WRITING Cammyjag's old, old, Character Solos

Discussion in 'SHOWCASING' started by Cammytrice, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. This thread will be mostly a showcase of solos and background stories for characters I used to create for an RP forum, set in the world of the Lackadaisy webcomic: 1927 St. Louis. Whenever I created a character that I very much fell in love with, they eventually ended up with their own solo or background RP to better explain their history. I'll be updating this thread as I migrate the stories over. Just know that these are all anthropomorphic characters, and I believe most of them are cats. If I do include an RP, the characters will have been reposted with their owners' permission.
  2. This first character is Nellie Rouse. She appeared in St. Louis one day, stumbling around an open air market; terrified, injured, and sick. She was taken in by the owner of a halfway house by a man named Gideon Halloway and his daughter. This is her life before St. Louis.


    "Get up you worthless thing!"

    Nellie immediately scrambled out of bed and stood, bleary-eyed, next to it. It was cold this morning, but she didn't dare rub her arms to warm them. She stood stock still, waiting for the next order.

    "Get dressed. Cows are waiting. They're worth more than you, lazy thing!"

    She didn't even say 'yes, sir,' or 'no, sir'. She simply did as she was told. Pulling on a tattered dress, she hurried out into the darkness of the pre-dawn morning. She wasn't allowed a lamp. She was so clumsy, she'd knock it over and start a fire. At least, that's what he told her. Picking up the pail by the barn door, she let her eyes adjust to the darkness before moving carefully over to the first of the two cows, petting her lightly to announce her arrival. She'd learned to do that so she didn't spook the cow and be trampled underneath. She set to work, silent as usual. She wasn't allowed to speak unless ordered to.

    She worked all through that day: milking, weeding, cleaning, sewing, cooking. The little eight-year old was used to the routine. Sewing and cooking were in the form of harsh lessons from her mother, telling her how terrible she was at doing them, even though she performed flawlessly. She cooked dinner for everyone, and ate last, shouted at to hurry up and get the dishes washed up. After that was scrubbing the stove and floor, getting damp in the cool evening air. If she ever got sick, there was no rest unless she was too feverish and delirious to rise from her bed. She was nursed back to health, but not without being called lazy and ungrateful every step of the way.

    It wasn't until the moon was high in the sky before she was finally allowed to crawl back into bed, huddling under her scant blanket that she'd made herself from scraps of cloth. She was too tired to even feel the cold. She'd stopped feeling it a long time ago, anyway.

    That was Nellie's life: unloved and unwanted, already broken under the weight of harsh words and loveless touch. She endured it, for she knew no other way. She just knew she existed, and it was better than not existing. Summer or winter, blistering heat or driving snow, torrential rain or cracked dry ground, it didn't matter. Life went on as it always had. That was, until she was sixteen years old...


    It was a surreal day. She was woken up early, as always, but instead of going out to milk the cows, she was instructed to get a bath. A hot one.

    Nellie blinked in surprise. She wasn't ill. That was the only time she remembered having one.

    A sharp word quickly snapped her out of her frozen confusion and into compliance. She heated up the water over the stove and filled the tub in the kitchen. Her mother silently scrubbed her until her fur was practically shining. The furious scrubbing hurt a bit, but she knew better than to complain. Her hair was washed and roughly detangled, her mother muttering something about her looking like a wild child.

    After the bath was something even stranger. A new dress. And not just knew, it was white. She was ordered to get dressed and not to do something stupid and get it dirty.

    Then came the shoes. She'd never worn shoes before, but under threats quickly found her balance in them. Then she was marched out of the house. Her father in front and her mother behind, holding a few things in her paws. They walked to the county courthouse, up the stairs and into the courtroom.

    That was the first time she'd ever laid eyes on him. Standing in front of the judge, waiting for them.

    Her mother put a small hoop, decorated with fake white flowers, on her head, and some flowers into her paws. She was instructed to stand next to the other cat in front of the judge, and do as she was told. She did so, shyly repeating the words she was told to, and answering yes when asked a question. The judge put a paper in front of her, and told her where to sign her name. She didn't know how to write, so she marked an 'X' and her father filled in the rest of the information for her. The other cat, whose name she now knew was Heathcliff, took her by the arm and led her out of the courtroom, her parents following.

    Once outside the courtroom, her father told her that she was married, and she better do as she was told. She had new things waiting for her with Heathcliff, even though since she was an ungrateful [expletive] and didn't deserve them. Then she was led out of the courthouse and to a nearby restaurant.

    Heathcliff ordered her food for her, the cheapest meal on the menu, while everyone else feasted and got drunk. She sat silently through all this, listening to her father talk about her as if she were some animal to be traded and trained. Her mother, who was as drunk as the men was fawning all over both of them, while they simply ignored her.

    Finally, Heathcliff led her away from her parents, albeit staggeringly, to a house she'd never seen before, outside of the town. He pushed her inside ahead of him, and fumbled with the door, locking it securely. Turning around and leering at her, he placed the key out of her reach, and told her never to touch it. She nodded obediently.

