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Rubber Soul (2)

by Elinor

For the next year, things were more or less the same. Lupe was still my closest friend. She and my dad would still fight sometimes, but he spent less time at the bars. By the end of 1965, I’d grown to accept that night he’d come home drunk as a fluke. Even if he was never fully present in the way a father should have been, he made a point of telling us that he loved us. We were his girls. Maybe everything was going to be okay.

In the meantime, I’d only fallen in love with Paul more deeply. I hadn’t been allowed to see A Hard Day’s Night, and no way to buy the album myself, so the only one I still had was their first, Please Please Me. Still, I listened to it so often I was surprised I hadn’t worn it out.

That Christmas morning, they presented me with a wrapped package suspiciously shaped like a vinyl record. I knew that the Beatles had come out with a new album, and I knew it was called Rubber Soul, but that was it, and I never would have dreamed of asking them for it.

They both smiled as they watched me hold it in my hands.

“Open it,” Lupe said.

Sure enough, there it was.

“Look at the back,” she told me.

So I did. My eyes drifted to it immediately on the tracklist. Michelle. I bit my lip.

This couldn’t be. They’d written about me. Well, obviously not me, but if there was already a Michelle in Paul McCartney’s life, maybe there’d be room for one more.

I sat limply with it on the living room before they told me it was okay if I wanted to listen. Then. Lupe and my father stood up and announced that they were going to go for a walk.

“We’ll leave you two alone,” said my father.

I supposed he was trying to be funny, but it came across as condescending to me. And I didn’t understand why they were leaving me alone on Christmas mornings when we were having a good day.

Still, as soon as the music started, I forgot all about it. It was all brilliant, just like everything they’d ever done had been brilliant.

And then, after a few songs, Paul McCartney’s voice called to me.

“Michelle, my belle…”

Even though I logically knew that the song wasn’t about me, that Paul didn’t know that I existed, it was easy, comforting even, to imagine that he was there in this room with me, him and his guitar, singing to me and only me. No, this was their best song.

While I was getting to the age where my classmates were starting to hold hands and kiss boys, there was no one I wanted to do that but Paul McCartney. Maybe he’d come to Wyoming on tour and we’d meet somehow. John, Paul and George could play Michelle at our wedding.

It wasn’t until that spring that a classmate named Linda crushed me and told me he already had a girlfriend. An actress named Jane Asher. She was pretty, smart, and was an activist in London. It was apparently pretty serious and they’d been together since 1963, a year before I even saw him on TV.

And while, going forward, I never really stopped being upset about it, I told myself that the unfortunate fact wouldn’t stop me from appreciating his face and his voice. Besides, by the time I turned eighteen, he could be single again.

It would be another three years until Lupe left us. It was 1968, the same year that a lot of things happened to a lot of us, it seemed. By then, my father had been sober for six months, and things were better than they’d ever been, at least that was the way it all seemed to me. I’d become fast friends with a girl named Kaya that year, who’d left Wind River with her family because her father had gotten a job in Cheyenne. The first time I’d been over to her house, her family had treated me as if I’d always belonged. Their house was warm and inviting, which is a far cry from our ranch.

But that afternoon, we were in the living room when my father took the phone call. It was the hospital in Boulder, calling my father to inform him that Mom had tried to overdose on her medication. She was in terrible shape, and confrontational with the other patients. Both Lupe and I watched his face fall.

“I have to go to Boulder,” he said once he hung up the phone.

“To see Elina?” Lupe asked.

“What do you think?” He spat.

“Have Michelle go with you,” Lupe continued.

“No, she’s not going with,” said my dad. They continued to go back and forth about this as if I wasn’t right there.

“I want to go,” I said.

He looked at me, and then back to Lupe.

“I have to take care of this.” Without another word, he took his car keys, slammed the door, and we watched as the car drove off.

Lupe sighed. Before I could say anything, she disappeared down the hallway and closed her door. I didn’t want to be alone, but I sensed she didn’t want to be bothered either.

