a dog before,” she whispers.

“I ain’t seen many. The market man used to have an old one but I guess it musta died cause I ain’t seen it in about seven moons.”

She crinkles up her nose. “Seven moons? Do you mean months?”

“Huh? I ain’t never heard that word before.”

“Months? There are twelve in a year.”

“I guess that’s like moons, but sometimes there are thirteen moons in a year. Also depends when you start countin the beginnin of the year.”

“January. That’s the beginning of the year.”

“Says you. I ain’t never heard of January. Yer makin it up.”

“So you won’t know when your birthday is, will you?”

“I don’t understand.”

“I was born on the second of December.”

I shake my head. “I dunno when December is.”

“It’s really cold, the last month of the year. The month before January. It’s the same month as Christmas.”

“You do talk a lot of weird, Lacey.”

“You don’t know what Christmas is?”

I shake my head. “But you dint know what a dog looked like till now.”

“I’ve seen them in books. I’ve read about them.”

I look out into the garden an sigh. “I reckon we’re from different worlds.”

“I think you’re rite.” Her hand on Nimmo’s fur creeps closer to mine, I can see it from the corner of my eye. She stops just as she’s about to reach me. “I’m glad you came today, Tye. I was beginning to think Maplewood was the entire world.”

“Maplewood?”

“The house.”

“You named yer house?”

She shakes her head. “It’s been called that for generations.”

“You Whites you ain’t half odd.”

She larfs an we hear Annette callin us from inside. “We think the same of you.”

I take her hand as I stand up strate an her breath shoots outta her in one big gasp. “I don’t want Nimmo to be freezin, do you fink we could sneak him in?”

“Mum an Dad would kill me if they knew there was dog hair in their house.”

“Oh, he’ll be good. Won’t you, Nimmo?”

He licks my hand an Lacey giggles. “I suppose he shouldn’t sleep out here.”

“If they catch us I’ll tell em it’s my fault an I’ll sleep outside wiff him.”

“You can’t do that. You’ll freeze.”

“It’s summer, it’s okay. I’ve slept outside before.”

“I’d let you sleep in the summer house but I don’t know where the key is.”

I musta given her a look cause she grins an carries on.

“It’s a little house at the end of the back garden we sit in sometimes in the summer.”

“Weird.” I shake my head. “You got two houses?”

“It doesn’t count as a house.”

Annette calls again an Lacey slips into the house still holdin my hand, me an Nimmo creep in behind her.

“Go up the stairs an go to the bedroom furthest away. I’ll tell her you’re just coming.”

“Fanks.” I skweeze her hand an kiss her cheek an her whole face goes as red as whatever was on her lips from earlier.

Nimmo an I follow her instructions and I shut the door behind us as slow an quiet as I can till it’s clicked. I rummage thru my bag an throw bits of lunch down fer him.

“You be good. No barkin. No whinin. You stay here all quiet. I’ll come git you soon.”

I’m the last one to sit down at the table. Phee’s sittin at the head now. No one but Lacey looks at me as I enter. I sit where Phee sat fer lunch, Lacey on this side’a the table now, next to me. Annette an Garret are chattin away to Phee about somefink an Eeli’s lookin at her plate. She’s wearin her combats an vest top again but her hair is still in that weird tied tail thing. She’s washed off them colours from her face an she looks like my Eeli again. I catch her eye an smile, stickin my tongue out an makin a face. She just looks at me fer a moment an shakes her head, lookin around the table.

“Ee,” I hiss. “What’s wrong?”

Lacey nudges me hard in the ribs wiff her elbow.

I suck in a breath an scowl at her.

All she does is shake her head.

“Are we not allowed to talk now?”

“Whaddya say, Tye?” Phee’s sayin.

“Huh?” I look up an the whole table’s expectin an answer from me, essept Eeli.

“Are we gonna stay the nite?”

“I don’t fink we have much choice. It’s full dark out there now.”

Phee gives the Whites a smile that looks like it don’t belong on his face. “We’d love to.”

“Excellent!” Annette looks from Phee to Eeli but only glances over me. “We’ve got enuff bedrooms so you can each have yer own.”

