|Elliot will never be (redeemed) wrote in repose,|
@ 2020-01-30 11:23:00
|Entry tags:||*log, audrey carpenter, elliot dejardin|
Log: Audrey & Elliot - At the bookstore
Who: Audrey & Elliot
What: A chance meeting
Warnings/Rating: Just some general creepiness.
Elliot knew better than to take his newfound privileges for granted. Passes out weren't given to everyone at the Quiet Home, and as easily as he had gained it, he also knew that it could be taken away just as easily. So he was on his best behaviour that afternoon, fresh air on his face and hands shoved deep in the pockets of his black wool peacoat. It felt good to be out, to see more of the sky than just through his window, to have more freedom than the yard allowed. It was nice not to have a staff member hovering nearby, pen to paper, ink scratching out words to describe in clinical terms his current mood, behaviour, actions, all to be filed away. He knew that he had done things in the past, things that were bad, but he had his reasons. It wasn't his fault that the staff and doctors couldn't/wouldn't understand those reasons. He wasn't bad. He just wasn't understood very well.
Going into town, he didn't have many goals. It wasn't as though he had a shopping list he needed to satisfy, or bills to pay, or children to pick up. No, he was on his own, a wandering soul who only needed to be back at the Quiet Home before 6pm. So he wandered, perused store fronts, got a cup of hot coffee with the small allowance he had been given, and for a short while, he found a bench to sit on while he simply watched the people as they went to and fro.
Eventually, the itch in his legs to move grew too much, and his coffee was gone, so he pitched the empty paper cup in a nearby garbage can, and made his way to the one store that had been on his mind as his ultimate goal.
Elliot enjoyed books. Words on paper that weren't about him were enjoyable to read. Fiction, non-fiction, Elliot enjoyed them all. And while the Quiet Home had a library that was large enough, he was itching for something that was just his.
The bell above the door jingled in response to his entrance. He slouched, shoulders shrugged up to his ears, not wanting the attention on him as he perused the shelves, eyes sliding over the spines on the shelf of new releases.
The store was ripe with the scent of freshly brewed coffee mingling with paper and ink. Chatter from the cafe was static filtering in through the background, a familiar white noise, and in this store there was a young woman working diligently among the aisles.
Audrey was having a good day. This was all in thanks to getting up on time to make breakfast for her family and have a bite of her own, arriving to the bookstore with enough time to have a delicious drink from Ren and knowing that when the day was done? She could climb up to her room and curl up with a book of her own.
It wasn’t too busy in the store. The weather was chilly enough that it kept most people focused on coffee and wi-fi rather than looking for their next read. This was wonderful for Audrey... in fact it made re-stocking items that much easier.
She had knelt down to the ground, her thick black hair in a braid hanging loosely over the pale green sweater she was wearing obscuring her nametag, soaring across the fabric in small rows were tiny navy sparrows. Her grey tights had begun to collect pills along her knees thanks to the constant up and down, and she’d have to replace them soon; also worn were the toes of her boots, fading into scuffed obscurity.
But! She did not care today, it was a good day. She was even humming now, mumbling lyrics under her breath, Audrey was in no way a songbird, but was pleasant enough, soft enough that unless someone was standing near they wouldn’t actually hear her or she’d be mortified. “But you’re empty eyes seem to pass me by and leave me dancin’ with myself,” she scooped the stack of books up off the floor for reshelving, bobbing her head gently to the siren beat of Billy Idol. “So let’s sink another drink, ‘cause it’ll give me time to think…” She carefully plucked One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest from the pile and glanced along the sea of books for its proper place. “If I had the chance I’d ask the world to dance...and I’ll be dancing by myself.”
Audrey sighed as her marble dark eyes still roamed. “....Kesey, Kesey, where are you hiding Kesey.” She shifted to keep a hold of her stack unaware of the bell or the fact she was no longer alone in the storefront.