I woke up in the middle of the night to hear my father come home drunk. Lupe was in the living room apparently because the two started shouting. I heard him slur his words. I covered my ears with my pillow and it still wasn’t enough.

When I woke up the next morning, the two were having a silent breakfast. Both had their faces buried in the paper. They tried ignoring me but I was at the point where I was tired of them continuing to treat me like a child.

“What happened last night?” I asked.

Neither said anything. I turned straight to my father.

“Did you see Mom?”

“Yes,” he replied.

It was then that I noticed the bruise over Lupe’s eye. “What did he do to you?”

“Nothing,” Lupe said quietly.

“Tell me what’s going on!” I shouted.

My father stood up, and I knew that I’d made a mistake. He got in my face and stared at me for a minute before he shrunk back. “Stop worrying about your mother.”

“But she’s my mother.”

“Why don’t you go feed Bambi?” He spat.

“I don’t want to,” I said.

That was the first time he slapped me. His hand stung. I saw Lupe open her mouth to say something, only she stopped. Then I turned to her. “And you. You let him treat you like this!” I wasn’t sure where it was coming from. I wasn’t mad at her, not really. Before either of them could do anything, I grabbed my coat and walked out the front door, all three miles to Kaya’s house, nearly in tears by the time I got there. I wasn’t sure what she’d think about me showing up announced, but I explained everything and they told me I could stay as long as dinner if I wanted to.

I called home first, wanting to speak to Lupe, telling myself I’d hang up if my father answered. Luckily, it was her.

“Where are you?” She asked.


“When will you be home?” I expected her to be angry, but she seemed tired, resigned. I told her after dinner sometime. She said okay and hung up the phone.

We ended up spending the whole day together, watching the Monkees on TV and talking and eventually riding bikes into town to see Romeo and Juliet. By the time I got back it was after 9. Lupe was gone, and my father said she’d gone into town, but I didn’t think much of it. I had a horrible time sleeping that night and I didn’t until around two in the morning.

The next day, I went into the kitchen to find him reading the paper.

“That bitch is gone,” he said without looking up.

I said nothing.

“I’m surprised she didn’t tell you. Since you two were such good friends.”

I was still too scared of him to say anything, so I went in the kitchen and started to fix myself a bowl of cereal. I expected him to say something, but instead he kept his face buried in his paper. The funny pages, it seemed like. I finished my cereal quickly and put it in the sink. Then, I snuck back into my room. There was still a week and a half left of the summer, and I desperately wanted to go back to school.

I looked through my records and put on Rubber Soul, hoping it would relax me. I hadn’t listened to it in ages, and now, I couldn’t listen to it without thinking of Lupe. I kept it on though, because it was better than the silence.

As I started to cry, I realized I was angry at her. Angry at her for only thinking about herself and leaving me with him. I was angry at both of them for not ever telling me anything. I ended up turning the record off and putting on my coat. “I’m going for a walk,” I announced.

“Okay,” he said, still without looking up from his paper.

It was April and still almost freezing, but I didn’t care. The cold was refreshing. It kept me alert. I walked aimlessly around the ranch. I wanted to go into town, but I didn’t know how to drive. I wondered where Lupe had gone, if a boy would ever like me, if things would ever be different from the way they were.

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740 Reviews

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Sun Sep 15, 2019 6:44 am
ShadowVyper wrote a review...

Heya Elinor,

Thanks for the tag for this, and sorry it took me a little while to get around to reviewing! It's been a busy week, but I'm excited to see what you're going to do with this story! Let's get started...

I knew that the Beatles had come out with a new album, and I knew it was called Rubber Soul, but that was it, and I never would have dreamed of asking them for it.

Aha! I am not a Beatles fan so I didn't catch this reference, but I wholeheartedly approve of this title now that I know what it means.

Well, obviously not me, but if there was already a Michelle in Paul McCartney’s life, maybe there’d be room for one more.

