For Some People, Life Goes On Quietly And Unassumingly…
Spring, Year 4
Ellie pulled her tablet out and started the process of checking the stocks for the shop. World United wasn’t doing too badly but it definitely needed jazzing up a bit. The problem was, Ellie didn’t have the money for that and nor did the charity, who were pulling in the bare minimum. Sighing, she turned to face a customer and smiled. “Alexander! How lovely to see you!”
Alexander smiled. “Nice to see you, Ellie. How’s the shop coming along?”
Ellie pulled a face. “Barely. We’re still not making much but I suppose it’s a start. I’ve got to seriously pay these loans off but it’s not happening right now.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Alexander said, sympathetically. “Listen, Andrea mentioned she was thinking of going bowling soon. She’s going to ring you and see if you feel like going.”
Nodding, Ellie tapped her tablet to record a sale. “Now that would be ideal, but I have so much to do. I’ve got work and the shop. It’s a bit much at the moment.”
“If you’re sure.” Alexander regarded Ellie for a moment. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, Ellie.”
Looking up, Ellie opened her mouth to reply but Alexander had gone.
After closing the shop, Ellie caught the tram to Magnolia Promenade so she could check on her new account. The bank was fairly new to the area but was functioning. She had an appointment soon to talk about her outstanding loan and she wasn’t looking forward to it much. Especially as she wasn’t working as many hours as she used to be, and the donations she collected were for the charity, not her. She really needed to start thinking about money and her future. She couldn’t really justify staying in the house in Willow Creek and paying off her loan. Rebecca wasn’t going to be much help, since her earnings mostly went towards paying the rent in her ridiculously flash apartment in the city. So Ellie knew she needed a more viable alternative.
As she crossed the road to head home, Alexander’s words from that morning rang in her ears. She had been working so hard recently and she was beginning to feel burnt out. Maybe a night on the town with Andrea and the others wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Grabbing her phone, she shot off several texts to the girls. Tonight should be a good night.
Rebecca sniggered as Hayley dropped the bowling ball for the third time that evening. The rivalry between the two hadn’t eased at all and already Ellie could feel the pressure mounting on her temples. She glanced at Andrea who was rolling her eyes at Rebecca.
“I’m so pleased you think that’s funny,” Hayley snarled as she stalked back to the bench. “I don’t see you scoring any better.”
Ellie groaned inwardly. Cristina was in a foul mood because she was still pregnant and unhappy about it. Daniel was uncomfortable because not only was he the only man present but he was avoiding Ellie’s gaze as much as possible. She knew why; she hadn’t known he and Cristina had even got together until Cristina had announced the pregnancy. Ellie tried not to feel hurt; after all, she and Daniel had hooked up once and there’d never been anything word of a relationship, so she had no right to feel jealous.
“This wasn’t such a good idea, was it?” Andrea said forlornly. “I’m sorry, Ellie. I wanted you to have a decent night out.”
“It could be worse,” Ellie replied diplomatically. Andrea raised her eyebrows but didn’t say anything.
The evening dragged to a close and Ellie made her excuses far earlier than she otherwise might have done. She didn’t really want to dip into her tales of woe with her sister present – that would have been too much. It was bad enough avoiding Daniel all evening. There were a lot of discussions she didn’t feel like having and that was definitely one of them.
“Ellie? I didn’t expect to see you here!”
Looking round, Ellie’s jaw hit the ground. “Gerald.”
“You’re looking great,” Gerald smiled. “I haven’t seen you for ages.”
“It’s been a while.” Ellie managed a smile.
“Shall we sit down? I feel like we haven’t talked for a while,” Gerald said awkwardly. “I’ve missed you, Ellie.”
Ellie sat down on a bench outside the bowling alley and the two chatted for a surprisingly long time. It was nice to spill her worries out to someone who listened and understood.
“Ellie!” Andrea beamed as she saw her friend approaching. It was the following morning and Ellie had caught the train into San Myshuno when she spotted Andrea busking in the Spice District. “You’re looking very smart. Where are you off to?”
Ellie hugged her friend. “I have a speech this evening, in Uptown. But I’m organising a protest first to try and raise some more money for the charity.”
“still not doing so well then?” Andrea asked.
She shook her head. “Not really. So I’m hoping this might help.”
“Well, good luck!” Andrea enthused. She cleared her throat. “Listen, I know it’s not really any of my business but…well, I saw you talking to Gerald last night at Creek Street. Is everything okay?”
“I think so. I don’t know, really. I mean, I’m still pissed off with him for what he put me through last year. But I still like talking to him and…I think I still fancy him.”
Andrea raised her eyebrows. “Well, I still think he’s a rat. However, if you two do get back together, than I’ll adore him again.”
Ellie laughed and waved her goodbyes to Andrea. She needed to get over to Uptown soon to get her protest started.
The protest didn’t gain much momentum. A sarcastic gentleman suggested she’d be better off shouting in Evergreen Harbour before telling her to clear off. She packed up after that. He was probably right; Evergreen Harbour did seem like a better place to protest and it was a suggestion she intended to make the next time she met up with her colleagues at the charity. For now, she’d leave the protesting and settle for the speeches.
Her speech went better than before and she was really pleased to see Alexander sitting in the audience. Andrea’s father was a big supporter of Ellie’s cause and his support did mean a lot to her. At least someone was consistently supportive.
As the speech wound down, Ellie leant on the podium and started thinking. Maybe it really was time now to pack up from Willow Creek and move?