Elena loved books,
Elena loved everything about them.
The feeling of the pages between her fingers and that new book smell, and the crackling sound hard cover spines make when you open them.
Sometimes, on orphanage trips into the town, She would wander into the book shops and use the little money she had to buy small bag of chips, because she never had enough to actually buy a book, sometimes if she was lucky she would have enough for a pastry. And then she would pile books into her arms, as many she could carry, and take them into a remote corner of the store, somewhere no one goes, usually somewhere like the travel section, she would sit down with her books and snack and She would just read, and smell, and listen to the books. She used to get through her entire pile, back when she just read picture books. But as she got older, and her reading level improved she slowly realized she would never get through the whole pile every time, there weren't enough hours in the day, there weren't enough days, too many responsibilities to finish the whole pile, when that was really all she wanted, just to sit down with all the time in the world and read. But she always had to leave, she could never finish more than one. Now she just piled up books for show and for choices, she even had a list of books to grab for the next time, ones she wanted to come back and read.
Karla used to compare her reading to a sponge or a black whole, soaking the ink right of the page of the book, hungry for words, devouring every book she could find. It always seemed like she had my nose in a book, at recess, at lunch, at night, in the halls.
Elena's finger slid over the words as she read, mouthing the words to herself and completely absorbed into her book. The book rested in her crossed legs, her brain processed each word like a machine, building each individual object in her brain like a part in a blueprint, all coming together to create one big scene, or character. Elena loved how her brain did this, building worlds through the instructions of the paragraphs, a stage light shining on the most important parts of the description with how many words she could process.
That was the frustration with reading, is that Elena could never build the whole image, never see everything. The human brain could only process and picture so many things at once. Elena had read in a book once that the human brain couldn't actually create a human face from scratch in there head, so faces in her dreams are just people she'd past on the streets or her friends. Thats what happens when other people read as well, for some people, the faces of the characters in there head are fuzzy and dulled like a memory, with only the special features leaking through like hair or eye color. For Elena, it was more like a dream, She could see faces of people off the streets, or actors, or some of the other children in the home.
right now, The heroine of her story was a lady She once saw walking her dog on the street outside the window the other day. someone blonde haired and tanned with a pretty face.
The book was an old one, from the used section, adult fiction Elena thought, at least it read like one.
Elena was a bit young for adult fiction, according to many of the adults who ran the group home the adult fiction novels Elena sometimes read would have to many adult words and subjects that an eleven year old girl like her shouldn't be exposed to at her age, other adults were impressed by her reading level. Elena didn't get it. She could understand the words just fine, and so could quite a few others in her home. Though she kind of guessed it came with being an orphan. You don't have anyone to keep you from growing up to fast.
And the book was good. Some sort of coming of age contemporary novel about a women deciding to selling her recently deceased grandmothers pearls. It was about her struggle with grief and what it means to be a women. And there was a cute shopkeeper who Elena suspected had a crush on the protagonist, but it was just a lot of subtext right now.
Elena had just gotten to a particularly good part where the protagonist reflects on the memories she has about her grandmother with her dad. It had great imagery with the grandmothers pearls and what they mean to---
"Elena!" A loud voice called ripping Elena from her thoughts. Elena gave a small yelp and jerked violently towards the noise, her heart beat fast with a primal fear.
Elena jerked her head up and was met with a face full of familiar bright pink braces and teeth.
Elena slumped against the bookshelf behind her and sighed with relief.
"Karla" Elena huffed, "what the heck!"
Karla doubled over cackling like some sort of cartoon witch. Elena's face muscles twitched with annoyance.
Karla was Elena's friend from school. She was fairly pretty if you liked that sort of quirky pretty, Elena kind of thought she looked like Kimmy Gibbler from Full house with strawberry blonde hair. Karla's hair was wavy, and and she always had it pulled into two pigtails at the base of her neck. She had a large mouth so when she smiled you got a face full of her pink braces. and Karla had to many freckles, to many on her face and on her shoulders and arms, she even had freckles on her ears. Karla had swept her long bangs over one eye, Elena had once told her she looked emo and that it gave people a totally wrong impression, Karla had of course ignored her.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry" Karla managed through her laughter, "I didn't mean to scare you, but you totally didn't see me!" Elena rolled her eyes, a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth, threatening to send her into a laughing fit as well.
"What are you even doing here" Elena breathed through her repressed laughter, smiling up at her friend.
