Home > Eleanor & Grey(9)

Eleanor & Grey(9)
Author: Brittainy C. Cherry

As I sat in my bed, staring at my ceiling, I thought about ideas of things Eleanor and I could do when we hung out again. I thought about places she might like to see, and things she might like to do.

I tried to figure out foods she could eat with braces, so she wouldn’t be annoyed when I devoured pizza. I thought about if maybe I should bring her flowers to make her day a little better, but then I thought maybe she didn’t like flowers. Not all girls liked flowers, though a majority of them did.

Then I thought about her smile.

She always had a tight grin, and she hardly showed her teeth. Maybe because she had braces and she was insecure. But she had nothing to be insecure about. When Eleanor smiled a real smile, it was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen.

Mom called Dad an asshole, and I heard something shatter.

I turned up my music, and focused my thoughts more.

Skating.

I wondered if Eleanor liked roller skating.

I’d really love to take her skating.

Even though I’d probably fall on my butt.

That night I just kept thinking about Eleanor. Lately thoughts about her seemed to be the only thing that kept my mind from spiraling. I knew I told her that I wanted to be her friend to keep her from being lonely, but maybe I needed a friend just as much as she did.

Maybe I needed her even more than she needed me.

“Okay, pick out as many books as you want, then we’ll head off to part two of today’s adventure,” I told Eleanor as we walked down the fantasy aisle of a used bookstore. It had only been a week since the last time I saw her, but I swore it felt a lot longer.

“Oh, Grey, you should never say those words to a bookworm. We’ll need a U-Haul to carry the books out of here,” she semi-joked.

“All right, then let’s just stick to two for now and then we’ll move on to the next stop. There’s no rush, though. Take your time.”

She headed off to find her two books while I tried my best to narrow it down to five.

I went with a fantasy and a horror, and she chose a historical and a comedy.

I was definitely going to borrow her novels from her once she finished reading.

“Okay, where to next?” she asked, holding her books to her chest.

“We’re gonna go to a coffee shop and read our books. I figured that’s what people do—drink coffee and read.”

She blushed but she tried to keep me from noticing her reddening cheeks. She turned away from me a bit, and it was fucking adorable.

“Oh, cool,” she said. “I’ve never really had coffee, though.”

“What?! And you call yourself a bookworm?” I laughed. “I haven’t really drank coffee either, but we can learn what our favorites are.”

She smiled, and that was fucking adorable, too.

I loved it when she smiled, and I meant really smiled, showing me all of her braces. Her real smiles meant she wasn’t sad for a moment, and that was good. It was so important in life to have a few moments when you weren’t really sad.

We headed to the coffee shop a few blocks away. After we walked in, we tried almost all of their specialty drinks.

I wondered if Eleanor noticed my eye twitching from the caffeine high I was experiencing.

Though, she probably missed it, because she was busy being really talkative. Maybe that was what happened to her when she had caffeine—she became less shy.

I learned that I liked mochas. Eleanor was more specific about her likes, though: two sugars, one pump of vanilla, extra cream.

After we found our beverages of choice, we stopped talking so much because we were both too busy drinking coffee and reading books. Every now and then, though, she’d glance my way and smile, making me smile back.

Her smile was really growing on me. I could get used to seeing it once a week.

After a few hours, we made the walk back to her place. I loved how she hugged the books against her chest as if she was cradling babies.

“You know what I didn’t think about over the past few hours?” she asked as we reached her front porch.

“What’s that?”

“Cancer.”

I grinned.

Good.

We started seeing each other more and more, and if we weren’t seeing each other, we were talking on AOL Messenger. I’d tell her my favorite kung fu films, and she’d toss me her favorite novels. Then, we’d do the homework of watching the films or reading the books and we’d report back to each other with our thoughts.

When she’d babysit Molly, she’d first walk to my house, where I’d be sitting on my front porch, waiting for her arrival. Then I’d escort her three houses down, cross the street with her, and walk her to Molly’s. Then, as I walked back to my place, I’d think about her smile.

I’d think about her laugh, and her favorite cardigans, and how she’d light up when she talked about a good book. I’d think about how her smile looked more like a frown whenever I asked for an update on her mom. I’d think about the things that made her happiest. I’d think about the things that made her sad.

