Away today?

The story continues …

Away Today?
By Laura McHale Holland

The woman, a social worker, yawns and studies the girl at play on the other side of the one-way mirror. A mop of unruly dark hair droops into the child’s eyes as she slides pieces of various shapes, sizes and colors into a three-dimensional puzzle.


Suddenly, the stucco wall behind the girl falls away, revealing sunshine, a beach, white caps cresting. Knowing there is no body of water near her office, the woman nonetheless sees sand and waves. The girl runs shrieking with glee to a young man building sand castles. She helps him shape turrets, dig motes. Wrapped in seaweed garments, pieces of driftwood become kings and knights of old.


The woman recognizes the man on the beach; he stops by every day and asks to become the child’s foster parent, but he is just 23 years old and single and hungry and threadbare; how could he provide for a preschooler?


The doorbell rings. The social worker glances at her door. When she looks again into the glass, the wall is in place, and the girl is at the puzzle. Only five minutes have passed, according to the wall clock.


The social worker answers the door. It’s the young man, again. He’s the only one who visits. The child’s high-profile parents, killed in a shooting a few months ago, hadn’t finalized her adoption. No one on either side of what was going to be her family wants to care for the tot who, as a newborn, was left at a hospital entrance three years ago.


The man steps into the playroom. The girl looks up, smiles, runs to her father’s former chauffeur. “We go away today?” she asks. He shakes his head, kneels down, tousles her hair. They begin working the puzzle. The social worker takes notes.


All of the episodes in this series in the order in which they were posted follow:

Back pocket wishes

Cascading to the sea

Right through the heart

Away today?

A dime a dozen

She doesn’t know them

On the seat

A pillar of the community

He needs a friend

Double rainbow

The one he always wants to hear

Give it some time

It gives my life meaning


Extenuating circumstances

 The four of us


11 thoughts on “Away today?

  1. Thanks very much for your comment, Anthony. I don’t think he’s going to be awarded custody, not yet anyway. I’m not sure what’s coming, but I foresee more difficulties in their path first.

  2. I like where this is going.
    It sounds to be as if the chauffer, given the way the parents were, was the only adult “friend” the girl ever had. It seems that her parents never had any time for her; they were all too wrapped up with themselves to know that she ever existed.

    The chauffer probably has always wanted to say something to the parents, however, given his position he never could. Even when her parents were still alive. he was the only one there for her. This can be seen in the manner in with she interacted with him in front of the social workers who were watching them unseen.

    The problem is that he’s a single male, and would probably have to be in a relationship with a woman, in this case the maid would work fine, as she would have also seen all the neglect the parents had given the child. She would also be someone who the child liked and trusted, and with whom the child would feel comfotable with.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts, Robin. I think you’re right that the chauffeur was/is the only adult friend the girl has. … I wrote in this scene that the chauffeur has a wife, but I think I’ll be reworking that sentence a bit. I think he should still be single but maybe have a girlfriend. I’m pretty sure he’s going to end up eventually taking care of the girl, but I don’t know how yet.

  4. You’re correct. He’s married. I wasn’t thinking along that line.

    Married couples in that line of employment do that jobs working for the same employer. Wives take jobs as maids/nannies/cooks while their husbands might be the chauffeur/butler/gardner/cook. In the end we will have to see what these two might get at the reading of a possible will. There might even be a provision in the will which will state what happens to the girl, meanwhile will apparently nothing in place, the child has been placed with the social agency. Anyway, this is a terrible ordeal for the child to be put through.

    Wsiting to see where you’ll be taking all this.

  5. Pingback: Cascading to the sea

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