This is a short story I created for my creative writing class in my senior year of high school, it’s a bit long so, enjoy. 🙂
She sat in an old wooden chair, flipping through the pages of an even older book, lost in her story until reality came crashing through.
“Elsie, there is a young man who requires your assistance, he is right over there.”
Florence announced. Elsie looked over to the young man that Florence was pointing to, a shorter, wiry-looking lad with light brown hair shining in the sunlight. He wore a formal suit, almost seeming to be at odds with the sly smile upon his lips. She closed her book, and nodded to Florence while standing up from her seat; She straightened out her dress and walked over to the young man and offered her assistance.
“How can I be of service?” Elsie asked the young man. He turned to look at her and smiled.
“I was wondering if you had a copy of Moby Dick.” Elsie nodded and ushered him to the left side of the library.
“Hmm,” She scanned the bookshelf. “Ah, here it is.” She said as she pulled out the book. Elsie offered the book to him, and he accepted it with grace.
“Thank you. You must know this library pretty well, I presume.” Elsie smiled at him.
“I know this library better than anyone here. I’ve been coming here for quite some time.” Elsie recounted.
“May I ask your name?” The young man inquired politely.
“Elizabeth, but you can refer to me as Elsie.” She responded.
“What an interesting name that is, Elsie. Well, my name isn’t as fancy as yours, but it is William.”
“Well, William, although it isn’t as fancy, it is distinguished all the same.” Elsie paused. “What has peaked your interest in Moby Dick?” Elsie pondered.
“My associates brought up the subject of whales, and this book in particular, so I was interested as to why they had found it so fascinating. I’ve always enjoyed the sea as well, so it has piqued my curiosity even more.” He mused
“I’ve never been to the ocean before, actually,” Elsie confessed. They went on to talk about the book, and all things related to it, until William glanced up at the clock and realized he must go.
“Would you like to accompany me to lunch this afternoon?” William questioned.
“I’d be delighted.” Elsie agreed.
“Brilliant! Meet me at Lyon’s Corner House at noon.” William strode away excitedly. Elsie was blushed and smiling. She turned to view Florence giving her an approving look.
Elsie returned to her previous seat, an older wooden chair, grabbing the back of her dress so she wouldn’t sit improperly upon it. She rested her favorite book, The Picture of Dorian Grey onto the cracked wooden table and proceeded to open it and begin reading. Occasionally she would peer up and look at the clock because she has to make sure she’s on time to her appointment with William. Elsie had read over fifty pages by the time she looked up at the clock again and realized she was going to be late if she didn’t leave that instant. Elsie excused herself from the library and rushed down the pavement. Big Ben just finished ringing, which signaled the coming of midday, causing her to hurry even faster. When she finally arrived at Lyon’s Corner House, William was leaning against the wall, side to the entrance door.
“Forgive me, have I made you wait long?” Elsie apologized politely, hoping she hadn’t kept him waiting.
“Oh not to worry, love. You’d be worth the wait regardless.” William reassured Elsie whilst he opened the creaking door for her. They went inside and seated themselves, waiting for their waiter to arrive. Elsie took off the sweater she was wearing and put it on the back of her chair.
“Thank you for inviting me out to lunch, William.” Elsie thanked him.
“It is my greatest pleasure.” The waiter came by and handed them their menus and asked them which beverage they prefer, Elsie chose tea, and William, lemonade. Elsie was looking around the tiny restaurant, while William’s eyes were fixed upon Elsie.
The waiter returned with their beverages and proceeded to ask what they would like to eat for lunch. Elsie chose the vegetable soup, and William chose fish and chips. The waiter left to request their order.
“Elsie, tell me a bit about yourself.” William requested.
“My life is rather dull,” Elsie began. “What are you interested in knowing?”
“I want to know everything, try beginning at the start.” William offered with a grin.
