[5] Nathan

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You admire your appearance in the mirror.

The suit you wore,

To your Grandmother’s funeral two years ago,

Fits perfectly.

Since you don’t own a car,

You’ll have to meet Jocelyn at the dance.

Don’t you look handsome,

Mom straightens your tie,

And takes in your exterior.

For once,

She wasn’t drunk tonight.

Instead,

She stares at me through sober,

Clean,

Clear eyes.

I’m sorry,

She whispers,

And gives you a hug.

Have fun tonight.

Mark gives you a high five.

Dance with all the pretty girls.

You laugh,

And tell him you will.
Even though,

You’re only dancing with one pretty,

Beautiful,

Gorgeous,

Girl.

You open the door,

And take a step out.

Before coming,

Face,

To,

Face,

With a social worker.

Her hairs pinned,

Her suit’s crisp,

Her clipboard’s ready.

She extends a hand,

Tells you her name,

But you don’t hear her.

You’re stunned,

Because this is the night your dreading.

You’re scared,

Because she could ruin your life.

You’re anxious,

Because tonight was your night.

Leaving her hand,

Waiting in thin air,

You walk past her.

Mom was sober,

Mark was happy,

They could proceed without you.

Where are you going?

You turn around,

To the social worker’s serious tone.

You are not allowed to leave.

You unwillingly head back into the house,

And she follows you inside.

Greetings fly by quickly,

And soon she’s inspecting the house.

She goes through empty cupboards,

Where food is supposed to be.

She searches through drawers,

Where tattered clothes sit.

She inspects the empty liquor bottles,

Where no more substance is.

She writes things on the clipboard,

And checks off boxes.

You constantly check the time,

Since you’re already late.

Jocelyn deserved tonight,

And you were ruining it for her.

Now onto questions,

She seats you in your living room,

And acts like she owns your house.

You stare at the clock,

Watching seconds tick by.

You ask her how long this will take,

As you have somewhere else to be.

As long as it needs to,

She snaps,

And writes something on her clipboard.

You,

Are,

Being,

Tested.

You’re the last,

To be asked.

You’re dreading it,

But you listen impatiently.

What’s your name?

Age?

Birthday?

You answer all,

Eyes glued on the clock.

The dance is already,

Half,

Over.

But you couldn’t let Jocelyn down.

But leaving let your family down.

Which,

Is,

More,

Important?

What are your bruises from?

The question shocks you,

And when you don’t answer,

Your mom does.

She gives your excuses,

So she doesn’t have to know the truth.

It would kill her,

Consume her.

The lady stands up,

And walks to the door.

What’s going to happen?

Your mom asks,

Worried,

Upset.

Your children are being taken away,

She turns the door handle,

And you mom asks why.

Because you abuse them.

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