NP7 – A Wing and a Prayer: Chapter 7

Up to this point: Rosamund, Elinor’s mother, was injured in an air raid and while she is going to be ok, she has several broken bones that have immobilized her for at least a month.  This means that a bigger portion of the household duties fall on Elinor in addition to her teaching.  This evening Derek was reading the paper and told Elinor of the possibility of his being called up in light of Pearl Harbor.  The last chapter ended with their dialogue about Pearl Harbor and Derek’s possible draft.

Sooo…I was talking about my what-do-I-write problem with my younger sister and she came up with what I must say is the most ingenious idea in the world, and I wish that I could say that I had come up with it but I didn’t, so credit goes to Blair (who is, by the way, looking forward to taking this class in a couple of years)!  Are you ready?  You’re not going to believe this.

She said: “When was Winnie-the-Pooh written?”  1928, turns out.  I realize that quoting another book will affect copyright issues if ever I tried to publish this, but realistically I don’t think that will ever happen and even if it did…Blair, you are a genius!  I love you!  I mean, I’ve been quoting Winnie-ther-Pooh all year long, I practically had to include him in my novel.  So here he is.  =D

A Wing and a Prayer, Chapter Seven

Staring up at the shadowed ceiling that night, Elinor was dry-eyed and wide awake with a thousand thoughts spinning in worn circles in her head.  But when she tried to open them she found nothing inside.  They were all alike.  Just empty questions with no beginnings and no ends—and no answers.

And somehow it didn’t seem to matter.

After the news of Pearl Harbor it was as if all the emotion she struggled against was finally exhausted and it gave up trying.  It seemed wrong to feel so incredibly, unreasonably peaceful just now, but then again…it was so freeing.  The war and all of its twisted trappings had just wrapped itself tighter around her and for some indefinable reason, it was easier that way.  Elinor relaxed and rolled over, matching her breathing with Polly’s soft snores until the rain sang her to sleep.

“Isn’t the ocean beautiful, Ethan?”

“Yes.”

“After it storms the water looks so…deep.  And calm.  Like it’s saying that nothing can ever really touch it, even when the wind blows hardest.”

He didn’t answer for a long time and she began to wonder if he heard her.  But then he turned around and she knew.

“Elinor…”

There was no need for him to say anything else.

It had seemed too small and too big, somehow, that one word that would bind them together for a lifetime.  Too simple to say what she felt; too coarse for the precious moment.  But she said it anyway, and the word became beautiful.

“Yes.”

Then he had slipped the ring onto her finger and kissed it.

“You are mine, now, Elinor.  Nothing can ever really touch us now.”  His next words were so low that she barely caught them above the spray of the surf and the cry of the gulls.  “Even when the wind blows hardest.”

When the others caught up to them on the cliff, Rosamund had tears in her eyes and Derek laughed and Jack and Polly danced around in delight.

A thousand years of time whispered around them.  And not a single moment passed by.

Wintry light streamed through the window and lay in soft gray heaps on the bed.  The rain had continued sporadically through the night.  Polly still slept, one chubby hand curled tightly around her bunny and the other pillowed on her dark golden hair.

Elinor slipped out from the covers.  The last threads of her dream dissolved as her bare toes met the bare floor.  It was so warm beneath the quilts…but breakfast needed making, twenty-three children needed teaching, and she needed to get up.  As she reached for her dress, a tiny shaft of light glittered on her left hand like a tear.  Elinor pulled the plain silver ring off of her finger and stood shivering in the middle of the floor, looking from the ring to the black and white photo on the desk until Polly opened her eyes sleepily.

“What are you doing, Elinor?”

“Oh…nothing, lovey.”  She slipped the ring back onto her hand and began to dress.

XXXXXXXXXX

Looking at the clock for the seventeenth time that afternoon, Elinor finally found what she was looking for.  One-thirty.  Only half an hour until she could race herself home in the rain and then have time for cup of hot tea and a chat with Mum before starting supper. 

“You may put away your books, class,” she said, reaching under her seat for her favorite little volume of pen-and-ink illustrated stories.  “I think we just have time for a story before the bell rings.  Does that sound like fun?”

Amid the choral “yes” that followed, Elinor turned the pages tenderly to the place where they had left off yesterday.  The leaves fell open to this last, best-loved story, little grubby marks testifying to its popularity with the boys and girls.

“Christopher Robin was going away,” she began in her very best story-telling voice.  “Nobody knew why he was going…”

When the bell rang thirty minutes later in the middle of the story, the children begged her to go on.  There were only two pages left and she was enjoying the quaint tale quite as much as they did.  “All right, then.  Get your mackintoshes on, and then come back here and sit quietly while I finish.”  There was a mad scramble for coats and hats and overshoes, but in a few moments the children had sorted themselves into their seats again.

“…and every now and then,” she went on, “he shook his head, and said to himself, ‘I’m not getting it right.’  Then he began to think of all the things Christopher Robin would want to tell him when he came back from wherever he was going to, and how muddling it would be for a Bear of Very Little Brain to try and get them right in his mind.  ‘So, perhaps,’ he said sadly to himself, ‘Christopher Robin won’t tell me any more,’ and he wondered if being a Faithful Knight meant that you just went on being faithful without being told things…”

Elinor could hear her voice wandering on and on over the familiar words, but she lingered mentally over that little phrase.  A hundred times she had read this story without ever noticing it.  So childish.  So poetic.

