I kind of like false starts. They make it easier to see what it is I want to do, even if I didn’t manage it on the first go. In this case, I need a better handle on the character, and quicker establishment. She comes off as whiny because she doesn’t take action right away.
There was nothing quite like a rejuvenating cruise. On the flip side, there was nothing less like it than returning from said cruise to find that one’s apartment building had been paved over.
Iona stumbled back a step. Luckily, she had closed the cab door. Otherwise, she might have fallen right back into the backseat. Her bag thumped against the window.
It had been old and crumbling, like moldy cake. Her apartment had been on the third of five stories. Now all she saw was a flat lot of concrete, and an alien vista that redefined the horizon so that she didn’t recognised the neighborhood for a full ten seconds.
“Are you sure this is the right address, lady?”
The driver’s voice was not without sympathy. But she noticed that the meter was still running. With something like the reverse of a shudder, she regained her composure. “Of course it is,” she said. “I’m meeting someone here.”
She reached into her bag and took out a wad of cash. She’d planned on handing over a nice tip if the driver had offered to help with her suitcase. She’d also planned on a bubble bath and a long nap, but without a tub, bed, or the rooms she had once retained to keep them in, those weren’t going to happen either.
As soon as the cab had disappeared from sight at reckless speed, Iona sat down hard on her suitcase. It wobbled.
“I was only gone for two weeks,” she said aloud. She stomped both feet on the ground, nearly sending herself toppling off the suitcase. “Where’s my stuff?!”
There was no one about to hear her. That had been one of the place’s charms. No one lived in this ramshackle part of town. She looked around at the other, still standing buildings. They were all abandoned or housing offices. Warehouses. No one lived here. Not even her.
She ran both hands through her hair, framing her face in her freckled arms. That rat, the landlord. He’d been trying to buy people out of the place for a year. And then she had been stupid enough to go on vacation.
“Ooh, I’ll kill him…!”
She plucked a single blonde hair and twirled it in between her fingers. It curled and twisted, slowly beginning to singe. Smoke rose and gathered, rising from the strand of hair and collecting far beyond what such small amount of material should have produced.
The smoke formed a circle and spread out in front of her. Iona dropped her hand to her knee and drummed her fingers there.
At last, most of the smoke cleared, leaving only a thin, ringed border. A round, pretty face appeared in it, flushed with recent activity. “Geez, Iona, what do you want?”
Even this truncated sight of her sister set Iona’s lip trembling. “My apartment is gone!”