An Interview & Excerpt with Debney - D.N.A.

    Author: Ey Wade Genre: »

    Ey: Welcome back audience. Today, I want to introduce you to the newest member of the 'character society',  Debney Nichole Armstrong. 

    Debney is from the YA novel D.N.A.  I'll let her tell us a little about the premise of the story. Turns to girl sitting across from her. Welcome, Debney. The first question I have isn't really a question, but an observation. After finishing your story I've come to the conclusion....

    DEBNEY: Hold on,  before you start or jump into any conclusions, let me just say my story isn't the typical 'teen gone wild' tale. My story has a high school, drama, mean girls, gorgeous (male) best friend....wait." She laughs "Maybe it is a little typical, but I handle it better than many."

      Ey: That's the typical belief of most teens. Why don't you tell the audience a little about your family. Oh, and by the way, Debney has a journal where she shares all of her inner secrets and more excerpts from her story. Go here.

    I honestly do believe you handle your situation pretty darn good, if I have to say so myself. I know I put you in some difficult spots and I am truly impressed with the way you took care of everything. You've even received pretty good reviews.

    DEBNEY: I know, riiight! I'm stoked about those. Made the mess you made of my life worth it. Just a little.

    Ey: Haha, yeah. Some times we just have to go with the flow when writing, Go on, tell us about your family.

    DEBNEY: My dad worked hard at everything, except building a relationship with his family.My younger brothers were the average little kids, nothing special. My mom, well she was a little strange with a mean streak. For some unknown reason she never liked me. I could do nothing right in her eyes. Being an outstanding student and valedictorian meant nothing to her, she just didn't like me. At least that's what  believed until you finally revealed the truth. I have to say, I do love the ending you gave me.

    On the night before a planned family vacation, she inexplicably excluded me. I wasn't too surprised because it was becoming her habit. We had a bitter argument because this one was so close to my eighteenth birthday. Of course I was angry and to get back at her I arranged a romantic dinner with her long time crush. Somehow, things got out of hand. 

    Ey: I heard about your family's accident. I'm really sorry.

    DEBNEY: Yeah, well you wrote it the way it was and I guess, things happen, sometimes relationships in families end tragically. People leave; parents die, and lives change. But does it all have to bring out the skeletons in the closet?

    EXCERPT: Chapter Two

    ii. Other Times it Sucks Even More

    Lying on the couch after everyone had gone, Debney closed her eyes. She just wanted to soak in the quiet. Pulling the multi-colored, Afghan baby blanket someone had given her as a gift across her shoulders, she released a long sigh. She was beyond tired. After living alone in the guest house for so many months, she had gotten used to her enforced world of silence. Spending the past hour and a half consumed with spouting fake laughter and joy-filled conversation had given her an enormous headache.

    Or maybe it was the reality she had survived and not succumbed to a mental breakdown after remaining inside the main house for more than the five minutes it always took to gather personal items. If it weren’t for the headache and the utter exhaustion she was now feeling, she would have run the hell outta the doors and never looked back, but no matter how much pain the thought of nothing ever being the same caused her, this was still her home. All of the happy memories were absorbed within its perfectly decorated interior and replaced with lies and deceit. She hated and feared being enclosed within its walls.

    The last time she’d been in the house for an extended period of time, had been five months previously: four months after the death of her family and the first night she’d experienced the movement of the baby. She’d wanted to share that experience with someone she believed cared for her and her best friend Nadine had been the obvious choice. So she invited her childhood friend to spend the night. They were munching on snacks and watching TV in the guest house and she’d tried pretending to Nadine it was just for the weekend, but the rouse hadn’t worked. Nadine questioned her persistently.

    "Debney, why aren’t we sleeping in the house? Don’t tell me you’re still living out here. How long are you going to hide?"

    "I’m not ‘hiding’ out here. The house is so large and I just avoid going in there and being alone all night. Don’t you think it’s cozier in the guest house? Remember how we used to beg to stay out here and pretend we were grown up and lived on our own? There’s nothing to hide from anyway."

