It was always darkest before the dawn, the computers said.It's good to start a story out with a few random talking computers, dontcha know.
She for a fact knew this was true. In fact, she discovered this for a fact one day while she was out in the streets, walking in the streets, trying to find something to do to fill her boring hours before her parents came home from the shop to find her not in school.
She looked out of the corner of her eye and saw a group of men carrying a TV out of a shop. It didn't strike her as odd, didn't strike her as even amusing. She just pulled her cloak around her closer and walked a little faster toward the end of the street, hoping to pass the ruffians before they would see her.
She walked past them, her cloak huddled close about her, hoping her eye contact didn't make eye contact with them,Yeah, I have to watch for that a lot too... my perverse eye contact insists on making eye contact. Geesh.
and she kept her head down, staring at the ground. They never looked up at her, as if she were a fixture in the concrete,If I saw a great hulking "fixture in concrete," I'm pretty sure I'd look up.
and continuing doing their work, grabbing the TVs and loading them into their old vans, which looked as if they had seen better days. No doubt they had tried to steal a better one but something had gone wrong and it hadn't worked out.
I was clearly going for a dark, dystopian future with rampant crime. However, I abandon this pretty quickly as the actual plot starts happening. Don't worry, that kicks in soon.
Della herself had only a tiny little van that wasn't much good for anything. Her parents had taken it during the last blackout. Della had hidden in a corner to hear the shouts of angry when the van was found missing, and as the neighbors spread out to find the missing vehicle, she hid in the corner with a smile on her face, because she knew where it was. It was with her family.
They drove it everywhere after that, to church, to school. It was a good thing they didn't really live anywhere near where those neighbors lived, or else they would have surely been recognized.Uh, yeah, it's fortunate for their crime habits that they don't live near their neighbors.
The street lights were dark, and Della pulled her cloak even closer about her.I am interested in knowing how many more times that phrase will be used. Apparently, when in doubt, my characters should just pull in their cloaks.
She wondered why the street lamps weren't on, usually they were this time of night. Maybe there was some sort of technology malfunction. There often was. She only hoped they got it fixed before this evening. She had her big date this evening, and couldn't bear to have something as small as a lack of light mar it.
She had been praying for a date with Jeff ever since he first moved into her high school.Well, that was... probably not the verb I meant.
All the girls wanted him, he was quite simply the perfect guy. Somehow out of all the girls he had selected her to have dinner with him on this particular night, and she had accepted.This really sounds like he lined them all up and went down the row to select someone.
She let her mind drift to Jeff and what he might say to her that night - things like "You look beautiful tonight, Della" or even "You're very smart, Della"."Smart" is not the adjective I would use to describe Della.
She smiled as she thought of these possibilities.
Then she looked up. She was almost home. There was the big staircase made of metal leading up to the front porch that was hardly a front porch, it was so small. A small poster hung in the window, but Della hardly paid any attention to it. It was sometimes embarrassing, so she ignored it and opened the door and walked on into the house.I've never been very good at writing place description, but I promise I'm usually better than this paragraph makes it sound...
"Mom? Dad? I'm home!" she cried, her voice ringing through the house. But there was no response. She removed her coat and hung it up on the rack, then wandered through the house, calling aimlessly.
Mom and Dad didn't respond still. They must be ought, she told herself, and scrambled to make some eggs for herself. Then she sat down with a glass of orange juice to watch some TV.So she makes the eggs and then doesn't actually eat them. This is a recurring theme. My characters are pretty much always cooking. Also, note my brain's inadvertent pun about Della "scrambling to make some eggs."
This newest TV wasn't so good, you had to hit it three times to make it work, and even then it was only in black and white. But that's okay, none of the shows were any good anymore, either. Her mom and dad used to talk about how TV used to be, great and interesting, but Della could hardly believe it. She didn't even know why she still watched TV, it wasn't a baby thing to do anymore. She got back up with her glass of orange juice which she poured into the sink,She doesn't eat her eggs, she doesn't drink her orange juice... She wastes a lot of food.
and then decided to do homework.
She sat at the table and pulled out her homework, placing the flopping notebooks and textbooks on the table, where she proceeded to work very dutifully for the next several hours. When she looked up again, her parents still weren't home.Do a couple hours of homework and then look up from your desk. Nope, they are still not home. Continue homework.
I wonder where they are, she asked herself. She got up and looked aimlessly out the window, as if she could see her parents there.Poor Della does a lot aimlessly.
She did see smoke. Smoke! she thought to herself.Window! she thought next.
She grabbed her coat and stuffed one arm in the sleeve and then ran out the door, the rest of the sleeve still dangling over the ground. She managed to stuff the rest of it on as she ran seven blocks to the cause of the smoke, an overturned car.
The police officers there crowded around the scene, and she pushed past to try and get a better look. It was their van, overturned, with smoke pouring out of it and the bodies of her parents lying in it. "NOOOOOO!" she screamed. She collapsed onto the pavement. A police officer came up behind her and put his arms around her.
She just sat there, shaking, unable to believe it. Well, maybe they weren't dead.Erm, since when did that look like a possibility?
