Delilah

On the surface Delilah is perfection personified. But in her case the old saying 'its underneath what counts' really should be taken into consideration. At a party, Delilah's perfect life is shattered, not for the first time and everybody sees her in a completely different light. Can she claw her way back up to the top- and battle her guilt and sorrow- by proving that she has been wrongfully accused?

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5. Make it or Break it.

"I'm not going to pretend that none of it ever happened, but first of all I want to make one thing so clear. I did not kill my parents, accidentally or on purpose."
There was a deafening silence in the room. It was a little later that morning and everyone was now gathered in Delilah's room. Just as she'd been about to tell Ellis and Eleanor the whole story, there'd been a knock at her door and Fred and Louis had come in, they arms full of a mishmash of paper.

"Once everyone left we gathered most of these for you," Fred had said quietly to Delilah, placing the remains of the shoe box on the bed next to her. His face had been ashen and he and Louis were nothing like their usual jovial selves. Then Daisy had entered the room, carrying a tray, laden with mugs of coffee and biscuits, Raj trailing carefully behind her.
"Thought we could all do with a little something to clear our minds," Raj said, taking the mugs off the tray one by one and handing them out. Delilah knew straight away that she owed them an explanation too. They were such great friends and great people, she couldn't face the idea that they might think she'd killed her own parents and gone to such lengths to hide it. 

"Of course we don't think you killed your parents!" Daisy exclaimed suddenly, shattering the silence, that splintered around them like fragments of broken glass.
Her voice however, was high-pitched and strained, almost contradicting her claim, "You were only nine, of course it was just an accident!"
"No! You don't understand!" Delilah snapped, startling Daisy and Eleanor, who were sitting either side of her, their arms wrapped around her waist.
"I didn't kill them. I didn't start that fire. It wasn't me."
She sighed, remembering the many times she'd explained that to the kind, yet doubtful police lady who'd questioned her, following the fire. If she was going to make her friends understand, she needed to start from the top. She reluctantly began to recount that night, six years ago to the day. 

It had been a beautifully sunny day. When Delilah had woken up that morning, she remembered her mother describing it as the 'first true day of summer'.  Delilah had gone to school as normal, played kiss chase in the yard at break time and eaten her lunch al fresco with the rest of her class. It had been a perfectly unusual day. That was until after school. She'd sprinted to the school gate, feeling as free as a bird since it was her last day of school. She had the whole of summer in front of her, brimming with possibilities of adventure and fun.
But when she stepped onto the pavement outside the school, her heart began to beat faster and a cold feeling consumed her. The back of her neck tickled and her ears burned. She felt as though she was being watched. She spun around to see a man leaning on the gate. She'd never seen him before which was strange. He definitely wasn't one of the regular parents who gathered outside the school to pick up their children. What was weirder was that he was staring right at her.
Unnerved, she quickly crossed the road and clambered into her mum's car.
"Good day dear?" Her mum asked, grinning, sunglasses covering her eyes. Delilah had nodded distractedly, still staring at the man, as her mother pulled off the curb and made for home and to her dismay, he continued to stare at her.

At home Delilah wolfed down her tea before rushing outside to play with her friends, the horrible ordeal of earlier almost forgotten as she felt the warm sun caress her bare legs and arms delightfully. She'd ridden her scooter up and down the street, played football with her next door neighbors and then had joined in with a game of hide and seek played by almost the entire children inhabitants of the street. Delilah had adored hide and seek because she had the most magnificent hiding place you could think of, which always ensured that she won. Behind her house was a large forest. Whereas some children would hide up trees or behind them, Delilah had a trick of her own. Right in the center of the forest was a hollowed out tree, with an adequately sized hole to climb through. If you pulled down the canopy of leaves to cover the hole, you were basically  un-discoverable. Delilah enjoyed sitting in there and listening to the wind blow through the leaves and the birds chirping from their branches. She would hide there almost  every game and would have to reveal herself to the others, as they would almost certainly give up before finding her.

During this particular game of hide and seek, she'd been inside her special tree for around ten minutes when she heard footsteps. She quietened her breathing and pushed herself as far back as she could go, to ensure that she would not be found so quickly. Her shock was immense however when the canopy of leaves was ripped away from the hole and a face peeked inside the tree.
"Found you!" bellowed an unfamiliar voice. Delilah huffed and started to emerge from the tree.
Once outside she had glanced up at her captor and gasped in shock. It was the man from the school. However, at this distance from him, she realised that he wasn't, in fact a man but a teenage boy, perhaps about 16 or 17, and quite good-looking at that. He wasn't as alarming as she'd found him earlier. Actually, he looked quite friendly.
"Hi," she said, suddenly feeling shy. Perhaps this boy had followed her home from school because he thought she was as pretty, as she thought he was. She did hope so.

"Hey," the boy grinned sleekly, leaning against the tree. Delilah gazed at him, amazed that a teenager would actually speak to her, smile at her. Out of his pocket he pulled a packet of cigarettes. He took one from the pack and from his other pocket, took a lighter. It was pink, the bottom half of it diamond encrusted. Delilah, instead of feeling fear like maybe she should have, seeing as the boy was twice her height and was smoking something that was making her cough, began to laugh.
"Why do you have a girl's lighter?" she'd asked, in between giggles.
The boy had laughed flatly, taking a drag of his cigarette and twirling the lighter between his fingers.
"That's because its a magic lighter. Who cares if its girly."

