• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 08
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Sparrow’s nest

“D’you ever wonder how it’d feel?” Dennis asked, chewing on his hay-straw.

“How would what feel?” At that stage, the rope of conversation had frayed beyond the thread, to the fibre, which smelled like weed and summer sun. Ellie turned her head and exhaled the smoke through her pursed lips, in his direction, but the white puff dissolved into the heat before reaching his cheek. He sighed.

“How it’d feel to be… I dunno. Proper adult and all, I guess. The kind that own a nice car, new-looking. That host parties and shit. Like your folks.”

Ellie did not like to be reminded of her family. That meant thinking about her father’s naked back on the day she had seen Dolly’s head poking from behind it, red and confused ⁠— that meant thinking about her mother shrugging and walking away. Her mother shrugged at many things, especially the ones that mattered.

“I’m not looking forward to it”, she said.

Dennis hesitated for a minute or two. “I’m gonna change your mind”, he said, finally. Ellie shrugged.


There was some mild excitement in the community about Eleanor's wedding, and it came in all shades. The gossip-infused excitement of her father's clique from the mayoral office, the sniggering excitement of former school friends, and the relieved excitement of her mother, who had taken no part in the wedding preparations, but had lined up all of Eleanor's belongings in neat suitcases before her (now former) room's door.


Sparrow’s nest

Eleanor had hoped to make more a of commotion, but she had overestimated her mother's interest in social standing. Or perhaps she had overestimated her own standing with her.

Eleanor turned to the mirror and looked at her dress. It made her shoulders look fragile and small, bony. She focused on their irregular shape, the acromion protruding like the skull of a small bird. She had learned the word "acromion" on Wikipedia, one night between three and five a.m.

She chanted it under her breath as she walked up the aisle, to the air of the nuptial march.



"Eleanor Dora Smithers, nee Devers, a long-standing pillar of the Serborough community, is presumed to have left home one week ago, alone and unaccompanied. She carried off one suitcase but left behind her car and most of her valuables, including her engagement and wedding rings. Her two children associate with her husband, Dennis Smithers, of Smithers & Co, to ask for information on her whereabouts. Mr. Smithers, a successful businessman and prominent member of Serborough's mayoral office, addressed her earlier today with this touching plea: "Ellie, if you're reading this, please come home. I apologise for everything. We can work through it. The kids need you, babe. Please come back." Mrs. Smithers' destination as well as the reasons for her departure remain unclear at the present time. Please email all relevant information to the main desk of the Serborough Courier."