    "So why pretend anymore? Now you do have a house of your own and it is humongous and we should be in there blasting those huge flat screens with the surround sound….unless you’re really just being chicken. What’s to be afraid of? Do you think your family is haunting the house?" Nadine leaned towards her. "Are you afraid of ghosts?" she asked in a dramatic wide-eyed whisper, her hands clasped in a simulated, sincere gesture under her chin.
    Springing from the multitude of pillows on the floor, Nadine ran across the room and swung open the door. Sticking her head and half her body through the opening, she looked around the darkened pool area. Pulling her body quickly in, she turned to look at Debney with the combination of an exaggerated expression of terror and excitement on her face.

    "It’s dark as hell out there, Debney. I swear to God I could hear somebody calling me. I’m going to run to the house and knock on the door and see if your mom comes out." Her eyes seemed to grow larger, her words flew out in a rush of animated anticipation and she bounced up and down on her naked toes. "You think if I ran straight through the line of deck chairs to the house, your little ghost brothers will chase after me like they used to? I wonder if they still play hide and seek. Do you think I can keep them from double-teaming me and knocking me in the pool? It would be like old times." She poked her head and neck back out the door and yelled loudly into the darkness, "Ready or not boys…. here I come."

    In a flash, she was out the door running, laughing and screaming like an idiot. Her flip-flop covered feet slapped against the surface of the concrete, slowly fading as she got further and further away. It felt like old times and reality disappeared. Debney quickly grabbed the house keys off the counter and ran after her. And as usual, when the four of them had played chase on the pool deck, she sent chairs sprawling in all directions in her rush to catch Nadine. For a moment she hid in her exhilaration and imagination, forgetting the present and only remembering the joy she would get when allowed to play with her brothers. She squealed and giggled away the pain from the legs of the chairs banging against her ankles and shins.

    Outside the patio door of the house, she stopped to lean against the glass, paused to catch her breath and reality caught up with her. Depression cloaked and smothered her like a burlap bag in a kidnapping, successfully stealing the illusion of happiness. Everything had changed and there was no sign of Nadine. Irritated with herself for abandoning her inhibitions, Debney called out angrily into the darkness.

    "Shit, Nadine. Stop playing around."

    Flicking the switch next to the hanging plants at the side of the door, she illuminated the yard with piercing brightness, successfully dispersing the eerie darkness and exposing Nadine cowering in the bushes.

    "If you want me to let you in the house you’d better get the hell on over here. Unless you wanna stay out and see if the little demons will really come and get you."

    Nadine scooted from behind the bushes struggling to pull bramble out of her hair. The curly natural style grasping the small leaves tightly. "Geeze Debney, some kinda friend you are."

    "Me? What about you? You make me run around in the dark like a preschooler without a brain of her own. I musta lost my mind for a minute….enough to trip and fall in the pool. What kind of friend are you to taunt me with the ghosts of my recently dead brothers?"

    "I’m your best friend, your only friend. I’m the one who finally got a laugh out of you. I’m just trying to get you out of your funk. It’s been four months for Christ's sake."

    "And I’m supposed to be over it? I’m supposed to have forgotten all about them? Four months isn’t that long you know. You can be such an idiot, Deenie." Debney moved to face the door, prepared to put the key in the lock, but turned back to face Nadine. Their noses practically touched they were standing so close. "Can you back up just a little? The heat from your breath on the back of my neck is more than creepy. Besides--" She swiveled around and unlocked the door. "I hated playing with you and the boys. I was always made the last to be caught which always made me have to do the chasing. I don’t feel like losing a stupid game between you and your imagination. Now get the hell in here because I’m getting eaten alive by mosquitoes."

    Nadine laughed again. Pushing Debney aside, she rushed into the room, did a big jump into the air and ended in a squat with her arms in a defensive position and yelling at the top of her lungs into the tomb-silent quiet.
    "Don’t be alarmed Mrs. Armstrong. It’s only me and Debney. Ow, Debney you hit too hard." Nadine rubbed the spot on her upper shoulder where Debney had punched her. "I was only joking."