Delilah was infatuated by the boy's deep green eyes and full lips. She didn't even feel the need to question how he'd joined in with the game of hide and seek, since he wasn't one of the children who lived on the street.  She watched the way he flicked his golden hair from his eyes before exhaling a plume of smoke. She had to suddenly shake her head to wake herself our of her stupor.
"Magic? Magic isn't real!"
"Oh yeah?" The boy stubbed out his cigarette on Delilah's tree, causing her to wince slightly, before kneeling down to her height.
"Watch this." He took out an empty sweet wrapper from his pocket and set fire to it, closing his fist around the smoldering item. He then opened his fist seconds later to reveal the sweet wrapper, completely intact, wrapped perfectly around a sweet. He held it out to Delilah who took it gratefully.
"Wow!" she sighed with admiration, examining the sweet from all angles.
"Good isn't it. You could have my lighter you know. If you want." The boy said, holding the lighter towards Delilah, before pressing it into her palm.
"Really? Thank you!" Delilah cooed, tracing her fingers across the gems. This boy was so nice, one of the nicest and most handsome she'd ever met. She was besotted with him. 
She grinned up at him and he smiled back.
"Only thing is babe, its a special present, all for you and you can't let anyone else have a go, ok?"
Delilah, elated that he had called her babe, let alone given her a special present, nodded enthusiastically. 
"Anyway ,I best be off, need to buy a new lighter." The boy winked at Delilah and she swooned.
"See you around!" He said, before strutting off into the forest.
See you around! Delilah's heart had skipped. She glanced down at her magic lighter and smiled from ear to ear. 

Danny Forks had found her not five minutes later, sitting on the grass by the tree, trying to turn her empty sweet wrapper back into a sweet with little avail. She hadn't exactly mastered how to even produce a flame yet.
"Found you!" Danny had exclaimed.
"I'm already found!" Delilah sighed impatiently, not taking her eyes off the lighter.
"Hey, let me have a go!" Danny said excitedly, reaching for the lighter, "I'll show you how to burn bugs, its hilarious!"
"No way!" Delilah exploded protectively and jumped to her feet, "this is a present. Nobody else is allowed to use it!" And with that she darted home. 

Once inside she made a beeline for her room, and closed her door tightly. She knelt down and lifted up a loose floorboard, the way her dad had showed her he had hidden things when her was young. Beneath the floorboard was a Barbie Jewellery box, where Delilah kept all of her precious things. The lighter was quickly tucked inside and replaced under the floorboards. She hadn't been ready to tell anyone about the mysterious boy quite yet. She'd want to keep him all to herself for a little while. Later that night, she'd had a bath, watched tv with her parents, before going to bed.

The next thing she knew, she could smell smoke. She awoke, to see smoke seeping in under the door, swirling and dancing its way towards her. She began to cough, gasping for air. She jumped out of bed and spun around desperately, when she noticed that her bedroom window was wide open. She ran to it and instinctively climbed out onto the ledge. Before she knew it she was gripping the drainpipe and shimmying herself down. She had been found an hour later, sitting in a bush, cold, tired, alone and not quite certain what had happened.

The next few days were a blur. Her Aunt and Uncle had made the journey down to look after her and tried to help explain what had happened. Her house had burnt down. Her parents were dead. She was alone. If that wasn't enough, soon, the questions had started coming. Did she own a pink lighter? Had she been playing with it that night? Did she know how it had started a fire in the downstairs living room?

At first Delilah had been confused. Had she owned a pink lighter? Yes she had. But hers was in a jewellery box upstairs, not in the living room. When everything became a bit clearer she suddenly realised what was really behind all the questions. People thought that she had started the fire. But she hadn't. She didn't even know how to use a lighter. As soon as this was clear in her head, she knew she had to somehow convince them that it wasn't her. During her next questioning sessions with the kindly policewoman, she had explained all about the mysterious boy and his magic lighter and whilst the women had nodded politely and listened, she hadn't looked all that convinced.
Later that night, her Aunt had dried Delilah's tears, and nursed to sleep on her lap. When her uncle arrived home, she woke up, but kept her eyes firmly shut. She'd been enjoying her dream. It had been happy.

"So what's the latest verdict?" her uncle had said.
Her Aunty had sighed and Delilah felt a wet tear land on her forehead.
"Well child services told me today that the police believe that Delilah accidentally started the fire in the living room, playing around with a lighter, before trying, unsuccessfully to put it out, yet believing that she did and rushing to bed. They think that she woke up when she smelt the smoke but was so terrified, that she blocked out her earlier memories and now has materilaised this fictional boy in this time of emotional upheaval, in an attempt to fill the hole in her memory. They say that whatever the ins and outs of it are, it was Delilah and her pink lighter that caused the fire."
Delilah remembered that moment as clear as day, listening to her Aunt's hushed tones and remembered it as the moment when any remaining traces of hope in her heart burnt to a crisp, just like her house had.

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