    He continued to stare at her, a twisted grin on his face, and she finally started to fear for herself. Her fears were quickly justified.

    That night, he repeatedly and brutally beat and raped her until she was bleeding all over, then left her curled up on the cold floor, with only a tattered, dirty blanket to cover herself with. But that was only the beginning of the horrors. Morning was yet to come.


    If Nellie had thought of her upbringing as unhappy, her life with Heathcliff was a tortured hell.

    With her parents, life was predictable. Even the occasional smack on the paws from her mother during sewing and cooking was predictable. She could pretty much do the right things and endure the shouts and jeers.

    Heathcliff was violent, drunk, and unpredictable. He raped her constantly, and beat her savagely for even the slightest, perceived offense. She lived in constant terror and stress, never knowing when the next blow was coming.

    Gone were the shouts in the morning. Now there were kicks to the stomach and head, even when she was pregnant, which was constantly due to the rapings. She endured endless mornings of morning sickness, coupled with countless miscarriages. Her babies never made it more than four months. She painstakingly buried each one in a corner of the garden while she was out tending it. She made sure to bury each in the same spot so he wouldn't know. She envied them. They'd never know the tortured existence she held.

    The worst part, she had to pretend she enjoyed it. She forced smiles on her face, albeit terrified ones, during the tortured moments. If she pretended she enjoyed being raped, sometimes he wouldn't choke her until she passed out, then beat her back into consciousness. But only sometimes. If she acted thankful for his beatings, for him 'teaching her a lesson', sometimes she'd be allowed to wash and dress her wounds. But not always. These were the most degrading times of all, and she felt even more wretched each time.

    One night, after such a moment, she could take no more. When she heard him begin snoring, falling asleep with the bottle still clutched in his paws, she carefully took a stool and painfully climbed up towards the forbidden key...


    She had it. In her hand, her pathway to freedom.

    Nellie clutched the key tightly as she quietly climbed down from the stool. She pushed the key into the lock. It was stiff and heavy, and she hardly had half of Heathcliff's strength. She struggled to turn the key in the lock, wrestling with it until her fingers bled. She was so focused on getting it open, it wasn't until the lock finally gave that she noticed the snoring had stopped.

    Terrified, she slowly turned her head towards the living room. Her heart stopped when she saw him standing in the doorway, his hateful face twisted in familiar rage.


    Nellie had no doubt that he'd kill her this time. That moment, she did something she'd never done before in her life. She disobeyed. And she ran like hell.

    It was bright with the moonlight, and cold with the night air. The grass was wet with dew, and she slipped and stumbled as she ran for her life. Behind her, she could hear the chugging breaths of the devil himself behind her. She had to think fast. Her life depended on her not being as stupid as she'd been told she was her whole life. She knew she couldn't outrun him. She was smaller, barefoot, and weak from her recent beatings. But she was lighter, and nimble. She reached a tall tree in the yard and began to climb, barely staying ahead of his claws grappling at her heels.

    Oh no! He was climbing after her!

    Nellie climbed clear to the thin branches near the top of the tree and looked down, seeing his hulking figure hefting himself up past the first branches. He was huffing, and a bit clumsy in his drunkenness, but he was hellbent on catching her. His adrenaline and his rage drove him upward. Nellie despaired for her life.

    Suddenly, the branch broke.

    Heathcliff tumbled back down through the tree, breaking more branches on the way down. There was a sickening crack as his head connected with the thick, lowest branch. It flipped him, and he kept falling, finally landing on his head. There was another crunch as the rest of his body collapsed on top of him. He groaned, and lay still.

    Nellie cried. She cried herself to sleep, perched precariously in those branches. She didn't know if he was truly dead, or if he was simply playing another one of his tricks. She was too scared to find out. She stayed up in that tree the entire next day, shivering from the dew that collected on her, licking it off for water when she got thirsty, and then enduring the hot sun of the midday. It wasn't until the evening that she carefully inched her way down, ready to scramble back up at a moment's notice.

    Finally on solid ground again, she picked up a stick and prodded his body. He didn't move. She touched him with a shaking paw. He was cold, just like her babies. But she wouldn't bother to bury him. She didn't love him like her babies.


    Nellie stumbled into the house, going straight to the sink and drinking straight from the tap until her thirst was slaked.

    Then she turned to the ice box. Sitting in front of the open metal cabinet, she ate hungrily, grabbing the first things her paws landed on.

    After she'd eaten almost to the point of being sick, she bathed herself, taking stock of all the wounds and injuries she'd sustained over three years of her slavery of a marriage. She had countless burns from cigarettes, which was one of Heathcliff's favourite punishments. There was an old burn from the hot iron, and one on the back of her neck from where he'd hit her with a hot frying pan. She gingerly touched that area. Her hair had grown back and hid it now, but it was an ugly, hairless patch.

