True to her word that evening Ali finds herself in the back seat of a small silver Ford with nothing but the clothes on her back, hurtling towards another different bed to sleep in and more people she doesn’t know. She craves for the comfort of her mother’s hand and the laughter of her little sister Sophie. Another wave of grief strikes her as she realises that the very sounds, feelings and faces she wants so much, she can never have again.
Bill, Ali’s new social worker, opens the door when they reach their destination. Ali hadn’t even realised the car had stopped and she slowly looks up at Bill who bends down and gently wipes away a couple of escaping tears.
“Shhhh…sweetie it’s okay. I know you’re scared and lonely but this foster family is one of the best I’ve ever seen.” Bill quietly speaks to Ali in a hushed voice whilst reaching into his pocket to pull out a clean tissue.
He gives her the tissue and stands up quickly, “I just need to go and speak to your foster parents one more time to finalise a couple of things. Can you wait in the car for five more minutes? I’ll even leave the radio on.”
Ali nods in complete silence apart from a few quiet sobs. Bills shuts the car door and locks it before walking towards the house. Suddenly he stops and looks back over his shoulder to see the most lost girl he has ever met. Usually he dealt with at-risk children who had been in the foster system most of their lives. Dealing with Ali was on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Bill walks up to the beautiful house and knocks on the door. It is quickly opened by Lena who looks straight past Bill and to the girl in the car.
“Oh Bill, let’s do this paperwork quickly I would like to get her inside.” Lena sounds her concerns to Bill who nods and steps inside.
There he finds Stef, Lena’s wife, trying to tidy up their living room from the mess their three children had caused earlier in the day; Brandon, nine, who is Stef’s biological son and Jesus and Mariana, seven, who are their adopted twins.
“Hey Bill, we have to stop meeting under these circumstances,” chimes Stef trying to ease the tension in the room as she walks over to shake his hand. Bill had called ahead of time to ask if they could take Ali in for a while. After explaining what happened to her how could the two women say anything but yes.
“Hi Stef, sorry about this but I couldn’t think of anyone else to take her.” Bill says as he ushers both women outside onto the porch.
Stef leaves the door open behind them causing Bill to give her a look, “Don’t worry the kids are at my dad’s for the night. After what has happened to the poor girl we didn’t think she would be up to being bombarded.” Stef replies to Bill’s look, “So she’s got no one at all left to look after her?” Stef asks with a sad sigh as she looks into the car noting that Ali seems to have calmed herself down for now.
“Absolutely no one. Her grandparents died before she was born and there no living aunts or uncles either. We even tried looking for cousins but that was a dead end too.” Bill sighs as he looks to the car. This girl tugged at his heartstrings the minute he set eyes on her and he can’t quite work out why.
“Well, we’ll take her in that’s no problem.” Lena says as she quickly takes her wife’s hand and places her free arm around Stef’s waist. She could tell that Ali has made an impression with Stef and they haven’t even met yet.
“The only problem is that she literally doesn’t have anything. She came to the group home in her pyjamas and Rita had to give her some forgotten clothes that are way too big.” Bill slightly laughs, remembering picking Ali up and finding her with a top that went to her knees and jeans that kept falling down. “She doesn’t even have any shoes but it’s the health issues that concern me. She has minor burning on her left hand from the fire and quite a lot of bruising to her legs from the fall.”