So true.

Just go on being faithful without being told things.  Is it really as simple as that?

Tears sprung to her eyes, uninvited, unexpected and unexplained.  Elinor closed the book softly and finished the last line of the story from memory.  “…in that enchanted place on top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”  She got up from the desk slowly.  “The end.  You are dismissed.”

Elinor watched the children bounce out of the little room in joyous clusters, small mackintoshes and hats and boots making a bright yellow puddle in the mudroom, voices youthfully high and sweet.  Then she slipped the book into the pocket of her overcoat and ran out through the rain.

~c. a.

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3 thoughts on “NP7 – A Wing and a Prayer: Chapter 7

  1. Okay! I finally have time to do this right.

    Actually, I don’t really have any negatives for this chapter. I thought it was really great. Sometimes it seems like maybe…you have so many amazingly creative descriptions and phrases…like maybe there are almost too many. Like you hardly ever just say something straightforward and eventually some of those phrases start to stack up and lose their novelty. But then again, we are coming from very different places. Whether or not I have a few neat descriptions in my story, you are really the genius (sp?) at actual creative *writing*. My story is all about the events and the characters, whereas yours has less events and is more about how things are said. So your critique of my lack of description and my critique of your abundance of description may simply be reactions to different styles, not real problems. What a paragraph…umm, does that make any sense at all? hehe

    Now on to the good stuff because this chapter was really beautiful to read. It is telling that normally my fairly cynical self would be like *eye-roll this is so sentimental get over it Elinor*, but I was so charmed by your writing style and atmosphere, that I didn’t even notice. The scene with Ethan’s proposal was massively powerful, especially the last sentences “A thousand years of time whispered around them. And not a single moment passed by.”

    I love the next phrase as well with the light heaped on the bed. I’m not sure your style is very old-fashioned anymore, but it is increasingly *your* style and it is amazing and getting better and better so I say who cares about old-fashioned at this point? Just keep doing what you are doing.

    Then, of course, the second half…well congrats to your sister Blair (your family has such unusual/awesome names, btw). It is a fantastic example of sharing your message through an event as opposed to just saying it outright. And of course, I have some odd impression–no idea where it came from–that you kind of sort of like Winnie-The-Pooh, which adds a lot of energy and tenderness to the scene. Reading the story you chose brings back memories–I used to have great versions of these stories on audiotape (yes, that’s how old I am *grin*). And that story was the last one and it always made me feel very sad and happy at the same time.

    If I took the time to write out every clever phrase and awesome moment, I would basically be transcribing the entire chapter here in the comment box. Which I’m not going to do (call me lazy if you like). So just know…whatever you said about “needing to learn how to write” is nonsense. For outright putting words on the page in a beautiful, meaningful way, this is some of the best I’ve seen (not just from you but from anyone). I feel like *I* should take lessons.

    Oh, btw I just noticed…at the beginning of the second-to-last paragraph it should be “Tears sprang”, not “Tears sprung”. Then the whole triple-un phrase in that sentence makes me laugh because it is almost exactly like the phrase from my NP7 where happiness comes to Scott with a triple-un. Was *someone* copying again? jk =)

  2. I’m going to reply in a terribly confused, non-sense-making-manner, so I hope that you can sort it out…

    First of all: um…I don’t recall a triple-un sentence. BUT, I will say that I DID have self control and I DIDN’T look at your blog until I had posted everything I needed to post. So if there was any similarity it must be like my dad says: great minds think alike. And so do ours. =)

    What you said at the beginning (about maybe too many creative writings) is most likely the reaction *I* had to not-having-anything-to-write-about-and-therefore-trying-to-make-up-for-it-with-good-writing-not-good-events. =) I can see what you mean about lotsa such things losing their appeal eventually so I will be careful. But not too careful. *wink*

    As to style…I think I’m actually (this is going to be a shocker because you already have a style that is so ingrained that you can’t get out of it BUT) just finding my style. I never had one before. (Actually, I sort of did, if you call writing very wordily “style”). And it feels really cool. And much of it is due to you because you’re the one who got me started on making even the little things count and (trying to) make every word good for something. No, you don’t need lessons…because what I’ve got, if I had to describe it, would be a combination of things I’ve learned from you and Winnie-ther-Pooh, which is a weird combination but I think I like it. =) And I don’t know where you got the idea that I kind of sort of like Winnie-ther-Pooh…I LOVE HIM! =D

    And by the way…you have to go read “Now We are Six” and “When We Were Very Young.” Trust me, you’ll love them. I think.

  3. Proof that I did have a triple-un sentence: “Happiness–unbidden, unexpected, unfamiliar–expanded suddenly in his chest and he marched over to Aaron, buoyant.”

    I’m actually not shocked at all about you just finding your style. Firstly, my style really just came about itself recently because I figured out that I can’t really write straight pieces well at all. So if I throw in enough stylistic oddities and, like you said, make little things count, the piece at least looks like it was written interestingly. Your style actually has a deeper writing “quality”, even if I influenced the way you look at plot.

    Secondly, I could just tell that you had hit some kind of stride. Your pieces were really good before, but they suddenly became very strong, very confident, and very consistent (not in a bad, repetitive way, but more like “oh, this is a Carreen piece”). I love the style, by the way. I can’t decide whether the idea that your style is a mix between me and Winnie-ther-Pooh is cool, funny, honoring, or a little strange in a good way. Keep it up, is all I can say!

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