    "Stop playing crazy, Nadine. If there’s even a small possibility of any ghosts coming out, it would definitely be my mom. She is one evil, conniving spirit I don’t want to see."

    "Oh my God Deb, you’re so funny. Why can’t you stay like this? Why can’t you go back to being the person you used to be? You haven’t been yourself since the accident. The trip to Italy only made you worse. You don’t hang out with me and the other girls. You won’t even look at Gianté and you’ve been avoiding everybody."

    "It’s not me that’s been avoiding anyone, it’s been you." Debney closed the sliding glass door with a bang. "You won’t even pick up the phone to call me. The only way you bother to communicate is through texting or email. I’m surprised you came tonight. Even more surprised your mom let you come."

    "Me too." Nadine walked through the living room to the kitchen flicking on the lights as she entered each room. "First of all, I’m still angry with you for just leaving me alone with my mom at the police station. You know how crazy she can get." Nadine shuddered expressively. "If you would have had stayed you would have saved me from her embarrassing act of trying to get them to keep me overnight. She went on and on about breaking a mother’s heart, scaring her to death. I shudder to think about that detective laughing. I was so mortified; I almost begged to be jailed. But when you called for me to sleep over tonight, I put on an honor-worthy act, while portraying your desperation. And plus, I promised on my firstborn child there wouldn’t be another party and no trips out of the country."

    Debney laughed softly. Following Nadine’s path she subconsciously searched the room for new signs of her family. Everything was exactly the same….untouched and ignored.

    "Definitely no more trips to Italy and as for parties, I will never have another party in my life."

    In the kitchen, the fine layer of dust laying over the surface of the counters spoke of the lack of movement in the house. No one had been inside for more than a few minutes for months. Debney grabbed a towel from a drawer and cleaning solution from a cabinet in the back of the room. As she cleaned the surface of the island, Nadine, aimlessly strolled around the room lifting and rearranging things, following a habit she’d developed from childhood. It always amused them to rearrange the knickknacks around the room and send her mother’s OCD behavior into overdrive.

    "Good, because you have in one single night ruined your reputation in this community. I must say you threw one hell of a party. You had quality liquor for underage drinking, a near drowning in the pool, multi-partner premarital sex and a visit from the coroner all in one night. No one will be able to top it."

    "I provided nothing more exciting than the typical span of a teenager’s weekend."

    "Hey, speak for yourself. I don’t do any of those other things and I don’t know of anyone else who has had the coroner come to their home."

    Nadine pulled out one of the stools and climbed on. Resting her elbow on the damp surface, she pointed at Debney.
    "And neither did you before that night, so don’t go playing all hard and knowledgeable. We spent our days studying and texting, our nights on the computer and our weekends hanging out with Gianté. The majority of our little group totally understands how you freaked out that night. Who wouldn’t have? It was your eighteenth birthday and your parents left you alone in a huge house. What else could you do but throw a party."

    "You know that’s not how it happened. My plan was to spend the evening alone with Gianté. His mom talked him into bringing the football team with him."

    "I heard about all of that. The thing is, after the coroner left, you kept the party going. Most people would have sent everyone home. Your parents were dead…."

    "Nadine, stop moving things around. You know my mom doesn’t like things touched or rearranged."
    Lifting a brow as she looked at Debney, Nadine put the small fruit bowl she was holding on the floor by her foot instead of replacing it on the counter.

    "Your mom isn’t here anymore. I think you may need to change the looks of the rooms and then you’ll be able to move back into this house. There’s no reason you--"

    "Nadine, let’s not talk about that night here," Debney interrupted Nadine’s flow of words by walking to and opening the patio door. "I’m hungry and food is over there." She pointed in the direction of the pool house. "That’s where I’m going."

    "Okay, okay, I can take a hint. Still scared of your mommy, huh or should I say ‘mummy’?"

    "You can say you won’t be invited back over if you don’t change the subject."

