Short Story: “Eleanor Rigby”
NOTE: This is Nippertown’s first piece of fiction. It’s a short story inspired by the characters in the Beatles’ classic “Eleanor Rigby.” And just to make the tie-in, the Spectrum 8 Theatres in Albany will be screening the recently remastered film “Yellow Submarine” at 12noon on Sunday (May 20) and again at 7pm on Monday (May 21).
Short story by Allison G.
Eleanor Rigby walked down the cobbled street. It was a cold November day in Coventry. The sky was overcast and the streets were littered with autumn’s colorful leaves. As she walked down the street she saw the lights on in the church. Eleanor decided to escape the late fall chill and go into the church. When she walked in, she saw Father McKenzie giving a sermon to the empty chapel. She sat down in a pew towards the back and listened to him intently.
“God told us to ‘love thy neighbor’. Then why is it so hard for us to help someone we don’t know? Why don’t we expand from the friends we have now and meet new people? I challenge every man, woman, and child to talk to someone you don’t know today. Whether you meet them in the park or on the street, make someone’s day special. Maybe you’ll start a lifelong friendship.”
Father McKenzie finished the service and went up to Eleanor. He was a tall, gentle looking man with black hair and green-gold eyes shielded by his brown horn rimmed glasses. Even though the colors of his eyes were vibrant, they were dead and tired looking.
He’d known her since they were kids. He saw how the kids treated her at school, the park, and even down the street. They called her a creep, weird, and that she’d die an old maid because of her strange behavior with cats. But he had loved her anyway. The day he was going to ask her to marry him, his now long-dead parents sent him off to the seminary. Since he was ordained as a priest, Father McKenzie could not marry nor have kids.
“That was a lovely service, Father, as it always is.”
“Ms. Rigby, we’ve known each other so long. Please, call me Robert.”
“Well then, Robert, call me Eleanor instead of Ms. Rigby.”
“What a beautiful woman she has turned into. If only people could judge her on her personality and character, not her eccentric nature or hang ups,” Robert thought.
“I found another stray cat in the alley yesterday. It looked lonely, so I took it home with me and named it Marylyn,” Eleanor told Father McKenzie.
“What type of cat?”
“A tabby cat. My favorite type.”
Robert looked at his pocket watch and sighed. It was nine o’clock. The sun had already set and the stars and moon were out.
“It’s getting late. I should probably turn off the lights and blow out the candles, and go to my house. I still have a few socks that need darning.”
“Good night, Father Robert McKenzie. See you in the morn. Have a wonderful evening.”
Eleanor turned to walk towards the door when Robert said, “Eleanor, wait.”
She twirled around and looked at him.
“I… hope you sleep well. God bless you.”
“Thank you, Robert. Good-bye now.”
At that, she turned around and walked out of the church. As he watched her walk gracefully away, he thought about his lost chance to finally confess his love for her. Sadly, he blew out the candles and walked to his living quarters behind the church where he lived all alone. Not even a cat to keep him company.
Back at her house, Eleanor was getting ready for bed and was talking to her cat, Marylyn.
“And he hesitated after he said ‘I’ the first time. I wonder what he was really going to say to me. What do you think?”
Marylyn meowed and licked her paw.
“I don’t know. Could it have been important? I’ll just ask him tomorrow. How does that sound?”
Marylyn meowed again, rubbed up against Eleanor, and purred.
“Time to go to bed now, Mary. Sweet dreams, my pretty kitty.”
At that, Eleanor blew out her bedside candle and fell asleep.
* * * *
Within a fortnight, there was a beautiful funeral in the church’s graveyard. There were rose petals scattered on the grave and the words said at the funeral were truly and genuinely beautiful. Father McKenzie stood over the grave and reminisced. There were tears in his eyes. He took off his glasses and wiped them away.
“We’ll be together again someday, my love. We’ll be together forever up in Heaven.”
He turned away from the grave, tried to gather himself, and walked away. On the tomb stone read “Eleanor Anne Rigby: 1854-1887. My best friend and the love of my life.”