    She was tired, but she didn't dare fall asleep in that house. It smelled too much like him and held too many nightmares. Worse yet, if her father ever found out Heathcliff was dead, he might make her marry someone else just like him, or worse. She pulled down a large carpet bag and filled it with all the clothes he never allowed her to wear, her yarn and sewing things, and her blanket. It was the only piece of comfort she had. She wrapped up food and added that, and finally pried up some floorboards in the living room. Heathcliff kept his money box there. She still remembered to count from when her father would send her to the market.

    Slipping out of the house in the pre-dawn, she took one more look and the dead hulk of fur laying in the yard, making sure it hadn't moved. Then she ran, away from her nightmares and everything she ever knew. Anywhere had to be better than this hell. All she took with her were the contents of the carpet bag, and her memories. And the key, the object of her freedom. She'd keep it always.


    She walked for more than a day, through the night, and into the next morning.

    It wasn't until the sun was high in the sky that she finally sat down by the side of the road, weary with exhaustion. Nellie slumped behind a tree, hidden from sight.

    Have to rest, have to sleep. Dangerous to sleep. Might be found. Must escape, have to think. Try to think, too tired. Have to rest...

    Half-formed thoughts swirled around in her mind until they hummed her into a trance-like sleep. Fortunately, she had managed to nestle herself into a hollow at the base of the tree, quite hidden from anyone passing on the road.

    Unfortunately, her mind would not rest from the threat of danger, and turned her fears to nightmares. Nightmares she couldn't escape...

    Weeding, in the garden. Stormy skies above. Dark clouds swirling, lightning flashing, thunder rolling. Something growing in the garden. Not a vegetable... KITTENS?! Kittens growing in the ground, sprouting from cabbage heads, cold and half-formed, grotesque and blue, eyes closed and no fur, until...

    Eyes open! Glaring at her, accusing her, tiny paws reaching at her, grabbing her. Grips strong as steel, cold as ice, pulling her in, tearing her clothes. Trapped, TRAPPED!

    Behind you! Heathcliff! Not dead, not alive! Must get away! Can't move! Pinned down! Not the axe! Please no! No! NO! NononoNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Nellie bolted awake with a choked cry. Hardly able to breath, she looked around wildly, confused and terrified. It was several minutes before she fully realised it was only a dream.

    The tightness in her chest didn't loosen, though. Instead, it spread to her stomach and her throat. Finally, a tortured scream tore from her, and she collapsed back down to the ground. She lay there limply, crying as she'd never cried before, her body wracked with sobs as she mourned her wretched existence.

    For the first time in her entire life, she felt safe enough to wish for her own death.
  3. By all means, that was excellent, even if it was dark. I do not enjoy these kinds of works, but fortunately, this one is brief and not too detailed. You just gave enough details to make me horrified, but not enough for me to turn away from my computer in disgust. Still, I have a piece of advice for you: unless they are at the beginning of sentences, you should always avoid capital letters. I know that it is easier to express emotions, especially rage or fear like that, but it somewhat breaks the flow for me.

    It can not be really noticed here, as it fits into the work very well, and is not overused, but capital letters can be replaced by words. If I were you, for example, I would write "Not a vegetable, but... Kittens?!" instead of "Not a vegetable... KITTENS?!". I think the emotional impact is better carried across if you refrain from using capital letters like that. It also forces you to think of new expressions and new ways to express how your character feels. But that is only my personal opinion.
  4. This is the first character that I ever wrote a Solo for, and maybe the only one that has a planned end. This character is near and dear to my heart; her name is Adassa Halloran, and she is my very first RP character ever. In the RP world she lives in, she's paired with a blind girl from Louisiana of whom she's taken the role of caretaker. I might do that solo next. Some areas of this solo have pretty rough writing, as it was written about 5 years ago, but I've forced myself not to edit any of these, and are presenting them in their original state, including the OOC notes. All that I've fixed was some formatting to make it more readable.

    Escaping Rock City [SOLO]

    [ooc: After giving hints of Dass' past here and there, I decided to do a back story on her. If there's anything specific you want to know, pm me and I'll weave it in. Simon's 'cameo' comes courtesy of creator, yellow_ant.]

    You've done it now, Adassa Halloran. You let your pride get the better of you, and your mouth.

    Her mama's warning came back to her. "Not everything is good to eat or good to say." She was right...again. Even dead, mama was always right.

    Dass sat looking out across the Mississippi. She'd lived near water since she was a little girl in Haiti, running around the docks and helping her mama repair sails and mend clothes. She came to America when the Americans had been going there to try and stabilise the government. Now everything was a mess. Through all the political turmoil, she had lost her entire family to fighting and violence. She was so heartbroken, she had not been close to anyone since. She carried her future on her own back. Now, when she really needed someone to help her, she was alone.

    Dass thought about all the people she had done work for. Would any of them help her? She went through the list in her head, and one name jumped out at her. One client had recently hired a kid about her age, Simon G., that she had started to get to know. He was alone like she was. Maybe he could get his boss to help her. She sighed and idly pulled a handful of grass up and tossed the blades into the air. She watched them scatter in the wind. How had things gone so wrong?


