It was a year ago that I first introduced Desi and her father to my readers. It was far earlier than that when I met her.
Desi came to me in the midst of rediscovering the series and moving the characters forward 9 years. I needed a spark for the teens in order to advance their story and to be honest, I needed a spark for me as a writer.
I also hated that I have never really been able to bring my love for animals into the series. Sure, Tramp was my way in, but I wanted more. I wanted to use the humor the animals bring to my life. I wanted to share my passion for all animals with the characters in the series.
Making him a large animal vet was strategic on my part. I wanted him to be able to handle animals we don’t usually see, and more importantly, I needed to introduce the farm.
Back to Desi.
When I first “met” Desi, I didn’t know exactly what she would mean to the series. I thought of her as a friend to Tessa because of their love for animals. I thought of her as a foil to Bee, kind of the quiet attractive type. I thought of her as a troubled girl because of her mom being away for so long.
But none of that really fit, the more I began to talk to her.
She seemed troubled to me, but not in the normal teenage angsty way.
She had been through something, and because of that, her life had been different.
It took me a bit longer to figure out what that was.
Even though Tommy is a pediatric oncologist, I don’t focus much on his individual cases. To be honest, I don’t really focus too much on any of the medical cases unless they deal directly with the family. (I know so many of them do).
It hasn’t been since Courtney was here that I made room for Tommy’s practice to come into the series.
That was where Desi had been. She was hiding in his practice, so to speak. She had connections to our family by choice.
We just didn’t know it yet.
Her story came to me slowly. I always pictured her with beautiful long blonde hair and bright blue eyes that were hidden behind a wall of pain.
She always seemed old for her age, like her experiences were far more adult than they should have been.
I saw her as strong and powerful, but invisible to most people.
I saw her as so many of my students appear to be.
Just waiting for a chance to show who they are.
That was why I chose to make Desi’s first introduction to the readers when David first meets her.
His reaction needed to be our reaction, in a way.
His eyes opening to her needed to be all of us seeing her for the first time.
I needed her to be important. I needed her to be liked and welcomed.
Before I threw everything at her.
I think it might be easier if I have her tell you some of her thoughts about life.
Interviewer: Hi Desi. Is it okay if I call you that?
Desi: Sure- my full name is a mouthful.
Interviewer: It’s a beautiful poem.
Desi: Yeah, but it’s still strange for a name.
Interviewer: So I wanted to ask you a few questions to get to know you. Are you up for that?
Desi: Sure- ask away.
Interviewer: Can you tell me about your childhood?
Desi looked confused.
Desi: What do you mean? Like my illness?
Interviewer: Not necessarily. What did you do for fun?
Desi: I don’t know. I guess I hung out at the farm a lot. When I wasn’t in the hospital or getting treatments, I was able to go to school, so I liked that. It was hard, though. I never really got to hang out with a lot of kids my age. Except Katie.
Interviewer: Who is Katie?
Desi’s face lit up.
Desi: She is my best friend. She has always been there for me. (Her face darkened). I can’t say I’ve been the same for her.
Interviewer: What do you mean?
Desi: Nothing. Let’s change the subject.
Interviewer: Okay. Tell me about David.
Desi: What about him?
Interviewer: When did you meet?
Desi: Officially? When he was a jerk at the farm, but I’ve known him since we were like 7. He never knew I existed, but I knew he was there. His mom was my teacher in 6th grade.
Interviewer: Why didn’t you talk to him?
Desi: (Shrugging) He was a bit out of my league. Besides, Sabrina Stephens was with him all the time and she’s not someone I would have a chance against.
Interviewer: Is she mean?
Desi: No, she’s actually really nice, but she has everything going for her and I didn’t really have much to offer. Besides, David never looked twice at me. He isn’t really all that observant. (she smiled)
Interviewer: You told him that, didn’t you?
Desi: (smiling) Well he tends to get lost in his troubles. I’m trying to help him with that. I feel badly when he’s worried about things.
Interviewer: So you two are a couple now?
Desi: Yeah, I guess we are.
Interviewer: What kinds of things do you like about him?
Desi: He’s kind and caring. He knows what it’s like to have a parent in the military and he seems to genuinely like me. He puts up with my dad and that’s a hassle. He also takes my issues on like they aren’t so heavy. He’s also incredibly handsome and funny.
Interviewer: What kind of issues?
Desi: I have cancer and I went through something pretty awful almost a year ago. He has been with me the whole time and I guess I didn’t expect he would.
Interviewer: Why? Is he shallow?
Desi: No, it’s not that, but when you’re 16, dealing with life or death issues can be a downer. He doesn’t let it get to him. He loves me anyway.
Interviewer: Do you love him?
Desi: Yeah, very much.
Interviewer: So what are your plans for the future?
Desi: I need to get my GED. I am not going to be able to go back to school in the traditional way, but I’m going to take classes online. I’d like to go to college, but I don’t know that I’ve really thought that far ahead. A lot can happen in a year.
Interviewer: Why can’t you go back to school?
Desi: It holds a lot of bad memories for me and I’ve already missed the first half of the year because of my cancer coming back. It’s my junior year and so I need to be able to focus somewhat on studies so I can get ready to apply to college. My parents are going to get me a tutor to help. I’m fine learning that way.
Interviewer: Isn’t it a little lonely?
Desi: Yeah, a little.
Interviewer: Let’s change the subject. How is it with your mom being home? Are things finally back to normal?
Desi: It’s awesome, but she came home to a mess. I am so proud of how much she does for me and my dad. She never stops being there for us when I know she is dealing with so much after being away for so long. She served three tours and I can’t imagine what she’s had to endure. It sort of makes my issues seem much smaller.
Interviewer: Have you asked her about it?
Desi: Not really. Do you think I should? I mean, I don’t know.
Interviewer: I was just wondering. I’m sure you know best what your mom wants to talk about.
Desi was quiet.
Desi: Yeah, maybe.
Interviewer: So before we end, what do you want people to know about you?
Desi: I don’t know. Maybe that I’m more than the issues I carry? I guess I want to make something of myself so I’m worth the faith people put in me. I want to be happy and healthy and I guess I want to make a difference in the world.
Interviewer: Thank you so much.
Who do you want tomorrow? What else do you want to know?
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