    Debney watched Nadine walk out of the house before she turned off the lights and shut the door. Nadine’s humor was inappropriate at the best of times and if you knew her, nothing she said was unexpected. She had the ability to cause jaws to drop and drinks to snort out of noses.

    At the combined funeral and memorial service of Debney’s family, Nadine volunteered to say a few words. Her joke-filled soliloquy and tasteless, but funny, rendition of each family member’s habits had lifted the spirits of many, especially her brothers’ young friends. Even though it had caused Nadine’s mother to lightly smack her in the back of the head on her return to sit with her own family, Debney had really appreciated her comments. It was one of the last times Debney could remember laughing. Life was now a day in day out tunnel of bleakness.

    Startled by Nadine’s sudden linking of their arms combined with the clasp of her left hand with Debney’s right, Debney almost pulled away from her. It had been months since she’d had physical contact with anyone, and the touch was so unexpected it almost hurt.

    This particular connection was their supersonic bud-link. A term and habit they coined in elementary school when they were teased by the class bullies. Apart, they were beat upon mercilessly, but when they were together and linked up they were unstoppable. They'd fought off the scab-kneed little bullies often, sometimes for themselves but most of the time for any new kid in the room.

    At first, Debney believed she and Nadine were getting picked on because of their hair. Nadine was always teased about her mass of wooly curls, while Debney endured yanks on her long straight hair and being called Pocahontas, regardless of the fact she was an Indian of a totally different nationality. By the end of third grade, the basis of the teasing was made blatantly clear. It was the color of their skin which caused such confusion, Debney for her olive pigmentation and Nadine for the chocolate smoothness of her flesh. The innocence of youth had blinded her to the color of the other students in the school and she noticed she and Nadine were the only students of color. When she asked to be put in another school, her parents had vetoed the idea with the statement, "The Windsong Academy will give you the best foundation in education". She spent her first five years of her school career there, fighting to be respected.

    Once Debney realized she could do nothing about her skin tones and fighting wasn’t helping, she was able to defeat her tormentors on another level, through her education and relationship with the teachers. Eventually the bud-links gained three more members and life was tolerable. Once Gianté with his long legs joined the group they were unbeatable.

    "Do you think things will ever go back to the way they used to be, Debney?" Nadine’s heavy sigh broke through her thoughts.

    "God, I hope not. I hope I become a better person once I get my mind together. I used awful judgment at the party, and I went a little crazy for a few weeks after, especially when we took that trip to Italy."
    "That trip was for a good cause."

    "It was stupid. We worried your parents needlessly. I can’t believe I thought the boys were still alive. What a way to waste a European vacation. I’ve learned a lot though. I know I only have one friend. Everyone else has abandoned me."

    "No, you’ve pushed everyone away. If you weren’t acting so irrational you would be able to talk to Gianté."

    Unable to go through the pool house door together, Debney removed her arm from Nadine’s.

    "You’re crazy, Nadine. Didn’t we just have the conversation about why no one wants to hang around me? My so called friends stopped returning my texts. All accept you."

    "Yeah well, I’m an idiot. I shoulda dumped you long ago." Nadine grabbed a soda from the fridge and drank it while preparing herself sandwich.

    Flopping down on the mass of pillows on the floor, Debney grabbed the remote and turned on the television. She flicked through the channels.

    "You do know you didn’t have to come here tonight, Nadine. I was just a little lonely. You do know that, right?"
    Not receiving an answer, she turned over to her stomach to look at Nadine in the kitchen. In horror she jumped up and ran to her side.

    "What happened?" She checked her friend for signs of bleeding. "You didn’t cut yourself so why are you crying?"

    "I’m sorry for being such a bitch to you, Debney. For coming here and making cruel jokes, ignoring you in school and just not being around for you. I….I didn’t know what to expect when you invited me over. I see you in school looking pitiful. You don’t talk to anybody and you avoid me. I thought we were buds. When I linked arms with you just now, you started to pull away. I want things to go back to the way it used to be."