    [ooc: 3 days later]

    Dass felt colder than the rain that was falling around her. She had tried everything she could think of. Nothing worked. She had threatened and angered an important person in Rock City, and she had nothing to protect her. Even out of desperation, she tried a Vodou spell her mother had known, but that came up just as empty as her hopes. Now, she couldn't believe what Simon had told her. He was risking his life telling her, and now he was leaving too. How could he give her this information and just leave? He knew as well as anyone the danger she was in. He would just leave her to walk into an ambush alone? She looked up at him in the front seat of the truck. The window was open despite the rain. The tears ran down her face.

    "Please Simon, you have to help me! At least take me with you! Please don't leave me here!" she begged him, grabbing at his arm that was resting on the door.

    Simon pulled back his arm. "I'm sorry Dass, but I just can't. Look, I told you what I know, and that's all I can do. I have too many problems of my own to deal with someone else's right now. Please understand, and please, don't call me Simon anymore." He rolled up the window slowly, avoiding her eyes, and the truck started across the bridge out of town. She screamed Simon's name, not caring if he heard her or not.

    Looking around herself in the darkness, Dass hugged herself in fear. She didn't know what to do. Despondent, she turned from the bridge and walked back towards the lights of the city. They were watching her. If she didn't show, they'd kill her anyway. Either way, she was already dead.


    Dass cried as she walked in the rain. She felt eyes on her from every direction. She had lost her brothers, her daddy and finally her mama to the violence in Haiti, and she had come to America, escaping the war there. Now it seemed she was doomed to share the same fate as her family. She stopped. A thought passed through her mind. Which was a worse way to die? Marching herself to her death, or die trying to escape? She had escaped death once. Could she do it again? What should I do mama? she thought. I'm not ready to see you again, but I wish you were here to tell me what to do. Closing her eyes, she thought of those days on the docks under the hot sun...

    Dass had walked into the small back room that she and her mama were renting to live in. Her dress was torn, and she had bruises on her face and arms.
    "What happened to you? Where have you been?" her mama had yelled. Dass had started to cry as she told her mama about the children who had beaten her. They had told her to meet her at one end of the docks, or else, and she had gone. She had known they were going to try to hurt her, but she had gone anyway. Her mama began to scream at her. "Don't you ever give your life away by doing something like that again! You have to fight for your life everyday, and run when you have to. Don't walk into danger, run from it! Better to die saving your life. That's the world we live in Dassa!"

    Opening her eyes, Dassa knew what she had to do. This was indeed the world she lived in. If they wanted to kill her, they would have to try. Up the road, she saw where the trees were thick, hiding the river behind them. She started walking again , carefully looking around to try and see if anyone was in the trees. Reaching the place, she stopped again, breathing hard. She clenched and unclenched her fists, trying to work up her nerve. She quickly dove into the trees and immediately ran into someone.


    She pushed him over, adrenalin flowing, and continued running down the hill through the trees. The man behind her yelled to his buddies, recovering himself. A shot rang out, and Dass ducked, not stopping. She heard bark above her head splinter as the bullet ricocheted off the tree.


    Dass reached the bottom of the hill and broke out of the trees. She had lost her shoes long ago, but that hardly slowed her down. She never wore shoes back home. But the ground was cold and wet here. She reached the river, but the rain had turned the normally calm Mississippi into a raging torrent. She'd never make it. More shots rang out. Dass abandoned the river for the moment and ran along the bank, just trying to get away. She could hardly see through the rain. There were rocks hidden among the bushes. Maybe she could hide.

    Suddenly, without warning, she was on the ground with the wind knocked out of her. She had caught her foot in a root. Gasping for breath, Dass suddenly felt an arm grab her and flip her onto her back. She looked up at a shotgun, aimed directly at her face. Behind it stood a grey tabby in rough work clothes, breathing hard.

    "You're a hard one to catch, you witch. But now, it's time for your -heh- exorcism."

    He pumped the shotgun. As he took aim, Dass kicked out at him. He yelled in pain, and the gun went off. Dass felt fire shoot across the top of her head, close to her right ear. She jumped up and ran, still desperately trying to catch her breath. Her ear felt hot as the blood ran down the side of her head. She put her hand to her head. She felt where it had been split open. There was bone there. The more she ran, the more she felt her heart pumping blood out of the wound. She began to feel faint. She couldn't hear anything but her own heartbeat and ragged breaths. The ground swam in front of her. She started to feel light as her legs struggled to lift one foot in front of the other. She slipped into the river and the darkness.


    The cold water and the urge to breathe suddenly shocked Dass awake. She swallowed a mouthful of water before her head broke the surface of the water. Coughing and gagging, she struggled to keep her head above the waves as the river sped south. Tired, still bleeding, she soon passed out from sheer exhaustion. The river, never slowing, continued to carry her further from Rock City.

    Dass came to with a start. The first thing she realised was that it was daylight. Second, she wasn't moving. She looked around, wincing at the bright sunlight and found she had washed up onto the banks of the Mississippi in an eddy. Beyond her, the river still flowed swiftly, but the water around her was still. Suddenly nauseous, she vomited at the base of a nearby tree. Weakly, she washed the taste from her mouth in the river, then lay down again on the bank. She felt bruised all over, and her head felt as if it were on fire. She was too weak to move, but she couldn't stay there. She didn't even know where she was, or where she was going. Staring at the river, tears slipped down her face.

