“But never mind. I’m trying to call the social worker and fix the school transfer thing, but her number’s not connecting for some reason.”
“Huh. Weird. Maybe try another phone. A landline if you have one.”
“What difference does that make?”
He’s quiet for a while so I wonder if my phone has dropped out. When he answers, his voice is flat. “A lot. If someone’s blocked that number.”
“What?” But it dawns on me what he’s talking about. Parental spyware. “How do I find out? Never mind. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. In person, okay? Don’t text.”
I push end and toss the phone on the table like it’s radioactive. The old landline phone with its long cord handing to the floor looks like something from Leave It to Beaver days. I never checked whether it worked. Glancing at the clock, I figure Brenda might still be in the office at quarter to six. I pick up the receiver, hear the familiar buzz of a connected line, and dial Brenda. She answers after only one ring with her name and title.
“Hi, Brenda, it’s Regina Hamilton.”
“Regina?” Her voice sounds odd. A mixture of surprise and something else.
“Yeah, I’m calling because I need your help. Wade just told me—”
“I didn’t recognize the caller ID so I picked up. Listen, Regina, I’d like to help you, but I’ve been taken off your case. You’ve been referred to…”
I don’t even hear the rest. Taken off my case. Another person I’m separated from. A person who might have helped me. My hand sweats holding the plastic receiver to my ear when I think about what might have happened to cause Angela to do this. If Brenda raised the suspicion of abuse, if she mentioned the broken collarbone, searched medical records… I push the bowl away. The smell of the taco meat turns my stomach.
“Why? What am I going to do now?” The whine in my voice echoes back in my ear.
“I’m so sorry, Regina. I really am. There’s nothing I can do.” Brenda sounds distant, like she’s stepped away from the phone.
Nothing anyone can do. How many times have I heard that?
“Call Mrs. Gentry. She’ll help you.”
I imagine her finger hovering over the red disconnect button.
“Wait! What did you say? What does Angela know?”
The phone clicks, and the dial tone sounds in my ear.
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