    "I wish it too, but that will never happen. You are the best thing in life to me. It’s my fault for making you feel bad. I just have a lot to sort out in my mind both physically and legally. I just buried my parents and had a service for my brothers. You know as well as I that I don’t believe they’re dead, but I had no choice. I’m tortured daily wondering where they are, even where their bodies can be. There’s much. I think if I didn’t have this guilt to beat myself with, I would be able to handle life better."

    "How can you handle everything alone, Debney? You’re really just a kid. Get over the guilt of the party and relax more. I’ll stand by your side. I can’t fight for you or your reputation at school if you refuse to stand up for yourself. I can’t continue listening to the way they talk about you. Some of the things they have been saying about you make me--"

    "Do you think I care what other people think of me?" Debney moved away and grabbed herself a canned drink from the refrigerator. In irritation she slammed the can on the counter. "There’s nothing in this world I can do to redeem myself. In the eyes of every student at school I’m the slut who slept with at least eight boys in one night. And they’re the ones I remember. An enormous feat for someone who was a virgin before it all started. Maybe I didn’t do it with all of them, but I do know they were at the house. Can you even imagine how this makes me feel? I can’t even look anyone in the face when I’m walking the hallways. The girls smirk and whisper and play asinine tricks. The guys full out laugh, point and call me names. Some of them make the cruelest suggestions. I won’t mention the incidents every time I go to the restroom or what happens if I happen to find myself alone in the hallway with a guy. To make it all worse, when I go to class I get these looks of sympathy and or disgust from the teachers. I don’t know how to act anymore. Should I be bold and slap people around or timid and hide my shame behind my books or hair? You even backed away from me for a while. I’m scared. I’m alone in more ways than one and today was the first day I felt the baby move and I had no one to tell."

    "What? What did you just say about a baby moving?"

    "I think I’m pregnant. No, I know I’m pregnant."

    "Oh my God, Debney, what are you going to do?"

    "I dunno, have a baby." She took a sip from the foaming can of coke she was holding.

    "That’s it? That’s all you’re going to say?" Nadine paced quickly around the room like a person on the verge of a nervous breakdown, alternating the actions of waving her hands in the air, stopping to stare at Debney in disbelief and raking her fingers through her hair. In her excitement, she stumbled over the pillows and landed flat on her face in the middle of their softness. The crash not stopping her tirade, she flipped over and continued ranting, "You’re not going to cry? Go into hysterics? If it were me, I wouldn’t know what to do or who to tell. Are you really sure you’re pregnant? Have you taken any tests?"

    "Yes and I already did the crying and ranting, but nothing changed. I’m still pregnant. I called the only person I knew I could talk to. This isn’t something I could have just texted."

    "Maybe you took the wrong kind of test. Let’s go and get a different one. This just can’t be happening. How can you sit there and be so calm? I would be so scared." She jumped up and held her arms in the air in exaggeration. "Hell, no I wouldn’t be…. I would be dead. My parents would kill me."

    "Well, unless my parents decide to return from their heavenly destination, it’s safe to say they won’t be coming to kill me."

    "Damn, Debney I’m sorry." She joined Debney on the couch and placed her arms around her shoulders. "I keep saying the stupidest things tonight."

    "No, you say exactly what I figured you would. Why do you think I called you over? You are the most normal thing left in my world."

    Without warning, Debney began to cry. Like a thunderstorm that suddenly appears, her tears came in torrents. For a moment, she found comfort in her friend’s arms, but the emotions she had been holding inside rushed through her, and she could no more hold in her flood than a beaver’s dam could hold in Niagara Falls.
    She rolled off the couch and buried her face in the pillows on the floor in an effort to squelch the screams that wanted to break through. She felt as if she were losing control of her very mind, and nothing Nadine offered as comfort helped. She couldn’t stop crying. She cried for what seemed like an eternity until she heard the stern voice of Nadine’s mother near her ear.

    Chapter1-Sample Sunday

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    2 Responses so far.

    1. Łukasz says:

      Thank you for the thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating content.

    2. Your post was a delightful journey into the subject. Thank you for that!

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