She looked up hopefully at the police officer, but he just shook his head and said there was no doubt, they were definitely dead.
This made her so sad she thought she couldn't bear it, and she just put her head in her hands and began to weep. Her shoulders shook as she did. The police officers looked as if they didn't know what to do, so they just stood back and watched until she was done.
Then she stood up, squared her shoulders, looked them square in the face and said, "What do I do now?"
My brain has no time to write realistic or tactful death scenes.
They took her down to the station and explained that her parents had been driving home when a stray bullet hit the car tire and caused it to spin around in circles and then turn over.Yup. Yup, that makes sense. This might be the most coherent explanation of anything in the entire story, by the way.
They asked if her parents had any enemies. Della thought hard, but all she could think to say was, "No."That's all she could think of to say?
"I see," said the police sergeant, as he turned over a piece of paper on his desk. "You may go now."Maybe that paper was the "enemies application" form. If she could think of any enemies he'd have sent them the forms.
Della stood up slowly, icily, as if frozen, and calmly turned to walk out the door of the office. As she left, several of the police officers gave her sympathetic looks to say they understood. She couldn't look at any of them. She didn't know what she would do now.
She walked back to her lonely apartment, where she climbed the stairs again, one hand perched on the metal railing with the ball at the end. When she walked in, her key clicking in the lock, she was struck by how silent the room was and how much Mom and Dad weren't there.
It hit her suddenly that they weren't thereIt's not that Della is slow... it's just that she makes the same observations. Again, and again and again.
and were never going to be there again, and she threw herself down on the bed and sobbed until her eyes hurt.
She got back up, dryed her eyed, and then went into the kitchen to make some coffee.Of course, she's not going to drink it. It'd be easy to paint this as a grief response, except for the fact that she did this before as well.
As she waited for the coffee to boil, she leaned back against the counter and tried to imagine the incident. Mom and Dad would be in the car, talking to each other, chatting happily, when suddenly there was a PING! and the rear tire went out. Mom gripped Dad's shoulder but he could do nothing as they spun around and around in circles, and then finally it was too much and the car turned over, leaving them trapped underneath. There was fire and smoke and they couldn't get out, so slowly they burned to death.*blink*
Tragedy is definitely not something that lends itself well to subconscious storytelling...
When the firemen and policemen got there, it was too late, and they were already dead.
Della decided she would do everything in her power to find out who had killed her parents, even if it took her a whole lifetime to do it. It was more important than ice cream.At least Della has her priorities solidly in order.
The coffee began to whistle at her, so she picked it up and poured it into her cup. She drank it slowly and then began to wonder how she would find out who had killed her parents. The first step would be to find the bullet that had hit the car.
She put her coat on and went down to the police station to find some more information.
"Sorry, but we don't give that information out," the clerk at the desk told her when she got there.
She put one hand on her hip. "I came all the way down here to find out about my dead parents!" she screamed. "I can't believe you can't tell me what kind of bullet it was!"
*cracks up* Now I remember why we don't have dialogue too much in this story.
We're also introduced to a very important character in the next section. Della makes a friend!
The clerk looked shameful and rifled through a few papers on his desk. "Well, maybe if you talk to the sergeant in there," he said, nodding toward a small door in the side of the wall.
Della didn't wait to be invited, but ran and opened the door, finding the sergeant in conference with another official- looking man. They both looked startled that a random girl had just flung open the door and now stood looking maddening and furious.
The official-looking man stood, said, "Well, I'll talk to you later, Jim," and picked up his leather briefcase and walked quickly out of the office, giving Della a quick, uneasy look.
Yup. This high school girl, maddening and furious as she is, terrifies authorities everywhere.
The sergeant gestured toward the chair. "Sit down, please," he said politely.
Della didn't sit down. She had to be tough if she was going to get the information she needed....You know, I'd laugh harder at this if this wasn't a tactic used by both Morgan and Marcus in the Skye book. Apparently sitting in someone else's chair = weakness.
"I need to find out what kind of bullet it was that killed my parents," she said matter-of-factly. "The desk clerk told me to talk to you."
The sergeant began to stammer a bit. "W-w-w-w-well," he said, "we don't give that information out."*cracks up* That really threw him, didn't it? She didn't even need to be tough about it, all she needed to do was state what she wanted matter-of-factly and he goes completely to pieces.
Della slammed her fist down on the desk. "I want that, and I want it NOW!"
The sergeant blinked at her and said, "Well, then, if it's so important to you."I have a feeling this guy shouldn't have this job...
He took out a key, unlocked his desk drawer, and pulled out a piece of paper which he handed to her. "Here you go." She took it out of his hands and began reading through it, skimming through pages, pulling them apart as she tried to find the relevant information.Sheesh, he didn't say she could rip them up, though frankly if she yelled at him a bit more he would probably let her. Also, why does he have this information locked up in his desk?
Finally she looked up and said, "There's nothing here that will help me."And thus ends part one. Next time, Della takes further steps to solve the mystery and they are just as well-thought-out as these ones are. Don't worry, she does eventually figure out who killed her parents with the "stray bullet" that hit their car.
We're also introduced to a very important character in the next section. Della makes a friend!