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Melt - 1.2 - Falling Girls

by Lareine


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.

Back home in Kiplett, Lilli’s room was decorated with posters of all the Broadway shows she had wanted to see in her lifetime. She fell asleep with the stars she idolized watching over her, show tunes ringing in her ears from a late night streaming soundtracks and researching the history of theater. She had never been much of an actor herself—even if her dad did like to see her up on stage—but she spent most of her time studying diagrams of concert halls, amphitheaters, modern and ancient spaces to enjoy the performing arts. She would print them off and tack them to a cork board until she moved on to a different period in history, or a different style of architecture, and then she tore them down and replaced them. She couldn’t even remember what color her walls were; it had been ten years since her dad painted them.

This room was white. It was white, and stark, and bare. Standing in the center of it, Lilli felt like she could see into eternity—three out of the four walls were completely blank except for the door, the closet, and the smudges where a desk and bookshelf used to be pressed up against the paint.

Even looking out the huge window didn’t help. It just made her feel like the world was shrinking, too small, too far below her to help. She was an astronaut on her way to the edge of the universe; she had left Earth behind for good. Lilli leaned against the glass that took up nearly an entire wall of her room and wondered who had thought that was a smart idea in one of the stormiest cities in the US.

She stepped back and pulled the curtains closed over the window—white. What else did she expect? The walls were white, the tiles were white, even the full bed was white all around, frame and bedspread.

How boring.

A timid knock on the door frame interrupted her disgust. Lilli spun on her heel and forced a smile on her face. “Yeah?”

Cate focused very closely on the end of her braid as she undid it. “I almost forgot, I have to go into work for one last thing today. Boss wants to make sure everything’s filed away in the right place before I disappear for a week.” She ran her nails through her hair, tearing at invisible knots, and refused to even glance up at Lilli. “If you don’t mind, I’d rather not leave you here alone—I mean, you don’t know where everything is yet. It should only be an hour or so.”

Lilli bit back her automatic response—Do I have a choice?—and let her smile spread to her eyes. “Can we get something to eat while we’re out? I’m starving.”

“Oh, definitely! There’s this really nice Thai place on the way home, they’ve got sushi to die for.” Cate chewed at her bottom lip, her shaky smile collapsing into a slight frown. “And the public library is a block over, you know, since you probably don’t want to hang at the PD for an hour. I’ve got a library card you can use, if you want.”

It wasn’t worth protesting that. Lilli wouldn’t have spent that hour in the police department if she got paid for it. Law enforcement made her uneasy enough as it was; she didn’t exactly get along with the police back in Kiplett. Especially not after that outburst when her dad got arrested.

“Thanks,” she said. She wasn’t sure how to respond to that physically. Was she supposed to hug Cate now? Would Cate even want to hug her after that scene in the elevator? Lilli was touched-out for the day, she could have gone a week without skin contact with anyone else, but she wasn’t sure how her mother felt about that. Erring on the side of caution, she turned away and looked back at her horribly white room. “Can I unpack a little first?”

“Of course! I’ve got to change, anyway. Work doesn’t like it when I show up casual.” Cate’s trembling laugh echoed against the bare walls. “So we’ll head out in about an hour, okay?”

“Alright,” Lilli said. When she turned around, Cate had already disappeared.

- - -

Cate held true to her word and hailed a cab for their second excursion through the city. When they reached the stout, stocky building that housed the police department, Lilli climbed out of the back seat alongside her mother.

Inside, one thing became immediately clear: One of them was overdressed, or everyone else was underdressed, and Cate stood out like a cat at a dog show. She had pulled her hair into a sleek ponytail that popped bright red against her all-black ensemble. The trim on her dress shirt glittered gold in the fluorescent lighting, and with every step she took, her high heels rained thunder on the linoleum floor.

All eyes turned to face them as they passed. Lilli wished she could fade out of existence. She pressed a hand against her right cheek in the vain hope that she could hide her birthmark and maybe people wouldn’t think to comment on it.

Cate halted at the front desk and turned to her daughter. The corner of her mouth edged up in a nervous smile, and she reached out to pull Lilli’s hand away from her face. “You saw the library on the way here, right? It’s next to that law office with the gaudy doors.”

Lilli nodded numbly. She tried to tug her hand out of her mother’s grasp, but Cate was stronger. Couldn’t she see how uncomfortable her daughter was? Everywhere she looked, there were eyes on them from every corner of the room.

“Good,” Cate said. She dug a card out of the side of her organizer and pressed it into Lilli’s hand. “I’ll come by in about an hour and pick you up. It might be a little longer, I never know how fucking long they’re going to keep me here.” She said the last part loud enough for half the room to hear—even more eyes looking their way.

