The Truant Risk

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 13 (v.1) - A TWIST OF FATE

Submitted: July 06, 2019

Reads: 79

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Submitted: July 06, 2019



The intake officer unlocked KariAnn’s cell at 8:30 a.m. to prep her for her adjudicatory hearing and went over a few rules she needed to follow when going to court.  “First off you need to follow staff directions at all times.” the intake officer began.  “You will address the judge as “Your Honor” and will reply to questions from the judge with respect.  Please use words like “yes” instead of “yeah” and you are only to talk to me or the judge.  You are not allowed to talk to family, friends or acquaintances.  You are not allowed to move unless directed by staff, and there is no physical contact with family, friends or relatives at any time.  Do you understand all this, KariAnn?”

“Yes, I understand.” replied KariAnn.

She was then placed in leg restraints, and ushered through the sliders leading to a secure holding cell located off the hallway on the ground floor across from the courtroom where a detention officer would remain with her until her case is called.  “I’ll come back for you and escort you into the courtroom when the judge is ready to hear your case.” said the intake officer before she turned to leave.  “It won’t be long now.”

When KariAnn walked into the courtroom minutes later, she immediately saw her mother and father seated on the left side a couple rows back, and each exchanged glances as she walked past them to sit in the front row next to the intake officer.  KariAnn noticed the judge ruling over her case was going to be a man after reading his name plate that said Hon. Wm. Anderson.  She wondered how hard he was going to come down on her and what her punishment would be.  She also wondered what was going through her parents’ minds when they saw her dressed in county sweats and leg restraints.  As KariAnn’s case was the first on the docket, the judge was ready to start promptly at 9 o’clock.  Just then the bailiff stood and announced, “All rise.  The Oakland County Juvenile Court is now in session, the Honorable Judge William Anderson presiding.”  Everyone remained standing waiting on the judge to be seated.

“Thank you.  Please resume your seat.” said the judge glancing quickly through the petition.  “Are both sides ready to begin?”

“Yes, Your Honor.” both sides answered.

“Good.  Let’s get started.” said Judge Anderson.  “I see here that the minor’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Randall, have filed a court complaint asking that a judge designate their daughter, KariAnn Randall, who is fourteen as a “youth in crisis” due to committing several status offenses.”

“That’s correct, Your Honor.” answered council for the Randalls.

The judge then turned to KariAnn and asked, “Do you understand what I just said?”

“Yes, some of it, Your Honor, but I don’t know exactly what a status offense is.” replied KariAnn.

“A status offense is a violation that applies only to minors as this misbehavior would not be unlawful if committed by an adult.” Judge Anderson began to explain.  “Examples of status offenses include skipping school, curfew violations, running away, disregarding parental authority, and in some cases underage drinking.  Do you understand now?”

“Yes, Your Honor.” confirmed KariAnn.  “So in other words a youth in crises is someone who has committed violations that would be okay to do if person was an adult.”

“Yes, that’s right.  Now it is my job to determine whether the facts in the petition are true, and make a judicial ruling or judgment as to what the court feels is in your best interest.” explained the judge.  “Do you have any questions, KariAnn?”

“No, Your Honor.” she answered.

“Good.  I now need you, KariAnn, to either ‘admit’ or ‘deny’ that the facts stated in the petition are true.” said Judge Anderson.

“Yes, Your Honor.  I admit I have done all those things and the petition is true.” confessed KariAnn.

“Thank you, KariAnn.” the judge thanked her, then turning to the court reporter taking the transcripts, “Let the record reflect the juvenile has admitted the petition is true.  After reviewing the petition and the recommendation of the intake officer, I am ready to announce my decision.  Will both the parents and the juvenile please approach the bench to hear my ruling?”  As her parents and KariAnn walked up to the judge you could feel the tension between them. 

“I realize how difficult it can be sometimes to raise a teenager,” the judge said while looking at the parents, “and I see cases every day where parents want to throw their hands in the air and give up, however, this is your child and it is your responsibility to raise and protect her until she becomes 18.  That being said,” he then turned to KariAnn, “it is your duty young lady to listen to your parents and obey the rules they have set down for you to follow while you are living under their roof and authority.”  There was a brief silence before the judge spoke again.  “I have decided that what is best for the child at this point is to return her home to her parents.  I wish you all luck.” he said hitting his gavel and ready to move on to the next case.

