Yesterday I wrote about the typical tropes a crime story might use about a girl from the sticks who wants a better life in the city. Today, I’m going to put them together into a very loose plot. Note: the order of events here will not be the order in the final story.
- Emma, our heroine (yes, she’s “Lucy” in the original post; this happens) gets adopted by a nice middle-class Atlanta couple: they have 6yo twins, and the mom has a mid-20s son from a previous marriage. The mom wants to buy her cute girly clothes, because the mom’s always wanted a daughter, which Emma resists. Emma has a strong desire to refrain from sexual activity, because in her native environment, this always leads to derailed dreams. So she resists this, wanting to stick to her jeans and hoodies.
- Stepmom and Stepdad have a lot of rules about the twins (they’re both boys): no TV, lots of books, no toy guns or war toys, only healthy snacks, no sugar, etc. The sort of things that are fairly common among educated urban parents, but totally alien to Emma. The boys’ clothing doesn’t have words or sports logos: it’s plain with muted colors. They don’t have any toys that need batteries—there’s going to be an ongoing thing here about batteries being a signifier of the cultural divide. No TV/cartoon/Disney tie-in toys, either. One of the boys is kind of girly and the parents encourage him to express it: he does ballet. All of this makes Emma angry in a way that she can’t articulate until she returns home for the funeral of a boy a few years older who gets killed in some asinine gun-safety fail. Only then does she sort out that she’s angry because she wasn’t raised like this: unlike her, the boys are cherished and treated with an eye to their long-term development.
- Stepmom is a cancer survivor, and while she’s otherwise a solid person, her looks have really gone downhill and she’s lost her sex drive. Stepdad is a chemist or some other type of scientist, and gives Emma a lot of help with school. Emma quite likes him, and because he’s not an overbearing rapist, both of them take some time to figure out that he’s developed sexual feelings for her. But he figures it out first, and makes himself stop moving in that direction; only once he does this does Emma figure out why. She’s utterly unused to men who exhibit any kind of self-control, so she has no idea how to react at first.
- There’s a boy next door, a sweet, gentle emo boy who she rides to school with. There’s a girl at school who both looks nothing like Emma and isn’t conventionally attractive. She’s also a real academic superstar, and Emma, hitherto the only good student, is now one of a crowd and not necessarily the best, which is disconcerting for her. So she plays matchmaker (ha ha, why her name is now Emma) and hooks the two of them up—and only later figures out that he’s just the sort of boy she can picture herself getting naked with, precisely because he isn’t like the aggressive bulls she grew up around.
- Since the matchmaker thing worked so well, she sets up Stepdad with Emoboy’s mom, who is a single mom who looks good and hasn’t lost her mojo. This works well, even once Stepmom finds out, and all of this encourages Emma to open up a little more to exploring her own sexuality, and maybe wearing some cute sundresses.
- Then the older Stepson loses his job/marriage and has to move back home with his parents. Remember that the real Emma has her hook up with her older cousin at the end. Now Stepson is Emma’s type, in that he’s an alpha male (what she grew up programmed to find attractive) but also a classy, educated one who speaks well and doesn’t smell like cigarettes. So she’s smitten, and Stepmom, for whom Stepson can do no wrong, is over the moon and trying to hook them up.
- Trouble is, the boys are acting up like crazy, really driving Emma mad, and she can’t figure out why… until she’s able to see that Stepson lost his job/marriage because he’s a sociopathic predator just like so many of the men Emma grew up with. And now she understands why the boys are acting up. And now she understands that she’s going to have to do something about it. Violence was the defining factor of her childhood, and it’s what she came to Atlanta to escape.
So how does she engineer his death? Or does she? What if it’s our plucky heroine who ends up dead? Tune in next time.