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The Cost of Living

by FireFox


Prologue

“What’s your name?” she asked me, as I continued to hold onto my knees for dear life and stared down at my scuffed up shoes that were once pink and white. Too shy to reply, I said nothing. I watched as a line of ants marched past us, surely headed to their little home. I sat on a patch of grass underneath a giant oak tree which shaded me from the blazing hot sun. This was the hottest July we’d had in years.

I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye. Pretty brown hair, green eyes, and coral pink lipstick on her lips. She wore a nice outfit and heels, like she was on her way home from work. My mom used to wear clothes like that, but that was a long time ago. I quickly shifted my eyes back down to stare at my dirty, scabbed up knees.

“Are you here by yourself?” she asked, clearly concerned.

I thought for a moment and decided on an answer: “I guess so.” My eyes shifted toward hers again, and this time we made eye contact. I could tell she wasn’t sure what to do.

“How long have you been sitting here, sweetie?”

“I think three or four,” I guessed.

“Three or four…hours?” she questioned.

“Yeah. My mom took my brother to the store with her, but she said she’d be right back.” She never left me alone this long. Maybe something happened. My eyes started stinging from the tears welling up, but I fought them off. Momma always told us that crying is for babies and funerals.

The nice lady sighed and squatted down next to me. “Oh, boy,” she muttered. She brushed some brown locks out of her face and tucked them behind her ear. “Well, my name is Kate,” she told me.

“Franny,” I uttered.

“That’s a cute name,” she said. “Is that short for Francesca?”

“Yes, I just don’t like the ‘Cesca’ part,” I answered, entirely serious, my arms still holding my knobby little knees closely. Kate laughed when I said this, but I knew she wasn’t laughing at me. She was a good person. Lucky for me that she found me before someone else did.

She plopped down beside me, crossed her legs, and waited. We waited for what seemed like forever. Children with their parents came and went - running, screaming, swinging, playing. We both watched, but said nothing for a long while. By sundown, lights slowly began to come on around the entire park, signaling dusk. Time for patrons to find their way to their vehicles and head home. I often wondered why the park closed at dusk; probably because no one and nothing good lurks in the dark.

I knew it was time to go, but who was I going to go with? Momma hadn’t come back for me. Surely something was wrong. She wouldn’t leave me on purpose. She must be hurt. I wiped the tears from my cheeks that had begun to flow and broke the silence as I turned my head and told Kate, “I think my mom is hurt. She wouldn’t leave me. I have to find her.”

She nodded her head in understanding and smiled half-heartedly, as if she had predicted something I hadn’t. “Let me take you somewhere safe. They will be able to help you find your mom better than I could. That’s what detectives do.” She stood up and brushed the dirt and stray grass off of her outfit, and proceeded to reach her hand out for me. Hesitantly, I obliged and grasped her hand lightly, reminding me of Momma’s rough hands, as if she had worked construction or built houses for a living. She smiled and said, “Alright, sweetie, let’s go.”

***

Kate’s black Ford Taurus came to a halt outside of the sub station on Michigan Avenue. I’d seen the place before when Momma had driven past it so many times; it was on a main road into town, so you couldn’t really miss it. Not to mention, Momma had told us stories of her younger days in which the sub station had practically been her second home.

Momma wasn’t the only one familiar with the sub station. Our whole family were criminal masterminds, she had bragged to my brother and I one day. I hadn’t bothered to ask her the question that resonated in the back of my mind: what kind of “criminal mastermind” gets caught? But that was neither here nor there. The point in her telling us this was to warn us that our last name was essentially a curse. “The last name ‘Franks’ is one that the cops around here are very familiar with. Hopefully, ya’ll can stay out of trouble so they won’t mess with ya’ too bad, but don’t be surprised if they like to give ya’ a hard time as ya’ get older, just for the hell of it,” she had warned us.

“You ready, Franny?” Kate asked, as I re-entered reality.

I shrugged and opened the passenger door to get out, unsure of anything. “Are you sure they can help me?” I asked, as we made our way across the lit up parking lot to the double doors of the station.

“I am positive,” she answered and smiled at me.

***

My story had been just as simple as it had been when I explained it to Kate. My name is Francesca Franks. I am nine-years-old. My mother left me at the park while she ran to the store with my brother to pick up a few things. She said she would be right back. No, I did not leave the spot she left me at. No, I did not talk to any strangers - except for Kate, of course. No, Momma had never done this before.

Detective Brooks’ forehead was a plethora of wrinkles; it reminded me of the blanket on my bed that I never folded or put away. He sat across from me, taking notes in his giant yellow notebook as I spoke and wrinkling up his forehead every now and then, as if something I said was confusing. Kate sat next to me, holding my hand and squeezing it whenever I would get choked up, as if trying to encourage me to go on with my story.

The detective sighed a long, drawn out sigh and then spoke, “Alright, and where do you come in?” he asked, and used his pen to point at Kate. He raised his eyebrows, as if daring her to speak.

“I found her sitting under the oak tree at Centennial Park. I brought her here.”

His wrinkled forehead smoothed out and he wrote something down on his yellow notepad. “Alright,” he said. “Did you see her mother? Did you see in which direction she may have driven?”

