“I’m sorry, what?”
“Is your uncle,” she opens her file, “Godfrey here?”
I only look at her, confused.
“You told Doctor Lanely and Nurse Doris that you’re living with him.”
Shit. They sold me out. I knew Doris couldn’t be trusted
“He’s not here at the moment.”
“Meaning he is here most other times?” she asks sweetly.
“Ahh, not exactly.”
“Then what is it exactly?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t have this conversation right now,” I say closing the door behind me.
“I’m late for school. Could we do this after I come back from school?”
She looks at me for a long and uncomfortable moment.
“This cannot wait. Either the process continues without you or you allow me to get some input from you.”
I’m busted. There’s no running away from this.
“Ok, come in,” I tell her.
When she gets in, she looks around the house like she inspects it. She shows herself to the living room and takes a seat.
“I see that you have managed to keep things tidy.”
I take a seat on the adjacent couch. She opens her file and takes out a pen.
“So you are not living with your uncle.”
I remain tightlipped.
“I’d appreciate it if we didn’t lie or withhold information from each other. I’m here to figure out the best course of action that needs to be taken to enable your best welfare.”
“No, I’m not living with my uncle.”
She writes something in her file.
“And why is that?”
“Because he lives far from here—”
“An hour from here,” she interrupts.
“Yes. I would have to change schools, friends, and visiting my mother in hospital would become more difficult.”
“How are you surviving on your own?”
“It has been only four days. There is some food in the kitchen—frozen pizzas and some groceries.”
I don’t think she needs to know I have access to mother’s bank account.
She writes in her file again.
“I understand you have an aunt, Tory Wellding, your mother’s sister,” she says looking up.
Aunt Tory. She lives the detached life with her lover, free from the trappings of modern society and the responsibility of raising a family, according to mother. A glorified hippie, mother has said on some occasions. She used her inheritance from grandfather to buy farmland, where she lives and grows her own organic food with her partner.
A woman with degrees in literature and philosophy should know better than to shut herself from the world, mother once said. What better candidate for the hippie lifestyle, dad had countered.
I smile to myself.
“Yes,” I answer.
“How would you feel about living with her?”
“And become a Buddhist.”
She smiles. At least my sarcasm isn’t lost on her.
“Is it ok if I moved around the house?”
“What about school. I’ll be late.”
“Don’t worry about that. I’ll call and tell them that you’ll come in later. I’ll drive you there when we’re done here.”
I sigh to subdue my frustration.
“Sure, you can look around.”
“Great,” she says getting up.
“There’s no need for you to show me around. I’m sure I can find my own way. You can just wait for me and prepare to go to school. It shouldn’t take too long.”
She heads upstairs and I rush to Dad’s office. I rummage through his contacts until I find his lawyer’s number. I will not be living with any of my crazy relatives. I call the number.
“Greg Roving, hello.”
“Hello, I need your help,” I say in a hushed voice.
“I’m sorry but who is this?”
“It’s William Bain.”
“William Bain. Rowan Bain’s boy?”
“Ok, how can I help?”
“My mother was diagnosed with late-onset schizophrenia and a social worker is here at my house. She’s asking questions about my wellbeing and if I can live with my aunt or uncle.”
I speak like I have a gun to my head. I don’t want to give Gladys a heads up on my plans. The phone call must end before she comes downstairs.
“How old are you?”
“I see. I think the social worker is concerned that you are a minor living alone. He or—”
“It’s a she. I mean she’s a woman.”
What the hell am I saying?
“She probably wants to place you with an adult.”
“What if I don’t want to be placed with an adult? What if I can take care of myself?”
“First of all, you must be sure of this before we can proceed. After you’re certain, we need to make sure that we can prove it.”
“I’m sure. I have been taking care of myself and my mother for some time now. How do I continue taking care of myself?”
“Well, you can apply for emancipation from the status of a minor.”