Day Five of the A to Z Blog Challenge. Check out the other entries by clicking on the link.
Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter E. Meet my granddaughter, Eleni, pronounced e (like in red)-len-knee. It’s the Greek form of Helen as in Helen of Troy. This picture was taken at age five to commemorate her kindergarten graduation, before all her teeth started to fall out. It’s one of my favorites. Why? Because I see it as a glimpse into the future when she’ll repeat the process at her post secondary graduation.
Eleni has an incredible imagination. She was the inspiration for the two child characters who appeared in Fire Angel and In Plain Sight. When she was four and five, Eleni invented a vocabulary all her own and snippets of that show up in In Plain Sight. Her stuffed unicorn was a hornekin, her blue hippo, a hippohorse, and of course, there were chibins at Grandma’s house. What are chibins? They are pigeons. Why are they called chibins, because they walk like chickens. All of her words had a logic of there own. And let’s not forget the green blanket from which she is still inseparable most nights.
Eleni dances to her own song. Ask her to pack a bag for an overnight visit–she is seven now–and you’ll probably end up with a bag of stuffed ponies and no underwear. She loves to draw and color. Make a mess? Hell, yes, but she’ll be so proud of her creations, it’ll take the sting out of your annoyance in seconds. Recently they’ve been talking about fundraising for cancer research at school and Eleni has decided to sell her artwork at her mom’s next garage sale and give the money to cancer research. How sweet is that? Mom plans to buy dollar store frames and frame the masterpieces and sell them for–you guessed it–a dollar. Eleni will bring her earnings to the school and be proud of herself and her efforts. Cost to mom: $10.00, cost to kids learning about good citizenship and sharing: priceless.
Eleni is also the name and character behind Eleni, the heroine in The Perfect Choice. She is beautiful, artistic and spontaneous. She is caring and sensitive. Eleni is exceptional in all the best ways.
Excerpt from The Perfect Choice
Eleni stepped out into the glorious sunshine and smiled. One thing about working for yourself was that you could take a few hours off when you really wanted them, not when someone else decided it was your down-time. Yesterday, she’d arranged for Allie to come in for the whole morning, so she’d been able to see the Dean, visit with old teachers, run the sketches for the wedding by Meredith, and of course, see Clyde, her favorite dinosaur.
She looked at her watch. She had time to walk over to the fountain. On a day like this, probably one of the last ones before the weather changed, Leo would still be playing in the park, entertaining the tourists. He’d been playing the blues each morning in Logan Circle, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, for as long as she could remember. Her grandmother used to love listening to him play. With the amount of money she’d put in his guitar case over the years, he should be able to retire. Last fall, she’d asked him why he didn’t, and he’d smiled at her shaking his head. ‘Lordy child, why would I do that? The folks come to listen to the blues. I’ll retire when the Good Lord calls me home, not a moment sooner.’
She took her sunglasses out and put them on. From here, she could see that there were a number of kids enjoying a romp in the fountain—she and Georgia had done it often enough as kids and a couple of times as teenagers. If she weren’t wearing her good clothes, she’d probably go wading right this minute. She looked toward her favorite bench and saw that it was occupied. From here, the guy looked like a student. She’d relished those carefree days, but now, she was a woman of business, and rarely got time to relax, let alone loll on a bench on a sunny summer day.
It won’t hurt just to go and listen to Leo for a few minutes, she thought. It might be the last chance I’ll have this summer.
She walked across the sidewalk to where the elderly man played for the enjoyment of others. As soon as he saw her, he smiled, finished the song he’d been singing in his silky, gravelly voice, and began to play her favorite, Georgia on my Mind.
She stood there wrapped in the music and memories until the song ended. After tossing money in the guitar case, she strode toward the street where she’d planned to get a cab. She could probably walk to Holiday Magic, but as nice as her new sandals were, she’d have a blister if she strolled that far in this heat.
As she passed by her bench, she noticed that the man sitting there was older than she’d expected, and he looked sad and lonely.
Probably down on his luck, she thought.
