The room is dimly lit with a blue glow as morning light streams through the thin windows. Jacob sits in the middle of the room, disheveled and visibly uncomfortable. He is seated on a cheap plastic chair that sags under his weight and has been given a small sucker; the candy shakes in his hand as his body trembles. His audible breathing fluctuates with each large shake, as if each quickened breath pained him.
Melanie stands in front of the doorway as the policeman shuts the door. She narrows her eyes at the obviously distressed boy, who makes quick eye contact, then looks away. The policeman, with a slightly worried expression, leans against the wall. After a few silent moments of staring at the child, Melanie sits on the chair across from Jacob.
MELANIE, with authority, as she takes a pen and pad of paper out of her bag: Good morning, I'm Melanie Chambers. She watches him expectantly, then continues: And you are?
JACOB, quietly: Jacob.
Melanie looks back down at her pad and jots a few words down as she continues to question him.
MELANIE: And how old are you, Jacob?
MELANIE: Good. Pause. Can you tell me what happened earlier today?
Melanie, unaffected by Jacob's negligible health, stares at the child. He rubs his neck for a few seconds, fidgeting in order to avoid looking up.
JACOB, even quieter now: The police...they picked me up...I...he trails off.
MELANIE: Pardon me?
JACOB, a bit louder, but with a breathy undertone: The police found me. I was alone in the city, and...he is still unable to finish.
Jacob concentrates on slowing his breathing now, though he is on the verge of hyperventilation. Melanie waits for him to make a bit of progress, then starts to speak again.
MELANIE: Can you tell me how you got there?
Jacob keeps his head lowered and closes his eyes tightly.
JACOB, under his breath: No.
Melanie studies Jacob's face as he tries to hold in his sobs. Her eyes become almost glossy as she notices various defense wounds on the boy's forearms.
MELANIE: Did you get separated from your mother?...Were you, uh, taken away?
Jacob tries harder to contain himself.
MELANIE, with an almost condescending tone: Jacob, answer me, were you taken from your mother by a bad man?
Jacob doesn't respond.
MELANIE: I need you to tell me what happened today, or else we--she stops herself as Jacob makes eye contact.
JACOB, shaking his head slowly: No, no, I can't!
MELANIE, sensing trouble, yet urging him on: Jacob, we need--
JACOB, speaking over her despite his shortness of breath: No, I can't do that.
The policeman leans over and whispers to Melanie.