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A Plain Girl, An Obstinate Door, and A Second Chance

A Plain Girl, An Obstinate Door, and A Second Chance

She’s not exactly tall, but she’s definitely not short. She isn’t overweight, but she’s not underweight either. Her hair isn’t quite blonde, but it’s not dark enough to be brown. From a distance, she seems to be nothing more than the average fifteen year old girl. There’s nothing special about her appearance, nothing that draws the eye back for a second glance. To put it rather bluntly, she’s forgettable.
“Rachel Carter? They’re ready for you in Room 8.”
There she is. Colorless eyes, expressionless face, shapeless clothes. But to him, she’s the most beautiful thing in the entire world. He wants to call out to her – to take it all back, to rewind time. But he knows that isn’t possible. So he keeps his mouth shut and watches as she rises up out of the metal folding chair and walks up to the desk.
“Um, I’m afraid my social worker isn’t here yet. Should I go on in?”
Her voice! It is bland, predictable, monotone – music to his ears. He closes his eyes and sinks down a little further into the chair. As if she would even recognize him! If she did, what would she say? How would she react? Would she cry? Scream and yell and curse the day he was born? The question has been plaguing him for so long. The nights he has spent laying awake, staring at the ceiling, thinking about her. What did she look like? Was she happy? Was she safe? Did she have a nice family? And then, when he was really depressed, would she be happier with him?
She picks up her backpack and heads down the hall. Call her! Stop her! Say something, anything! He cannot stop the voices in his head, but he knows he must control them. She opens the door and steps inside. When she comes back out, that is when he will tell her. Yes. Yes, that is just what he will do.

********************

She is juggling coffee, her briefcase, and a ring of keys. Why won’t the stupid door open? She hates being late, especially when Rachel is concerned. The poor girl has been in the foster care system since she was two years old. Cases like Rachel’s remind Vickie of the reason why she became a social worker in the first place. The blasted door finally gives in, and she flings herself into the small office. The waiting area is usually empty, which is why the man sulking in the corner catches her attention. After twenty years of working with kids, Vickie’s eyes have trained themselves to scope out suspicious situations with a single glance. Something about him is not right. Oh well. There is no time to investigate right now. She needs to get to Room 8 as quickly as possible.

********************

Why does that crazed little nanny keep looking at him? After all, he isn’t the one acting like he just escaped from an asylum. What is her rush anyway? The incident with the door definitely confirms his suspicions. The woman needs help.
He watches her fly down the hall, past Rooms 5 – 9. She screeches to a halt and scoots back over to Room 8. His jaw drops open. That is Rachel’s social worker?

*******************

The meeting is over. Vickie sighs and drapes her arm around Rachel’s shoulders.
“Maybe it will be better this time, sweetheart. The Parks seem like very nice people, don’t you think?”
“Sure, I guess. It doesn’t really matter. I’m graduating in a couple of years anyway.”
Rachel tries to smile up at her guardian and friend. If there is anything she has learned from the foster system, it is not to cry. Stoicism is a life saver.
“Oh, stop reminding me. You make me feel so old.”
Rachel laughs and swings her backpack onto her shoulder.
“You are old, Vick,” she says with a wink.
As she turns the corner into the waiting area, a man jumps up out of his chair right in front of her. She steps back, angling to go around him, but he stops her.
“Rachel.”
He whispers her name as if, were he to say it too loudly, she might break.
“Do I know you?”
“No, you don’t; well, not really. Oh, Rachel, I’m so glad I finally found you.”
Vickie pushes Rachel behind her slowly and nods at the clerk behind the desk. She picks up a phone, holding the receiver hesitantly.
“No, no. I’m sorry; I know this is a little strange, but it’s not what you think.”
He turns back to Rachel and leans down (just slightly) so their eyes are level.
“Rachel, I’m your father. I’ve come to take you home.”



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