I am Eloise, I am Six
by Caitlin Wege

From the writer: My mom and the wonderful books she read to me throughout my childhood, have made a lasting impression on me. These books, written by many authors, Rohl Dahl, Shel Silverstein and Kay Thompson, (to name a few) have inspired me to continue reading and writing. They enriched my imagination and guided me to pursue my creative talents here at the College of Visual and Performing Arts, in hopes, to one day produce my own children's literature. This particular assignment was a reflection and character study on a person in our past that may have helped us select the path that led us to where we are now. In this case, the guide was my mom and her comforting voice that made those zany childhood characters come to life.

From the teacher: In this intellectual narrative, written in Writing Studio One, Caitlin recalls a pivotal moment in her development. Through details, dialogue and scenes, she sweeps us back to her childhood where stories charmed her, formed her, and finally lured her to independence. To learn what happened, you must read her entire story because, like all fine storytellers, Caitlin withholds her turning point until the very end.

From the editors: Wege's power of characterization is her strongest asset in Eloise. In only a few pages she manages to create a clearly descriptive, concise story that portrays the true essence of a child growing up. Using the voice of a matured narrator, Wege reflects on her childhood while reaching out to many readers who had similar experiences.

"I am Eloise, I am six!" Standing atop the wooden jungle gym I continued to chant, "I am a city child, I live at the plaza."
Behind me I hear the grass rustling beneath my mom's feet, "Here's what he likes, Martinis. Here's what I like, dandelions."

"Oooooooooooo, I absolutely love dandelions!" My mom replied.

Her blond hair was lit up from the August sun. Standing directly below me, she looked up. "Eloise, dinner is ready! Will you bless us with your presence, or shall I have it sent up to you? A la room service?"

"Room service! S'il vous plait, and charge it please, thank you very much!" I stamped my foot on the dusty Masonite that kept me safely seven feet above the ground. My mom extended her arms towards my little house, and I jumped down.

"You, my little Eloise! We're eating dinner so late tonight you'll have to take a bath right after desert!"

Up in my mom's arms the smell of her face cream mixing with the fresh garden that outlined the yard lulled me into sleep.

When I woke up, she was tucking me into bed. I pushed the covers off and blew the bangs off my forehead with the corner of my mouth. "Hunh!" I grunted.

"What is it, Caitlin?" My mom said as she brushed the loose hairs away from my face with her palm.

"I wanna story, I want Eloise!" I crossed my arms over my comforter, and clenched my teeth. Just beyond her head, looming on the top shelf of my bookcase, I could see the red writing on the spine of the book.

"Oh, sweetie, you hear that every night! Don't you wanna hear another one? Maybe Where the Wild Things Are, or Jumanji, err hmm, The Missing Piece! You love that story!" My mom's eyes looked truly tired.

"No! Alors! Vous commencerez! C'est Eloise!" I loved using little French words for whining. Eloise did it, and so naturally I did too.

Releasing a sigh, my mom gave in. In her robe she opened the book and began. Eloise, the spoiled, young French girl, came alive. Right before my eyes her penthouse at the plaza appeared. As my mom spoke, I created a six-year-old ruckus with Eloise. I joined her in daily obnoxious activities scraping sticks down the halls, pouring water down the mail chutes, ordering room service or driving Philip the French tutor mad. I, too, threw fits and brushed my hair with a fork just for the sake of not being bored! Of course, I never reached the end of the story; my eager eyes always shut before I wanted them too.

Eventually, I got over the need for Eloise and her elevator scandals night after night, and I graduated into a chapter book filled with lions, witches, and magical wardrobes.

In my flannel jammies, under my down filled blanket, I laid in my bunk bed absorbing the fantastic tales that my mom read to me. My hair still wet from my before-bed bath, I felt my morn sitting at the end of the bed. Every deep winter night her warmth blanketed me.

"Where's Mom?" I asked nervously.

My sister looked up from her magazine. "She's not home," she mumbled, rolling her eyes. She flipped the page.

I looked at my sister Rachel, lying about on the sofa. I became angry. "What do you mean she's not home?" I looked at her with resentment. She was always lying about, flip, flipping her pages, or crunching on something from the kitchen. "Where'd she go?" I began to get frantic.

