I’m working on Northville Five & Dime, a story you’ve seen some of around these parts. It’s become a much bigger story than the original version. Let me set the stage for my question. Sophie and Lily are sisters. Lily is 20, Sophie 15. Ten years ago, their parents died in a car accident that also left Sophie a paraplegic. They live together and Lily works at the Northville Five & Dime to support them. There she catches Pete trying to shoplift a shirt. Pete is basically an abused and neglected teenager. His father is a drunk who has beat him and tormented him, while his mother essentially ignores the abuse and neglects him in her own way. She smokes like a chimney.
Lily offers Pete a deal. She won’t report his crime if he asks her sister to a school dance. He takes the deal. So, you have these three scarred kids. Lily, by the guilt that she survived the accident. Sophie, by her injury. Both of them, by the loss of their parents. Pete, by the abuse and neglect of his parents. By the end of the story, the three of them are thrown together in what somebody described to me as a social family — they help each other heal where their biological families failed.
I’m trying to figure out what the climax is that brings them together. Here are the options I’ve thought about.
The night of the dance Pete’s Dad dies driving home from the bar in the next town down the road. (This could be something foretold since Pete wishes it would happen earlier in the story.) Mom tells Pete at the dance, creating a major disturbance in the process.
Pete’s Mom falls asleep with a lit cigarette and burns the house down with her in it. Dad tells Pete at the dance, creating a major disturbance in the process.
Before Pete can leave for the dance, something happens and his Dad starts to beat him up, but this time Pete fights back for the first time. Pete arrives to pick Sophie up for the dance bloodied and battered.
Or maybe because of his Dad’s assault, Pete’s not able to, leaving Sophie stranded at home. They miss the dance and when Lily finds Pete hours later ready to rip his head off, she finds him bloodied and battered.
So, what do you think of those options? Or is there another? I’m trying to stay away from yet another death, as so many of my stories have a death. I’m starting to like the last option above, but am interested in your thoughts.