Author Spotlight: “Worth” by Eloise Scott
It’s story time!
Today’s story comes from an author who I’ve known for almost twenty years. (Yikes!)
When we first met I was the most awkward, cringe-inducing teenager roaming the halls of my highschool, but Eloise didn’t even seem to notice. She showed me unconditional friendship, and has always been the most loving, accepting, inclusive and protective person I know.
She describes herself as a “high functioning dumpster fire,” and I think it’s so cute that she thinks she’s high functioning. I KID, I KID!
Back in the day of AOL Instant Messaging (I am REALLY showing my age here), Eloise and I would chat late into the night creating tandem stories together. She’d write a paragraph, then I’d write a paragraph… until our characters ended up in the hidden fortress of a calamari-obsessed hostile alien, and we realized we should probably go to bed.
Today Eloise brings you “Worth,” a true story about life not so long ago.
“Worth,” by Eloise Scott
He almost killed me and I had allowed it. I knew. I ignored the warnings and had made myself blissfully unaware. However, I could not ignore the tree we were about to hit going 80 miles an hour. My body unconsciously lunged for the steering wheel, while steering us off the road I also managed to shove his leg off the accelerator. We drifted to a stop, the right tires sinking softly into the grass. Having been jolted awake from a drunken stupor, I glared over at him in the driver’s seat.
He sat on the couch, cold Shiner Bock in his hands, wearing a black Ramones t-shirt, faded jeans and black flip flops. That was the first time I laid eyes on him. It was Phillip’s birthday and as usual he was throwing a raucous party on his ranch. I sat with my friends in the kitchen, uniquely aware of his presence. He looked like trouble, and it thrilled me to my core. After a few drinks, I had enough liquid courage to approach him. We talked and before I knew it I was sitting on his lap, facing him, kissing him. It was wholly unlike me, and yet it felt braver than anything I had ever done before.
I had intended it to be a one night stand. I was not that type of girl, but something about him made me want to. As the bright morning light of a summer day woke me, I surveyed the scene. My throat seized instantly. I did the unthinkable. I had sex with someone within hours of meeting him. I rolled to my side, to avoid a panic attack, and instead admired his body. I realized instantly that he was admiring mine as well. Impulsively, I sat up on my elbow and said “Do you even remember my name?”
And as I boldly said those words I immediately regretted them, if only because at that moment, I realized that if he reversed my question, I could not provide his name. He smiled brightly, said “Oh, I like that. You’re sassy.” He paused for a second too long, and stumbled out “Nicole?” I nodded and tried desperately to ignore the flutter in my stomach; then he said “Do you remember mine?” And as if it had been there all along I found myself blurting “Hunter.” He smiled sweetly, kissed me gently and said “Let’s go get some breakfast.”
Our second date was a week later. I stood in my kitchen stirring a pot of noodles. Hunter sat on the countertop narrating his story. He told me about his mom, dad, and his funny sister Emily. He talked about his passion for fast cars, his hatred for following in his father’s footsteps, his love of camping, and his enjoyment of rock music.
Then he paused and cleared his throat. I snapped my eyes up to meet his, as he muttered “I went to rehab last year,” he paused, looked away, and said “for drug addiction.” I told him it didn’t bother me, but I felt the hint of a red flag warning. But I’m a believer in second chances, so I kept eye contact when I told him that it was okay. He promised that he was clean and going to stay that way. I believed him.
As I sat there, filled with rage, in his idling car I looked around. Hunter was passed out; no doubt the result of drugs or alcohol, but most likely both. I had no idea where we were. The sun was rising, the field that lay outside my window was growing corn, so I got out of the car, took in a deep breath and emptied the entirety of my stomach. The harsh sounds of my retching disturbed the minute’s peace the landscape had given me and my anger returned. I stormed over to the driver’s side and shoved, pushed, and hit Hunter over the mountainous console to the passenger seat.
“Why did I let you drive?” I screamed at him. “You almost killed us!” My fists were balled and being bombarded by tears I hadn’t intentionally released. He grumbled something incoherent, rolled over and passed out. I cried to myself for a minute longer. Then, I felt the sting of panic as I realized that I was lost. I didn’t recognize any of the surroundings or street signs.
I was our only hope. I had saved us from the tree and now I needed to get us safely back to Phillip’s. After gathering every ounce of courage, I put myself behind the wheel. Gingerly, I pulled back on to the road. I pushed the pedal hesitantly and found myself thrust back into the seat. I had forgotten how fast his car was. I stopped the car. I sat there, settled my stomach and my nerves, adjusted the mirrors and finally pushed the gas again. After 45 minutes of driving down rural roads, I felt hopeless.
I looked up and said a silent prayer. As I approached the red light, I stared at the white letters on the green background, and my breath hitched. William Cannon. Saying the words aloud sounded like a prayer. A street I knew. I was saved.
Eleven hours earlier, Hunter and I had been standing in Phillip’s kitchen drinking and talking with friends. We’d been dating for four months and were invited to Phillip’s ranch for his famous end-of-year party. Arriving at the party I was immediately greeted by Olivia, a dear friend. Hunter was pulled from my side, easily, as we had had a minor fight in the car on the way. I was beginning to have suspicions and he was doing his best to quiet them. After taking the beginning of the night shots with The Girls, I walked out onto the back porch to greet the host. I hugged Phillip close, thanked him for the invite and slipped him $30 for beer. He told me he was glad I could make it, smiled, called me his assigned nickname “Lil One” and wandered off to greet his other guests.
