She hadn't meant for this to happen. Honestly, how was she to know that setting a dollar on fire and crying, 'Who needs money?' in the middle of Geometry class was unorthodox. One second she thought she was on top of the world, and then it felt like a boulder had crashed into her. That was because the biggest kid in her grade lunged at her and pulled her down. Honestly, when do these kinds of things happen?
Elsie regretted it at once as she landed herself in expulsion and suddenly, she didn't know what to do with herself. She was lying on her bed twisting her head, looking at the ceiling in front of her. Elsie sighed and sat up, thinking of her future. Her unwanted future, she told herself. God help me.
Her punishment was to go to Texas. Texas. UGH. I hate the mosquitoes. She went there on holidays once, and she hated it! She liked her home in New York. Sighing, she leaned back in her bed. It looked bad, so for the time being
she thought about Collin Hutz, the new Hollywood heart throb
Elsie woke up from her dream with a start. She sat up. Rubbing sleep from her eyes, she reached out to grab her sketch book off her desk, but fell in the attempt. MMMM
she murmured. The ground was warm. Curling up into a ball, she took out her pipe and smoked tobacco until her mother suddenly knocked sharply on the door and entered.
'Elsie, get up from the floor,' her mother told her. Her voice was sweet.
'Shush, Mom! I'm smoking tobacco!'
Her mother laughed at her daughter who lay on the floor dreamily. 'If it cheers you up we have a very different change of plans.'
Her daughter perked up, but then a scowl crossed her face. She sat up and then leaned her back against the bed. 'Where are we going now, Mom? Iceland?' She mocked.
'No. We're not going to Iceland, dear. I'm not that cruel,' her Galway accent was now more pronounced. 'We're going to Ireland. Granda just died, and we need to take care of your Granny!' Excited as she seemed, Elsie could still see the sadness in her eyes as she bit her lip waiting for Elsie's response.
Elsie jumped up and the tobacco fell to the floor. 'We're going to IRELAND? Does this mean I'm not going to be punished?'
Her mother laughed long and shrilly, nearly a cackle. 'Oh no Elsie, you'll be going to Texas afterwards. You will, eventually, end up in Texas. Mark my words. And your stay in Ireland will not be pleasant. You'll be sharing a room with your cousin, who lives with your grandmother since his parents died.'
'NO!' Elsie screamed, horrified. 'He's such a freak! I don't want to share a room with a boy!'
Her mother paused. 'Well
I'll see what I can do. But you won't be hanging around the house. I'm going to buy a farm just to make you work on it.'
Elsie looked up with wide eyes and wordlessly started groveling at her feet.
Her mothers laugh rang out in the room as she kicked her only daughter off her with distaste. 'I'm only messing, gosh, Elsie, you're so gullible.' She muttered to herself as she disappeared down the carpeted stairs. 'I'm gone to pick up your father from soccer practice.'
Recently divorced, Elsie's parents were still living in the same house, and as Elsie thought about it she realised her father would not be joining them on their trip to Ireland.
Elsie shouted back 'Okay,' and thought about what had happened. In a way, she had got her wish; she had wanted to see Ireland for a very long time. She thought of all the things her mother had told her about Ireland. 'They don't really talk like the way American actors portray them in the films,' her mothers voice relayed in her head. She sat down on the bed and started packing her suitcase.
'When are we to leave?' She asked excitedly up at the posters of Collin Hutz and Roggert Werkmeister covering her walls. She looked to the right 'Oh Edmund!' and she started trying to make out with yet another poster. Poor poster, she thought. Gorgeous Edmund! She sighed and sat back down on her bed.
After finishing packing, she popped into her brother's room to see how his packing was going. Charlie was asleep.
A smile slowly crept over Elsie's face. She tip toed over, and silently shook his shoulders, whispering 'Charlie? Charlie? Are you sleeping?' He didn't move. Elsie cleared the area, and put an ear to his mouth, looking at his chest. It rose up and down, but Elsie chose to ignore that. She gave him two pretend breathes, and then 30 compressions. He was still out cold. Elsie repositioned his head, and then dipped a finger into his mouth to check if he was choking. She regretted it instantly.
Charlie puked into her face and gasping, she stepped back in horror. Great way to start a holiday... She miserably went to the bathroom and cleaned herself up.
She went back into Charlie's room and he was drinking Guinness.
'Hi! El-sie! I- Li-ke- guin-nissss!' He gasped between hiccups. She smiled as he hiccupped and fell about the place laughing.
'No, Charlie, stop!' She said, smile vanishing from her face. She paced the room, panicking. 'Charlie?'
