"Broken kids. Everywhere. And how was he supposed to fix them?"
When Andrew meets a little husk of bones named Violet, he can see that she is impoverished, neglected, and physically unattractive. Just listen: "She beamed and Andrew's heart ached. Smiling usually made even homely girls pretty. Not Violet. Grinning turned her ghastly. Oddly puppet-like." What's more, Andrew rapidly learns that Violet is not only suicidal - she is also the target of a young man he has been investigating, a chilling youth whom Andrew believes to be a sadistic psychopath intent on helping Violet kill herself.
Violet becomes Andrew's mission. And yet...
Andrew becomes Violet's mission too.
Attuned to life's tragedies - doubtlessly because she is living them - Violet can read Andrew's internal heartache, and knows many of the secrets he has not even shared. In their opening scene, they both see a young boy in a ball cap sprint past them, an occurrence whose gravity does not occur to Andrew until well after a suicide attempt leaves Violet comatose and on life support. It is then that the full weight of her sensitivity hits him, and he has this reflection:
'...Sensitive. A word whose spectrum of meaning had become brighter after reading reams of literature on childhood depression, hoping he’d learn something to derail Violet out of it. Sensitive people, articles said, were more prone to melancholia, dysmorphia, and suicide because ‘sensitive’ did not just mean tender feelings. Scientifically, ‘sensitive’ meant that these peoples’ brains actually had more feeling receptors than most—so they literally did feel pain more profoundly (and joy more profusely, hence Violet’s rare, yet million-watt smiles). ‘Sensitive’. He remembered how hopeless he’d felt, applying the theory of ‘sensitive’ to her, a kid with a life of poverty, loneliness, and bullying. An obstacle course of emotional razor blades. “Sometimes dead would be better, Detective Andrew.” She’d said it a thousand times.
So had The Dead Boy been right? Had he not done her a favour by shooting JV? Had that homicidal little monster inadvertently and unintentionally been helping her?
He shoved the possibility away. Sensitive people, with their extra neurons and feeling receptors, also felt empathy to such a degree that the articles said they were the closest thing science had found to bona-fide psychics, (a point he’d been eager to share with his sister, debunk some of what she attributed to ethereal woo-woo with neurological facts), but now he wondered—were sensitive people also more apt to see spirits like the so-called boy in the ball cap?...'
I will not include a picture of Andrew's "Little Girl" (as he calls her, and he's right; as his colleague, Detective Reuben Sharpe tells him: "Some kids are born to the wrong fathers.") because Violet is one of only a scant handful of characters I have actually based off person I've known in real life. I will, though, share the significance of her name: While 'Violet' is both whimsical and old-fashioned, the flower 'Violet' is also symbolic of spiritual enlightenment...and is the flower of resurrection.
Next week you can meet Andrew's "Little Girl", Violet Chamberlain, right here: