It didn't take long for the principal to send both girl's home. Each girl was given a note to give to their parents/guardians informing them of their week-long suspension. Carter quickly gathered all the books out of her locker and left the school as quickly as possible.
Good job, Carter. You've already managed to get yourself a week-long suspension from school. She was dreading going back to her foster family, but knew she couldn't do much else.
It only took about ten minutes for her to get back to the Kings' house. She unlocked the door with the spare key that was under the mat. She slowed opened the door. "Mrs. King?" She called nervously.
Closing the door quietly, she stepped into the living room, "Mrs. King?" She called a little bit louder.
"Carter? Is that you?" She heard from upstairs. A few moments later, Tanya came walking down the stairs. "School's not out for another few hours. What are you doing home?" Tanya's eyes widened when she saw the bruise on Carter's face. "What happened?"
She looked down at her feet feeling extremely guilty. She stuck her hand in her pocket and pulled out the note from the principal.
Tanya took it from her hand and unfolded it. After reading it, Tanya looked up sympathetically, "Come on sweetie, let's go sit down and talk."
Carter nodded and followed her to the kitchen.
They both sat down at the kitchen table, Carter wincing as she did so.
The pain on her face did not go unnoticed. "Carter, what's wrong?" Tanya asked in concern.
Carter wrapped an arm around her stomach. "I'm fine."
Tanya moved to sit next to Carter. "Carter, you can tell me. It's okay."
The teen sighed and pulled her arm away. "I haven't actually looked at it myself." She slowly pulled up the front of her shirt. Bruises were already starting to form on her stomach where Tammy had punched her so many times.
"Oh my goodness." Tanya put a hand over her mouth. "Who did this to you?"
"A girl at school."
Tanya reached out and gently prodded at her stomach. "Do you think anything's broken?"
Carter flinched at the sudden contact and shook her head. "No ma'am. It just some bruises. I'll be fine. But, like the note said… I'm not able to go back to school for at least a week."
"Why a week? Did you hit the girl back?"
"Well, I may have hit her first…" Carter answered quietly.
Tanya took a deep breath. "Why did you hit her?"
"She kept insulting me, I tried to ignore her but she wouldn't let me walk away. So… I punched her in the face."
"Carter, you can't handle your problems like that."
"That's how I've been handling it so far and seems to work pretty well." Carter muttered.
Tanya shook her head. She stood and walked to a cabinet over the kitchen counter, she pulled out a bottle of pain killers. "Take two of these every four hours until the pain stops." She handed the bottle to Carter, "Why don't you go upstairs and do your homework, we'll talk about this later."
"Yes ma'am." She answered quietly before scurrying upstairs to her room.
Carter popped two of the pills into her mouth before falling onto her bed. She took out her phone to see if maybe Laynie had texted her. Not one message.
I'm sure she's just busy. She's still settling in, we'll talk soon. I'm sure of it. She thought to herself.
As she sat in silence, Tammy's words echoed in her mind. "Nobody cares about you. You're just a little nobody." Tears pricked at her eyes. There are people who care about me. There's Laynie, Mark and Jennifer, my parents loved me. It shouldn't matter what Tammy thinks. She doesn't matter. Determined to get her mind off everything, she pulled her book bag up on the bed and started on her homework that was sent home with her.
A few hours later, Carter talked to Paul and Tanya and told her side of the story. Even James came and defended her, knowing just how cruel Tammy could be after being in the same school as her since first grade.
"Tammy's a jerk and she always has been." James told his parents, "If Carter says that she started it, she's telling the truth."
Tanya looked from James to Carter. "Well, the note you were sent home with said we'd have to schedule a parent/teacher conference. I suppose we'll get it all sorted out then."
Carter nodded quietly. And then she felt a hand touch her own. She looked up and saw Tanya smiling at her.
"Don't worry about it too much. We'll work it out."