The Rhode Island mile which lay between Ellie and Raymond's
houses had always seemed to her very manageable. Now, however, that
Raymond told her he needed his space, they may as well have been worlds
away. Or so better judgment tried to persuade her.
The separation began quite seamlessly. In fact, Ellie's primary regret
was that she hadn't been first to intiate it. Her parents had, after all, expressly
forbidden her to continue to see him and she, more than most eighth-graders
anyway, typically held their views in high regard. Not wanting Raymond to
have a poor opinion of them, she decided she would wait for another good
reason to end their romance. Ellie couldn't deny, though, the anger she was
experiencing at having been beaten to the punch. She had been living with it
Forgiveness had always been an important value in the Hartshorne's
household. On many an occasion, Ellie's parents had forced her to apologize
to her five year-old brother Brandon when tempers flared between them. She
figured it would only be appropriate, given her present feelings of hostility
toward Raymond, to seek his pardon and at least finalize things on a more
Knowing that the Carrs had already reached an agreement with her
folks that a relationship relationship between their son and Ellie would not be
"prudential," she decided against making her apology by phone. She went
downstairs and opened the broomcloset where hung their English bulldog
"I walked Ep this morning," said Ellie's mother.
"Can't I just take him to the park?"
"How long will you be there?"
"I don't know. Maybe an hour or so."
"Who's going with you?"
"No one...just Ep and me."
"Dinner's in an hour. Don't be late."
Ellie and Epsilon ran through Heathrow Park then doubled back
toward the tracks of townhomes situated near the north-Atlantic shoreline.
She wondered how she might acquire Raymond's attention seeing that she
could hardly just ring the bell or knock at his door. Not wanting to appear
conspicuous, she continued her pace, slow as it had become, past the Carr's
house. To her horror, however, Epsilon spied their neighbor's dachsund and
attempted to charge, emitting fierce snarls. Ellie, finally unable to withstand
Ep's resistance, lost hold of the leash and the latter bore down on his
The ride back to her house with Mr. Carr felt endless. Apart from her
intermittent sobs and chokes, the silence seemed insurmountable. Epsilon
would surely be put to sleep. And never again, Ellie knew, would the two
houses be within walking distance.
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