    Well, at least one of us knows where they're going.

    Great, now she was talking to the Mississippi. Oddly enough, it made her feel better. She fell asleep watching the River run past her.

    At least I know that you won't leave me.


    Something was poking her foot. Dass opened her eyes to see a raft washed up in the eddy. It looked like it was barely holding itself together. She sat up slowly, but still felt light-headed and nauseous. She managed to crawl onto the raft and push herself into the main flow of the river. Seems sturdy enough, she thought. I wonder where it came from. Well, it beats walking I guess.

    As the raft carried her down the river, Dass lay down and tried to think. She hadn't expected to get this far, so she didn't have much of a plan. Sure, the river was moving quickly now from the storm, but how long would it last? If the current got too slow, she'd need a long stick or something to push the raft. The thought itself made her tired. She felt weak from not eating, and from losing all that blood. She put her hand to her head again. Her hair was caked in dried blood, but there was a strip where the bullet had torn along her scalp. There was no hair there. Would that wound ever close? Maybe a doctor could stitch it, but she had no money. She didn't even know where the nearest town was. Under the late afternoon sun, Dass dozed off, the river rocking her to sleep.

    She slept soundly until the first few raindrops caught her attention. Oh great, not again, she moaned to herself. Within minutes the rain was coming down in sheets. Dass attempted to paddle closer to the bank to get off the river, but the current was too fast and too strong. The effort wore her out. She huddled on the raft, holding on and trying to keep it from turning over. She was cold and wet, and the wood creaked and groaned as if threatening to break apart. Tearing strips of cloth from her dress, she tied loops around two of the boards and slipped her hands through. At least if the raft fell apart, the boards would keep her afloat. After what seemed like an eternity, the rain lessened to heavy drizzle, and the river stopped raging. Cold and exhausted, Dass finally drifted off to sleep.


    [ooc: the first part of this post is remembered in a dream in Running in Circles. I copied it into a post of it's own here because 1: this is where it fits, and 2: I was too lazy to type it out again. Don't worry about Dass, things get better for her in the long run. Thanks for reading.]

    Dass suddenly came to, almost tipping over the small raft. The night's storm had passed and it was unbearably hot. The sun beat down relentlessly. She was hungry, and so thirsty! She managed to paddle the raft over to the shore, and weakly pulled it out of the water just enough to keep it from floating away. How long had she been on the river? She didn't know if she had been passing out for hours, or days. She looked around to try and find some fresh water and maybe some fruit or something to eat. She heard a small stream in the distance. She practically crawled to it. After she drank enough, she scooped up some water into her hair. Dried blood fell with the water. She kept washing compulsively until fresh blood ran, then stopped. A trail of red ran downstream. She looked at her reflection in the stream. She looked much older than her eighteen years. She was so tired. Instead of looking for food, she curled up under a tree near the raft and cried herself to sleep.

    When the finally awoke, it was to the sound of her stomach. She had to find something to eat! Slowly getting up, she looked around. There were bushes scattered around. Limping, sore from her healing bruises, she examined the bushes. Finally, she found one that had what looked like raspberry brambles inside it. She sat and ate until all the ripe berries were gone. At least I won't die of hunger today. The nausea had gone for now, but her head never stopped hurting. The pain alone made her feel sick.

    Before she got back on the raft this time, she checked the sky for weather. She thought about staying where she was for the night, but she felt safer on the river. The sky was clear, not a cloud in sight. She made a quick search for a stick to steer the raft, but there weren't any around. She picked up some old boughs with leaves still attached. Maybe they'd be enough to keep her warm tonight. Dass sighed, once again depressed, as she climbed back onto the raft and returned to the river.


    The night ended up being quite warm. With the boughs and leaves around her, Dass didn't feel the cold for the first time in days. Unfortunately, it wasn't the foliage that was warming her. Through the night, her temperature began to rise. By the next morning, she was burning up. Shaking and sweating with fever, she was too sick to get the raft off the river. All she could do to try to calm the fire that consumed her was to dip her hand in the Mississippi and splash water on her face. Days slipped by unnoticed, but fortunately the good weather continued. Gradually, day by day, the current slowed.

    Miles Stevens whistled as he pulled another fish from the river. Nobody near St. Louis could pick a fishing spot like he could.

    "Ol' Miss, you're treatin' an old man fine today!" He'd sell some of the fish down by the market and make some good money for them. This was the best time of year for catfish.

    Looking to cast a little upriver, Miles spotted something down the river. "Hmmph, looks like some abandoned raft. People just be throwin' anythin' in the Miss these days". Miles cast his line and hooked the raft, pulling it towards him on the bank. He'd get some good firewood from it, maybe invite some neighbours over for a little catfish grilling..."What the blazes?!"

