2008-11-07

NaBloPoMo/NaNoWriMo Day 7

(...continued)

I tell all of this to Officer Dean now. He is sympathetic, but since no laws have really been broken, there is nothing he can do. So he tells me he’s going to pass me along to a social worker who works for the police station.
Her name is Sarah, and in my mind she looks just like Elaine from “Seinfield.” She has her own office, with a couch on it, and I sit on that couch while I tell her the whole story that I just told to Officer Dean. Except, Sarah asks a lot more questions than Officer Dean did. Mostly she wants to know why. Why am I crying? Why don’t I want to go home? Why does my mom yell at me so much? Why do I like hanging out with the homeless people? Why don’t I have friends at school? Why, why, why?
She thinks its weird that, on the very day my mom caught me escaping my grounding and hanging out with the homeless people, the very day it became clear that I was in deep trouble, is the very day that I decided to show up at the police station asking for help.
Maybe she’s right. Maybe its more than a coincidence. But its not just that I’m angry at my parents and don’t want to follow rules, like Sarah seems to think. Its just that, with the homeless people, I had a sort of community behind me, people who liked me and supported me. If my parents take that away from me… and I’m certain they will…there will be nothing to make my life bearable. And now, with them angrier than ever at me and hinting that I’m crazy, I will be more alone than ever before.
Try as I might, I cannot get Sarah to understand this. I cannot put my feelings into words that she can easily transfer into her notepad.
But I must get through to her somehow, because finally she tells me, “Okay, you don’t have to go home. You’re not going back there.” She tells me I’ll be going to a group home until the social services people can figure out what to do with me. It will most likely take thirty days, she explains, and then a judge will decide whether I should go home or stay in foster care. In the mean time, she brings me to a small room with nothing but a chair in it… and locks me in!
There is nothing for me to do but pace around frantically in the room. There are mirrors on the walls, and I peer into them to determine whether they are those secret window-mirrors. (They are, but there’s nobody in the other room looking back at me,(
I am freaking out. This is really happening! I am really leaving home, not as a runaway, but as a legitimate person! I imagine that thirty days will be just long enough to change everything. Maybe I will get to switch schools. Maybe someone will help me do better in school, instead of screaming at me. Maybe someone will help me find friends. Maybe, if I do go home after thirty days, someone will have helped my mom to not hate me so much. And maybe, even if she does still hate me, I will be strong enough to handle it.
The door to the little room opens, and Sarah walks in. Her face is angry. “Nicki, your parents are here, and you’re going home with them,” she declares. “You can’t go to a group home. You’ll never make it.”
What? I burst into fresh tears. “But you said I didn’t have to go back there! You promised!” I wail.
“I never promised anything,” snaps Sarah.
“It was just a trick, wasn’t it! You just told me that to trick me so I’d sit still while you called my parents!” The betrayal is shocking to me. I really did think Sarah was going to help me.
“That’s not true,” she protests. “I spoke to your parent and heard what they had to say, and I decided you’d be better off going home.”
“Well, I’m not going home! You can’t make me!” I shout. But my bravery quickly gives way to more tears, and I beg, “Please don’t make me go back! Please let me go somewhere else! Just for a while!”
Sarah sighs and walks out, locking me in again.
I go to the corner of the room and sink onto the floor. I pull my knees to my chest, and bawl into my arms, wiping my snotty nose on the sleeves of my sweatshirt. I cry and cry. It is as if my heart has broken open, and the pain is spilling out.
Then the door opens, and an angel from Heaven walks in.
“Nicki, this is Liz. She’s from the Bridge Youth Services. She’s here to talk with you and help you work things out with your parents,” says Sarah. She lets the lady in, and shuts the door once more.
The new lady, Liz, is young and pretty. She has on jeans and wears her hair in a ponytail, and her face doesn’t look angry. She glances around the room, and then sits down on the chair. “What’s going on?” she asks.
I look up at her. “She lied to me! That lady lied to me! She said I wouldn’t have to go home, and now my parents are here!”
“That’s really upsetting to you, isn’t it,” says Liz.
“Yes! I don’t want to go home! My mom thinks I’m crazy! And now Sarah thinks I’m crazy too!”
“You don’t seem crazy to me,” says Liz. “In fact, you seem very smart!”
I calm down a little at that. Liz’s voice is friendly and gentle, not suspicious and angry.
I tell her my story once more. I am getting tired of telling it, though. So I give her the abbreviated version. My mom hates me. School sucks. The homeless people loved me, were nice to me, and gave me a place to belong. Now I am going to be kept away from them, and I am in more trouble than ever, and I don’t have anywhere to turn to.
“I don’t have any control over whether you go home,” says Liz. “But since it looks like you are going to have to go home with your parents, I’d like to try to help make it easier for you.”
“But they think I’m crazy! They’re going to send me to a mental hospital,” I remind her.
“I talked to your parents, and they said they’re not going to do that. Your mom was very upset when she said that,” says Liz.
“If they send me home, I could just run away, maybe.”
“That’s right, you could,” Liz agrees. “Have you thought about how that would work? Do you know where you would go?”
I think about my old plan to run away to the north woods of Wisconsin. But I am not a little kid anymore, and I know I won’t be able to survive long by recycling cans and eating vending machine foods. I think about California, and how I almost ran away to there, but now that option isn’t open any more either. Jason is in Audy Home, and the others are in Michigan. I could run away to Michigan, but I don’t have much money saved up and I have no idea how I’d get there. And although I wish I could just stay with the homeless people and live with them, I know its impossible. I’d quickly get found, and then my friends would get in trouble for helping me.
“I don’t know,” I mutter. “I’d find somewhere.”
“How about if we make a deal with your parents that you’ll go home tonight, and you won’t run away tonight?” says Liz.
“Fine,” I say. I am running out of steam. It is getting late. My stomach hurts. I’ve been defeated.