“Language, Moth.” The office chair at the front desk creaked. Lilli could have sworn it was empty, but there sat a boy who looked only a few years older than herself. He was dressed in a crisp dark uniform, his hair pulled up underneath a hat and his face screwed up in a pout as he played with one of the cheap pens at the desk. “You never know who’s going to hear you.”

“That’s Special Agent Moth, Cadet.”

“Cadet Sokol to you…Special Agent Moth.” The boy tapped his name badge and leaned forward, the pen in his hand swapped out for a phone receiver. “Miss Jensen?”

“As always.” Cate pressed a quick kiss to the top of Lilli’s head and pushed her away with one hand. “Go on, Lil. I’ll see you in an hour.”


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Sun Jan 29, 2017 6:35 pm
Lauren2010 wrote a review...



Hi Lareine!

I totally dig Lilli in this chapter. Her thoughts and observations on the things around her are top notch. We get such a strong image of her bedroom and how ill prepared Cate is for having a teenager in the house. Not to mention how ill prepared she is for this particular teenager who she knows nothing about. On the other hand, while descriptions of the bedroom were so strong, I felt we lost it in the rest of this section. What can Lilli's observations of the police station tell us about that space, as well as about how well her mother fits into it? Or how well her limited idea of her mother fits into it? It seems like there's a big disconnect (a good, intentional disconnect!) between who Cate is and what Lilli's perception or idea of her was before Lilli came to live with her. There's a lot of good material in that, so let it do all the work it can for you!

The other thing I want to mention about this section, and maybe about the whole story so far in general, is the way information is revealed. For example in this scene two details stuck out to me: Lilli's scar and Lilli's father's arrest/her outburst. These both sound like huge story and character-defining details that are only thrown to us in passing, not elaborated on, and quickly moved past. Reading your responses to other reviews on this section, it seems like this was intentional on your part.

So I think what you're going for is suspense. You're hooking us with interesting information about exciting events that have already happened, suggesting to us that we'll learn the whole story eventually if we trust you and keep reading. This is a common trick in fiction that's often very effective for keeping people reading, but I wonder about the frequency with which it's appearing in this story so far. Of course, I don't know your story-related reasons for not elaborating more on these seemingly important details in our characters' past. Maybe Lilli doesn't know about some things, or she doesn't know the full or accurate story. Maybe she's keeping a secret from us. Which are all good reasons!

What might make things difficult on the reader is that we know virtually nothing real about Lilli or her past. We know she used to live with her father but now she lives with her mother. We know her mother left when Lilli was young, and they have not had a relationship until now. We don't know anything very defining about Lilli as a character yet (or even Cate, but she's not our protagonist and our protagonist doesn't know her, so that is easy to get away with). You want your readers to identify with your protagonist as soon as you can manage. That means letting us into her life and letting us know things about her, meaningful multi-dimensional things like how she feels about her scar or her outburst at her father's arrest (rather than details like her favorite color or that she likes theater).

And there are ways you can let us in a little more without giving away story secrets you might have! That's the beauty of a close third-person perspective. You don't have to reveal to us how Lilli got her scar, but you can tell us how long she's had it, or how people's reactions to it in the past have affected the way she carries herself now. You don't have to tell us why Lilli's father was arrested, but you can share with us Lilli's outburst (even in vague, emotion-only terms) and let us see her still feeling emotional about his arrest now. If it affected her so greatly when it happened, I'm sure she still carries these emotions.

Basically, what I'm getting at, is that I'm longing for a bigger picture of Lilli. One that exists outside of the present moment. People are built from their past experiences and so are fictional characters. Details about history, about events that happened and their personal repercussions, are often more meaningful and influential on readers than simple details like character likes, dislikes, or appearances.

Anyway, I quite enjoyed this scene! You've got a nice pace going so far which makes this story easy to read. I'm excited to see what happens to Lilli at the library, and I'm a bit suspicious of the reason Special Agent Cate had to suddenly go into work but couldn't leave her teenage daughter alone at home for a few hours (but can at the library? WHAT ARE YOU UP TO CATE? HMMM??).

Keep writing!

--Lauren




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Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:18 pm
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Nikayla wrote a review...



This is Nikayla, jumping right in for another review!

I don't know if I just now noticed this or that it wasn't in the first chapter, but we learn that Lilli's dad happens to paint. I'm not sure if this is his job occupation at this point or if it's just something that he used to do. We see that it's been 10 years since her father had painted them, so I was assuming it isn't something he currently does from the context clues we get from the first paragraph. The first couple of paragraphs are ones that are a little slow but I'm glad you cut it off when you did.

They do good for building the atmosphere but they did feel like they went on a bit of a ramble and I think the room could have been described in a more active way like during a scene. Just some food for thought, because it's not a huge problem about the chapter. I like how the conversation between Lilli and Cate starts off so gently, as we see their progression with each other.