Karla shrugged, "I heard your group home had a trip today so I thought I'd come see if you were here, and of course I was right" Karla picked at the spine of one of the books on the bookshelf to her left, the other was raised to her face, her mouth chewing away at her already stubby nails.
Karla wouldn't be here for any other reason other than Elena. Karla had serious Dyslexia and ADHD and had neither the patients or the ability to sit down and read a book. Though Elena would sometimes read to her and she liked audiobooks.
Karla's eyes wandered around the store until traveling down to the book in Elena's lap, which lay open and forgotten. She took her hand out of her mouth to speak.
"What are you reading this time?"
"Nothing you'd be interested in" Elena replied nonchalantly.
Karla raised her eyebrow questioningly, "oh yeah? Try me."
"Well there's this women who sells her grandmothers pearls at a pawn shop" Elena starts. Karlas freckled nose scrunches up even more in disgust like someone had put something very smelly under her nose.
"And there's this cute shopkeeper-"
"its actually good, really, it's got very good imagery-"
Karla put up her hand up between them, her face twisted with disgust. Elena stifling a laugh, her shoulders shaking. "please stop, really, that sounds like seriously the most boring thing I've ever heard and your either going to make me hate your taste in books or sick, I'm still not sure which yet, forget I asked." Karla said.
It was Elena's turn to laugh now, hunching over her book and shaking. Elena's face was red now with trying to stifle her laughter. Karla was laughing to.
Elena could see another women in the isle, glaring at her and Karla like petulant children, which only made Elena and Karla laugh harder. This was why they shouldn't be aloud to laugh together. Once the two girls started they couldn't stop.
Karla helped Elena pack up up and put away away Her book pile. Elena added books to her list and reluctantly put away the book she had been reading("but what if I can't remember my place","trust me, you definetly will") finally, Karla managed to convince Elena she could put put a piece of paper between the pages to mark her spot, though that didn't go over well either("what if somebody moves my bookmark?""trust me, no ones touching that book except you""but what if""for goodness sakes, just book the bookmark in!")
Elena had a lot of laughs watching Karla dramatically sneak the empty snack back to the trash can and run like she was some sort of spy. Karla tripped on the way back and Elena had to physically stop herself from howling with laughter. That got quite a few glares from other people in the bookstore.
When the girls were finished packing up shop they set of out of the shop laughing together. Elena pushed open the glass doors of the store and stepped out onto the street.
Elena had read somewhere that the town had once been an old colonial town. And sometimes, if you looked hard enough and knew enough about architecture you could probably tell. But the town had been modernized and decked out in coffee shops and off brand apparel stores. Elena liked that everything was off brand, it gave everything a pleasing aesthetic. Karla complained there was no Starbucks.("it's literally just coffee Karla, only we both know Joe's is better." Karla didn't argue with her on that.)
"Where are your parents?" Elena asked, turning to her friend.
Karla shrugged, "dunno, I think they took Jack to Nick's knacks or something for his birthday" she rolled her eyes and mumbled under breathe, "little demons only turning 9, spoiled brat."
Elena gave a small breathey snort. "Yeah, he's surely a troublemaker, must run in the family" she teased.
Karla shoved Elena in the shoulder, "oi!" Elena was laughing.
Karla ordered them both a small bowl of ice cream with the money her parents had given her. Karla ordered chocolate and Elena ordered raspberry swirl. Then they sat on a bench and talked. Elena talked about some of the books she was interested in reading, with some very interesting reactions from Karla("why in the world would you want to read about Cars El, and not even race cars or magic cars!"), though she did quite seem interested in the Wizard of Oz adaption Elena had found in the teen section that had been twisted into a Space adventure.
Elena saw something out of the corner of her eye. She could have been wrong. Of course she had to be wrong. Elena could have sworen she saw a white rabbit dash out from the gutter and behind the building.
Elena tapped Karla in the arm, not taking her eyes of the spot.
"Did you see that?" Elena interrupted in whisper. She didn't know why she was whispering, it felt like the time to though. And Elena had a ridiculous suspicion that the rabbit could hear her. There it was again, a flash of white fur.
"A white rabbit!" Elena gasped.
Karla raised her eyebrow suspiciously. "No way! There aren't any white rabbits around here. Is this another one of your fits" She tried to reason, but Elena was already out of her seat.
"Let's go check it out!" Elena urged.
Karla just shook her head "No way Alice in wonderland, you definetly didn't see a white rabbit." the two girls exchanged a long hard look between them. Elena did not back down. Finally Karla sighed dejectedly. "Fine, but if this is another wild goose chase I'm suing."