They were discussing her son. She could tell without hearing the words, by the facial expressions. They held the familiar sickened look she’d come to recognize. All hopes this school would be different vanished in a blink.
Principal Harrington and the bulky Mrs. Green, her son’s teacher, stared at Sarah as she entered the office. The contempt in their gaze burned into the soft gray matter beneath her skull, making her anger hot and close to the surface.
“Please sit down, Ms. Anders.”
Sarah lowered into one of the wooden chairs facing the over-sized desk. These were the type of chairs, she thought, designed to be cruelly hard and unyielding to small bottoms forced to suffer the humiliation and degradation to which the office was designed.
“Your son, Robert, is being held in the guidance counselor’s office with the police. They are awaiting your arrival.”
Sarah said nothing and rose almost simultaneous with her sitting down.
“Hold on, Ms. Anders. I think we should discuss this matter before …”
Sarah cut him off by turning her back and walking to the door. They had no choice but to follow.
As they walked, their shoes echoed in the strange quiet that embodied the elementary school’s hall. Two teachers with tear streaked faces were conversing in a doorway, Prosecuting eyes followed Sarah as she passed.
“If I could only understand why,” Principal Harrington blurted out.
Mrs. Green added “Well, if you could accuse anybody of being downright evil, it would be him.”
Sarah said nothing. She just watched Mrs. Green’s see-sawing jowls as the words, like broken glass, left small tears in her resolve.
They passed through the empty lunchroom and entered a courtyard that linked buildings. A gray haze with nowhere to go settled itself in the cramped space, as did the remains of Camels, Marlboros, Salems and other not so familiar brands left behind. Sarah assumed this to be the the teacher’s smoking area. Strange, she thought, to have it so close to where kid’s would be eating.
Two policemen were standing outside of the room where they were holding her son. Two more were in the room with her son.
“Oh, Robert,” she whispered through quivering lips. It was all she could think to say as she saw her 10-year-old sitting on the floor with grown-up sized handcuffs around wrists resting on bent knees.
Robert looked up when his mother walk through the door, but he did not move. His black hair swung into his face, covering the intensity of his emerald eyes that even Sarah found unnerving. He was not afraid. She could see that, just as she was sure he could see that she was.
Sarah confronted the officer to her son’s left. “Why do you have him in handcuffs? Can somebody now tell me what exactly is happening here.”
“Ms. Anders, my name is Officer Briar. A little girl was killed this morning. Your son was implicated in her death.”
“Implicated by whom?”
The officer handed Sarah a cell phone.