At the same time, Cate seems to lose a bit of that rough-around-the-edges vibe we get from her in the first chapter and I didn't know if that's because she's only like that when she's angry or if that she's taken more of a liking to Lilli and has become more comfortable around her. I had something to ask about the perspective of the story in terms of the Point of View. I was pretty positive that it's being written in third-person omniscient, but I'm not quite sure on that and sometimes it's a little tricky at points to tell.

Now knowing that Lilli is a teenager is putting things in a different perspective for me, which is interesting. She still has that quiet vibe attached to her that kind of composes her character but at the same time I'd like to see a little more outside of that. The two main characters so far and the dynamics, more specifically the age dynamics between them is something that has been interesting me because Cate is older, at the same time doesn't exactly feel like the typical motherly figure that you'd see. Their relationship is interesting and I'd like to see how Lilli and her father as well as Cate and Lilli's father relationship and how they clash with each other. I don't know if we're going to be getting this in flashbacks or even at all quite yet, but I like the way that this is going.

This is a bit out of place and I probably should have said it at the start of my review, but I wanted to ask if "Falling Girls" just happened to be the title for the chapter, or is it a subtitle in general? That's just something that interested me and wanted to see about. After the time skip we get back to the scene where they are now where Cate has taken Lilli.

We as the readers get a bit of insight on this place before the chapter ends and I anticipate the next chapter since it leaves us on a bit of a cliffhanger. I suppose we'll find out more about this Special Agent Moth and where Cate has gone. I was a little confused in terms of where this is, or at least, where Cate pushes Lilli off to. Is she on her own for an hour or is Lilli waiting outside of this place? That part was a little unclear and abrupt here. Other than that, I'll try to get to the next chapter soon enough!

I hope I helped! Let me know if you have any questions about what I said. <3




Lareine says...


Thank you for the review, darling! Easy questions first.

1 - "Falling Girls" is the name of the chapter. I know it's not too clear, because we're only in the first chapter as it is, but it'll become clearer as we move forward into the interesting stuff. I decided to title these chapters on the fly, so I don't know what the next chapter will be called until I figure out what's going to be in it.

2 - The story is in third-person limited, actually, centered around Lilli. It's all very firmly planted in Lilli's head, so anything you see in the story has been filtered by her perception and is happening either to her or explicitly around her. I might introduce another viewpoint character in the future -- it depends.

3 - Cate really just kind of nudges Lilli towards the doors to the outside. I should clarify that in the future.

4 - The characters Cate embodies in this chapter are very much not her own. She's something of a mix of all three characters we've seen so far -- a rough-and-tumble post-punk 30-something, an anxious new mother, and a sleek professional. Right now, she's very uncomfortable around Lilli still, and doesn't know how her daughter would most respect her, so she's playing all her characters to the extreme because of her anxiety.

5 - As far as Lilli's relationship with her father, that's coming. As is why Cate left their family so long ago! I have reasons for that all stored away, as I do big stressful conversations between them seeking reasons for why their lives have been so shaken up by this. It's coming, child. It's coming.

6 - Cate being of Special Agent status...hehe, that is interesting, isn't it?

Thanks again, darling, and have a good one!



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Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:30 am
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BowPetal wrote a review...



It is hard to start from the beginning but I must. Okay. :)
1) You use 'she' more than the character's actual name in the first paragraph. That is okay, but overdoing pronouns just looks kind of odd.
2) "She couldn’t even remember what color her walls were; it had been ten years since her dad painted them."
I don't really understand how this relates to the sentence before it, where Lill was tacking some photos to a cork board. It sort of comes out of the blue, and I was puzzling for a few moments on how this really related. If there is something I missed, I would love to know.
3) Thai restaurants don't traditionally have sushi right...
Okay, those were just the specifics I got, but here's the overall:
Positives:
Amazing detail, easy to visualize!
The transitions are really clear, so I know exactly what is going on.
It is a little mysterious, leaves you waiting for what will happen (that is good,right?).
Character development is great.
Negatives:
Well, other than the specifics, there wasn't that much. All I can offer you is general things to look out for while writing, like dead verbs and repetition.
If I were rating this, I would give it 4.75 stars, but honestly, I am not the best reviewer out there. :) I wish you luck in your future writing endeavors, and if they are all as good as this, I would love to read them.




Lareine says...


Thanks for your review! Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, it's been a crazy couple of weeks for me, haha.

As for the sentence about not remembering what color her walls were -- it's supposed to refer to the fact that her walls are entirely covered, floor to ceiling, in posters and diagrams and whatnot. Basically, that she can't see the paint.

And actually, a lot of Thai restaurants do have sushi! I know of a few local ones in my area in particular that I absolutely love (and I live near the Heartland of the US, so it's not like I live in some obscure passage of time where Thailand invented sushi first). My sister first introduced me to the joys of sushi through a Thai restaurant near our house back in Florida.

Thank you very much, and keep reviewing!




When a good man is hurt, all who would be called good must suffer with him.
— Euripides