Elliot wasn't good at most social niceties. He could function perfectly fine with a 'hello' here and there, but it wasn't particularly his forte. Those sorts of conversations were better left to those who actually cared enough to partake in them. No, Elliot was better at watching, listening, at sticking to the edges of the dancefloor and enjoying the view instead of being part of the action. It was easier that way, this role he chose to play. No need to make his world any more complicated than it already was.
And Elliot would have been perfectly content just watching, listening, if it hadn't been for the singing. It stuck out overtop the normal rumble of the world, birdsong to catch his attention and focus. And given how quiet the store and cafe were at that moment, it was easy to find the source of the notes. Elliot didn't deign to draw attention to himself, or the fact that she had caught his eye.
Dark hair pulled back in a braid. Birds in flight over her sweater. A soft murmur as she spoke to herself.
Elliot drew in a breath of his own and pulled a book from the shelf in front of him. He paid no mind to the title or author, simply something to look occupied as he smoothed his fingers over a random page, pretending to browse. Inside, his mind was going a mile a minute, thoughts tumbling over one another with the world of possibilities that spread out in front of him, all of them centered around the singer with the flock of tiny birds on her sweater. It was like an itch, a pain that gnawed and begged for his attention.
But no. No. He would be good. He was supposed to be on his best behaviour, after all, and he wasn't going to spoil that on his first trip out. It was only an itch, after all, and he could ignore it quite easily. He simply would pay her no mind, even if his thoughts were spiraling, a whirlpool that threatened to suck him into its abyss. No, he would be good and he would turn away, reshelve the book, and find another store to get something to read at.
That would have been the plan, at least, if the book hadn't tumbled from his fingers to his feet, falling open with a thud that filled up the empty space of the quiet bookstore. Elliot froze, fingers curled as though still holding the book, chewing on the inside of his cheek as he dropped down to retrieve it with a mumbled, muttered apology.
The thud of a tumbling book startled Audrey enough that she took in a sharp breath and grip the novels she was trying to home tightly against her chest, but the air in her lungs left just as quickly when she saw what---or who, actually, caused the noise. A man, lanky, young--perhaps in his early twenties had dropped whatever he had been perusing. Dark hair, pale, sharp features. She’d never seen him before. Audrey would have remembered such a distinct jawline. Ah, if only Hannah were here, she’d be comparing him to some great literary character, setting him in a different time and place other than this little shop. Audrey couldn’t quite place him.
Oh, right. He was a customer and she was working. This wasn’t a time to daydream. Audrey cleared her throat. “Hi. Did you need help with anything?” Her head tilted ever so slightly. The cover illustration consisted of what appeared to be a boy sitting on his bed in an ectoplasmic green room, but on further inspection she could see it was the back of a train, the bedroom bare with only a desk and chair. Eerie.The Institute by King. Audrey had only read a little by the author, one of his novellas, which was far less frightening than his usual fare apparently. “...Unfortunately I haven’t read much by King, but I have heard good things about that book. All of his books if I am being honest.” She managed a smile. The customer service aspect of her job was still a bit difficult, but she was managing, talking about books was far easier than most subject matters and being bibliophile was helpful.
Audrey adjusted the books in her arms. Oh, she should probably set them down so she didn’t seem avoidant, right? She placed them on the nearby shelf delicately and pushed her braid back over her shoulders. The collar of the blouse beneath her sweater hid the tiny rose-gold heart locket perfectly nestled against over her jugular notch.
“Have you read Gaiman? He tiptoes the line with horror and fairytale fantasy, I--I recommend him often.”
It would have been much less complicated to simply put the book away and leave, but she had to start talking and offering her assistance. Really, it was her fault when it came down to it. If she had simply remained quiet, he might have been able to slip away with only the thoughts of her face and the birds flying over her cardigan to entertain him in the future. But no, she spoke, and her voice was as sweet as he ever could have imagined. Elliot placed the book back on the shelf, index finger stroking down the spine as he gave her his attention, looking at her from beneath the shaggy black hair that often got in his eyes.
