Elise

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Elise sat in the corner, her knees against her chest, her arms around her legs, and watched, with growing consternation, the light flickering above her in time with the streetlamp outside. Somewhere in the distance the lower-quarters power grid groaned under the strain. The weak, ugly orange glow barely illuminated the tiny room, which Elise couldn’t help but think was a blessing in disguise. Elise could smell the depravity in the air, could taste the damp musk of unmistakable filth that surrounded her. The streets outside were rowdy and restless and the tavern below was much the same. The raucous laughter permeated the floorboards and drove any hope of sleep from her thoughts. It doesn’t matter, she thought, glancing at the soiled mattress in the opposite corner, the notion of sleep isn’t exactly appealing anyway. .

The solace was suddenly disrupted when the door burst open and a rosy-cheeked lout stumbled into the room, unleashing with his entrance the unadulterated noise from downstairs. There was a beer stein in his hand whose contents spilled haphazardly onto the wood floor with a splash as he wobbled unsteadily on the spot.

“F’whay!” he exclaimed exuberantly, his roaming eyes landing upon Elise, who tried redundantly to shuffle even further back against the cold wall. The drunkard took another step forwards and let more of his beverage meet the floor. As he advanced Elise could feel her defences kick in. She was on her feet without knowing how she got there. Her hand was in her pocket and fondling the sharp steel inside without any recollection of ordering it to do so. Something was swelling inside of her, a presence she knew all too well.

He was in front of her now, swaying slightly.
“Yuraprettyone” he said in one long wheeze, his breath hot and damp on her face. It stank of a night spent on a barstool. His face was inches from hers, practically nose to nose, his features twisted by his inebriation into a soft sneer. His hand rose to her face, and Elise’s fingers twitched in her pocket, the blade ready to rip from the fabric of her khakis and plunge through his chin at the first sign of true threat.

“Mister, I’m warning you,” she whispered, her voice betraying her competence. He let out a short laugh – or a grunt, Elise couldn’t be sure – and brushed her hair back over her pointed ear. The sight lodged the sound in his throat. His eyes narrowed.

“Yurwonnadose-“ he began.

“I will end you” Elise hissed, a new found determination to her tone. Her hand batted his away and put her bangs back in place. She let him feel the blade through her trousers, pressed it up against his leg, dangerously close to what was getting so excited. His eyes widened, in fear or anger, Elise couldn’t be sure. They stood there in silence for an undeterminable period of time, staring into one another, weighing each other up, risk versus reward very evidently on his mind.

“Mr. Stottle,” said a voice from the doorway, startling both Elise and the intruder – “this is not your room,”

“S’what?” Stottle mumbled, turning around groggily. As he did so Elise caught a glimpse of Finnegan, the barkeep from whom she had rented the nights accommodation only hours before, standing in the doorway. His features, which this evening had been soft and kind – a handsomely rugged swash of stubble and smiles – were now set in stone, making sure Stottle knew he meant business. Stottle turned back to her with a disappointed look on his face and – speaking to Finnegan – said “I thought she were a gift.”

“Even if she was Stottle I doubt you’d know what to do with her,” Finnegan said, leading the man out of the room, dissipating the tension that had been building in an instant.

“Unwrap her o’ course!” Stottle shouted loudly before disappearing further down the hall. Elise shuddered.

“Sorry about that, miss,” Finnegan said, turning around at the door and giving Elise the slightest of nods.

“O-okay,” Elise said, her voice having returned to its natural timbre, “that’s okay.” She felt herself smile as the alarm seeped from every pore, her tense frame relaxing and a sigh escaping from her lips – breath she hadn’t even been aware she was holding. Her defiant hand, however, still grasped the kunai in her pocket.

“Well, goodnight,” Finnegan said, closing the door behind him. Elise remained standing for a few minutes, making sure Stottle wouldn’t make an appearance for round two, hearing Finnegan pass by her room again on his way back downstairs, and finally let herself slowly slide down the wall once more, reverting to her old position. She absently stroked her hair over her ears, making sure they were hidden once more.

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~ by Joseph Blame on July 26, 2010.

4 Responses to “Elise”

  1. […] below, go visit his site using either if the links on this page, or go straight to the entry itself here. I very much enjoyed the opening he created for us, and can’t wait to see where goes with […]

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