Ch 19 - Trapped

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After the sheriff left the bathroom, Rhianna spent some time staring at in the mirror, trying to keep calm. It was difficult. Her grandmother hated her. The sheriff was coming to take her away. Her whole world was crashing down.

The girl in the mirror looked like a trapped bird, dark hair wild like feathers in disarray, dark eyes wide with terror, breast bone heaving with panic. She put the peach shake down beside the sink, her heart beat its wings on the bars of it's new cage.

Why hadn't she just left after mom left? Mom was predictable. She was probably on her way to Wyoming by now. Rhianna could have followed. Now people knew her. The sheriff knew her.

If she left now people would ask questions. People would look for her. She tried to tame the loose strands of her hair, which could never decide whether it wanted to be curly or straight, running her fingers through and tucking the most unruly locks behind her ears.

She splashed a little cold water on her face to clear away the tears that had come out of nowhere. The tears were more of a shock than the cold water. She wasn't the crying type; she was the one who wiped mom's tears.

"Keep it together Rhianna, this is just temporary. Everything is always temporary." She was the only constant.

It used to be mom and her that were the constant.

The tears came back and she attacked them with more cold water.

Finally, she snatched her peach shake from the counter, feeling as in control as she was going to get and left the bathroom.

"Hey!" a voice called from the corner.

She turned to see the sheriff gesturing to a seat at her table. She hadn't left.

Rhianna couldn't see any way to escape so she took the seat opposite her and tucked her backpack on the floor behind her legs.

"It's Rhianna right." The sheriff said.

Rhianna sucked on her straw in answer.

"Don't be shy. I knew your mom. And you know my cousin, Gretch."

The brilliant shine of the sheriff's badge had been too distracting for Rhianna to make the connection, but now she looked closer at the woman, her blonde hair was pulled back tightly but didn't stop it from frizzing out like Gretch's. The soft curve of her mouth, the perfect button nose, they could have been sisters not cousins.

"Well, maybe that was a half truth. Your mom was a year ahead of me in school. I didn't really know her, I knew of her. I knew what happened..."

Rhianna perked up. "What happened?"

The sheriff, the name Sampson was punched onto the hard plastic of her name tag, looked up as Leslie brought her a basket of fries and a cup of coffee. She smiled and exchanged pleasantries with the waitress for a moment, and Rhianna got the distinct impression she was avoiding her question.

"Tell me what happened!" Rhianna said, a little too forcefully.

Leslie looked disgruntled by the interruption, but she edged away from the table making excuses about customers even though there was nobody at the counter.

The sheriff considered Rhianna for a moment, as though she were sizing her up, maybe deciding what cell to put her in while waiting for child services.

Rhianna gulped her milkshake nervously. Nobody had ever dangled her mothers story in front of her like it was a casual thing before. The events of her mothers past had always been tightly bound up words trapped behind her mother's lips and nothing could pry them open. When she met Gran, she could have asked, but she didn't from long habit, and Gran didn't volunteer it either.

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