ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK meets ALLEGEDLY. After her mother vanishes, Eliza is forced to live in a group home while her little brother is taken into foster care. Teenage runaways and juvie dropouts become her allies for getting him back. But earning their trust means revealing her past–something that may keep her brother away. Permanently.
My little brother’s hand shakes in mine as we follow the police officer through the dim halls of the Virginia Beach Department of Social Services. Tyler is small for his age though he thinks being ten means he’s a man now. I know better. As his older sister, I’m supposed to be fearless. I hold his hand tighter and walk with confidence that doesn’t run deep.
This whirlwind of a night has my head aching. I keep seeing shadows in the darkened cubicles of the Child Protective Services division as we walk past desks decorated with ferns and framed photographs of happy families. It’s eerie to be here in the dead of night. It feels like we’re burglars breaking in to steal state secrets.
When the police picked me up in the marshes, I took them back to Tyler and our grubby motel room. After they discovered we’d been living there, alone, they decided to make an “emergency extraction.” I stuffed clothes into my backpack as the motel manager fretted about payment, fluttering around the room looking for someone to hand over the cash owed for our stay. He pointed to the damage we left behind, a broken lamp in the corner, and blood on the carpet. But he wouldn’t find our mother hiding under the lumpy bed, or behind the torn shower curtain.