“No.” I say an everyfin goes silent.

Phee kicks me under the table.

I ignore the poundin in my shin. “We ain’t never bin on our own like that.” I look at Eeli but she won’t meet my eye. “Me an Eeli’s from a big family. I wouldn’t feel safe on my own. I’ll share.”

“No you will not.” Annette slams her fork down on the table. “You may share with Phee and Eeli may share with Lacey, if that’s alrite, Lacey?”

Lacey nods in a furious manner but ain’t lookin at anyone.

Phee an I look at one another. I dunno what he’s finkin but if it’s anyfink like what’s goin on in my head he’s wunderin how he’s gonna survive the nite wiffout killin.

Everyone seems real interested in their food all at once, essept Lacey who’s lookin at me again, nose crinklin in that way it seems to when she don’t understand me.

“You an Eeli aren’t related are you?”

I go to answer but Annette jumps in. “Of course not, Lacey. Look at them. They cannot be related. He’s lying to you.”

“Hey. Just cause we ain’t related don’t make us strangers.”

“It doesn’t make you family.”

“As good as. I look out fer her every second of the day, that don’t mean nuffink?”

“Excuse me, Tye.” Garret’s face has gone all dark. “I would appreciate if you stopped talking to my wife like that.”

“I ain’t bein rude. You lot are the ones ignorin me.”

“Perhaps we’re trying to gloss over the fact that you are the rudest person we’ve ever met before.” A strand of Annette’s hair has fallen across her face an she tucks it behind her ear as she glares at me. Garret’s givin me a similar look. Art don’t look impressed by the whole fing. Lacey’s eyes are still glued to me. Eeli’s lookin at the table again an Phee’s lookin at me like he wants to shrug but daren’t.

I take a moment to compose myself, doin that slow breathin Nat tort Devlan when she got worked up over somefink. “If you gotta problem wiff me, just say it. I ain’t rude. I’m just different from you. I ain’t gonna let you walk all over me, I don’t let no one do that. If you want me to leave, I’ll go.”

Quiet seems to suffocate them all as they look to one another.

“I see.” I stand up. “Seein as no one wants me here anyway, I’ll be upstairs. We’ll be gone in the mornin an you can forget all about us.”

I tuck my chair in an go to leave but Annette speaks again.

“What if Phee an Eeli want to stay?”

Eeli’s eyes bug wide.

“Of course they don’t wanna stay.” I larf. “We’re goin to Camrose to meet Wren Song. That’s what Eeli wants to do. I dunno bout Phee, he just doesn’t wanna be lonely. He can stay if he wants but me an Eeli’re goin.”

“Have you asked her?”

“I don’t have to. I know her answer. You wanna go an be Wren Song’s singin star, don’t you, Eeli?”

She nods an looks at the Whites who’s faces drop. “I do like it here, but that’s my dream. It’s always bin my dream an I’m not givin up now I’m so close.”

“But we could take you in. You’d fit in well here. You wouldn’t have to worry about anything ever again.”

Eeli takes a deep breath, stands, an walks over to me where she takes my hand. “I know you don’t like Tye. I don’t like Tye sometimes.” I skweeze her hand. “But he’s my best friend an he’s the only one who’s stuck by me no matter what. I like yer house an yer dresses but I ain’t lettin you push Tye away. He’s a great person, the best. I dunno what yer problem is wiff him.”

“But he was completely out of line when he saw you earlier.” Annette’s hands are together, like she’s pleadin.

“He weren’t.” She grins at me an I wanna scoop her up in a hug but I know she’s got more to say. “He was tellin me the honest truth like always.”

“You looked fine,” I whisper. “But better now.”

“I feel better now. Let’s go.”

“I ain’t turnin down a bed fer the nite.”

“Me either.” She turns to the Whites as we reach the doorframe. “We’d still like to stay this evenin. Fanks fer the kind offer. We’ll be gone in the mornin, g’nite.”

Eeli an I giggle our way upstairs to the room I shut Nimmo in. An all the while we don’t let go of each other’s hands.

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