“Well, I am an orphan, or was, I shall say and I’ve always been a quiet person.” Elsie paused. William was looking at her with intent. “My friend, Gracie, I met her at the orphanage, and I’ve known her for quite some time now. I have worked in the library for quite a long while, it used to be my hiding spot when I was young. I do enjoy reading, I dream of becoming a novelist myself one day.”
“I enjoy reading myself actually, but I never seem to be able to find the time to do so,” William added. Elsie’s interest peaked.
“What do you mean you have no time?” Elsie questioned him.
“I work as a shoe cobbler during the day, and when I arrive at home, my parents force me to do the household chores, because most of the time the maids run out of time to do a lot of them.”
“A shoe cobbler? How interesting. What made you deci-?”
“Here’s your soup, and your fish and chips.” The waiter interrupted Elsie. The waiter then left, leaving her with a sense of annoyance.
“Are you alright, love? You mustn’t let that waiter bother you, I bet he never learned proper manners.” Elsie chuckled a bit. She took a spoonful of her soup but her body jerked back from the hot temperature, burning her tongue. She reached for her tea but suddenly realized that she couldn’t drink it because it was just as hot.
“Would you care for some of my lemonade?” William offered, reaching out his lemonade towards her. Elsie instantly went red in her face, she hesitantly accepted and took a couple sips.
“Why don’t you tell me about yourself now?” Elsie appealed, trying to pretend nothing had happened.
“Well, I am adopted, I was an orphan by the age of two. People say that I have a talent for singing. I do enjoy going on adventures from time to time.”
“You must let me listen to your singing some time.
“Indeed I must.” William agreed. They were silent for a while, occasionally chattering about their interests. They both finished their meals around the same time; they were in no rush to leave.
“Come on an adventure with me this weekend,” William said abruptly. Elsie was flustered.
“W-what manner of adventure?”
“One you would enjoy.” No one had ever asked her to do anything so spontaneous, or much in general just as well.
“I…I don’t know. I must get back to the library; Florence is probably very busy without me.” Elsie stuttered at the beginning before making an excuse for her to leave. She arose from her chair, and grabbed her sweater, and hurried to put each arm through.
“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. Please, sit down again.” William pleaded. Elsie gave him a doleful gaze.
“I must be going, thank you for lunch. Next time, I’ll return the favor.” Elsie had gone out the glass entrance door; William watched Elsie scurry past the wide glass window.
Elsie returned to the library, it was quiet as usual. Florence came out of her office and smiled at Elsie.
“You’re back already? How did it go?” Florence asked.
“It went well actually,” Elsie confessed.
“It is clearly not busy here, you should return to your flat and get some rest, you begin the university tomorrow.” Florence tried convincing Elsie. Elsie nodded and turned to go back through the door.
She wanted to stop by and see Ms. Wright before she went back to her flat. She turned the corner to stroll through the vacant pavement. Elsie thought of William, she liked how charming he seemed. She wondered what William thought of her, she assumed by now, he’d think she’s mad because of how abruptly she had left. She turned another corner, there were more people strolling through. Elsie smiled at the people passing by her, them smiling right back. She crossed the street and faced a dark wooden door. Elsie grabbed the black door knocker, at the top of the door. A short, young, blonde haired girl opened the door.
“Hello, Annie.” Elsie greeted her. Annie gave her a wide smile and rushed out to hug her.
“Hiya, Elsie!” Elsie took Annie’s hand and guided her back into the house. A rush of nostalgia came towards Elsie as she walked through the entrance hallway. There were many hooks that held the children’s coats, over the beige walls; there was a shelf the held all the children’s shoes on. The entrance hallway led to the kitchen; it had enough room to fit the five working women, it even had an island in the center. Off from the kitchen lead to the dining room. It was just enough to squeeze the children in at the table. She hasn’t been inside the orphanage for quite some time now; she left before she was even eighteen. She would visit Ms. Wright usually every month, or whenever she wasn’t busy.