"She went to meet Dad at the office, they're going for dinner." She stuck her hand back in the potato chip bag that kept her company on the couch.

"Where's the babysitter?" I was excited; I loved playing with babysitters. I would run around with them and then they would read me a story. Rachel wasn't answering me. A crumb fell from her mouth.

"Where's the babysitter!" I stamped my foot.

This time Rachel sat up, "Mom and Dad said you're a brat, no one wants to baby-sit you." She lay back down, and put her hand back in the greasy bag, "Besides, Mom says I'm old enough to baby-sit now." She stuck her tongue out and continued to flip pages. I sat down in protest and began to bang my heels on the hardwood floor. "No, no, no, no!" When I stopped banging I realized that my feet were numb and the consistent sound of my sister's chewing had not ceased. "Will you read to me? Rachel?"

"What book are you reading?" she asked without looking up from the month's issue of Big Bopper.

"Mom's reading me Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Will you read it to me tonight?" I crawled over to her throne near the television and sprawled out onto my back.

She got off the sofa and wiped the chips from her purple jeans "No, I won't. I've got spelling work to do, read it yourself." She picked up her denim book bag and went out to the backyard. I followed her frantically,

"Rachel, Rachel! That's not fair! I'll never sleep! I have to read." Tears welled up in my green eyes. I watched the autumn bees float around picking up the last of the flower pollen. As the sun set, I began to panic.

"C'mon, Plllleeaassee! Mom will get you in trouble!" I pinched her chubby foot out of desperation.

"OUCH! You stupid dummy! You can't read it yourself?" She glanced at me and then began to fiddle with her pencil case.

"No! I can't read . . . I can't!" A fit was beginning. I could tell because I was tired. I whacked the pencil case out of her hand. It landed on the wooden deck, and we both watched as its contents disappeared down between the wooden planks.

"That's it, go away! Read yourself, eat yourself, and tuck yourself into bed!" Rachel stormed off and a few minutes later she had recovered her beloved bike from the side of the house. She hopped onto the pink banana seat; "I'm to going to Melissa's house. You stay by yourself!"

When the hum of her bicycle gears could no longer be heard on the driveway in the front of the house, I was left alone on the grass in the back of the house. With the dew falling on me, the sun sinking behind the trees, the sweet but putrid smell of the leaves turning color on the trees sent a shiver down my spine. The tiny hairs on my arms stood straight up, feeling chilly; I slumped into the house.

Full of devastation and fear, I struggled to get into my pajamas. Loud sobs echoed in the hall just outside my room. There was no one to hear them, and I knew it, which created a more immense feeling of helplessness. Minutes later, I peeled back the covers on my bunk bed. Rachel still wasn't home. I climbed into bed anyway, and rested my newly washed hair on the pillows. Tick, tock, tick . . . the grandfather clock in the front hall continued to do its job. With each pendulum swing, it seemed to get louder. The poster-covered door at my feet opened itself a tiny crack and let some dark breeze mingle in my wet hair. Shivering, I slid under the covers. I made a little breathing hole and remained under the bed sheets for quite some time. When I finally surfaced, I realized that I was extremely bored, and I longed for my story; I didn't even know where Mom kept it.

My door burst open. "I found your stupid story, it was on the kitchen table!" My sister said as she peered into the room, "See, look, you got yourself into bed, that's good." She smiled and shifted her weight.

I decided to push my little luck and ask again, "Rachel will you read my story to me?" My heart began to pound.

"No! Read it yourself, besides Degrassi Junior high is on television!" She reached her chubby hands into her denim book bag and threw the book onto my chest. She reeked of sour cream and onion chips.

"Ewwww, brush your stinky teeth, you're gross!" I wrinkled my nose, and kicked the door shut with my foot. My triumphant smile soon faded when I realized that I was still by myself with no one to read my story. I sat up and examined the book's worn cover. The creases on the book indicated each year it sat up in the bookshelf or sat in someone's hands. I could read little books so why not this one? I opened the book and let the teddy-bear bookmark fall out and the inhaled the aging pages. I glanced at the line at the top of the page; slowly it came into focus. I flipped the page, and the next page, and the next. I couldn't fight it. I just kept going. I kept right on going until my mom came home. She peeked in and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a smile grow on her face.

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