"Hello, Sam. And the girl?" She gestured gracefully toward the back. "Your sister?"
"Girlfriend—friend—we aren't dating, not right now—well—it's complicated." He muttered before sipping his drink.
"So I gather." She smiled pleasantly.
"It's complicated," he mumbled again, wishing it weren't. Wishing he knew how to fix it and make all the bad things in Emma's life go away.
"Tell me about complicated. What makes it so?"
Sammy exhaled slowly, thinking about it. What made it complicated? Emma. He and Em together. Her father, his parents—everything.
"I dunno, exactly."
"Let's uncomplicate it. If you had to pick one thing," to Sammy it sounded like ting and he smiled, "to change between you, what would it be?"
"The drugs," he decided quickly. "I'd get rid of the drugs."
"Are they the problem or the symptom? Would getting rid of the drugs really uncomplicate things?"
"It would help. There are reasons for the drugs. Emma uses them to escape."
"I'm not sure I should tell you." He took a sip, looking away evasively.
"Honey lamb, I'm a social worker here. Dr. Rivers wanted me to speak to you."
"Why have I never seen you before?"
"I have never been here before. I'm new—this is my first week. So humor me—and make me look good to the boss-man."
She patted his hand, her fingers warm and comforting. He looked at their hands. Hers was long fingered, broad palmed, dark, with bright red nails. His looked fragile, grubby and pale in comparison. He wondered how she could stand to touch him. Then he realized she really didn't mind. Even wet and dirty, three days growth of scrubby beard with splatters of mud and vomit on his shoes, smelling like week old socks, she didn't care. His fingers squeezed hers appreciatively.
"Her old man abuses her."
"And have you told anyone?"
"A lot." Sam got defensive. "The state pulls her out, they go to court, her folks deny it, and the state sends her back."
"And you do what?"
"Report him again. Only they're tired of hearing from me. I'm a kid. What do I know? I've only seen him come on to her. Then I beat the hell outta him for it."
"Then the cock sucker presses charges. Juvie record." He held out his arm to demonstrate the length. "Only I'm seventeen now. Next time, I get tried as an adult. Judge already told me."
"Her mother knows?"
"Yeah. She knows."
"And does nothing?"
His shrug was more eloquent than any words. They sat silently a few moments.
"And your parents?"
He scoffed. "Try to find them. I gave up. Mom's a drunk, Dad's a crack head. He's also a dealer, so he's in and out of jail. A crack dealer should never use, it makes him stupid. I haven't seen either of them in about two years."
"So, where do you live?" Rosalee showed her deep concern.
"Foster families, if I'm not in jail." He was very matter-of-fact about his record. "Sometimes I stay with friends. They don't much like me, the foster families, that is. My buddy has folks who are pretty cool. They let me stay, sleep on the couch, don't ask a lot of questions. Enough to make sure I'm okay...." He wanted her to know they didn't ignore him. "His mom works at home. His dad works for the state. They're good people.
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