Dinner was a quiet affair, with no
one saying much. Even Ryan and Toby looked nervous. I'd been so busy
thinking about how all of this was going to affect me, and never really
stopped to think that they'd be upset, too. Maybe that was the insecure
side of me still trying to convince me that I was over-staying my
welcome or being a nuisance, even though none of them had ever given me
that impression. Apparently, I still had a lot of work to do on my
issues. I was thinking more and more that Maggie was right about me
talking to someone. Not just about the beating and rape, but about
everything that was wrong with me.
By seven o'clock, Ryan, Toby, and I were all sitting nervously in the
living room, awaiting the arrival of the social worker. I'd taken my
anxiety medication right after dinner, but my stomach was still doing
somersaults. I guess that was a sign of how nervous I really was. I
didn't want to leave, but I also knew I had to. It was hard enough on
Maggie to raise two boys on her own, especially with her insane work
schedule. It wouldn't be fair to expect her to take in a third one,
even if she'd wanted to (although she'd never mentioned it). I wouldn't
exactly feel okay with it either. The last thing I wanted was to feel
like a burden. And even if she had wanted to keep me, if something
happened between me and Ryan, and we ended up breaking up, what
would we do then? That would certainly make for a very awkward
"Are you okay, Connor?" Ryan asked softly, breaking me away from my
"I think so," I said, trying to manage a slight smile. I didn't think I
was hiding my anxiety that well, though.
"Don't worry, Connor. Nothing's gonna keep us away from you," Toby
"Thank you," I mouthed back to him.
It always seems like time moves especially slow when you're waiting
for something bad to happen, and I was practically going nuts just
sitting there, not knowing where I was going to end up, what
kind of people I would be staying with, or where my future would lead
me. It wasn't a good feeling at all. At that moment, I just wanted to
be back in Ryan's room with him, cuddled up together on his bed, the
only place besides sitting at the piano where I felt safe.
Just as I thought I couldn't stand waiting any longer, the doorbell
finally rang, and Maggie immediately went to answer it. A few moments
later, she walked back into the room along with a very large black man.
Although he had a friendly face, I couldn't help but dislike him,
knowing what he was here for.
"Connor, this gentleman is Dwayne Jackson, the regional director for
Child Protective Services," Maggie said. "And also a good friend of
"Hi, it's nice to meet you, Mr. Jackson," I said cautiously, standing
up and shaking the hand that he had offered me.
"It's nice to meet you, too, Connor," he said with a bright smile. "And
please call me Dwayne."
I noticed Maggie turn to look at Ryan and Toby. "Why don't you two go
on upstairs so we can talk privately for a little while?"
"No, it's okay," I jumped in immediately. "I mean, I want them to stay
"That's fine," Dwayne said, turning to Maggie. "Let's all have a seat
and get started."
"Okay, boys, you can stay. But keep quiet, alright?" Maggie said to
Ryan and Toby.
They both nodded in agreement.
Dwayne took a seat in one of the recliners and looked around at all of
us, who were in turn looking expectantly at him.
"So, I guess everyone knows why we're all here tonight," he said, as he
placed a stack of file folders on the coffee table in front of him and
put on a pair of reading glasses.