“Elsie,” Ms. Wright beckoned. Elsie turned around, and so did Annie. “What a nice surprise.”
“Hello, mum.” Elsie let go of Annie’s hand, Elsie smiled at and hugged Ms. Wright.
“What are you doing here, dear? You should be resting considering you start the university tomorrow.”
“Mum, I’ll be fine, I was on my way to my flat and thought I would stop by. I haven’t seen you for quite some time.” Elsie answered.
“Oh alright. Why don’t you stay for dinner, then dear?” Ms. Wright offered and Elsie agreed to stay. Annie pulled on Elsie’s arm, and Elsie tilted her head down to look at her.
“Why do you call Ms. Wright, Mum?” Annie questioned. Elsie kneeled down onto the cold wooden floors, resting her rear on her heels to be able to look at Annie properly.
“Ms. Wright has been there for me ever since I was born, she was the one who took care of me the most, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you did the same,” Elsie told her. Annie smiled and ran off to go play with some of the other children in the other room. Elsie stood back up and walked over to Ms. Wright.
“Have you gotten a doctor to see about Annie’s problem?” Elsie queried. Ms. Wright frowned.
“She’s asked you why again, hasn’t she? The doctor says there’s nothing we can do.” Ms. Wright admitted.
“I wager families have rejected her because of her memory problem. She really is a fine young lady, but they’d think she’s just mad after they realize her condition.” Elsie conceded.
“The families love her. They come and visit on the weekends, and she can remember their names and who they are, but she cannot remember anything else that they’ve told her. That is when families decide they need to look for a new child to adopt. There is currently a family looking at her, and they’ve noticed it, and they do not seem to mind. The family does look promising, although.” Elsie glanced over at Annie giving her a sorrowful expression, but Annie hadn’t looked over.
Elsie helped cook and serve the children their dinners. All the women who work at the orphanage eat after all the children are finished and returned to their respective rooms.
“How are you doing, Elsie?” One of the women asks her.
“I’m doing well, actually. I met a very charming man today.” Elsie mentioned. The women were quite surprised.
“A man? You must tell me about him.” Ms. Wright insisted, looking at her with intent. Elsie told the women all she knew about William.
“He even asked me to go adventure with him this weekend. He must be mad.” Elsie laughed.
“What’s wrong with a little adventure? Elsie, dear, you must go. You seem to like this man; don’t let him slip away because of your fears.” Ms. Wright encouraged her.
“I’m not one to rush headlong into things.” Elsie had informed her.
Elsie agreed to talk to William again after Ms. Wright finally convinced her. Elsie didn’t exactly know how she was going to meet him, but if she saw him, she’d confront him. Elsie chatted with the women as she helped them wash the dishes, and put the leftover food away. She then gave them all goodbyes and dismissed herself from the orphanage.
Elsie awoken, and arose from her bed at the crack of dawn, put her formal dress on and went on her way to visit with Gracie at the coffee shop nearest Brunel University. Gracie was already sitting at a table in the left corner; she was looking absentminded through the window.
“It’s somewhat rare to see you up so early in the morning, is there anything I should know about?” Elsie had interjected upon Gracie’s daydream.
“Nothing, in particular, I just woke up earlier than usual today,” Gracie admitted. Elsie and Gracie recounted the common news, such as the Spanish flu epidemic.
“There were over 50 million deaths, in less than a year, I’ve seen in the newspaper.” Elsie avowed. Gracie kept noticing a younger man that kept taking glances at Elsie, and so Gracie tapped her forearm before Elsie could continue talking about the epidemic.
“What is it?” Elsie questioned Gracie.
“That man keeps looking at you, he’s quite handsome,” Gracie informed her. Elsie looked over at the man Gracie had been talking about. He was sitting with his back towards her; she felt as though she knew who this man was.
“Go talk to him.” Gracie nudged. Elsie hesitantly agreed because she was curious as to whom this familiar man was.
