When Ellie Starr looked down her nose from behind glasses held to her neck by a rock necklace, I knew she was a force to reckoned with. Her sharp green eyes didn’t miss a beat and seemed pierce through your skin and muscle and see right into the very core of your being. When I watched her on TV I saw this kind hearted woman that would contact other people’s loved ones and reassure them of their happiness. I needed that. Among other things.
“You are wasting a precious gift in the name of fear and you have a curiosity that is hungry like that of a playful kitten.” She held a finger pointed at my waist. Her bracelets clinked together when she moved. “When it is fulfilled, you will hunt like the Lioness. You have a gift. Do not deny it. Open your mind this summer and your life will change.”
Ellie turned to Bethany and leaned her head back. “Hmmm. Your bitter emotions stand in the way of your success. You are hungry, too; hungry for the nurturing embrace of a mother. You are a mother. Embrace that. It is you that not only leads your friend,” she gestured to me again with her tinkling bracelets, “but you follow her as well, to catch her if she falls.”
Bethany’s mouth hung open and I might have been a little shocked too. I had never seen this woman before. The entry card for her contest only asked the relative’s name you might want to contact and your mailing address. I couldn’t find a logical reason for her predictions or her accusations.
“Miss Starr, I’m not sure we understand,” I explained.
“It’s Ellie and you will understand by the end of summer.”
Bethany found her voice. “What is it we’re doing here this summer?”
“You’re going to live here, work with me, shadow me and then walk on your own.”
I shook my head. “I still don’t understand. What are our responsibilities? When do we have free time?”
She twisted a large turquoise rock around her finger. “Those answers will come in time. For now, why don’t you take the bikes and explore our little town. Dinner is served promptly at six-thirty.”
Bethany pulled her keys from her pocket. “We don’t need bikes, I have my car.”
Ellie smiled thinly. “The ride in the fresh air will invigorate you. Take the bikes.” Then she reached out and took Bethany’s keys from her hand.
“Where are the bikes, Ellie?”
She pointed to the side of the house where a dilapidated barn stood. I walked Bethany away from Ellie before she came to her senses and punched the lady.
“My dad doesn’t take my keys, that woman can not take my keys, Delilah!”
“Oh, come on,” I squeezed her hand, “how long has it been since we rode bikes together?”
She thought about it, but I knew she pictured the same scene in her head; the two of us with our skinny, stick legs sticking out off the pedals and careening down the big hill in our neighborhood.
“I believe I have the scar to commemorate our last ride,” she grumbled. At the end of the hill I was winning and as I goaded her, she skidded in a patch of dirt and hit a rock which had sent her flying over the handlebars of her own bike.
I gave her a light shove. “If you don’t cheer up, I’ll do it again.”
“Oh, alright, but I didn’t sign up for all this physical activity.”
“It’s great exercise.”
Here are some of the questions I will ask myself while I go over this passage: Does this show three very separate personalities? Am I clear in who is speaking and about what? Is Ellie's introduction sharp enough? Is she a three dimensional character?
What say YOU?