The intake officer handed KariAnn off to the detention officer who took her back to change into the clothes she came in with and return her personal property.  Mr. and Mrs. Randall were instructed to wait for her in the visiting area until she would be turned over to them after signing her out.  KariAnn had mixed feelings about going home now.  Although this is what she had wanted all along, it just didn’t feel like a victory.  No one said anything until they were walking out to the car, and then Mrs. Randall made clear her feelings.  “I may be forced to take you home, but I don’t have to like it!”

KariAnn had a sick feeling she wasn’t going to like it either, and her eyes started to tear up after hearing her mom’s hurtful words.  Her mom had stormed off ahead, and she looked up at her dad to see if he felt the same way too.  “I know this isn’t going to be easy, but somehow we’ll have to make this work.” her dad said kissing the top of her head.  “Come on, let’s go home.”

Most everyone seemed happy about KariAnn coming home with the exception of her mom and Michelle who was next oldest in line.  She acted as if KariAnn’s return somehow took something from her or was a threat in some way to the new way of life in the family that evolved while she was gone. Michelle still came out ahead in KariAnn’s mind as her sister got to keep her old room and now she had to sleep on the couch.  KariAnn didn’t mind though, nor thought it was unfair, having much bigger things on her mind than where she slept at night such as being grounded indefinitely and starting back up in school.  Mrs. Randall made clear that outside of going to school she wouldn’t be allowed to leave the yard and no phone privileges either.  It truly seemed like KariAnn had only traded one prison for another, and didn’t know how long she could take it.  At least she could go out in the back yard to sneak an occasional cigarette. 

It was Thursday October 2nd when the judge sent her home, and KariAnn had already missed the first five weeks of school.  The following day Mrs. Randall enrolled her into Troy Senior High and she would begin classes on Monday.  She had a vigorous school schedule with seven classes which included English, Social Studies, Phys.Ed., Algebra 1 and Biology  plus two electives Typing and Track.  She couldn’t wait for school to start so she’d have access to pay phones, and could finally get a message to her friends and to Tony.  The high school was just down Livernois about 2 miles away which took only 4 minutes by car or approximately a little over 30 minutes on foot.

The high school started an hour earlier at 7 a.m.  It also was bigger than the junior high had been, and KariAnn hoped she would have at least a couple of her old friends in her classes.  Students were only given roughly five minutes to get from one class to the next so you had to carry around three or four textbooks with no time to make a stop at your locker until lunch when you got free time from noon until 1 o’clock.

KariAnn’s first period was track and they warmed up by starting out with leg and arm exercises before running any laps around the track.They were training for the 1600 meter relay.  This was the official distance ran in high schools and translated into exactly four laps of a normal 400 meter track and was referred to as ‘the mile’ even though it was roughly 30 feet shorter.  KariAnn liked to run, but didn’t know if she’d stick with it mostly due to liking to smoke and the coach was after smokers to quit.

After a quick shower she was ready to head off to English, followed by Social Studies, then Typing.  When the lunch bell rang, KariAnn went straight to the pay phones, dropped in a dime and dialed 9 + 0 + 313 + 241-5785 the number to Debbie’s mom’s house and asked the operator to place the call collect.  “Whom may I say is calling?” asked the operator.

“Say it’s KariAnn.  Thank you.” she said getting excited.

“One moment while I place that call for you.” said the operator.  “I’m sorry, no one is answering.  Would you like me to try another number?”

“No, thank you.  I’ll try again later.” said KariAnn with disappointment.  She knew Tony would be in class until late afternoon, and then it would be too late to call him as she was grounded.  Johnny’s phone number was unlisted and she couldn’t remember it.  This left her only the option to keep trying Debbie’s number until she got lucky, but for now it was time to eat and she had worked up an appetite after running track.  Grabbing her paper sack lunch from her locker, she headed for the cafeteria which was fairly packed when she walked in.

“KariAnn!” a voice rang out across the lunch room.  It was Linda, a girl friend that lived just down the street she grew up with.

