Modern Women

Ellel wakes up alone. The door of the bedroom open, the house creaked through the floors and walls. It was just before ten am, the heating on for three hours or so. The room wasn’t stuffy but it was hard to wake up, the sun had shone for too long. Ellel turned in bed several times then eventually laid out, facing up. The house was silent. The walls of the bedroom were a pastel yellow, a bright throw hung above the head of the bed, a small black plastic clock on a bedside table next to a pad of paper with nothing written on it and no pen. Ellel blinked in rapid bursts then tried to keep her eyes open wide, took shallow but long breaths that wouldn't leave the throat. Outside looked pasty and deep and cut across at blunt angles. The tops of busses and lorries drove past the window, white roofs of flat ground that briefly connected her eyeline to the windows above the shop across the road.
The front door opened, heavy cushioned feet knocked and clapped on entering and Ellel was sure she missed any sound of a key turning. The sounds moved as approaching, the sound of papers being picked up and dropped on the kitchen surfaces, slid on pulleys towards her position, supine and shallow in bed.

—Ell. What are you doing here? She stays, staring at the ceiling.
—I’m just- I just got up.
In the doorway, holding onto the doorframe with hand or finger. —Why aren’t you at work?
—I slept in.
—And where’s Josh at?
—I dropped him off at your sisters last night. He- She rubbed her stomach with the palm of her hand under the covers. —I thought it would be nice for her to see him before we left.
—Right. How’s he getting to school then?
—He’s going in. I think she might have driven.
—Okay… Are you feeling okay?
—Yeah, I’m fine. I think maybe it’s just the heat.
—Yeah why? It’s a little warm in here. But I’ve just been out. Do you want me to turn the heating off on the way out?
—No. It’s fine. I’ll do it. Ellel pulled both her hands from beneath the covers, the glide of her skin against the sheets rushing up to her drowning out all other noise, and rubbed her face then rested her left arm, that which was furthest away from the door, rubbing her temple and forehead with her right.
—Are you going to go in to work today?
—Yeah. Yeah, I am.
—You know, it’s the last day for a while. It’s nothing really.
—Yeah, I know. I’m going in… Shouldn’t you be somewhere?
—Yeah. Yeah, I was in this morning but- like, a woman had sort of driven into the site at some point last night. It’s all really a mess there and no one can really work until it’s been cleared and sorted… I thought I’d pick up some stuff for later. One of my suitcases is here.
—How did you get a key?
—It’s Josh’s key. I asked him for it, I needed to pick up the suitcase and stuff.
—Well can you leave it please?
—Yeah. Yeah, sure… I’m leaving now anyway. I’ve got to get back. They said we had a little bit of time to do stuff if we needed because we can’t help out sort of, sorting stuff out at first, they need to like, I don’t know, take photos I think. I don’t know, evidence. She’s sort of driven right through one of the fences and into a girder, it smashed through her windshield, and, through her somewhere. I didn’t really see any of it, just the smashed up car.
Ellel threw her arm down onto the bed and gesticulated in the air with her eyebrows arched. —What the fuck happened?
—I don’t really know. No one has told us anything. We just arrived and the police were actually there and some other cars and we were told we couldn’t start yet.
—Well why is it still not sorted if it happened last night? You’re actually going to get paid?
—Eurm, well the site is pretty far out, no one really lives around yet, that part. I’m not even sure what we’re doing there. There’s no plan to build anything properly. Nothing I’ve seen. We’re idling a lot. I mean, right near the border, there’s nothing else really there. The land’s new, that one and a few others.

Ellel was looking out of the window.
—I think quite a lot of people are pissed off about something because they mentioned we might get some grief. I don’t know what it is, claiming the land. Proving something.
—Alright… Well I’m just here for the stuff anyway. I’ll leave the key on the top in the kitchen.
Ellel moved her right hand across her face and ran it through her hair. —Yeah. Thank you.
—Okay. I’ll see you later on. He walked down the hallway into the next room and the sound of boxes and piles being moved was heard. There was a hollow sounding thud then the sound of something being dragged. He reappeared briefly at the door, not looking in, carrying a suitcase.

Ellel put her arms back under covers and closed her eyes, pushed herself up on her elbows and reached for the cup on the bedside table. The door closed.

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