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Chapter 5 Let's Go Home

  • Grace rolled her neck and stretched her sore back muscles as her fingers stroked Liam’s hair. The child was sleeping on her lap and as she ran her hand through his hair, she remembered that he was in desperate need of a bath. Half of his body was on the chair while the rest was in her lap. She must have been extremely uncomfortable in the position, but he was too tired to stay awake.
  • They were in the sitting room of the Cornwell Justice Department, a building where prosecutors and police officers had their offices in the same building. The Cornwell Police Department had its main branch there. Grace’s mother had gone into the Chief of Police’s office as soon as they arrived, almost three hours ago.
  • The Police Chief was a friend of her mother’s since their college days. Olivia could have been a police officer easily had her husband forced her to quit law school and told her to get a less stressful job. The lower pay might have saved their marriage, but it was a good thing the situation hadn’t headed that way.
  • Grace sighed heavily before closing her eyes. The day seemed to drag on. After she got off the phone with her mother, the girls decided to take Liam shopping for a pair of clothes and buy him a few toys that would keep him preoccupied until Olivia arrived. Knowing her mom, she risked speed limits to get to them quicker. The thought brought a smile to Grace’s lips.
  • As the girls looked for clothes for him, they slowly and discreetly peppered Liam with questions, trying to figure out what had led him to be separated from his family. They couldn’t get much information out of him apart from the fact that he had driven for a long time with his mother. When he wasn’t in the car, his mother was off somewhere, leaving him to play by himself.
  • For the thousandth time since she met the poor boy, Grace felt tears prickle. Especially when she thought about when Liam was interviewed by the cops a few hours ago. The child psychologist who had come in had been able to get more information out of him than the girls had. They knew his name was Liam, but his Memaw called him Cookie. He lived with his mother and father in a house surrounded by trees and water bodies. He was also able to tell that he was three years old and that his birthday was around Valentines Day. Liam still couldn’t talk in proper sentences and had a hard time communicating, but the psychologist also figured out that Liam had a pet fish named ‘Fish’ and a smiley face stuffed toy that he liked to hug to sleep at night. He also said something about staying with his Memaw and Pawpaw a lot of the time but he didn’t know any real names. He couldn’t even tell them his last name.
  • When asked if he knew how long he had been all alone, his broken answer led their imagination to the worst of places. According to him, he didn’t know how long he had been there. But there was a man who met them at a park. The man told his mother that she had to abandon the child or she wouldn’t get what she wanted.
  • Liam’s mother told him to stay in the alley and that she would be back soon. As he tried to explain the situation in words, he struggled and his eyes welled up with tears. It was clear what had happened simply by how he didn’t know the meaning of certain words and phrases he was saying.
  • Grace had the same expression of utter disgust as her mother, who had sat through enough cases of child abuse and violence against children trials to know exactly what had undergone.
  • “Do you know the man, Liam?” the psychiatrist asked. “Was he your daddy?”
  • Liam shook his head immediately. “No. Daddy home.”
  • When asked to describe what his mother and the man looked like, he couldn’t put the colors into words. A chart with hairstyles and colors was brought in. From what Liam picked out, the man was huge with yellow hair, while his mother had white hair and blue eyes. His father had eyes as dark as him, and so did his MeMaw.
  • Once they were sure Liam couldn’t answer any more questions, Olivia went inside the Police Chief’s office, leaving Grace in the waiting room to ensure Liam was comfortable. Lily and Gina had left for their respective home when Olivia arrived at the mall to pick them up. They promised to drop off what Grace had bought before heading home. Gina also promised to call once everything was sorted.
  • About half-an-hour later, Grace felt someone tap on her shoulder. She shot awake, and looked around wildly, thinking she was in trouble. But she blinked in relief when she saw her mother’s face above her.
  • "Mom?" she mumbled. The older woman smiled kindly at her.
  • "Come on, baby girl, let's go home."
  • Grace felt panic grip her heart. “I can’t leave Liam. What about him?” she asked, tearing up once again.
  • Olivia shook her head immediately. “It’s alright, baby girl. Liam is coming home with us.”
  • Confusion was written all over Grace’s face. She didn’t know much about law, now was she a social worker, but the possibility of taking Liam home with them sounded highly unlikely and out of the ordinary. Olivia shot her a sheepish smile, recognizing the look on her face.
  • “The Chief called in a favor for us. So far, there are no children missing with his description or name in the state. Because I pressed them, they will look into the matter and check the database for the rest of the country in the morning to see if they get any hits. Normally, Child Protective Services would be out here and take him to a facility or place him with a foster family. He would be returned to his family once they were found and an investigation of neglect is complete. But in this case, the Police Chief really helped us out and got us appointed as temporary guardians.”
  • Still, Grace was confused.
  • “The workload on social workers is great and I have the required training and certification to be a foster parent, remember?”
  • Yes, her mother had undergone the courses because she was considering fostering and adopting once Grace left for university and spread her wings.