“Hey, Linda!” she returned, happy to see her.  “What have you been up to?”

“Not much.” said Linda wanting to hear more what KariAnn had been up to.  “What the hell happened to you?  Your mom said something about you being sent to boarding school.”

“Yeah, it was my punishment for skipping school with Dave and not following my parents rules.” said KariAnn with sarcasm.  “Speaking of Dave, he must be a senior now.  Do you ever see him?”

“Sure I see him from time to time.  I hear he got his new girlfriend pregnant!” Linda said watching to see how KariAnn would react.

“That’s too bad, but I’m just glad it wasn’t me.” she replied, happy that was one bullet she managed to dodge; not because she had been careful, but that she got lucky.  Linda was relentless with her questions and seemed to hang on to KariAnn’s every word.  She filled her old friend in on her newest boyfriend, how she lived the whole summer in a hippie commune and worked on the Yummy Wagon.  The lunch period went by quickly, and noticing the time, KariAnn told her she wanted to make a call and grab a quick smoke before Algebra class.  Once again there was no answer when the operator placed the call and KariAnn’s heart ached with disappointment.  There wasn’t time left for that smoke either and she only had time to make it to class without being tardy.

Sally was in her Algebra fifth period class, and it was great to see another familiar face and old friend from junior high.  KariAnn had always been good in math, but after missing the first five weeks, she felt a little lost.  The teacher was writing an algebra problem on the black board to work through the process as a class to solve the expression:

-4x + 7 = 15

“Remember the golden rule of Algebra is whatever you do to one side of an equation must be doneto the other side to maintain the balance.” the teacher reminded the class.  “So who can tellme what the first step is?”

“You need to subtract 7 from each side.” answered a student with his hand up.

“Yes, that’s correct.  Who can tell me why you need to subtract 7 from both sides?” the teacher asked.  The same boy raised his hand along with several others, and this time she picked on Sally.

“You need to find a way to keep “-4x” on one side and to keep the whole numbers on the other side so you need to cancel out the “+7” by subtracting “7”.

“Very good, Sally.” the teacher praised and wrote the next step to the problem on the board subtracting 7 from both sides.

-4x + 7 -7 = 15 – 7

“Are you following this KariAnn?  I know you joined us late, but I’ll be happy to work with you individually if you have any trouble understanding this.” said the teacher.

“Actually I think I get it.  You subtract 7 from 7 and you get 0.  So you have “-4x” on one side which has to equal 15 – 7 on the other side.”  said KariAnn proudly that she did understand.

“Good job, KariAnn.  So “-4x” must equal what?” she directed at her to finish.

“It has to be 8” she answered correctly.

School let out at 3 p.m., and KariAnn lit up a cigarette as soon as she had left the building before starting the half hour walk home.  She had homework assigned in every class except typing and track, and had to carry five textbooks home in her backpack.  It felt good to be free once more; at least partially free.  Her mom had said she was going to be grounded indefinitely, and only her mom and God knew how long that would be.  She was greeted by her mom when she walked in the door.  “Well how did your first day of school go?”

“It was pretty good, mom.  The high school is a lot bigger and there are so many kids I don’t know, but I did run into Linda down the street and Sally is in my Algebra class.” she told her.  “A couple of my classes seem a little challenging, but maybe won’t be so bad once I get caught up.  They sure like to dish out the homework too.” she said plopping down her heavy backpack.

“Good, then you might want to get at it before dinner.”

KariAnn was just finishing up her Algebra assignment when her dad got home from work, and he also asked how her first day went.  So far things were falling into place, and no head knocks with her mom.  Feeling the urge for another cigarette, she grabbed a full bag of trash and carried it out to the cans in the backyard.  There was a burn barrel for paper and two aluminum cans with lids to hold cans, glass and anything else you couldn’t burn, and she sorted the trash accordingly.  She still needed to be careful not to get caught smoking, and burning the trash was a great cover.

