Chapter 23

Chapter 23 – The Whole World… and Payton Too (final)

The weeks go by without further contact from Charise.

Ruth and David, either respecting our decision to stay out of things or too strung out to care, do not contact us again.


Despite my attempts to let go and let God, my fear overwhelms me most days. Do you think we did the right thing?” I ask Andrew. We’re sitting on the couch watching TV. My question was prompted by a commercial for a crime scene show with the plot revolving around a missing child.

Andrew shrugs – for him, the decision was made and there is no point thinking about it anymore. In equal parts I envy him and want to strangle him.

A couple weeks later Carole calls. “David and Payton stopped by yesterday to pick up some things they left at my place.”

“Where was Ruth?”

“I don’t want her in my house,” Carole emphasizes. I wonder why she let David inside, but not Ruth.


“Payton looked horrible. She was hungry and kept asking for food. I gave her what I could and she inhaled it like she hadn’t eaten for days.” Carole’s voice shakes, tortured. “She and David weren’t here long; he got his stuff and they left quickly.


“After he left, I found a bag of marijuana on the floor. I called Charise and his parole officer to report it. Then I called the police to come pick it up.”

I ask Charise if this new information changes anything. Not only had David violated parole, both he and Ruth violated CPS requirements.

“There’s no proof the bag belonged to David so we can’t do anything,” Charise explains. I chuckle softly and then pinch my lips. Does she really think that bag belongs to Carole?

My concern for the situation expands into passionate anger. I am angry at the system and Charise, who are supposed to protect Payton; with Ruth and David, who are failing as parents; at Andrew for making the final decision, which feels more and more like the wrong one.


But I am most upset by my inability to see the future.




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