Everything.

I’d think about it all.

I kept making lists of different things we could do together. Different ways to keep her mind busy. Different ways to have her around me.

Eleanor was beginning to be my first thought in the morning, and the last thought before my head hit the pillow at night.

I didn’t know it was possible...

I didn’t know how quickly your heart could begin beating for someone who had been nothing but a stranger a few weeks before.

7

Eleanor

Finally I decided to show Greyson the dragonflies. We met in the parking lot of Laurie Lake, and when he arrived, I swore he was more handsome than ever before. He was just wearing a white T-shirt and dark jeans, but to me, he looked amazing.

“Hey.” I smiled.

“Hey,” he replied, and then he hugged me.

He walked straight up to me, wrapped his arms around me, and hugged me.

Yup.

He hugged me.

Our first hug.

He did it so effortlessly, too, as if hugging was our normal way of greeting. I hugged him back, and probably held on for longer than I should have, but I didn’t care. It seemed like he didn’t care either, because he held me tight until I let him go.

When I pulled back, I cleared my throat and wouldn’t even look at him because I was so nervous. What did the hug mean? Did the seconds we’d held on mean more than a normal friendship hug? Did he get nervous, too? Was I overthinking every single second of every single day since Greyson East had put himself into my life?

“So, where are the dragonflies?” he asked, breaking me away from my dramatic thoughts.

I cleared my throat and rubbed my left hand up and down my right arm. “Oh, this way. Come on.”

We walked through the more popular park areas where people were having cookouts and playing volleyball. The lake was always packed during the summer days. Raine didn’t get many warm days, and we made it our mission to soak up the sun as much as possible.

When Greyson and I reached the hiking trail, he was determined to pet every dog that crossed our path. Each time he discovered a new pup, his eyes would light up as if it were the only dog on the whole planet, and he’d turn to me and say, “Look at his nose, Ellie! Oh my God! He’s smiling.” It was as if he’d just discovered his new best friend—until the next one came along.

The way he loved animals made it even harder for me to control my ever-growing feelings for the guy.

Can you just not be so perfect, Greyson? That would be great, thanks.

When we were about halfway down the trail, I nodded to my left. “Okay, now we have to cross through the trees.”

He cocked an eyebrow. “You’re not trying to take me out into the woods to, like, kill me, right?”

I laughed. “Don’t be silly, Grey. If I wanted to kill you, I would’ve done it ages ago.”

“Well, that’s comforting.”

We went through the trees, and the branches hit us repeatedly. It took about three minutes of getting scraped up from rough foliage before we approached the clearing, and when we did, Greyson smiled ear to ear.

“Wow,” he said, staring out at the body of water. Compared to the actual lake, it was tiny, but seeing it isolated made it look massive, especially when there were only two people around it. There were some large logs, which was where Mom and I always sat and talked. Wildflowers were fully in bloom, and the grass was the greenest it would be all year.

“I know, right?”

I led him over to a log, and we sat down beside each other.

For a while, we were just quiet, looking at the natural beauty that surrounded us. Greyson didn’t say much, but his grin spoke loud enough for me to know he didn’t hate it.

Then, a dragonfly flew right past us.

“I see why you love it here. It’s peaceful,” Greyson said.

“Yeah, plus being near water helps my mom with inspiration for her artwork.”

He raised an eyebrow, intrigued. “Your mom’s an artist?”

“Yeah. She’s been doing it all her life for fun. She’s amazing.”

“And that’s like, her job?”

“Well, she’s a nanny by day, artist by night. She could do it full-time if she wanted to, but she’s really in love with being a nanny.”

“That’s pretty neat.”

I frowned. “Yeah, I guess.”

“What is it?”

“It’s just that she recently stopped nannying for her last family. And she hasn’t been painting as much as normal,” I told him, shifting around on my seat. “I think she’s getting too drained from chemotherapy to do it.”

Greyson’s smile slowly faded. “I’m sorry, Ellie.”

“Yeah, me too.” The less she painted, the more her illness became real in my mind. But, I tried my best to shake off those thoughts. If I slipped down that rabbit hole of sadness, I wouldn’t come back from it. “What about your parents? What do they do?” I asked, changing the subject.

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