“Like I said, I just found Franny under the oak tree. When I found her, she had told me she had been there for three or four hours already. I didn’t see anything,” she answered.

He looked at me, and then back at Kate, eyebrows raised again. “Uh-huh… And where were you before you found Francesca?” he questioned.

“I don’t see what that has to do with-“ She didn’t get to finish her sentence because I had had enough.

“Kate found me! She saved me!” I yelled.

Detective Brooks sighed again and I realized I was getting tired of hearing that sigh. His pen dropped to his notebook and his eyes shifted up toward mine. He stared at me for a few seconds, his grey eyes making me more and more angry. I stared back, hoping it was mean enough. Then, his gaze shifted to Kate. “Alright, ma’am. This is what’s going to happen. I can’t report this-” He looked back at his notes for a moment. - “Elaine Franks as a missing person until a full 48 hours has passed since she went missing. What I can do, is report the young boy as a missing person after 24 hours. But we’ll have to go check out the place of residence first, just to make sure they aren’t there.”

“They won’t be! If they were going home, Momma would take me with them!” I shouted at him. Hot tears began falling down my cheeks, so hot I thought they might burn me.

He looked at Kate and stated, “Procedure, ya’ know. We have to follow it. After that, we can list the two as missing persons after the 24 and 48 hours have passed,” he stood up and reached for his yellow notebook and pen, as if signaling the end of this meeting.

Now, Kate seemed a little annoyed, as she stood up, arms crossed and brows furrowed. “So… that’s it?” she asked. “Where do you all intend to place Franny in the meantime, while you ‘investigate’?”

“Well, you could take her down to the children’s home off of Jefferson and 10th,” he stated, nonchalantly. Kate’s expression quickly changed from anger to shock.

She grabbed my hand and headed quickly for the door, clearly frustrated. As we reached the double doors to exit the sub station, Detective Brooks called out to her, “Ma’am! Ma’am!” He walked quickly toward us and handed her a card. “If you find out any other information, give me a call.” Kate scoffed and grasped my hand tighter as we walked out of the sub station doors into the lit parking lot.


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1007 Reviews


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Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:32 pm
TimmyJake wrote a review...



Timmy here for a quick review!!

Wow, what a great beginning. You don't spare your characters any time to relax! Just throw them in, first off. I like that. It keeps me on my toes, and concerned for your character!

First of all, I am going to point out a few nitpicks... then move on to the nice stuff, so that we are still friends once I finish. :D

Nitpicks

“What’s your name?” she asked me, as I continued to hold onto my knees for dear life ----We just started here! I know that she has been sitting there for a while and everything, but it would sound better if you cut out continued since you just started


surely headed to their little home. ---Now this isn't really a nitpick, I guess. Just a little comment... So are they surely headed, like they are definitely headed, or surely headed, like steadily headed?


She plopped down beside me, crossed her legs, and waited ---Plopped doesn't sound quite right. If it was one of her young friends, then it would sound perfect... but it sounds too... I dunno. Too childish of a word describing an adults actions?


probably because no one and nothing good lurks in the dark. ----I know what you are trying to say here, but they seem contradictory when you first read it... Saying no one lurks in the dark, and then saying nothing good lurks there.


Favorite and style

So this is definitely one of the best works I have read on YWS. Seriously! Everything flows so smoothly, and your style is just amazing! I see everything you describe... so perfectly. At the same time, you don't fill the page with worthless descriptions, in the hope that it will help me envision things. Wonderful!

I am loving your characters. Franny seems like a little kid would be; shy at first, and very protective of those she loves. Kate is also very awesome, and like Iggy says, she isn't afraid of stepping up and taking responsibility!

Since you posed so many questions during this prologue, at least a lot to me... especially concerning the mother... I am going to be following you throughout this whole story! Please continue writing this! This has a lot of potential! :D
~Timmyjake




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Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:22 am
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Iggy wrote a review...



Hey FireFox!

Okay, so my biggest nitpick with this would be the italics. I know italics are commonly used for prologues, but I've only ever seen them used for short prologues with a few paragraphs. I would suggest you deitalicize this, but that's up to you. It's a bit hard to read because it's longer than what I'm used to reading in italics, but again, it's up to you.

Other than that, I do like what you've got so far. This is off to a nice start. Since this is a prologue, I didn't expect much in the information/details department, but you did manage to weave some of each in there, so that's good.

You're also doing great with Franny and her personality and the way she acts: like her age. I look forward to seeing how well you can portray the thoughts of an eight year old. I also like Kate so far, and I would've done what she did, especially with making Franny my responsibility until her parents are found.

Overall, I'd like to see more, so let me know when chapter one is up~




FireFox says...


Thanks, Iggy! Yeah, the italics thing was totally not on purpose... It's how it transferred. I write everything in the Mac app, Scrivener, and that's how it came out when I posted it to YWS. I tried to un-italicize it but it just wouldn't allow me to! Something I'll have to look into, because I love Scrivener, but hate the italics. Thanks for the review! I'll let you know when Chapter One is up, for sure!




A beautiful funeral doesn't guarantee Heaven.
— Haitian Proverb