Chapter 2.1

          "Did you want something, Doctor?" I say curtly, "or did you just come to chew the fat?"

          "A little of both," Dr Vanbrughn seats herself on the bench opposite one behind me. I remain standing, as much as she'd like me to act chummy around her, for show or not. I don't want to give her anything she wants. "I heard from Alex that you'd be here. I wanted to talk to you about your birthday."

The way that everybody treats me specially in the run-up to my birthday fools me in contained moments that I'm a normal girl turning eighteen. I'd looked forward to being this old since I was very young, the age screamed prospects of doing whatever I wanted and being accepted for all my choices. I'd always said I would move out and rent an apartment, where Sophie could visit anytime to vent her fury at something that Mom did. I would make my own paradise and share it with her. Now, I can't imagine ever thinking so fancifully. I have little doubt I'll end up spending my eighteenth poked and prodded, as usual. Maybe they'll give me a badge to wear whilst they do it.

          "What about it? You haven't bought me a car, have you Doctor?"

She laughs, it's a hollow laugh, false. "Not quite, Dana. As you've probably guessed, being eighteen gives you certain privileges. Your mother signed a contract for you to remain here lawfully whilst you were still a minor. Now, that contract needs to be...reevaluated,"

          "Are you worried I'm going to swan off and abandon everything?" I raise an eyebrow at her, trying to sound as if I've ever considered it. I never have, not until now. Even if I did leave, even if I rented that apartment and Sophie made it her second home, it wouldn't be the same. I'd always know every waking moment what I walked away from, all those in need that I abandoned. If I didn't remind myself of it, Alison Vanbrughn undoubtedly would.

          "The department is, naturally, concerned about such a thing," she answers. "But if I'm honest, I have no doubt that you'll remain with us,"

          "And why would that be?"

Her eyes meet mine frigidly, like two enemies trying to read the other's mind before an assault. "Because you're a good soul, Dana. It's as simple as that."

I scoff. "I know. I hate that about myself."

 

The End

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