Friday, July 07, 2006

Meet Dani . . .

The heroine of my new WIP, Through a Glass Darkly:

Dani Stuart huddled in the hard wooden chair, her hands wrapped around a foam coffee cup. The sharp tang of antiseptic hung around her; rubber-clad feet whispered against the white tile flooring. She focused on the greasy film floating atop the dark liquid, because if she didn’t, she’d have to think about where she was, what she was about to do.

Oh, God, what if it was true? What if it was her Sophie?

“Ms. Stuart?” She looked up to find Detective Marsh standing in the doorway. “We’re ready for you.”

Clutching the cup with both hands, she stood to toss it in a nearby trash bin. Left with nothing to occupy her hands, she shoved them in the pockets of her thin windbreaker and met the tall detective at the steel double doors.

Sympathy flickered in Marsh’s blue eyes. “Are you sure you’re up to this? We can take another couple of minutes, if you need-”

“No.” The word emerged more sharply than she’d intended. She swallowed hard and shook her head. She needed to do this now, to get this over with. Surely knowing would be better than this . . . this horrific limbo she’d been in for almost two days. She forced a smile, her face aching. “No, thank you. I’m ready.”

He nodded and held the door for her. She stepped into a long hallway, fluorescent lights not brightening the grayish-green walls. A gurney rested alongside one wall, a white sheet covering the body it held. A hand, skin wrinkled and spotted with age, peeked from beneath the fabric.
Dani’s stomach roiled.

Oh, God. She couldn’t do this after all. In her limbo, she could pretend Sophie was safe, merely staying away to punish her for one of the many wrongs she’d surely committed . . .

Here, there was no hiding from the reality that her daughter, her baby, might actually be dead.

Her eyes blurred, burned, and her throat tightened.

Her steps didn’t falter.

Marsh ushered her into a small room, a shaded window running along one interior wall. With yet another sympathetic glance her way, he rapped on the glass.

Slowly the shades opened, revealing another gurney, another sheeted figure.

Bile crowded Dani’s throat. In her pockets, she fisted her hands, nails biting into her palms. A woman in scrubs stepped forward, folded the sheet away from the head, revealing, dark hair, a badly battered face.

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