I never write in first person so I figured I’d give it a shot.
The chair in Ms.Alders office was set close to the door. I could hear everything she said to the police out in the hallway.
“She was doing well here.” Ms. Alders said. “I don’t understand it.” The policeman made a sound that was noncommittal. It was obvious to him I’d not been doing well as he was here arguing with my case worker. And I guess there was some truth in that but I didn’t want to leave either. Ms. Alders continued, her voice getting louder. “What proof do you have? She’s passed every test, negative every time.”
I couldn’t see the cop’s face but I could imagine the look her gave her. “She admitted it Ms.” He was tired and probably just wanted to be done with this. I was getting to that point too.
“Please. Let me talk to her, she wouldn’t have gotten involved in something like this.” Ms. Adler said, not sounding like she was actually asking.
“You have ten minutes before the sheriff gets here and the girl comes with us.” The man’s voice was not unkind, just not understanding. I wondered how many cases like this he dealt with; stupid kids dealing with stupid stuff and the people who got attached to them.
I liked Ms. Alders. As case workers went she seemed like someone who wanted to help people, not just some psychology student who couldn’t get through graduate school. She was wrong though. I was involved, I’d been involved for a while, long before I came to Rikerd county and a family I liked.
Her heels clacked on the tile outside and I perfected my slouch.
She didn’t look at me until the door was closed and she was sitting behind her desk. “Lane, this is bad.” She said to me. That was another reason she’s a good case worker. I may look like I’m fourteen, but I’m sixteen and she at least talks to me like it. It’s really refreshing when most adults cycle between frustration and pity.
“You’re being processed; this was your last–.” Ms. Alders stopped herself as her tone tightened. She was angry.
“Chance.” I finished it for her. “I’m sorry.” I said lamely. I was too, kind of.
“Don’t Lane.” She stopped me curtly and I swallowed. She was angrier than I thought. “This was stupid. You’re not stupid. What happened?”
I shrugged and looked at the space on her desk between the two of us. “This isn’t anything new.”
The look she gave me made my shoulders twitch even caught from my peripheral vision. “I’m not talking about the selling. You got caught, why?”
My brain worked, turning around like rusted cogs. “You know?”
There was that look again. “You’re not my only case. Some of your customers see me weekly.”
“But you’ve never said anything, you’ve never reported me.” That didn’t make sense. If she’d known and had proof, Ms. Alders had to report me. Possession was a large black mark, as I was learning…but selling narcotics had a no tolerance policy, especially for ‘at risk’ youth like foster kids.
She placed a manicured finger at her temple. “I considered it. But you don’t use, you don’t sell to middle schoolers and I’d hoped you’d wise up before this.” She looked at me and I really couldn’t figure out what she was thinking. Ms. Alders sighed. “I went with the devil I knew. No offense.”
I didn’t take any. Ms.Alders wasn’t even a decade older than me, just some woman in her mid-twenties trying to figure out how to deal with problem kids, trying to do her job. It was still weird to see her like this, and it would probably bother me later when I wasn’t facing the rest of my high school career in a juvenile delinquency center.
“You’re going to jail Lane and I can’t figure out why.” She stood up and looked outside her office window. The sheriff was here and waiting. “I was trying to help, really. I’m sorry.” She said and that confused me.
I didn’t say anything else to her.
The sheriff came and got me then, while Ms. Alders looked upset in everyone’s general direction. I wondered if this would get her in trouble. Probably not, this kind of thing happened all the time.
She was still watching as they pushed me into the back of the police car.