"An excellent choice!" Exclaimed Miz Lucaz, who would have made the same pronunciation for anyone at all who happened to be selected.
"If you all would come into my office, we can get the paperwork ready for you guys," she continued.
Ariella's mother, Janey, clapped her hands delightedly. "Yes, yes, please" she turned to her daughter and asked, "Aren't you excited, too, love?"
"Sure, mum. A foster sister at long last", she responded sweetly and with an innocent look on her face for the sake of bystanders.
The truth was, she didn't care either way if she had gotten a foster sister or brother or whatever else they put up for adoption in this rundown, shitty orphanage home. It was just that being an only child could be boring at times. No one to have rows with. Or punish. Or torture. An evil smile started to spread on her lips.
Claudine had caught the evil look that had flashed across Ariella's face after she smiled, and it had given her a bit of chill for reasons she could not quite put her finger on. But what could be worse than growing old in an orphanage home because no one else ever wanted you?
"Run along now, kids. Get back to your duties for the day. Your supervisors would be at their stations", said Miz Lucaz in quite an authoritative voice. A voice Claudine wouldn't have to listen to anymore, and the thought of that made her smile.
As the children scattered back to their duties as commanded by Miz Lucaz, Claudine saw Annette's sad face, and for a moment, just for a tiny moment, she felt for her. In reality, they all would like to escape the drudgery of the orphanage home and live in a real home with grownups who could care for them. Or pretend that they do, at least.
Janey, her husband, and daughter marched with Miz Lucaz into her office, with Claudine bringing up the rear. Miz Lucaz's office was like all the other rooms in the orphanage. It was small and cramped, with several cabinets crammed full of papers. Miz Lucaz had once mentioned how running an orphanage on a very tight budget had made it unable to afford certain things like the services of a personal assistant. So the result was having her office look like it did now.
"Please sit," Miz Lucaz gestured to two of the chairs placed in front of a desk that had chipped surfaces, "Mr and Mrs—?"
"Zaynader," responded Ariella's dad in a flat monotone. He clearly could not wait to get this bit over with and get out of the cramped little room. Crammed spaces always made him nervous and gave him heart palpitations. He had never admitted it to anyone, though. In his work about life, it was better to never admit to any weakness of any kind. That's how you get killed easily. So, he shifted uncomfortably in his chair and tugged at the neck of his collar to loosen it up.
Ariella and Claudine stood against the wall as there weren't any chairs for them to sit on. Ariella was careful not to touch any parts of her body on the wall, which looked quite grimy to her.
After five awkward minutes or more, Miz Lucaz finally whipped a file out with a flourish. The clutter made it difficult to find things.
"So if you could just read through, sir and ma'am," she glanced at Janey and her husband as she spoke, " you could sign right at the bottom if you agree with all that is on the paper."
There was a minute or two of silence as Ariella's dad and mom scanned through the documents.
"What's this it says here about visitations? I thought you guys had already sent someone to see our place and make sure it was conducive enough to house another human?" Janey asked in a tight little voice that Ariella and her father recognized. It's the same one she took up with cashiers at malls and grocery stores, the voice that said, 'hold up, I know you would love to rip me off, but I ain't about to let ya.' Yep, that one.
Ariella's dad allowed his wife to do the talking. She had always been the smarter one out of the two of them.
"Ah, it's—well, you're right. We did send our representative to check out your house and its living conditions. But the clause on the paper is for future visitations" she looked at all of them as she talked, darting her eyes from one person to the other. When Miz Lucaz was sure she had their attention, she continued.
"So if we get any report from Claudine here about any maltreatment, we would like to know in advance that we can send our representative to come over to your place and make investigations."
"Okay, that's fair, I suppose," responded Janey as she signed the paper and pushed it over to her husband to do the same.
Miz Lucas beamed at them. "So, that's it. We're done here."
"Thank goodness," muttered Ariella's dad as he made his way out of the cramped room fast before the others.
One of the orderlies had packed Claudine's stuff and brought it out by her new family's car.
When Claudine passed Ariella, she suddenly yanked the beaded necklace from around Claudine's neck, which caused the string to cut and the beads to scatter all over the floor. "What an ugly-looking necklace. I've been wanting to do that all day."
Claudine looked at the beads as they scattered on the floor; it was the only thing she had of her birth parents. Miz Lucaz said it had been in the basket that was left on the doorstep of the orphanage. Claudine didn't know when the tears started to roll unchecked down her face.
"Oh crap. The mousy girl is a big crybaby too. Just get in the dumb car, dumb girl", said Ariella as she shoved her hard into the backseat of the car while her foster parents looked on like it was alright to shove teenage girls around.