Ahaha, d'aww this is sweet.

there was no one I wanted to do that but Paul McCartney.

I think you've got a typo in this bit? Or maybe just some awkward phrasing? I'm not entirely sure what this is supposed to mean.

I wasn’t sure what she’d think about me showing up announced,

Another typo I think? This should probably be unannounced rather than announced?

I finished my cereal quickly and put it in the sink.

I am so sorry for my review being anal grammatical nitpicks xD But the "it" is kind of vague here, since you were talking about the bowl not the cereal, so it kinda reads like you put your cereal in the sink after you finished it which doesn't make sense.

~ ~ ~

I really like this story so far! It's this odd mix of childish innocence being obsessed with a band/song paired with an abusive situation that has no innocence at all. I already hate her dad so very much for all of this, and I am really impressed by your ability to make such a strong emotional to all of these characters in such a short amount of space.

I feel bad for the narrator. Reading the story through her eyes makes me sad, even the narration itself isn't about a sad moment -- such as, when she got the record, and in theory that would be happy but with Lupe and her dad going for a walk I just felt SO uneasy and bleh about that whole situation. You've got a really strong, distinct narration voice and it's a huge benefit to this story.

Even with Lupe and her dad and friend. I feel for Lupe being kind of young and naive herself, in a sense, and trying to be good to Michelle and her dad but also stand up for herself. And to a certain extent, even though I kind of hate the dad, he's also a bit of a gray-area antagonist where like yes, he's a jerk, his behavior is unacceptable -- and yet, I can see a little bit of myself in him. The temptation to drink rather than square up to problems, the relapse when something bad happens, the tendency to take out emotions you don't know how to process on others. I just want him and Michelle to enroll in therapy and for things to get better, but somehow I doubt that's how this story ends lol.

Anyway, really strong voices from all of your characters, and solid narration so far. Looking forward to reading the next part!

Keep writing!

~Shady 8)


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Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:35 am
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Panikos wrote a review...

Hiya, Elinor! Dropping in for a quick review.

As always with your work, this has its unique sense of nostalgia and melancholy. You capture Michelle's loneliness and wistfulness really well; I like the juxtaposition between her fixation on the Beatles and her turbulent home life. A young obsession with a celebrity is something most of us can relate to, and I think you capture her adoration of Paul really well. You could probably integrate it even more, to be honest. When Lupe and her father start arguing, is it Paul she thinks of to distract herself? Does she talk to him in her head? Does she recite Beatles lyrics? Considering this story is named after a Beatles album, I think you could lean on the connection even more than you do.

I usually press you to make your writing more immersive, but the slightly distant style of this piece actually feels in keeping with Michelle's POV. She doesn't react fully to Lupe's desertion, but her life has been unsettled for so long that I can fully believe that she's stopped letting herself feel properly. The downside of this is that Michelle does feel rather like she's coasting - just watching from the sidelines as bad things happen to her, not really taking any action in response. Granted, she's young and doesn't have that much power, but stories are made through character choices, not just events. Imagine if, when her father went off to see her mother, Michelle refused to stay home and tried to get to her mother herself. Imagine if Michelle's absence sparked the later argument between Lupe and her father, leading to violence and Lupe's decision to leave. Even though Lupe's desertion still wouldn't be Michelle's fault, she would've had some stake in it, and we'd get the sense that her actions actually contributed to the way things fell out.

The father is well-characterised and unsettling, and I think your dialogue is as effective as ever. The interaction between Michelle and her father right after Lupe leaves was a stand-out moment; I really felt Michelle's fear of him.

So overall, a haunting and unique read, with interesting characters and good dialogue. The premise and setting is well-handled, but I'd still like to see Michelle being much less passive, because she isn't really driving the story at all. I want her to make more choices that actually have a bearing on the plot.

Keep writing! :D

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Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:49 pm
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mellifera wrote a review...

