I would never forget that fateful afternoon, and it was such a nice day. It started off just like any other day. There were reports to finish that stretched as far as the ceiling and a thousand phone calls to make. And it wasn't even surprising that a couple of my meetings that day had to turn into house visits, whatever as I said a typical normal day. What was different was that I got a phone call from a very close friend of mine asking if we could meet up later, I said yes and told her we could meet at my lunchtime, she quickly agreed. And as lunchtime rolled around I got up and went to meet my friend.
It wasn't weird that a friend had called to meet up it was weird that this girl used to be my closest friend…in high school, but we had a falling out after she quit in the middle of junior year because she got knocked up. Oh well, it's always nice to meet up with old friends. I also didn't start to get a bad feeling when I walked in and saw her with a dolled up face and a skimpy outfit. What finally started to make me have a sinking feeling in my stomach was when she started to steer the conversation towards my job. At first they were simple reasonable questions. Things like, oh when did I start, how long have I done this, and do I enjoy my work. Although that last one was a bit weird since I'm a social worker, dealing with orphans and bad parents. And then came the slightly weirder questions.
"So…With your line of work you get a lot of teens?" Her green eyes darted from side to side.
"Uh…yea I guess I do. A lot who we find that have been living alone for a while by them selves. Kids who think they can handle things by their selves." I ran my hand through my hair thinking of all the horrible conditions these poor teens had lived in.
"Do these parents just leave, or what? And how do you find out that these kids are living by themselves in the first place?" Her eyes continued to dart from one side of the room to the other.
I sighed, Shit this did not look good for her. Before answering I looked at her again this time with a keener eye. She looked almost exactly the same as she had in high school. Bouncy brown hair, pale green eyes, and cocoa skin she looked great for her age. Then I looked closer at more details. She had bags under her eyes that hadn't been there before; she wore heavy make-up, long sleeves and a mini skirt. There was a certain tired element that I didn't notice earlier. Shit! Why didn't I notice this earlier? This girl had been my best friend in high school and I couldn't notice that she had clearly changed. I had to think back to her in high school and then I remembered. In sophomore year she left for a while because she was pregnant. Before that incident she was such a good student even skipping a couple of grades.
I sighed again and instead of answering her question I asked her one of my own. "How's the kid Case?"
She darting eyes snapped to my face and her nervous expression turned into a guilty and terrified one. Tears stared to stream down her face and I reached out my hand to her shoulder. "It's not good, not good at all! I...I just don't know what to do anymore."
"Well Im going to be straight forward with you. You cant leave this kid alone and go off on your own! What about your parents Case? I thought they've been helping you out." I ran my hand through my hair again turning my mind to my job was not fun but it had to be done…I had to be a social worker while having lunch with an old friend.
"The thing is they have been helping…a lot. In fact the boy…my boy is with them now, but-" she cut off and buried her head into her hands.
I sighed yet again reaching out to rub her head. "Case…where and who is the father?" She whipped her head up to look at me with huge eyes and tear tracks down her face.
"Umm…he didn't stick around very long after I found out I was pregnant. Its been hard providing for the kid and making sure he is fed and paying the bills. My parents aren't helping me out anymore they have decided that its time that I provided for myself and my son. It didn't help that my sister reinforced this idea more than once. Look, the thing is to make sure this kid is well provided for I don't exactly have the best job. And well he is starting to get in the way of everything I envisioned for me and I just…I CANT STAND IT ANYMORE!" Her head went straight back to her hands after her outburst. I looked around at all the accusing stares and decided its time to head to my office.
"C'mon Case lets talk in a more private place so we can discuss a plan to help you." As I led her to my office I contemplated what I could do for an old friend, and how she got to this position in the first place. Just thinking how I always was jealous of her is crazy now considering how better off I am now.