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Ella Hambleton

Australia

My name is Ella, my game is... writing! I love to write about nature, and I always aim to create a real mood in my writing, whether it be that warm fuzzy feeling, or a tense, and foreboding one :)

Message from Writer

If you are ever reading one of my pieces and don't understand, or just want to provide some advice, feel free to comment. I am always looking for ways to improve and create more emotion in my writing.

Salt Washed Cheeks

May 19, 2015

FREE WRITING

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Genevieve’s dirty mop of hair housed a whole branch worth of twigs and leaves as her callused feet scrabbled for purchase. She stretched a small, but capable hand towards the next low branch, her hair falling to her shoulders in clumps as it broke free of the rough bark. The cool night air soothed her mind, and she relaxed into the familiar crook of the old oak.

Her cracked lips stretched into a sad smile. She looked into her mind, at memories of dark buildings, windows boarded and lamps extinguished in preparation for the next attack. She didn’t understand why they came, destroying her home, her family and her life. But here, in the comforting embrace of her favorite oak, all of that could wait.

Genevieve let her arms hang, feeling the breeze on her muddied skin.  Here she could forget the bombs, forget the black ash that had constantly wafted through the city air. She swung her legs either side of the thick branch, wanting to cool them, too, from the climb, and heard a barely concealed gasp from below. Her brother. Why did he always ruin the tranquility of this holiday?
“Tom, shush. I’m trying to relax!”
“Relax someplace where you aren’t in danger of falling. Look, your skirts are ruined!”
“Who cares about my skirts, nobody else can see me anyway. I didn’t ask you to follow me out here.”

The boy cocked his head and raised an eyebrow at her, hands on his hips. His stare was blank and tired, not the lively gaze of a fourteen-year-old. To be fair, he had been woken by the not-so-silent tread of his sister departing for her midnight stroll. He didn’t understand why she wouldn’t just sleep. She didn’t understand how he could be so tired all the time. Despite his smooth and child-like face, his voice was that of a young man, rather than a boy. His eyes were ringed with red, from lack of sleep, and silently shed tears.

Gen glared at him, stretching her arms and legs further off the branch. Her check scraped against the bark as she flattened herself, and crimson welled beneath the surface of her skin.
“Now look what you’ve done, Genevieve,” tom spoke sternly, “you know what mother would say if she was here.”

Gen rolled her eyes, lowering her eyelids and yawning widely in exaggerated boredom at his lecture.
“Mother isn’t here, Thomas, so I don’t know why you are so upset,” she sat up, looking into his irritated eyes, “I’ll go back, change into my nightclothes, and no-one will know I was gone.”

Tom subsided raising his hands in defeat, “fine, but I warned you.” He sunk down at the base of the tree, scenes of fire and war creeping into his mind. His eyes reddened even further as unbidden visions of his parents swirled through his thoughts. The smell of ash and burning flesh filled his nostrils, and waves of phantom heat burned his skin. He felt as though he had shrunk, the world too big and too dangerous for one as small as himself. Thomas became a sobbing ball of despair, the tears he had dammed behind his eyes broke free, creating salt washed channels down his muddy cheeks.

Genevieve’s dreamy haze was interrupted by faint sobs. She peeled her eyes open and sat up, bracing herself against the branches as a wave of dizziness stilled her. She had risen too quickly. Tom sat in a tight ball beneath her branch, his shoulders shaking in silent tears. She was racked with guilt. While she had been worrying about the condition of her battered toys, Tom had been enduring one of the many waves of sadness that visited him. She dropped quickly to the lower branches and leapt to the ground, her dress catching and tearing. She didn’t care. He was her brother, and she would comfort him.

The boy heard a tear and a thump as his sister descended from her branch. He turned his puffy eyes towards her without moving his head, peering at her feet through his parted fingers. He turned away from her, not wanting her to see his moment of weakness. He was meant to be the strong one, he was meant to be the one she could look to for comfort. His six-year-old sister wrapped her petite arms about his shaking shoulders, and ever so slowly, his tears subsided, replaced by an empty ache in the pit of his stomach.

His sister’s warmth surrounded him and he sighed, turning to face her before pulling her into a warm embrace. Her small voice was thick with tears as she whispered.

“I love you, Tom.”

He smiled into her hair, “I love you too.”

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