Hey Elinor! I'll be stopping by for a review today :)

I did read the first part of this! As always, it's very interesting to see how all the girls ended up with Jay. Let's get into it, shall we?

In some ways, the way Michelle's dad treats her and Lupe is even scarier than Jay (which I suppose was kind of the point in certain aspects lol). Seeing the way you write characters with darker personalities, and the subtle ways you weave it in, is horrifying and fascinating. I think it's one of my favourite parts about your writing, is how well you bring your characters to life and how scary you can make them at times.

I sat limply with it on the living room before they told me it was okay if I wanted to listen.

Is there any reason you didn't include this dialogue in here? I feel like this could be even stronger if you'd added the dialogue and how they reassure it's all right to listen to.
(Also, I think you meant "I sat limply with it in the living room", only because she seems unsure whether she can listen to it or not. Otherwise, I would have said "I sat limply with it on in the living room" but again, I don't think that's what you meant)

Then. Lupe and my father stood up and announced that they were going to go for a walk.

I don't think that period after "Then" is supposed to be there? (I don't think you need "then" because the transition from them telling her it's okay to listen and then leaving)

why they were leaving me alone on Christmas mornings when we were having a good day.

I don't think you meant "mornings" pluralised? Other than that, I honestly don't know if you need the rest of the sentence after "Christmas morning". I had to reread this line, not because of confusion, just because it felt off to me. I think that it's that last bit, which feels redundant to me. Alternatively, you could switch them ("And I didn't understand why they were leaving me alone when we were having a good morning."), but I think the fact that it's Christmas and it's meant to be about family (in my opinion anyway) has a little stronger of an impact.

It would be another three years until Lupe left us.


In the section of dialogue after Michelle's father gets the phone call about Elina, I think you could stand to cut some of the dialogue tags? They feel a little heavy handed right now, especially as in this situation with so little else aside from the dialogue. Right here, I think they're only purpose should be for clarity on who's speaking, so once you establish the order between Lupe and Michelle's dad, I think the next time it's necessary is when Michelle speaks.

They continued to go back and forth about this as if I wasn't right there.

Since this line is telling the readers something they already know (that Lupe and Michelle's dad are having a conversation haha), I think you could pull how it makes Michelle feel into it instead? For example: "Frustration began to simmer in my chest as they spoke like I wasn't right there." Then it adds a new element and ties in how Michelle is reacting to the situation, instead of showing us that they're going back and forth and then also telling us.

I had a horrible time sleeping that night and I didn't until around two in the morning.

I think this is a similar situation as before? I don't think you have to specific that it was around two in the morning. I mean, it's up to you, but I don't think you need both "I had a horrible time sleeping" and "I didn't fall asleep until around two in the morning".

“Okay,” he said, still without looking up from his paper.

It was April and still almost freezing,

For the sake of avoiding repetition, I'd get rid of the second "still"?

I think, at the end, you could have slipped in more of Michelle's anger and upset? One of the closest friends, the one she's known the longest, just abandoned her with her abusive dad. You do show some of that heartbreak, but it feels a little bit disconnected? She goes for a walk, but instead of feeling any hurt, she just seems wistful in wondering where Lupe went, and then wondering if a boy would ever like her (which I like as a detail! I just don't know if it belongs here? Although, at the same time, I do like it there, because it's almost as if she's pulling away from her childhood? Which is sad in itself. I think, however, it might be a little too fast after Lupe leaves). I do like the detail on how she wonders if things will ever be different (though, won't it? Lupe's gone, won't that have a massive impact on Michelle's life? You could, alternatively, do something like Michelle worrying about how things were going to change now that Lupe was gone, or wondering if things would ever change with her father, rather than her situation?).

Overall, I really enjoyed this one (as I did the others ^^)! It has strong writing and you nailed the tension between the characters in the various scenes. I'm glad I picked this one out today to review!

I hope you have a wonderful day, and Happy RevMo! <3


Sometimes I'm terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts.
— Poe