As she neared him, she recognized the t-shirt he wore; she’d seen him with Clyde. As she approached, she sensed that he was staring at her; maybe he’d noticed her at the museum.
He’d closed his eyes to focus on the music and re-opened them. He was about to stand and leave, when he saw her coming along the sidewalk toward him. She carried an artist’s portfolio and seemed to have all the time in the world. He was stunned; she was without a doubt the most gorgeous woman he’d ever seen. He blinked his eyes to make sure he wasn’t imagining her. There was something regal about her. He could almost hear his mom speak.
“That’s class, Joe. Someday, when you’re a man, you’ll want to find yourself a woman with class, not a nobody like me.”
She was tall, at least five ten, and well over six feet with the strappy, red, high-heeled sandals she wore. Her short-sleeved, apple-red coat-dress was stylishly short, and showed off an incredible pair of legs. The neckline was a V, not a plunging one, but one that offered a glimpse of a white lace camisole beneath it. Her long strawberry-blond hair was pulled back from her face and earrings shaped like red apples hung from her ears. She wore large black-framed sunglasses and carried a red handbag. She was the most incredible woman he’d ever seen, and he was lost.
As she approached the musician, she waved at him, gave him a beaming smile that all but blinded Joe, and the guitarist saluted her and changed songs. He started to play Georgia on my Mind. She stood still listening to him, a melancholy look on her face that gradually became an open, friendly, and just a little dreamy, smile to show that the music brought back pleasant memories. Joe couldn’t pull his eyes away and stared hungrily at her.
When the song ended, she tossed some money in the man’s guitar case, saluted him, and continued walking toward him, her Mona Lisa smile still in place. He wanted to say something to her, anything to get her to stop a moment, and he was trying to think of something witty when his stomach growled loudly, announcing to anyone who had ears that he hadn’t yet had lunch.
She stopped in front of him, and started to laugh, her laughter as clear and crisp as a crystal bell. She gave him a curious smile and a quick once over, but there was nothing judgmental in her face when she looked into his mirrored glasses. Her sunglasses were lightly tinted, and he could see her eyes clearly through them. For the first time in his life, he wished he were himself, better dressed, standing out instead of blending in with the crowd.
“I’m sorry, that was rude of me. I shouldn’t have laughed, but the only other person I know whose stomach growls like that is my sister, and I was thinking about her. I guess you need lunch. I’m pretty sure they’re still serving at the Mission.” Her voice sounded both amused and friendly. “I’m going in that direction; if you want to come along, I can show you the way. I’ve had a few meals there myself. They don’t charge much, but if you can’t pay, you can do dishes or something.”
“I can pay.”
He was completely disarmed by her genuine friendliness, feeling more comfortable with a woman than he ever had. She was so open and unaffected that he relaxed and enjoyed this unexpected blessing.
“I didn’t want to give up the sunshine just yet. It’s my last day here; I wanted to make the most of it. Tell me, pretty lady, do you always talk to strangers?”
“Only those whose stomachs talk to me first.” She giggled softly. “It’s a unique pick-up line, that’s for sure. Besides, you’re not a stranger.”
“Have we met?” asked Joe, suddenly wary.
She shook her head.
“Nope. We haven’t been introduced, if that’s what you mean, but you were with a friend of mine earlier.”
“You must have mistaken me for someone else,” he said, disappointed that he wasn’t the guy she thought he was.
“Oh, it was you. I recognized your t-shirt. I love the Stones. You were having quite the discussion with old Clyde.”
He frowned in confusion, and she laughed.
“We share a common interest. I saw you in the fossil room at the Academy when I went there this morning. You seemed quite fascinated with him.”
“Clyde?” He stood.
“I feel anyone who’s hung around a place as long as that fossil has should have a name. Clyde just seemed to suit him.”
He laughed—a real belly laugh, the kind he hadn’t given in ages, and slung the backpack over his shoulder. “Can I carry your portfolio, pretty lady?”
“Sure. It’s not heavy, but it’s awkward. I’m Leni. Welcome to Philadelphia. How do you like my city?” She stuck out her hand.
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