"No, haven't read him," he confessed, and it was a truth spoken. "Heard of him, but never read him. Is there… one that you'd recommend?" It was a path in, this conversation, and Elliot deigned to move a single step closer, fingers resting on the spine of the King novel, long fingers, narrow palms.
Audrey was definitely not a mind reader. She was observant, but even so, that wouldn’t have prepared her for the thoughts that were now seeded and sprouting in this stranger’s mind quicker than weeds. She had no idea that the simple act of speaking, of doing what she was hired to do, sparked anything at all. She was simply … unaware.
She smiled when he asked for a recommendation. That was one thing she could do well. He seemed a bit withdrawn. The way he looked out from the shaggy length of dark bangs, using them as if they were a veil, a small shield from the rest of the world. He simply seemed lost to her and perhaps alone. Her eyes shifted to his hand and restless spindly fingers stroking the spine of the book. Tactile.
“Yes, I do. I usually start people off with his shorter fair before delving into the deeper novels.” Her gaze redirected to the books --fantasy and horror coinciding together harmoniously, only a slim shade between them. “Mmm…” She got on the tips of her toes, stretching her arms to pluck a slender book out from its nook. Dark blues graced the cover and on the front, a girl in white, suspended in what looked like water; an ocean. Aptly visualized given the title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane. She held it out to him carefully as if it were fragile, as though one notion of mishandling could crack and shatter it.
“This one is a favorite and it’s a quick read. I couldn’t put it down.” Audrey raised her head to him. “Something to consider, anyway. If you want to.”
He watched as she reached for the book she sought, eyes raking over the gentle line of her arm, down to her shoulder, sliding further down as he tilted his head to the side ever so slightly. He looked back down as she dropped back to the flats of her feet, book in hand, his own hand dropping away from the spine of the book he had been touching. "I'll give it a try," Elliot responded, reaching to take the book from her, extending his hand far enough that his fingers brushed hers as he took it from her hand.
"I'll give it a try. And maybe this one, too." He reached again for The Institute and retrieved that yet again, both held to his chest as he met her gaze. "And maybe I'll come back and let you know what I think when I'm done?" For as quiet and shy as he might have come off, he held her gaze then if she let him, dark eyes piercing.
Okay. Audrey wasn’t expecting that. His eyes when they focused on hers cut--not literally, of course, but they cut into her, or tried to. As if they could see past all the physical of what she was and were trying to burrow into the core of who she was. For an instant Audrey felt stripped, bared, and she didn’t like it. Her fingers upon feeling his own pulled away and instinctively her arms went about herself as if chilled. She blinked rapidly, and in the instant that sudden exposure had come it was also gone. He was a normal young man, holding books, talking to her. She must have imagined it. She had to have imagined it, because that is what she had always done.
But it had felt very real and she was a bit shaken.
Still she managed a smile. “Sorry, cold chill.” An excuse. How rude would it be to say your stare unnerved me? Extremely. Something she would never say. And besides, what if he couldn’t help it? He had dark eyes, pale features, and her mind was running rampant overzealous thanks to her overactive imagination. Guilt swam through her veins as swiftly as the blood pumping them. She pushed her braid back over her shoulder.
“I am glad you’ll give it a try--both of them. You should definitely let me--us…” She glanced around the store before returning to his face. “.. know how you liked it.”
Elliot didn't say anything for a moment, simply holding her gaze until she looked away, and then the barest hint of a smile curved the line of his lips. "I will definitely be back…" The books were shifted to one arm, and he reached out, boldly, righting the skewed angle of her nametag. "Audrey." Only then did he turn to head towards the register to purchase his two new books. Elliot really hadn't planned on buying anything, but after that little interaction, it felt impossible to walk out empty handed.
Besides. This would give him an excellent reason to return in the future.
It was a nice name.