“Hello,” Elsie muttered, hoping it was loud enough for him to hear what she had said. He turned his head to look back at her; William gave her a wide smile. Elsie’s heart beat faster than normal because she had forgotten about his offer until that moment, but she still gave him a smile.
“Elsie, I apologize for making you feel uncomfortable yesterday.” William apologized. He made a gesture for her to have a seat next to him, and she abided.
“It was my fault, so I apologize for leaving abruptly. In honesty, no one has ever asked me to anything extemporaneous before, mind, barely has a stranger even dared to say hello to me before you.” Elsie conceded. William was taken aback.
“I think you’re a lovely woman, just knowing you after one day. Even if you rejected my offer yesterday, I’d be glad if you’d agree to meet with me again.” William confessed. Elsie blushed, putting her hands her face to feel how warm it was. She glanced over at Gracie who was patiently waiting for her return to inform her of the details.
“Why, thank you, William. I’d like to accompany you on your adventure if the offer still stands.” Elsie affirmed. William gave out a little chuckle.
“Of course the offer still stands.” He chortled.
“On one condition.” She started. William raised an eyebrow, giving her a quizzical expression. “You must tell me where you will be taking me.”
“Everywhere. There isn’t just one destination in an adventure. You begin at one place, but you shouldn’t end at the same place you started.” William described.
Elsie and William talked a bit more, and William informed her that he made note to his parents about her, and would like to meet them before they go out this weekend, she agreed. Elsie returned to visit Gracie and promised her to tell her the details of how she had met William because she had to excuse herself from their meeting.
The week dragged on slowly for Elsie, she needed to wake up forcefully early to make it on time to her classes, and in between, she helped Florence with the library. Once her final class was finished, she’d run over to the library, and do her homework, and help in whatever way was needed. Elsie was falling asleep before she even had left to go home. Florence had offered to cut her hours at the library so she’d have more time, but Elsie declined. Elsie was also concerned she might have to cancel plans with William of how busy she has been. During that week, the Great War ended with the Central Powers lying in ruin and Britain celebrated, with thousands of people gathered in the streets for days long celebrations. By the time it was Saturday, everything had cooled down, and her schoolwork wasn’t piled high, and weekends at the library were rarely ever busy. Elsie was relieved that she hadn’t canceled their appointment.
Elsie had woken up earlier than she usually does, most likely because she was nervous for her meeting with William and his parents. Elsie stopped by the library for a couple hours but Florence did not need her assistance so Elsie sat there and read Wuthering Heights. She usually finishes a book in a couple days, unless she’s busy. She had read at least half of the book before it was time to dismiss herself from the library and accompany William. She slowly rose from the wooden chair and announced to Florence that she was leaving. Considering it was Saturday, there were many people out and roaming the city streets. Elsie had to push her way through the crowds of people to get to her destination.
As she arrived at the written address William had given her, it was very noticeable that it was a house for the rich, the outside of the house was a light beige color, with many windows and the gardening outside on the shrubs and hedges are cut precisely and well kept. Elsie was astonished at how beautiful and grand the house was. She minced up the steep steps leading to the front door. She carefully knocked on the door, and patiently waited until someone who had come to the door. A woman opened the door; she was wearing a black dress, with a white apron over it, and had a white bonnet.
“May I help you?” The woman spoke with impeccable mannerism. Elsie smiled at her.
“Yes, I am looking for William, is he in?” Elsie asked politely. The woman went back inside keeping the door open and called for William. A few moments later, William appeared in the doorway.
“Elsie, come on in, love.” William gestured her inside, and she followed him. The entrance way to the house was purple; the stairs were only a few feet away from the door and between the stairs and another wall formed another hallway leading to the lounge. William formed a fist and rested it on his hip and gestured Elsie to put her arm through. He led her to the lounge where his parents were sitting. His mum was sitting down on the couch with her legs resting upon the square ottoman. His father was sitting in an armchair facing the opposite direction as them, reading the newspaper.