The rest of the evening is a blur. I walk with Liz back to Sarah’s office, where my parents are waiting. Sarah and Liz ask to talk to my parents alone, and I am banished to the hallway, where Officer Dean babysits me for a while. I am in a weird state of having lost all control over the situation, and it makes my mind spin. I joke with Officer Dean. I tell him I ate food from the Dumpster. I tell him that I went on the carnival rides for free. I tell him I almost ran away to California with some kids I met at the train station. “Do you know Jason Rees?” I ask.
“Yes, I know Jason very well,” says Officer Dean.
“How about Erick Quinn? Do you know him?” I ask. Erick pops into my mind because he sort of reminds me of Jason. They’re both bald-headed.
“Yes, I know Erick also. Those aren’t really the types of guys you should be hanging out with,” says Officer Dean. “They’re bad guys.”
“Why? What did they do, kill someone?” I wonder.
“No, but eventually they probably will,” says Officer Dean.
“Not me! They won’t kill me! They’re my friends,” I assure him.
Sarah. Liz, and my parents come out of Sarah’s office, before Officer Dean can convince me that Erick and Jason are murderers waiting to strike.
“Come on, lets go,” says my mom.
I follow them out, turning to wave goodbye to Officer Dean. He shakes his head in bemusement as he waves back at me.
We leave the police station. The reality of the situation hits me once again, and I feel like puking.

When we get home, my parents tell me that first thing in the morning they are taking me to see a doctor.
“What kind of doctor?” I demand.
“Well, a psychiatrist,” says my mom.
“I don’t want to see a psychiatrist!” I protest.
“Tough,” says my mom. “We have to find out what’s wrong with you.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” I grumble. “I hate doctors.”
“Oh, you’ll be seeing plenty of doctors,” sing-songs my dad.
They take my shoes, and the heavy thermal sweatshirt that I always keep with me even when its hot out. I have never been good about parting with my things. As a little kid, I used to bawl when I outgrew my sneakers and other clothes. Now, I cry again and beg for my things back… or just a little more time to say goodbye to them… but my parents snatch them away from me and throw them in the garbage. The image of my stuff in the trash nearly drives me crazy, and I cry hysterically. I’ve lost all of my friends, and now I’m even losing my sneakers and sweatshirt. My mom threatens to take away my backpack, too, but she doesn’t. She’s probably afraid that would really send me over the edge. I cry myself to sleep.

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