'Yu-u-u-p?' He said and rolled under the bed.
'Charlie!' she said and looked under the bed. He wasn't there. 'Oh no! Oh no!'
She climbed under the bed and back out and searched the whole house calling his name. He was no where to be found, seen or heard. She traced his footsteps but no clue popped up to solve this mystery. She sat on the bottom of his bed and heard Lynn come in.
'ELSIE! CHARLIE! I'M HOME!'
Elsie started panicking as she'd lost her only brother.
'Mom?' Charlie called from the ceiling.
Elsie heard a loud thump and suddenly Charlie was right beside her.
'How?' she started to question, but was caught off be the loud, booming voice of her father as he walked into the room.
'Charlie? I'm so proud of you son! Your dead brothers didn't start drinking until they were teenagers! You're much better than they'll ever be.'
Elsie's chin dropped. Literally. Charlie helped re-hinge it, while her mother, Lynn nagged,
'Elsie, what have I told you about dropping your jaw? You should be more like Charlie!'
A choked sob escaped from Elsie's mouth and she shouted before jumping out the window, 'Hay fever!'
It suddenly struck her that it was a twenty storey building.
The terror of the jump frightened her but luckily, there were two men looking at a bed in the middle of the street and Elsie fell right onto it, safely. She felt relief wash over her as she did.
She remembered it from the heights she was flying at in the spacious airplane. Her mother was right besides her looking cautiously at Elsie. Elsie didn't notice as she was looking at the new green fields below her.
Suddenly a road came into view. Cars passed along it and Shannon Airport in huge lettering stood out in front of her. She smiled and as a voice came on. 'Landing in Shannon airport, it is 8 degrees Celsius and ten o'clock in the afternoon,' it turned off and there was cheering in the back of the airplane.
Her family stepped out of the huge airplane onto Irish ground. She felt weird and sleepy. Her imaginary friend's voice rang in her ears: Oh My God! You'll get serious jet-lag!
Elsie staggered through the bright lights. She didn't remember much of the journey, but before she knew it she was racing past fields of mocking green, staring her in the face.
She closed her eyes. So tired... She just wanted to fall asleep but for some reason she just couldn't. I'll count sheep, she thought. Oh forget sheep, she decided, and imagined shirtless Collin Hutz's jumping over fences
she sighed happily, resting into the seat.
Elsie woke up suddenly as the car jerked to a stop. She looked out the window sleepily and stared at an old building. It was grey and had net curtains in the windows. A young face looked out of the window.
The woman came running out of the house and grabbed Elsie's mother in a gracious hug. Elsie recognized her from photos her mother had. It was her aunt Joanne. Her godmother too, she had sent her money from Ireland.
Joanne died suddenly from a heart attack. She lay limply on the gravel. Elsie's Granny walked out and nudged her with her foot into a nearby ditch. Then, she went back to greet her daughter and grandchildren.
Elsie uneasily climbed out of the car, taking a deep breath of the new air. So
fresh. And there was also another horrible smell. Slurry. Yuck. How would she ever grow used to country life?
Elsie stood up straight, stretching from the long ride. She yawned and looked around. Horror suddenly shook her. No guys. Nothing. She was in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly her eyes caught hold of a very hot guy. Oh wait, she realised, that's my cousin. Why am I always related to the cute ones?
Wait, no I'm not! Look at Charlie! He was taking a can of Guinness with him. He staggered after his mother who was chatting to her mother.
Granny stopped at the doorway, she looked frail and her bright blue eyes scrutinized Elsie and Cathal. When Elsie reached her, her Granny pulled her into a ferocious hug. She smiled at her Granny who encouraged her to step into the house.
There was a musty stench, the one she'd often smell when she visited her great-aunts (her father's aunties), Betsie, Maggie, Hunchie, Crunchie, Nanny, Manny, Danny, Lanky, Hunky, Junky, Lollie, Trollie, Sally, Kally, Muddy, Cuddie, Budgy and Pothole.
Elsie plastered a big, false smile on her face and asked innocently, 'So where's the nearest civilization from here?' Her mother sent her a death glare. Elsie raised her hands in defense.
'Um, where's my room?'
Her grandmother turned to her, 'Oh, hope you don't mind, but you'll be sleeping in the extra bed in Colm's room.'
'Oh that's fine,' she said, glaring at her mother. Then an idea struck her. 'Got any male friends who enjoy sleepovers?' she asked Colm.
'No, I'm a loner,' he said. Elsie laughed but he remained serious. 'Well, I do have this one friend but he's my special friend.' He smiled slyly. 'He's going to stay the night.'