“Mum, Dad, this is Elsie,” William waiting for his parents to bring their attention to him. “Elsie, this is my mum, Marguerite, and my father, Alfred.” Elsie looked at both of them, in turn, giving them polite smiles.
“It is a pleasure to meet you both.” Elsie greeted his parents.
“Us as well, darling.” Marguerite had stood up and walked over to where Elsie was currently standing. Elise talked to Marguerite and Alfred for quite a while, but they were not impressed with her. They were the type of people who dismiss the poor, which Elsie was.
“How is it possible to afford to go to the university with such little money?” Marguerite questioned rudely.
“I reluctantly accepted an offer from my mother, in which she would provide the necessary funds to complete my education,” Elsie answered somewhat shamefully. She didn’t mind their scoffs and sneers, she didn’t care what they thought. If need be, she’d defend herself and reference how far she’d come while being on her own. William had noticed his parents’ facial expressions of disgust and disdain throughout the discussion, which at this point had him silently fuming.
“Elsie, we should be taking our leave now. If you’d excuse us.” William put an end to his parent’s criticism. Elsie stood up and made her way towards William, but turned back to his parents.
“Once again, it was a rare pleasure meeting you both.” Elsie politely excused herself from the lounge. Elsie was stopped by William before they went outside.
“I’m deeply sorry for my parent’s behavior, do not think that I would ever dismiss you on the way you live, or how you look,” William assured her. Elsie smiled at him.
“William, it is alright. I care not what they think, it’s what you think that matters to me because you have shown me the respect I’m due.” Elsie finished with a smile. William nodded and informed her that they would take his parents car, as it was an easier way to travel than a train. Elsie admitted that she’d never ridden in a car before then.
Elsie and William were in the car for at least two hours with Elsie becoming more and more impatient to know where he was taking her first, whilst William was remaining very persistent in not telling her. They conversed the entire time, about their likes and dislikes, and what they wish for the future and so on. William turned the car onto the side of the street. Across the road, they could see a massive sign with the name, Dance Craze in bold letters.
“We have arrived at our first destination,” William announced. Elsie turned to William and gives him a wide-eyed expression.
“You’re taking me dancing?” She questioned him with a surprised look on her face. William grabbed her hand and guided her across the street and into the building. There was loud, boisterous music playing, and a massive crowd in the wide room. The flooring was marble and had long red Victorian drapes over the long, wide windows. The people inside were dressed formally, with expensive dresses and tuxedos. Elsie was intimidated by the crowd because she felt underdressed and she had no prior dancing experience.
“Let’s go, love.” William gave her a wide smile and lent out his hand for her to grab, and brought her into the middle of the dance floor. Elsie had shown a sense of discomfort, William reassured her by saying, “It’s alright. Let the dance floor be yours, no one is watching anyway.”
Elsie had felt overwhelmingly special, more special than she’d probably felt in her entire life because William had chosen her because he liked her. William never took his eyes off her as they danced; they twirled and spun in circles, holding each other together. Elsie kept stepping on his toes and losing her balance. William had suggested to Elsie that she should keep her feet upon this, and she obliged. Elsie felt a sense of closeness and comfort while being held together with William, which made her feel at ease.
William planned to leave the Dance Craze after two hours of arriving there, but they ended up staying for over three hours. William finally convinced Elsie to move on to the next destination after a few tries. William drove Elsie to a diner, which was fairly vacant because it was so late at night. They were starving after dancing for such a long period of time. After their stop at the diner, William drove Elsie to the Guildhall Art Gallery.
“The museum is closed, you do know that, right?” Elsie inquired. William grinned at her.
“I do know that, but we’re going to break in anyways. We’re not going to steal anything, of course, we’re just going to take a look around.” William assured her. Elsie looked horrified.
“We are not going to break into a museum!” Elsie protested loudly. William frowned.
“Do you trust me?” He questioned. Elsie nodded slowly; she opened her mouth, but immediately closed it again.
