Eloise's parents named her after a hurricane that destroyed their house in 1975.
She, however, had never destroyed anything (a friendship, a home, a heart) beyond the crystal vase she had dropped when her cousin jumped from behind the table and spooked her when she was twelve. This made her feel uncomfortable - as if she was a peasant wearing Cinderella's shoe or a woman squeezing into a girl's sweater. She once tried to tell her parents this, how her name was like a false second skin stretched too tight, but couldn't find the words and ended up sighing instead.
When she told them never mind, they smiled briefly before returning to the war-torn papers.
[She later decided that they must like the way the ink stained their fingers and never their heart.]
Eloise was a quiet girl with a smile that looked awfully like a frown. She made friends with goldfish in teardrop shaped bowls and made more wishes on the trail of passing jets rather than the shooting stars of midnight. She said this was sensible; to wish on something that could be linked to reality meant her dream was more likely to find anchor here too - as if the jet would bring her wish back when it finally landed. Stars, she reasoned, never touched earth and she had no desire for wishes to come true next to black holes she couldn't comprehend.
[No one told her that wishes weren't sensible or that jets didn't land in yellowed grass backyards. She never knew.]
One day, Eloise pressed open a book with the ridge of her thumb and let the pages fall where they may.
She read the first sentence aloud just to taste the words without chewing the meat. They made her tongue fuzzy and her head light and when she finally had read two pages, she pushed the book aside to contemplate for a while. She wasn't sure if she liked or disliked the sensation and decided that falling in love must feel akin to that. Like standing too fast or slurping a smoothie without slowing down.
[Very quickly, Eloise put the book back on the shelf.]
On a summer day, Eloise broke her arm falling from a tree. The pain was sharp, but later, when she recalled the incident, she would only remember the way ants crawled up her calves and the way the sun shone in her eyes. She would say that pain was often in the details - that we only trick ourselves into thinking otherwise. Think about it, she would say, death hurts worse when you see an empty coffee cup the next morning and not when you sit hollow and clad in black. Life hurts worse when you're tripping on cracks and not when you're braving the storm - the storm is the beautiful part, the quietness that follows is when the howling starts.
[Eloise decided later that she was named after the storm and not the aftermath; she liked her name after that.]