The young woman at the security desk in the front hall of Hamworthy House looked at the computer screen as Bella walked inside. Clearly, she did not want to attract Bella's attention. Especially since, as far as her nose could tell, Bella had just been out drinking.
And when Bella just stood there, in the doorway, she turned. The first thing she noticed was Bella's hair, pushed back over both ears. She frowned, because she did not know that Bella had ears, because Bella never responded to anything she said. And they were exquisite ears.
The second thing she noticed was the pleasant smile on the flushed face of young Miss Bella Pleasance. And her brow furrowed more, creasing into confused dunes of flesh, for she had never seen Bella Pleasance's pleasant smile. And she thought to herself, Perhaps we should not let Bella go out bar hopping in the evening, but is there anything we can possibly do about it? She is only sixteen - surely something horrible will happen to her.
"Minnie," Bella said, pulling the woman's name out of some nearly forgotten corner of her mind, "Something has happened to me. Something truly wonderful."
It's a trick! Surely this is some gag! Why else should she begin a conversation with me. Minnie turned, her face still contorted in a very deep frown.
"Minnie," Bella said, pulling a melodramatic tone into her voice from some nearly forgotten corner of her vocal chords, "I think I have fallen in love."
Minnie's frown grew tighter. Did she just tell a joke? Her brow twitched eccentrically, A joke from the vile tongue of Bella Pleasance?
Bella tried to make eye contact, yes she truly did, with Minnie. And Minnie was staring off into the corner of the room looking deeply confused. And with that same melodramatic tone, "Is something wrong, Minnie?"
"Ahahh.. oh, Bellahah..hah... Oh, Bella, that was a-ahah hah... oh, that was a good one..." And Minnie kept chortling, her face red and frownless, "Oh, Bella, you have a -ahah- oh... Oh, Bellah-ah hah... a wonderful sense of humour."
Fwap! Bella's hand struck the night watch-woman's face abruptly. And tears, veritable tears, fell from Bella's eyes to the floor of the entrance way of the Hamworthy House. It was a truly historical event, as Bella stormed upstairs in a huff.
The next day, a car pulled up to the Hamworthy House just before dinner time. It was a fancy car. The kind a young man might buy if he had just been paid a ridiculous amount of money. And a stunningly handsome man got out of the car. He wore a tight shirt, exposing his fine musculature, and tight jeans. His face had been shaved artistically, leaving a small goatee and a line of facial hair across his jaw; framing its handsome, angular shape.
Minnie had just begun her evening shift, 6 PM until 2 AM. There was a dark bruise on the side of her face, and one of her eyes matched the beautiful tulips that were sitting on a jar on her desk. She remained there, hoping that it would not end as horribly as the previous night's shift.
The front door opened, and the young man entered. He smiled at Minnie politely, and sniffed the tulips.
Minnie remembered laughing a second time at her instructions about the tulips, and getting punched in the eye for what she mistook for a second jest. And awkwardly, she ventured a guess, "Are you Jona?"
"Yes, I am he."
"Those are for you. Bella bought them just fifteen minutes ago." Minnie told him in a sad tone, And then she punched me in the eye.
"Oh, I very much like the color purple." He said, fixing his gaze directly into Minnie's eyes. "Especially this shade. Exquisite."
"Me too," Minnie admitted, admiring the flowers one last time as she tried to keep her eyes off Bella's guest. And that one eye, the one amidst the purple bruise, wandered low towards Jona.
Ignoring her exquisitely purple, lazy-eye, Jona broke the silence, "Is Bella here?"
"Oh, yes," exclaimed Minnie, tapping a finger against her cheek in an attempt to indicate the exquisite bruise.
Ignoring, once again, her exquisitely purple, lazy-eye, Jona picked up the flowers, which were tied together, "Can you go get her, please?"
"Certainly," Minnie replied. Anything to get her out of my hair for the next eight hours.
"Wait, does she have her bags ready?"
"Her bags. To move out?"
"Huh?" Minnie asked, and then her face lit up with glee, and she got up from her chair. She walked merrily down the hall, almost skipping, and called up the stairs, "Bella, your boyfriend is here!"
Jona frowned, as if there was something he still had to correct about the arrangement.
"Coming!" Bella announced, in an even more cheery sound than that which Minnie had called her with. And then she toppled down the stairs in a pile of stolen luggage bags full of stolen clothes, stolen make-up, stolen fashion accessories, stolen novels, stolen school textbooks, a stolen bedspread, a stolen set of drapes, a stolen painting from her bedroom wall, and many other possessions - almost all of which were stolen.
Her unappealing head poked out from under many bags. Bags that seemed as if multiple children were moving out of the Hamworthy House that afternoon. Bags that were full, that afternoon, of many children's possessions from foster homes and the Hamworthy House. And then she brushed her hair once again behind her ears, and it became not-so unappealing. Almost beautiful.
"Hello, Bella. Are you alright?"
Bella grinned sheepishly, for the first time in her life, "I'm fine. How are you, Jona?"
"A little surprised, to say the least," he said with a laugh.
And so it was that three happy young adults loaded a very expensive car with a great many bags. And left the rest on the lawn of the Hamworthy House for the return trip. And when the return trip came, Bella Pleasance was nervous to be leaving the Hamworthy House.
And when the final moment came that Bella Pleasance left the Hamworthy House, and the night watch-woman called everyone to the kitchen to crack open three bottles of champagne, it happened. With a whir and a crack, it lit the gasoline-soaked mattress and the wooden bed frame. It went up in flames, spreading across the hardwood floor - which was also soaked with gasoline. And with the smoke alarms disabled, and the windows all firmly shut, every resident of the Hamworthy House was seated at the dining table. Each had either a glass of champagne or sparkling-apple-juice, if they were overly under age. And it was then that the Hamworthy House began to go up in flames.
And innocently, with the radio cranked up with Elton John almost as loud as the party music downstairs in the Hamworthy House, Jona and the young arsonist, Miss Bella Pleasance, drove off into the downtown area; towards his apartment. Occasionally, Bella looked back at the rising tower of smoke that was issuing from the remains of the Hamworthy House. It was an old and very flammable house.
Sitting between Jonas and Bella was the fourth and final bottle of Harley Hamworthy's 1932 bottle of champagne. It had been stolen. Just like Bella's heart, much to the dismay of Jona. And as the cork popped open with a tug from Bella's hands, and she offered some tot he driver beside her, as it frothed, she sighed.
It has been a very combustible day, thought Bella Pleasance.