    There was someone on the raft! He cleared away the branches to reveal a thin, ragged young lady. Was she alive? He saw an ear twitch. She was breathing, but very slightly. He put his hand to her to try and wake her. "Lordy chile, your burnin' right up!" He scooped up the unconscious form and hurried up to the house. "Ma! Betty, get out here quick!" Elizabeth Stevens rushed out the kitchen door to see what her husband was fussing after. "Miles, I got this bread ready to punch down, I tell you this hollerin' better be...oh my dear!" she stopped suddenly when she saw what her husband was carrying.

    "She was on a raft headin' downriver. She's burnin' up, looks like someone put a hurtin' on her, this wound's infected. Get the guest room opened up. I'll get her in bed and go fetch the doc." Miles followed his wife up the steps and laid the girl on the bed before dashing out to his truck. Turning the crank, he fired up the engine and sped off down the road to town.

    Betty sat over the poor girl and fretted. She retrieved a cloth and a bowl of cold water from the bathroom and tried to cool the fever. She bathed her arms, legs and face in the cool water. The water seemed to evaporate the moment it touched her. Finally, she laid the cold cloth on her forehead. Except for her chest moving and an ear twitching, there were no signs of life in her.

    When the doc came, he checked the girl over from head to tail. Weak pulse, shallow breathing, fever; she was sick from infection and the elements. "Judging by the wound, she'd been hurt like this for over a week. Fever probably set in a few days ago. Now, I stitched up her head and gave her a shot and I'll leave some pills with you, but I can't say right now if she's going to make it. Good thing you found her when you did, Miles. She wouldn't have lasted much longer. Hell, I'm surprised she lasted this long."

    "Thanks doc, we'll do whatever we can for her. Here, let me run you back into town."


    Dass' fever raged for a week. She was vaguely aware of being in a bed, and feeling water cool her. Her body felt heavy, and she could hardly open her eyes without effort. When she slept, her dreams and memories all ran together; some peaceful, others frightening.

    Betty Stevens did most of the watching, mixing broths for her to drink, and doing whatever she could to keep the girl comfortable. Often, when she cried out in her sleep, Betty would place a calm hand on her hot cheek and wonder what had happened to her. From some of her outbursts, she guessed she must have run from someone who was trying to hurt her. Sometimes she heard the girl speak a strange type of French, but couldn't place it. Finally, the fever broke in a bed of sweat, and the girl slept peacefully.

    When Dass finally opened her eyes, she saw dust dancing in the sunlight that streamed across her bed. She was so tired. Turning her head, she saw a woman sitting on a stool with her head against the wall, dozing. She tried to speak, but her lips and throat was dry. She closed her eyes and slept again. When she woke again, she felt a hand behind her head, lifting it to reach a cup. Swallowing the water a bit too fast, she coughed and sputtered.

    "Easy hun, drink it slow," a woman's voiced warned softly.

    Drinking more carefully, Dass was finally able to speak. She licked her dry lips. "Where am I?"

    "St. Louis, hun, you've had quite a time of it, I must say. Had us both scared for awhile."

    "I-I can't stay, I've got to go..." Dass tried to sit up, but collapsed back onto the bed, dizzy.

    "Oh, no you don't hun. You've got to rest. You're not peaches and cream yet."

    Dass put her hand to her head. There was a bandage there.

    "Doc patched you all up, baby, and gave you a shot. That head was all infected."

    Dass finally looked towards the voice. It was the woman, now awake, standing by the bed with a glass of water.

    "I've got to go," Dass said again, "I've got to go..." she stopped.

    "Go where, hun?" the woman prompted.

    Dass started to cry. "Nowhere. I've got nowhere to go." She turned her face to the wall and cried.

    Betty put the glass down on the nightstand. "I'll go tell Miles you're awake." She left, giving the girl some privacy.


    "Miles, she's awake."

    Miles turned around from the chair he'd been working on. "Well, Betty, I thought you'd sound a little more thrilled than that. She's finally startin' to get better."

    Betty sat across from her husband in his workshop. "Miles, I don't think she's got another living soul in the world to go to. Somethin' happened to her out there, and she's got nowhere to go..."

    Miles knew what she was getting at. He'd been prepared to help the young lady to wherever she was headed, but now it seemed she was headed nowhere. Well, he couldn't have that. But what kind of memories would this bring for them? They had just lost their own son to the war. He had been just about this girl's age. He sighed.

    "Well, Betty, if it means so much to ya, and she's really got nowhere to go, she can stay on here with us, provided that she don't try to repay us some evil for our good. She musta done somethin' to get herself in that state, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt."

    Upstairs, Dass took stock of her surroundings. How long had it been since she'd slept in a bed like this? She looked down at the nightdress she was in. It was not her style, and the fabric was a little stiff, but it was warm. She drank the rest of the water the woman had left on the nightstand. It felt good to drink. It felt good to be warm. It felt good to be safe, at least for the moment. All of a sudden, it hit her.

    I made it, mama. I survived.

    But now what?