Just then a girl walked in, she had long brown hair that was poker straight and a fringe that covered one eye and her skin was pale. 'Who's that?' Elsie whispered to her cousin.
'Oh that's Anne, she's from Monaghan but she stays with her aunty, who knew Joanne very well. She's staying here for the whole summer!'
Elsie looked up, intrigued. 'Really?' She edged towards Anne and whispered in her wax covered ear, 'So, what are guys like round here?'
Anne gave her a dark look, and spoke in an even darker voice, 'The straight men are mine. Mine. Don't look at them. Don't hear them. Don't touch them. Understood?' Anne touched her shoulder with razor-sharp nails, and Elsie gulped but stood her ground.
'If they want to like me, then they can,' she paused, 'So there. It doesn't mat-' she was cut off by Anne.
'I'm messing!' A smile spread across Anne's pale face and she relaxed her razor-sharp grip. She exclaimed jokingly. 'But Eeke Billinsky is mine!' Anne threw a shy glance around the room.
Awkwardly, she tried to start a conversation. 'So this is your first time in Ireland... Well I see your brother likes it because he's drinking a lot of Guinness, he might end up with liver cancer and his brain cell numbers might reduce.'
Elsie thought for a moment and looked frustrated as she tried to understand what Anne had told her about livers. What the hell is a liver? She stuck out her tongue in concentration and started panting furiously like a dog. Anne looked at her in confusion.
'Hummmmmmm..... Bug!' Elsie exclaimed in excitement after moments in deep thought.
They walked through the hall, into a small, carpeted dining room. There was a beautifully carved cabinet which contained photos among photos of Elsie's relatives. Anne, standing beside her, was intrigued by them.
To say the least, Elsie wasn't. She wasn't in the right mind at the moment- she was suffering from a disorder called Hiftzichbienertilopicus that usually led to her thinking she was a dog, and so she lost interest in the photographs when her eyes caught her mother walking into another room. Elsie lunged after her, and gripped her mother's ankle with her teeth. 'Rrrrr....' she growled, biting her trousers.
Anne jumped up, shocked, and helped pull Elsie off her annoyed mother. Elsie whimpered and cowered into a corner, thinking they had no idea where to find her now. The corner was secure. The corner was protected. The corner was-'Elsie!' commanded her angry mother, 'Get over here!'
Elsie pretended to wag her tail in glee. They had no idea where she was. She was a genius. She was a really smart dog. She'd become the leader of them. They'd go round on leashes and she'd be the one using the toilet. And they'd have to kneel before her! Hah! Suddenly, there was a flash in front of her and something sharp stuck into her neck. Elsie howled and toppled onto the floor.
About a half an hour later, Elsie looked up and picked the bits of fluff off her jumper. She stood upright, herself again. She crept secretly and noiselessly over to where her mother and Anne were talking to each other. Elsie crawled under the table where they were muttering.
For a while, they just drank tea.
'Well,' Lynn started awkwardly, then she rushed out, 'When she gets a little too excited and thinks too much, her brain starts vibrating and her Hiftzichbienertilopicus disorder kicks in. The doctors are pretty sure it's due to her lost dog, Binky.'
'Binky?' Anne asked. All was silent until Lynn started talking again.
'We once had a dog,' said Lynn. 'He was a nice dog but he loved Elsie the most. She was only a toddler when we had him and she started imitating him. We all thought it was a joke until she bit her three older brothers, Niall, John and Rian, and gave them rabies. They died and we got her checked out. She's getting better, but sometimes it comes back. Unfortunately, Binky died after he had gotten diabetes, osteoporosis, Parkinson's disease and heart disease.'
Lynn got up and Anne remained silent. She sighed. 'That's what we told her anyway. Binky's still alive but he's in another house in another street somewhere in Ireland. Please don't tell Elsie I'm afraid she'll start going after him and she won't stop till she has got Binky.'
Anne got up and before she left she said 'I won't tell her, Lynn.' And she never did.
Lynn soon got up with a sigh and continued the tour of the house. She left behind her a heartbroken girl. Elsie's silent tears fell onto the ground as she tried to get up but hit her head on the table. 'Ouch,' she muttered.
'Binky...' she moaned in a sad, pathetic, little voice. She crawled out from under the table and over to the large window, and lifted up the dreary netted blinds.
The scenery made her shudder. Elsie swallowed down her tears, and suddenly found the courage to stand.
No, she wouldn't tell anyone what she had heard.
But she'd find Binky.
She definitely would. Elsie walked slowly upstairs; searching for the room she would call her bedroom.
Somewhere in the distance, a cow mooed.