Weight of the World
December 3-4, 605
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“How’s she doing?” Kylie asked her brother. Elle, their sister, had been feverish and vomiting all night, and they’d been taking turns watching her and helping hold her hair back, wash her face, and keep the fire going.
“I still think we need to take her to the doctor,” Michael said.
“It’s just a ‘flu,” Kylie snapped. She took a deep breath. “If we take her in the the doctor, they might not let us go. They may call child services,” she explained as calmly as she could muster.
Michael clenched his fists. He didn’t want to get into a shouting match, but he knew Kylie was wrong. He was worried about Elle. She was so pale, all the color had drained from her face.
“Well, I already texted Mr P,” he said. “He’ll be here any minute and I’m taking Elle to the ER.”
The nurses got Elle settled in and started an IV, and she finally stopped throwing up, and fell into a deep sleep. Dr. Ono came by to check on her newest patient.
Kylie hung her head. She was grateful for the help and the hospital staff seemed really nice, but she was worried she would be prosecuted for medical neglect, or that her sister and brother would be taken from her, now that she’d shown she was unfit.
“She’s going to be ok,” Dr. Ono reassured her. “You made a good choice to bring her in.”
Dr. Ono found James in the nurses’ station of the ICU. “She’s stable now,” she said. “She’s got pneumonia and the ‘flu, but she’s young, she’ll make a good recovery.”
“I think we should call Imani,” Dr. Ono told James. “Maybe she can help Kylie, legally.”
“Yeah, but Kylie’ll freak out when she sees a lawyer here,” James said.
“They met at the fall festival, remember?” Dr. Ono said. “It’ll be ok.”
That afternoon, Dr. Ono came in to the ICU with Imani Gallant, who happened to be the state prosecutor for environmental protection. Kylie had met her at the Fall Festival, and she knew she wanted to help, but she didn’t know how she could.
Kylie agreed to go talk with Ms. Gallant.
“So,” Imani started, “Tell me about what you want, Kylie.”
“Is this confidential?” Kylie asked. Imani nodded.
Kylie told her about how her mom had been sentenced to 10-15 years in prison, and she wasn’t willing to stay with her dad’s family, because they dealt drugs from the house. She didn’t want Michael and Elle in that environment, but she also didn’t want them in foster care. So she’d gotten a job and was providing for them; she just couldn’t afford an apartment or a hotel room, so they were forced to camp out.
“Now I’ve ruined everything,” she said. “They’ll be put in foster care.”
“You’re trying to do it all on you own,” Imani observed. “And I understand you want to be on your own; have control over your living situation. You’d rather live in a tent than in a situation where you or your family is abused or hurt.’
“Kylie, there are people in this town willing to help,” she added.
“I’ve got an idea for a compromise,” Imani said. Kylie looked up. “When are your birthdays?”
Kylie’s birthday would be right before graduation, in May. Elle would be 16 in February, and Michael would be 16 in November.
“That’ll work,” Imani said, excited. She said Kylie and her siblings had good reason to explore becoming emancipated teens, which would give them the rights of an 18 year old adult, but sooner, if the judge agreed.
Since they were unable to live with their mom, in prison, and their extended family was “morally repugnant,” to them, and they were supporting themselves, they had a good case for being declared emancipated.
Elle and Michael could both apply, once they turned 16, and Kylie could apply, but since she’d be 18 in five months, it really wouldn’t be necessary, if she could put a little trust in adults here in Simdale Valley that were willing to help. Imani had a friend she could refer her to, who was willing to work the case pro bono, but really, once the state saw the situation, Imani thought the state would even provide a lawyer, and it would be a shoe-in.
Kylie had a job, and friends here were willing to let the Smiths stay with them, to show the judge they had adequate living arrangements. If they were emancipated, they would be responsible for themselves, and if a situation with a family wasn’t working out, they’d have the ability to make other choices on their own.
But Imani insisted that it was best if they took up the Petite’s offer, or her family’s offer, to stay with them, at least until May.
“You’ve got a better case in court if you can show that you have an arrangement with friends, for a safe place to stay, than if you’re homeless,” she said.
“I’ll think about it,” Kylie promised. She felt a huge weight drop off her shoulders.
James was still waiting in the ICU with Michael. When Kylie returned, she sat down next to him.
“Mr. P,” she said, “Do you think Elise would consider letting us stay?”
James said, definitely, the basement would be theirs and they would be allowed to come and go as they pleased; they’d even have their own entrance.
Kylie told him she was so embarrassed about ruining Thanksgiving dinner, but James told her that wasn’t the case, at all.
“Elise felt embarrassed for putting you on the spot,” he said.
When Kylie returned to the ICU, Elle was sitting up, woozy, but looking better. She told Kylie they were about to move her to a shared room for the night.
After they’d gotten her settled in her room, Elise came to visit. James had told her they would be coming to stay as soon as Elle was released, and she had already moved the furniture around in the basement, and James was home with the kids, putting together new twin beds.
“Here’s a quilt that Harrison thought you’d like to have the rest of the time you’re here, to make you feel more cozy,” she said.
And Kylie called Jada Gallant and asked her to bring the study guide for their semester final exam in Programming. She came by around dinner time.
“What’s going on at school?” Kylie asked.
Jada filled her in. Austin and Maddison had gotten caught skipping class again and they still didn’t have a principal, since Mrs. McElveen had been asked to resign her positions as superintendent and acting principal.
After Jada left, Kylie laid down on the sofa and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
“Thank you,” Elle said, giving Michael a big hug, and then climbing back into her hospital bed.
“What’d I do?” Michael exclaimed. “I just thought the professionals should have a shot at cleaning up your puke,” he joked.
Kylie finally got to sleep, and got to feel safe. I would have included this picture, but Elle developed a rash at this point, which only lasted a while. If it had lasted longer I could have re-done pictures and said she had chicken pox.
- I used a dummy hospital lot for these scenes, so I could control everyone. It’s almost identical to the Get To Work hospital special lot that the medical career sims go to for work, but it is generic and plunked down in Newcrest.
- She got so tired of being in the bed! She wanted to make coffee, or play guitar
- I wanted to use this picture of her and Michael playing but with the rash, I couldn’t work it in
- I let her get up and play the guitar, though, after we were done getting screenshots. It was in her inventory.