Someone special Della’s
mother told her. A Downs
with a lovely smile and
bright, slightly narrow eyes.


She had waited outside
the school grounds when
her mother drove up.


Sorry I’m late, her mother
said, got caught in the traffic.

Della frowned, her tongue
sitting on her lower lip.


Man said you sent him,
Della said. What man?
Man in a car. What man
in a car? Della looked at
her mother, puzzled.


Man in the car. What did
he say? Said you sent him
to pick me up. Called me
Dearie. But I’m Della.


Her mother got out of the
car and went and knelt
down beside her daughter.


You didn’t get in the car did you?
No he drove off fast when
Mrs Penbridge came over.


He said I was Dearie, but
I’m Della. Yes, you are. Not
Dearie. No not Dearie.


He smiled at me. You mustn’t
get in to a stranger’s car
unless I tell you it’s all right.


I didn’t get in. Good. He
drove off, Della said, lowering
her eyes to her new shoes.


He smiled. Yes, but that
doesn’t mean he was nice.

He seemed nice. Yes, but
men like that aren’t. Why?
Della looked at her mother.


Because he may have hurt you.
Why would he hurt me, I’m
special. Yes, you are special.


You are angry with me. No,
not with you. You’ve got
your angry voice. Not with
you. Seems angry with me.


Not you, the man. Why are
you angry with the man?
Because he may have taken
you away from me. Della
looked at her mother’s hair,
newly done. Where? Where
would he have taken me?


Away from me. Why?
Because he’s bad. Her
mother held Della to her
tightly. He didn’t look bad,
he had a nice smile. Nice
car, too. Blue. Nice blue.
Like a summer sky blue.


Never get in a stranger’s car.
Never. You are angry. Not
with you. Sounds angry.


But not with you. Not
with me? No, you are
special. Special. Yes.

Very special? Yes, very
special. Not to get in a
stranger’s car? No. Not in
a stranger’s car. I got in
your friend’s car the other day.


What friend? The man who
brings your groceries and
you and he talk and he makes
you laugh. Her mother stared.


When did you get in his car?
The other day. Why did you
get in his car? He said, you said.
Did he drive off with you? Yes.

The mother held Della out in
front of her. Where to? We
went to look at the ducks in
the pond. Why did you get
in the car? He said, you said.


But I didn’t tell him that.
He said, you said. Did he
touch you? Touch me? Did
he touch you anywhere?


He held my hand to go to
the ducks. Anywhere else?
He said I was special. You
are. Did he touch you anywhere?  


My hand. Anywhere else?

No. Just my hand to feed
the ducks. What happened
after you saw the ducks?


He said I was special. Where
did he drive you? I thought
Mrs Rice was going to pick
you up that day? I went
with your friend. Did he
touch you? He held my hand.


Anywhere else? Della shook
her head. He said I was pretty
and had nice legs. Her mother’s
heart thumped. Am I pretty?


Yes you are, but he shouldn’t
have said so. Why not? He
didn’t mean it nicely. Why?

Because he shouldn’t tell
you that. Why? Because he’s
no right to say you’re pretty.


You say I’m pretty. I love you.
He said I was pretty and had
nice legs. Did he touch your legs?
No he just looked at them.
Nice legs he said and nice eyes.


Have I got nice legs and eyes?
Yes you have but he shouldn’t
say so. You’re angry again.


Not with you. Seems like me.

It’s not. Seems like. I’m not.
Seems like. Never get in his
car again. Della looked at
the sky. I won’t. It looked like rain.

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