“I’m not going to let anything happen to you. I promise.” William promised. Elsie reluctantly agreed to go inside, even though she was questioning the whole thing. William led her to the back entrance of the museum; he had prior experience with unlocking secured doors without the keys. William fumbled with the door hinge and quickly unlocked it. Elsie was quite impressed, but also somewhat concerned. They walked inside, the room was quite empty, but the walls were filled with paintings. There were sculptures spaced out in the middle of each room, the walls were white so it wasn’t so distracting for the people to view the paintings, and had medium brown, hardwood flooring. Elsie’s face brightened immediately upon entering; she loved it just as much as the library. William loved watching Elsie’s reactions to the different pieces of artwork. He never understood a thing about art, but he knew that Elsie would enjoy it greatly, so he knew to bring her there.
Elsie started getting drowsy after an hour of walking around, she kept yawning and rubbing her eyes. She almost never stayed up past midnight, only every once in awhile when she was particularly restless. William noticed her weariness and only stayed a little while longer.
“I have one more destination for you, and you can rest on the way there,” William announced.
When they arrived at their final destination, William touched Elsie’s arm and shook her awake politely. She slowly opened her eyes, feeling very groggy. “We’re here,” William whispered in her ear and kissed her temple. Elsie gave him a weak, but happy smile. They both got out of the car, and it only took Elsie a minute to realize where he had taken her. The ocean was right in front of them. Elsie beamed; she was ecstatic to view the ocean.
“It’s so grand. I find it completely miraculous that such a large body of water could be so beautiful.”
Elsie ran towards the waves, taking off her shoes on the way and she dug her toes into soft, squishy sand. It was pitch black outside, but there were enough lights from the town for them to be able to see. William ran towards Elsie to catch up with her, and he took off his own shoes as well. William grabbed her and picked her up from behind, and carried her into the water. She began shrieking, which turned into laughter.
They stayed at the ocean for several hours, though they never went swimming in the water, they splashed each other often, and ran through the sand. They climbed rocks and found a perfectly flat stone for both of them to sit down on. It was higher up so they had a perfect view of the water and the sand. They talked for hours on end, and the more they did; the more they realized how much they have in common, yet so much was different.
“Elsie, this might be a little soon but, I fancy you. You may be quiet, but you’re not dull, you’re full of life, and as you most likely haven’t realized it, you’re full of adventure. You’re intellectual and beautiful, and I’m so grateful that I’ve gotten the chance to meet you.” William complimented. Elsie was tearing up. She had never felt wanted, she had hardly any families wanting to meet her at the orphanage, and even though Ms. Wright was practically her mother, she hadn’t been a complete stranger.
“What’s wrong, love?” William questioned concernedly. He grabbed her hand and held it close to him.
“I find it mad, you are the only person who has ever wanted me in their life, I mean besides Gracie, but when I was in the orphanage, I wasn’t ever looked upon by the families. It’s almost mad to say that I fancy you as well, and I’ve only known you for such a short while.” William gave Elsie an appealing look.
“Time means nothing, love,” William assured her.
“And your parents? It’s clear they aren’t as taken with me as you are.” Elsie questioned
“They’ll come around, I promise,” William vowed. He moved closer to Elsie, brushed the hair from her face, moving it behind her ear. He caressed her cheek and leaned in. His lips met hers, and it was a pleasant, soft touch, and their lips moved in sync. They broke from the kiss, and they both smiled. Elsie had never been kissed, and she was just glad she had a perfect one. She sacrificed her values to go headlong into this adventure with William, and she was grateful that she had found love along the way, that someone had truly wanted her. Elsie took another glance towards the ocean, while William’s eyes were fixed upon her. As she turned back to face him, she laughed and they briefly kissed once again. They sat there for a long while, and as the sun rose from the horizon, they rested their heads against each other’s, they were at peace, and their adventure had just begun.