I can’t believe I was able to pull this off. 1000 words is incredibly difficult! This is wholly different from the first draft that I wrote on Saturday and I’m much more pleased with it. With 1000 more words, I could have done so much more. But for the limits, I like what I created here… The sentence that I chose was “When does the family document the thunder?”
Two colleagues dropped by Janis Meadow’s tiny windowless office to coax her out to lunch. They found her crouched under her monstrous desk, looking for a manila folder buried within one of many piles.
“Can we talk about how your office looks like a special edition of ‘Hoarders’? We really need to talk about your organization skills.” Monique spoke as she shoved at three folders that were dangling from a shelf. Kerry was not far behind her. The two of them huddled by the door, regarding the overflowing bookshelves that leaned against the walls.
“I know where everything is in this office.” Janis grunted from the floor. Indeed, she had found the file she was looking for, but was having trouble gracefully removing it from the heavy pile. “If they gave me a bigger one, I’d have a nicer looking place.”
Kerry scoffed at this. “You need less cases, not more room.”
“We all need less cases!” Monique chuckled.
Janis emerged from under her desk and manila folder overstuffed with paper onto her office chair. She stood, adjusting her pencil skirt and matching suit jacket. Exasperated, she attempted to make room on her desk for the folder. High piles of similar looking folders edged precariously closer to the edge of her desk. Her two friends looked at them nervously. “Maybe another folder can go on the floor?” Monique suggested.
“These are all of my most active folders.” Janis dismissed with a huff.
Her friends gaped. “How many…”
“Two hundred? I haven’t really kept count. I probably get a new one each day. Aren’t you guys getting cases?”
“Not on this level,” Monique said as she stepped toward the desk and picked up a folder, “this is somethin’ else.”
“Since Linda quit three weeks ago, I’m getting all of her stuff, too.” The fatigue finally came through as she said that sentence, and the desk seemingly creaked under its weight. “Patrick just came by asking for an update on this guy.” She pointed at her newly retrieved folder.
“There goes lunch.” Kerry laughed. “Want us to go get you something?”
“That’s kind of you. I think I’ll manage.”
“I don’t know about you, but I think I’d rather stay.” Monique said with a friendly smile.
Janis returned a grateful one. “I’ll get us a pizza.” She offered, pulling up a website to make the order.
Kerry put her hands on her hips and shook her head, but decided to stay.
“So who is it?” Monique asked, crossing her arms after Janis looked up from her computer.
“Kendrick Donovan, a seventh grader in Mattapan.” Janis replied. “His father and uncle were shot on his front porch yesterday afternoon. We’d just gotten Kendrick back to school.”
“Was he present?” Kerry asked with shock.
“No. He was at school at the time. Belligerent mom came to school to yank Kendrick out. She took him home and called the school this morning saying that she wants to withdraw him permanently. These 4 months have been the longest stretch of consistent schooling that Kendrick has had since fifth grade.”
Monique shook her head. “Have you been able to talk to Kendrick directly?”
Janis rubbed her eyes in exhaustion. “No. His cell phone is off or disconnected. Mom sees our number and knows that it’s CPS, so she doesn’t want to answer. I’ve requested that the police team investigating give me access to the family, but I haven’t heard back. Patrick wants me to look through this folder for something compelling so that we can possibly go get him.”
Kerry and Monique both straightened. “Really? Go get him? And do what?” Kerry asked.
Janis shrugged. “Take him to a family member?” She leafed through the papers. “I recall an aunt who lives in Chelsea…”
“That takes him out of his district. He’ll lose his school.” Monique said and then took the folder from Janis. She flipped through the folder, looking for the family history and contact information.
As much as Janis knew that Kendrick could potentially leave his school district, she also knew that she was running out of time. “I could try to put him with a foster family…” She ventured.
Kerry shook her head vehemently, her eyes focused on the ground as she brainstormed.
Monique sucked her teeth.
“What?” Janis asked.
“The only other family within the city is actually one of my own cases.” Monique said sadly.
“Who?” Kerry asked, surprised by the connection.
“Tevin Marshal and his four brothers in Forest Hills. No room for Kendrick in that house. And…” She hesitated.
Janis tried to fill in the blanks. “Drugs?”
“No,” Monique said quickly. “Dad drinks. He’s not there all the time, but when he is, it’s like lightning strikes that house. Life is decimated for a few weeks.”
“When does the family document the thunder?” Kerry wondered out loud.
“I’ve had that family for five years. We’re giving them access to therapy. Sometimes they take it,” Monique shrugged, “sometimes, they don’t.”
Janis ran a hand through her hair in contemplation, staring off into nothing. “I need a solution.”
“Wouldn’t your energy be better spent working with mom rather than moving Kendrick out?” Kerry suggested after a few silent minutes.
“Mom is hysterical.” Janis replied. “She’s overwhelmed with grief and shock.”
“All the more reason why your energy should focus her rather than him. If he wants to be there, he’ll go, if she lets him. And the person who has that say is her.”
“Do they have insurance?” Monique chimed in.
“MassHealth.” Janis read from the folder.
“They’ve got emergency and grief counseling. We can gain priority, too. Want me to call for you? My cousin works in the scheduling office.” Monique offered.
Janis clapped her hands, grateful. “Would you please?”
Kerry moved to step out with Monique. “You’re doing a great job. Happy anniversary. You’ve done a lot with your year here.”
“Thank you,” Janis managed. “What about the pizza?”
“We’ll be back.” Kerry called with a wink and a smile.