I spent an hour talking with friends outside. As the sun began to set, I went inside to find Hunter. As I opened the door I found myself face to face with Hunter’s friend and guard dog, Damien. Attempting to sidestep him, he reached out and asked “What’s the rush?” I jerked my arm out of his touch, shivered internally, and snarled “Where is he?” As expected, Damien played naive. “How should I know? He’s probably around here somewhere.” I rolled my eyes, placed my hand on my hip and stabbed a finger into Damien’s chest and blurted “Damien, you don’t play guard dog unless Hunter’s asked you to. I’m not in the mood. What’s going on?” Panic briefly crossed his face; in lieu of answering Damien flagged down Olivia in hopes that she would distract me.
Instead, I told Olivia what was going on and being the amazing woman she is, she helped me question Damien. He finally caved and said that he wasn’t sure where exactly Hunter had gone, but he did know Hunter left the party with Steven. I sucked in a breath, and felt everyone around me take a tentative step backwards. In my anger and youthful ignorance, I decided to drink away my fears, my anger, my disappointment. An hour later I was leaning heavily on Phillip for support, as we rocked on his front porch swing. I watched smoke drift from his face, and felt the vibrations of his deep voice in his chest. When I saw headlights in the driveway I livened up.
I stumbled down the drive. I caught myself against the hood as I watched Hunter twist off the cap to a Bic pen and dump out white, powdery contents. I knew immediately. I must’ve made a noise, because he looked up, and deep into my eyes. Hunter quickly shielded the drugs with his torso and shouted angrily to Steven, “Take her inside.” I felt myself hyperventilating and passed out.
When I woke up on Phillip’s couch, I was sure everything had been a bad dream. As I clumsily tried to move my limbs I knocked over an empty beer bottle. The sound signaled my consciousness and Olivia was quickly by my side, brushing my wild hair out of my face. She calmed me with her sweet coos and helped me sit up. Midnight had come and gone and so had Hunter. I told Olivia that I wanted to go home. She gathered our things and offered to drive me to her house. “Just get me out of here.” She quickly busied herself with goodbyes, as I slipped my shoes. Olivia returned, grabbed my arms and lifted me off the couch. The two of us stumbled outside and towards her Mustang.
Then, as if the God of bad timing were summoned, Hunter pulled into the driveway and came swiftly over.
“Babe, let me drive you home.”
“Babe. Please. I need to explain.”
Getting nowhere, Hunter switched strategies. “Olivia, can I talk to her privately?” “Um, sure.” She was unusually hesitant. Hunter spent the next five minutes trying to convince me that it wasn’t what it looked like, that he had only slipped this once, that he wouldn’t do it again. None of it was working. Then he dealt the deathblow; he said that he needed me to go home with him, comfort him, and keep him from failing again. Bang. He tapped into my empathic nature. He tapped into my neurosis. He tapped into his ability to lie and manipulate. He opened the passenger side door, helped me in, and placed a tender kiss on my temple. I laid back and fell asleep.
William Cannon. The instant I knew where I was, I felt like a pressure cooker on release. My fingers relaxed their death grip on the wheel, and I turned left onto the road. I hoped that I had chosen the right way to go. After recognizing another cross street, I made the fastest drive down William Cannon, taking the appropriate lefts and rights and within minutes, I pulled onto the dirt road that led to Phillip’s ranch. I stepped out of the car. I stared at the familiar comforting surroundings, and shook my head. Had I saved us? The screech of Phillip’s screen door popped my eyes to the front porch. Once I locked eyes with Phillip, he smiled warmly, thankfully, and I ran to him and hugged him tightly. I began to cry again.
Through muffled sobs I said “I’ll come back later to help you clean.” He chuckled “Don’t worry about that. I’m worried about you,” and proceeded to pepper me with questions. I pulled back out of the hug, and my face must’ve been a sight, because Phillip stopped speaking mid-sentence. I whispered “Hunter’s passed out in the car” and walked past him into his house. I grabbed my keys and purse off his nightstand. As I attempted a goodbye, Phillip hugged me tightly, and new tears ran from my eyes.
I simply nodded when he let me go, ran over to my Jeep, pushed in the clutch, started her up and drove down the gravel road. I was emotionally drained and weak and I couldn’t drive fast enough.
I pulled into my driveway and sat in my Jeep a second longer. I redid my ponytail to calm the flyaways that had flown free from the elastic band. Taking a deep breath, I stepped down from the jeep, approached my front door and tip-toeing I entered my home. It was eerily quiet, as little brother was away and mom was sleeping.
“How was your evening?” I jumped twenty feet and turned to see my mother standing in her doorway. Her eyes were bright and full of love. Tears flowed anew as I recounted the details of my evening.
Without warning I found myself angrily shouting “I deserve better mom!” I gasped at my sudden declaration and continued, “I deserve a better man; I deserve happiness; I deserve love.”
I paused, blew my nose and kept going “I deserve a relationship that is built on equal terms, not one that’s destined to fail. I need a partner not a project.” I collapsed onto her bed at my final claim. Then I heard soft sobs and for once they weren’t mine. I tilted my head and looked at mom. She sat there crying and as I hurried to sit up to ask her what was wrong, she wrapped her arms tightly around me. The hug melted away my stress, sadness, and fear. As I stifled a yawn, I asked “Mom, what’s wrong?” She wiped away her tears, and used her thumb to wipe away mine as she confessed “I’m just happy.” She cupped my face and said “I was so worried that you’d never see your worth.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from Eloise! Feel free to leave your comments or reactions below.
I’ll be back next month with another author spotlight. And if you have a story to tell, get in touch! We’d all love to hear it!
Hey there! I am...
A homebody with wanderlust striving to balance the thrill of travel with the comfort of home. On the road, I am a photographer and storyteller. At home, I am an interior designer and personal servant to my two kids. In all cases, I seek out good food and belly laughs.
If you're looking for ways to tap into your spirit of adventure - with or without a suitcase - you've come to the right place!