“And you are a…”
“Student. I double in political science and business.” She said. “But I have an internship at Ravencorp in the summers.” Lane added very quickly. She hated this, having to prove herself to these severe people in suits.
The first looked curiously at her while his partner picked around the apartment. “Paid?”
“Generously.” She crossed her arms before reminding herself getting defensive was childish. His partner picked up one of her brother’s sketch books and Lane stiffened. “Please don’t do that.” The woman raised a brow at her in challenge and Lane fought the impulse to lash out. “They are Michael’s. His things.” She explained instead.
“A double major, and a paid internship. That’s very impressive for someone your age.” The man pulled her attention back. Even with the heels she’d worn for the occasion he and his partner towered over Lane’s petite frame.
“And your brother is fifteen. You understand the purpose of this visit, I assume? It’s been explained to you?” The man looked around the immaculate apartment as his partner opened the door to the bedrooms.
Of course she understood, and she hadn’t needed it explained. The state was trying to take her younger brother away again, after all they’d been through, after all he’d been through. They were still trying to uproot him and stick him a stranger’s care. “It has.”
“Good.” The man answered again. “You realize it’s highly unlikely you’ll be granted guardianship even if you pass today’s inspection, Michael has voiced his wish to remain here but he is still a minor. Ultimately it is the courts responsibility to find Michael a home, his placement history makes things complicated.”
Lane didn’t like being told what she did or did not realize. “It was the court who saddled him with that history in the first place.” She glared up at him as his mouth tightened. Neither said much more before they left with their own curt nods. Once the door was closed Lane crossed her arms and breathed through her nose, fighting back tears.
It didn’t matter what the courts decided, she told herself. The two of them would run if they had to, the state had split them once and Lane hadn’t been there to protect Michael from what happened next. She wouldn’t let the law inflict that pain again.
She gathered herself and began picking up the mess the social workers had left. Her brother’s sketchbooks were open where that awful woman had thumbed through them. Even his practice sketches felt dynamic, the lines graceful and vibrant. He wasn’t just talented, he had a gift. She smiled as she closed the notebooks and set them in their places.
The world was an ugly place, it did its best to corrupt and rip apart the good it found. Michael was proof it did not always succeed.