    She was asleep when Miles came to bring her some soup. He decided that he would be the one to tell her that she could stay with them. Betty needed to get some rest. She'd been up night and day watching over the girl. He put the soup on the nightstand and gently shook the young lady. The reaction was immediate. She was instantly awake and huddled at the far end of the bed. Her claws were out and she stared blindly at him. Miles jumped to his feet as well, almost knocking over the nightstand, sending soup sloshing over the sides of the bowl.
    "Now hold on there, missy," he said quietly, "I aint gonna hurt you. Now, you don't remember me, cuz you were mighty sick at the time, but I pulled you off that raft a week ago. Name's Miles Stevens, and it's my wife Betty's been the lady takin' care of ya. Now, I brought you some soup to eat, get your strength up, and aint nobody gonna hurt you long as I'm around. Calm down now. You got a name I can call you? Hm?"

    Dass' heart slowly stopped racing. Her ears began to hear the man's calming voice. She started to cry, pulling her knees up to her. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be so scared." She couldn't stop the shaking, though.

    "It's okay, miss. I aint mad at ya. You got a name?" he asked again.

    Dass nodded, swallowing. "Dass, my name's Adassa. Adassa Halloran." She didn't move from the edge of the bed.

    "Okay, Dass, I know you've had a rough time, probably at the hands of some cruel men, judgin' by yer reaction, so I aint gonna force you to like me all at once. You take yer time, okay?"

    Dass nodded.

    "Now, I brought you here some soup that Betty made. I'll leave you alone to eat it, and Betty'll be up here later to check on you. You just get to feelin' better, ok?"

    Dass nodded again.

    As he was going out the door, he said, "I had a son, 'bout yer age, got killed in the war. We ain't got any other kits around, so if you got nowhere to go, we wouldn't mind it if you decided to stay here with us." Then he left, leaving the door ajar.

    Dass crawled across the bed to the bowl on the nightstand. It smelled good. She was suddenly very hungry. She started in on the soup, her nerves calming. She thought about what Miles had said. Would she stay? Right now she didn't have any other options.


    During her first few days out of bed, Dass stayed very close to Betty. She wasn't exactly afraid of Miles, but she was still very jumpy whenever he came near. At first, she hid behind Betty, but then she forced herself to stand still when he was around. Once her bandages came off, she wrapped her head in a scarf, much the same way that her mama did to keep her hair out of the way. She would pull the scarf over her head, hiding all her hair, and then would wind it tight at the back until it twisted back on itself to shape a spiral bun. One day, when Miles and Betty were both in town, Dass explored the house on her own. To her surprise, she found an old sewing machine in the attic. She had always sewn; first at the ports with her mama, then making a living by it when she came to America. She'd had one in Rock City, but like everything else she owned, she'd had to leave it behind. Sitting down in front of the machine, Dass spotted some cloth in a basket. Impulsively, she picked it up and measured it. It was enough to make a dress for herself. She sketched the material, cut it, and began to sew the pieces together. She was so absorbed in her project, that she didn't hear Betty come up the stairs and peek into the attic.

    "Well, what do we have here?"

    Dass jumped up from the machine, spinning around to face Betty. "I-I'm sorry! I should have asked, I didn't mean to take your cloth it's just, well, I saw the machine, and I didn't think and, and..."

    "Hush, child, hush," Betty said smiling. "It's okay hun. I haven't used that machine in years." She walked over to see what Dass was sewing. "Well, now."

    Dass sheepishly moved out of the way to let the older woman inspect the work, much like she used to for her mama. She waited as Betty looked at all the seams and the dress style. Betty smiled, "Well, I suppose I'd better let you finish this, since you're almost done...on one condition." Dass looked up at her. "You have to model it for me when you're done," she finished.

    Dass smiled. "Yes, ma'am."

    After Betty left, Dass hesitated to continue at first. Then she slowly approached the machine again and sitting down in front of it, finished off the dress. Within an hour, it was finished. It was a soft, strong material, vibrant red. Removing her borrowed dress, she slipped it on. It fit perfectly. The straps were off the shoulder, and there was a large slit up either side, giving her legs plenty of movement. Nervously, she walked down the stairs to the living room, where both Miles and Betty were sitting, waiting for her. She blushed when she saw their expressions. With the scarf around her head, and her new dress on, she once again felt like Adassa Halloran.


    A few days later, Dass got up the nerve to drive with Miles into town. She'd been in St. Louis for a month and still hadn't seen the city proper. She needed some shoes. She didn't mind running around the house without them, but anywhere else, she preferred to have something on her feet. Funny, she thought. Nature doesn't seem dirty, but manmade streets sure do. She watched out the window the entire drive. Milton didn't know if she was just fascinated in seeing the city, or avoiding looking at him, but he knew well enough not to mess up a good thing. She had not only agreed to go with him, she had asked him to take her.

    They reached the shoe store, and Miles quickly ran around the truck and helped Dass down. "A lady shouldn't be hopping out of a truck on her own, shoes or no shoes," he said cheerfully when she hesitated, playing the perfect gentleman. He even tipped his wooll hat to her, which made her laugh a little. He was glad to hear that sound.

