I could feel that Eleanor was looking at me curiously; though, not a word more was spoken about the story. It was as if I had never said anything because we started talking about dresses and cooking within a minute. The day went on and after finishing the meal that Eleanor had prepared, I promised to help her with whatever she wanted help with.
It surprised me and I let out a chuckle, when she entered the living room with a large, brown box in her arms coated in dust. It looked like it hadn't been touched for centuries; I would even dare to say for millenniums! The dust cloud engulfed her as she dropped it down on the floor.
“This,” Eleanor said after laying down the box, before she again looked at me, “Is some of all the old junk that Henry and I had in the loft. We made an agreement to look it through; it's just we never got around to doing so.”
I raised an eyebrow when I opened the box. At least it wasn't as bad as the outside was... at least. I picked up an old object, held it in my hands and wrinkled my nose. With a now queasy embodiment, I looked toward Eleanor and said, “So now you’re asking me to help you? But Eleanor, it’s also Henry’s stuff.” I smiled at her as best I could and pulled back my shoulders before I continued, “Shouldn’t he be helping you instead?”
Eleanor let out a playful laugh and sat down on the couch next to the box. I sat down on the opposite end and laid down the object in the space between us. I looked at the the object again with almost squinting eyes and went on with my thought, "I'm not even sure if that's safe to use anymore. I mean, the glass is warped."
With another laugh Eleanor replied, “Don’t worry, my dear Angel. If I know Henry right, he'd rather not be doing this. As you know, there's nothing a man hates more than cleaning up after himself." She winked and with that I had nothing more to say.
I shut my mouth so I wouldn't breathe any dust, and together we began looking trough the box with a lot of old junk and rubbish. In some way, almost everything in the box meant something to either Eleanor or Henry, and one way or another, there was always a reason to keep something. I didn't necessarily know why someone wanted to keep this stuff. I mean, what was so special about an old, worn-out scarf or some tall, dirty stilettos?
Once I saw that the stilettos were in the pile of keepsakes, I looked at Eleanor with a smirk and said sarcastically, "Seriously? What makes these so special... just the fact that they're an antique now?"
“Actually,” Eleanor looked at me unperturbed and answered my question, “The stilettos are from my first date with Henry. It was on a bar up in the North.” She held the shoe in her hand and looked at it with a pair of eyes that seemed to shine because of the memory. “It wasn't exactly the best times for me then, but somehow Henry managed to persuade me."
There were quiet for a couple of seconds, before she went on, “But as I said, it was a long time ago. Could you see me wearing those shoes today?” She let out a laugh and sent me a smile, before she dug deeper into the box.
Most of the things seemed years older than when Eleanor was actually younger, and that holds quite the authority in itself. Though, she explained that some of the things had been in the family for generations. It was anywhere from old etched stones, old clothes, old dinner plates, and old photos. The one photo especially came to my attention. It was a black and white photo with a little girl on it. Her hair was blonde, with a glow, her eyes were big and her mouth was waved in a smile. Besides that, she was sitting on a swing and was looking directly at the camera.
“Eleanor,” I said and gave her the photo, “Who’s she?”
I saw how a lump stuck in her throat and how her eyes became wet. I laid a cheering hand on her shoulder and when she had the words ready, she was finally able to say, “I remember this picture… It’s Isabella, my daughter. I assume Henry or Raguel told you about her?”
I nodded my head and she continued, “Every year we travelled South, and it was Isabella's and Henry’s tradition to go fishing. Of course, Henry wanted a boy but after all, he was more than happy with Isabella and she was more than happy with him.” Eleanor smiled at herself. I could again tell it was because of the memories running though her head. “There was this lake where they used to go fishing. It’s where this photo is taken.”
She again handed me the photo and I studied it closer. In the background I could see the water shine against the sun.
“In some ways, you really remind me of her,” Eleanor continued and I gave her my attention once again, “Of course, she didn’t get that old. She was just a kid when she…” She didn’t end the sentence. Instead she tried another way, “You actually do remind me of her friend too. Evangelina was her name. They were best friends. I still remember the day they were in the garden playing with each other, but then they just... disappeared.”
“You really don’t have to tell me this, Eleanor,” I said and smiled at her, and thankfully she nodded her head and turned her gaze down the box.
After looking at the beautiful, blonde girl a final time, I turned the photo face down. There I saw some letters on the back of it saying:
"By the lake I'm swinging
Listen, listen in the trees!
Do you hear that? Do you?
By the lake the angels: singing.
Listen, listen in the breeze!
Do you see them? Do you?"
I wanted to ask Eleanor what the poem was about, but I knew that it would hurt her. Though angels? It had to mean something else, but what?
When we finished sorting through the entire box, I can't say I was surprised to find that Eleanor had to keep everything except a few rags that wouldn't work anymore. "Here," Eleanor said handing me a necklace with a metal angel's wing on it. She placed it in my hands and the wrapped my hands around it, "You should have this. It used to be Isabella's, but I'm sure she would love you to have it."
With a couple minutes of silence Eleanor stood up and continued, "Now, perhaps we can make a cake before Henry and the others come back?"
"Sure, I'd like that." I replied positively and then joked, "But only after I dust myself off."