The first week of school went off without a hitch as far as her classes went, but KariAnn had been unsuccessful all week in getting a hold of Debbie or her brother, Mike.  Rumors were flying around school, likely started by Linda, about her summer escapade which seemed to make KariAnn almost instantly popular even with some of the older kids in upper grades.  KariAnn didn’t realize just how much others were watching her until she unintentionally started a new fad.  It was sort of by accident, but she thought it looked really cool when she looked in the mirror and decided to wear it that way when she went back to school.

She had a silver metal peace sign pendant about the size of a nickel on a leather cord that she wore as a necklace, and instead of undoing the clasp, tried to slip it over her head.  It was too small to clear her head and ended up resting in the middle of her forehead.  Lots of kids told her they loved it, and a few days later many had copied her idea putting their own spin on it using their favorite necklace pendant.  She saw ones with a flower, or a heart, and some even with gemstones on chains instead of a leather cord, but wearing a necklace as a headband around your forehead was her idea and it caught on as a hot fashion literally overnight.

KariAnn couldn’t wait to tell her dad about it when he got home and thought he would find it amusing.  “Can you believe it, dad, I actually started something?  I wasn’t even trying to, and it almost seems silly.” she laughed.

“I’m not too surprised, KariAnn, because you are a leader, not a follower.  It is important you know that a leader has a responsibility to set a good example,” her father told her, “because people look up to you and will try to copy what you do.  You may never even know who is watching or what influence you’ll have on them.”

“I never thought of it that way, but I get it.” she said with a smile.  If her father only knew just how much she actually was listening to him and tucking away all his little private bits of wisdom, he would know how important he was to her.  Other bits of wisdom he shared was: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”, or “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you’re a fool, than open your mouth and prove it”, or “Eat to live, not live to eat,”, or “Yu get out of life what you put into it”, and “Blood is thicker than water.”  This was not a complete list, but count as a few examples of her dad’s insight of knowing what to say to her when she needed to hear it. 

It was now Friday the end of her second week home when KariAnn’s collect call went through.  “Hello.  This is the operator and I have a collect call from KariAnn.  Will you accept the charges?”

“Yes I accept.” she could hear the party on the other end say.  “KariAnn!  I’ve been waiting to hear from you!” exclaimed her best friend, Debbie.

“Mom had the police arrest me when I went home and I spent the first two weeks in juvie.  Then the judge sent me back home, but I am grounded indefinitely which probably means until I’m 18 if I know mom.  I’m even grounded from the phone, and have been trying for the last two weeks to call you from the school’s pay phones at lunch.” KariAnn explained.

“Wow, that mother of yours is a real piece of work.” Deb sympathized.  “I went to mom’s house today to catch up my laundry, but glad I didn’t miss you again.  I heard she told Tony he would never see you again and not to call any more.”

“She what?” KariAnn was instantly livid.  “That bitch!  Hey, while I have you on the phone do you know Johnny’s phone number?  It’s unlisted and I don’t remember it.”

“Yeah, let me grab my address book and I’ll give it to you.” said Debbie setting the phone down, and after giving it to her friend asked, “What are you going to do?”

“I’ll let you know, Deb, when I figure it out.  Thanks so much for Johnny’s number.  We’ll talk soon, but I gotta go.” said KariAnn ending the call and hurrying off to Algebra class.

KariAnn decided to confront her mother when she got home and find out what else she was keeping from her, and if she could ever expect to have a normal life again someday in the not so far off future.  “Have you heard from Tony, mom, the guy who brought me home?”

 “Yes, he called several times while you were in juvie, and I told him he was too old for you, that he was never going to see you again, and to stop calling.” Mrs. Randall admitted.

“How could you, mom?!” KariAnn demanded to know.  “I hate you!”

“That’s fine.  You can hate me all you want.  I don’t care.”  Mrs. Randall replied without emotion.  “But know this, I hope someday you’ll have a daughter that turns out to be exactly like you!” her mom cursed her, “I can’t wait to see how you handle it.”

It was at that moment KariAnn knew she was never going to be able to live by her mother’s rules or live with her under the same roof ever again.  She was sure her mother would never approve of anyone she chose to love or be with, and no one knew what was best for her but herself.  She would wait until Monday when everyone thought she was in school, and would call Johnny to come pick her up.

© Copyright 2019 Katie McDougal. All rights reserved.


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