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13 August 2007 @ 10:51 pm
Nikolai: Helena  
Title: Helena; Mystery
Story: Nikolai Series
"World": Small-town America
Rating: G
Summary: She was the town's "mystery". Nikolai wanted her to stay just that. This is a drabble and a story, in one post. They fit together nicely. The Helena was written for a creative writing assignment, so I'm not sure if this is the whole thing. It's what was on my computer.

Mystery

Helena was the mystery of the town. The house she lived in was giant and old, with dusty windows and chipped paint. Nobody ever saw her, though. It was said she was the polar opposite of Clarice, with dark hair and a quiet nature.

It was also said she was dying. She wore all black, because every day could be her last, and she wouldn’t put her aunt and uncle through the trouble of having to dress her for the funeral. At least, that was what everyone said.

One day, I happened to see her, and even speak to her. I made a promise to myself that I would never utter a word of what she was really like. It was my secret.


Helena

I stood at the station, waiting for Carolina to come back from town. She had stayed the night in jail, for tying herself to a lamppost. She was a suffragist, which made my mother angry. Mama still believed that a woman belonged in the home, taking care of family and cleaning house, not worrying themselves about politics and work. They were feminists of two completely different natures, one more subtle than the other.

There was a whistle, and a few moments later, the train screeched to a halt at the platform. My sister was one of the first off, sort of hopping down the stairs.

“Nikolai!” she said, and smiled. “I didn’t expect you to come meet me.”

I shrugged and hid a smile. She patted her dark brown hair, which didn’t do much good. It was a wreck anyway, and I knew Mama would frown disapprovingly. Carolina was nineteen, and should be marrying as far as Mama was concerned. I figured Carolina still had time, and should wait for the right man.

She took my arm, and started strolling along as if she was Queen Mary herself. Carolina was always my favorite sister.

“So, what news do you have to bring me?” She asked, in her mock-imperial manner.

“Nothing really.”

“Nothing at all happening in the world?”

I shrugged again. At fourteen, I wasn’t really paying attention to the newspapers. I was more involved in what was happening in our little hometown than anything.

“What about your meeting?” I asked, although I sort of already knew.

“Five of us were arrested last night,” she said, holding her chin up proudly. “I had to be dragged away, and they even put handcuffs on me.”

I didn’t really understand what there was to be proud about, but I supposed it was good. The campaign for women’s rights had picked up again after the war, and they were once again in the full swing. I wondered what Mama would say if I started campaigning too. But once again, fourteen year olds didn’t have much say in the world.

Mama took one look at Carolina when she got home before my sister ran up the stairs. It was probably for the best, since Mama could rant for hours, once she got going. A moment later, Delilah came down the stairs, shaking her head.

“I don’t know why you let her off so easily,” she said.

“And what do you think I should do?” Mama asked, furiously. “Nothing works with that girl. She’s too old to be spanked, and she’s never minded extra work or not being allowed out of the house.”

I didn’t wait to hear Delilah’s reply. I ran out of the house again and down the street. I didn’t know what I intended to do, though. I couldn’t swim in the creek, the tide was going out again already, making it nearly impossible not to be pulled under, and it was no fun going alone. Paul and Jenna had left a week ago the visit their grandmother for the summer.

I eventually found myself wandering Uptown, kicking rocks along the sidewalk. I stopped in front of a house and stared up at it. It was one of the biggest on the streets, and it looked beautiful. To me, at least.

This was the house that Clarice lived in, with her aunt and uncle, and her cousin Helena. I felt almost compelled to go up to a window and peer in, in hopes of seeing Helena herself, but didn’t. I wouldn’t need to be scolded by Mama to feel ashamed of myself.

I turned and was about to continue walking when I heard the door creak open. Clarice came out, wearing a pretty white dress, ribbons tying back her curls.

“If you want to see her, she’s in the back,” she said, as she walked past me. “But you’ll have to sneak back, and you can’t tell my aunt I told you.”

Without another word, she strutted down the street. I wanted to run up behind her and pull her hair, just to see the curls bounce back into place, and perhaps even make her angry with me. That would be immediate satisfaction, though, which would only bring trouble. I had experience enough experience with girls to know that they could come back with the worst revenge.

Instead, I went peaked around the back fence of the house next door. When I saw nobody there, I went in, and climbed the tree next to the fence. I balance carefully on a branch, and inched forward to look into the next yard.

Helena sat on a swing, reading a book. She had dark hair that was pulled loosely behind her with a purple ribbon, and wore a black, high-collared dress and stockings. It was a wonder she wasn’t suffocating. She could have been very pretty, but her eyes were sunken in, and she looked half-starved.

“Hey,” I said, and her head snapped up to look at me. “Whatcha reading?”

She sat for a moment, frozen with what looked like fear. She then snapped her book closed and seemed to be trying to hide it.

“Um…well…nothing really…” the look on her face was slightly embarrassed, but it quickly turned sour. “What are you doing here?”

I couldn’t come up with a good answer to that. I scratched my head awkwardly and said nothing. Finally, I said, “…sorry.”

“No, I’m sorry,” she said. “I was startled, and forgot my manners. I never get visitors. What’s your name?”

“Nikolai. I thought you never left the house.”

“I do on nice days,” she said. “I have weak lung, though. How did you guess that I was back here?”

“Actually, cousin told me.”

Helena sighed and shook her head. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell what her intentions are. But she’s the only person in my family close to my age, and she’s so pretty. It’s hard to be mad at her.”

I laughed. “So you never had any siblings.”

“No, but I wish I did.”

“Don’t worry, they’re not all that great. I know, I have seven, and I only really get along with one.”

“I suppose people always want what they don’t have.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“I like you,” she said, and smiled. “I hope that we can talk more often.”

“What, do you have to go?”

“No, but our neighbor is bound to find you in that tree soon.”

It was no sooner than she said that, that I heard a screech, and fell out of the tree. I found myself looking up at said neighbor in horror. She pulled me up by my ear, scolding me for trespassing onto people’s property. I was only glad that she didn’t march me all the way home. I merely got thrown out into the street. I gazed up at the house again for a moment, before running down the street toward the park.

I felt a little selfish for wanting to keep Helena to myself, but still didn’t intend to tell anyone. I also intended to forget about her for the night, in order to keep myself from saying anything. But later that night, as I lay in bed, all I could think about was her.




 
 
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