    Inside the store, Dass looked around at all the different styles of shoes. They were so fancy! She wanted a pair that looked nice, but that she could go anywhere in, without worrying if they got dirty. Black shoes were easiest to polish. Finally, she settled on a pair of tall black boots. She tried them on, and they went perfectly with her red dress, which she now wore constantly. All of Betty's friends commented on it when they visited the house, and they had even asked her to sew some dresses for them. Dass never used a pattern. Her mama could never afford them, so she learned how to cut the fabric after looking at a picture. Because of that, she could sew any style someone wanted. Standing proudly in her new boots, Dass paid with her own money. It was the first payment she had received for a dress in St. Louis. She felt like a little girl again, a little girl who was feeling grown up for the first time.

    On the way back home, Dass continued to admire her new boots. Suddenly, she said, "You know, it's funny. The first payment I received on a dress when I came to America, I didn't feel like this. I guess I felt like I was just surviving. Maybe because I had shut off my feelings after I left Haiti. It was so hard to leave. But now, I think about sewing, and I get excited. I think mama would've been happy to hear me say that." She looked at Miles. "Thank you." Then she looked out the window the rest of the way home, smiling to herself.

    Miles laughed at himself, a bit at a loss for words. What was she thanking him for? For the ride? For giving her space? He could only think of one thing to say.

    "Well, you're welcome."


    [ooc: This will be the last post for Escaping Rock City. It takes place about five years after she first came to St. Louis. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Dass' character has developed into much more than I originally planned for her, so this story surprised me a bit. Right now there is a back story starting for her and Wallace and how they got to be so close, called "Reconnecting". Thanks for reading Dass' story!]

    Dass sat on the riverbank, looking out over the Mississippi. The water ran cold during the winter, but she still loved to sit on the bank and think. So much had happened in five years. The war ending, prohibition, and now this.

    Dressed in black and wearing a warm coat against the winter air, she had just returned from Betty and Miles' funeral. They had both died of pneumonia within a week of each other. Dass had spent every day caring for the elderly couple, and was glad they had both passed in their sleep, peacefully. Their dying had been dignified, not like her family in Haiti. Over the years, they had become her family, and she felt grateful to be able to care for them at the end, like they had done for her at the beginning.

    Because their son had died in the war, the Stevens had willed all of their property and belongings to her. That meant a lot to Dass. She now had a place she knew would always be there. And she'd always have the river.

    I know you won't leave me.

    Great, she was talking to the river again. Laughing at herself, she got up and brushed dead leaves from her coat. The car she was expecting came up the drive. She'd had a call from a diner owner in town asking for her help.

    "Hi, Miss Dar, I'm sorry to bother you. I was very sorry to hear about Betty and Miles, they were good people," the driver apologised, getting out of the car to greet her. "But, well, we didn't know what else to do with her. Found her hiding behind the bins outside the diner. Wouldn't let us get close at first, was scratching everyone. Would've taken my nose off if I hadn't come with a bowl of soup for her. She won't talk to anyone," he lowered his voice to a whisper, "she just keeps mumbling to herself. I can't make it out, it's some sort of French, maybe from Louisiana. I thought maybe, since you..."

    "It's alright, Stan, I understand." Dass thought for a moment. It had been many years since she had spoken her Haitian creole. She didn't even know if she would understand any other. Well, she'd try. Stan opened the door to the back seat. His wife was sitting there with a large overcoat over a smaller figure. Dass greeted the wife warmly before turning her attention to the girl. "Bonjou," she said, just to see if the girl would respond.

    "Bonjou." She said it so quietly Dass almost missed it.

    "You can call me Miss Dar," she said in creole. She paused. "Can you understand me?" The girl nodded. "Do you speak any english?"


    "Where's your family, hun? A little girl like you shouldn't be out all on your own. Are you lost?" The girl shook her head. "Do you have any family?" The girl started to nod, then shook her head, crying.

    "I ran away," she said in creole. "They didn't want me anymore."

    Dass looked up at Stan, standing behind her. She couldn't understand why someone would say that. Stan cleared his throat. "Miss Dar, she's blind."

    Shocked, Dass looked back at the girl. Her eyes were a pale blue. Stan was right. Dass suddenly understood. If her family was poor, they wouldn't have the money to care for a blind child. But so young? And if she was from further south, how did she get to St. Louis? "How old are you, baby?" she asked.


    Dass stood up straight. Sixteen? The girl was no bigger than a twelve year old! That settled it in Dass' mind. She leaned back down to the car. "Would you like to come inside and warm up, baby? I'll fix you some tea, and get you a warmer dress to wear." Dass always had a few extra outfits that people had not paid for.

    The girl hesitated, then slipped down out of the car. She stood still. Dass carefully took her hand, and the little girl grabbed her arm and held on closely. When Dass had her seated at the kitchen table and was making her tea, she asked, "What's your name, sweety?"

    "Matty Ainsworth. It's short for Matilda."

    "Well, Matty, if you don't have anywhere to go, would you like to stay with me? This is a special house. It's for people who don't know where they're going."