She was young, independent and free-spirited.
"Finally," Ellie thought, as she walked out of the auditorium after graduation. Thankfully it had been an afternoon ceremony. Pulling off her cap and gown as she ran to her car, she threw them into the backseat, buckled up, steered the car toward the highway. As she passed the school she saw Aaron standing there watching her leave. She rolled the car window down, kissed her hand and threw a mock kiss at him. Gave her mocking laugh, letting him know he would never know a real kiss from her. As she headed north out of town, Miss Mable would later comment, "She was beating time with one of her hands to the loud music from her radio as though she was glad she was young, independent and free-spirited. Just like always!"
Ellie's mom, Irene, paced back and forth across the livingroom, occasionally stopping to pull back the curtains to see if Ellie's car had pulled in, nothing. She stood there looking out, chewing the cuticle around her right thumb. Should she call the police or wait a little longer? It wasn't like Ellie not to keep her word, she knew it would worry her. Ellie was always good about not worrying her. It had been twelve hours since she last called. "Mom", I'll be home by two am, don't worry, I'm with some of the kids from school, we're celebrating being free!"
She looked at the clock, two fifteen in the afternoon. Something isn't right! Irene went and sat on the sofa, rocking back and forth as she held the sofa pillow in her arms. I'll give her thirty more minutes, then I'll call the Sheriff. Standing she went to the mantel and picked up Ellie's picture. It isn't that Ellis is beautiful, it's just that she always seemed to be reaching out, as though she wanted to twirl around, laughing, spreading her sheer joy as she spun around. Always wanting to be free. Irene always wondered what she needed to be free from. Sometimes her laughter hurt. Though it sounded like she was joyous, her words were barbed and hurtful. Yet if you took the words seriously, Ellie would run over and hug her, telling her she misunderstood. There were times Irene knew she didn't, but never told Ellie so. Sometimes she was afraid of Ellie, her own daughter. A mother shouldn't be afraid of her own daughter.
Her head turned to the front door as the doorbell buzzed. Irene hurried to answer it, thinking Ellie forgot her keys. Only it wasn't Ellie standing there, but Leslie, a girl from her class. "Yes", asked Irene, "can I help you?"
"Yes, Ma'am, Ellie left her purse at the auditorium yesterday. I thought I would drop it off. Is she here?"
"No, was she not with y'all last night. Didn't you have a party to celebrate y'all's graduation?"
Leslie replied, "Yes we had a party, and Ellie was suppose to come, but she never showed. I took her purse home with me, thinking I could return the purse then, but she never came. So I thought I'd drop it off."
Taking the purse Irene thanked the girl and closed the door. Agitated, she glanced around trying to decide what to do. She went into the kitchen and lifted the phone off the hook, then dialed the Sheriff's department.
While she waited, she made a pot of coffee, then placed several cups on a tray setting it all on the dinningroom table. Then she sat down on the sofa and waited, going over in her mind what she wanted to say. If Ellie wasn't with her school friends, where was she and what was she doing.
When she answered the doorbell this time, it was Sheriff Adams with his deputy, Michele Winters, a really nice girl. She was always friendly and respectful to Irene. She treated most people this way unless a person committed a crime and she had to arrest them. Such a tiny thing to be a policewoman. She usually only came with the Sheriff when children and women were involved. Quickly Irene turned to look at the Sheriff, something wasn't right, "Sheriff?"
"Irene, after you called me I did some checking around. One of my calls was to the Carson County Sheriff's office. It seems a car fitting the description of Ellie's ran off the bridge at Hwy 119 yesterday afternoon. Because of the drought this past year, there wasn't much water. The car fell onto rocks and exploded. They did find the remains of a young female at the wheel."
Michele came over and sat next to her, picking up one of her nervous hands. Irene continued rocking, "Are you sure it's Ellie?"
"We won't be sure until we pick up her dental records from Doc Hardy and compare them to the corpse, but we're pretty sure. Would anyone else be driving her car?"
Irene shook her head, "No, she would never allow someone else to drive her car. It's just that she's a careful driver. She had so much to look forward to. She was so young and free." It was then that she began to cry, she knew they wouldn't understand. She was glad and yet sad at the same time. How could she explain this?***************************
Tuesday Morning Writings is a project sponsored by Gaelikaa and Judy Harper. The words are copyright of Judy Harper.