The police showed up not even fifteen minutes after Tony had called them. Peter was taken into custody and an officer stayed behind to ask the family a few questions. They all sat at the table and drank the coffee Penny had made, while Peter was being dealt with.
“So, Tony I take it, you were the one who called?” Officer Hugh asked. Tony nodded, tight lipped. “And you are Imogene? Last name Lark? Wife of the offender?” he asked, directing his gaze at Imogene. She nodded.
“That is correct, however I will be having Divorce papers mailed to him this week.” Officer Hugh looked at her, scribbled down a note and looked up again.
“Can I ask what happened?” Everyone looked at each other and once again Imogene offered up the story, still feeling it was her fault everything had happened.
“My hus --, Peter likes to drink on the weekends since he doesn’t work.. Likes to drink a lot. Seeing as he drinks I often go out with my girlfriends, spend the weekend away, exploring, partying, acting like a teenager and being a completely irresponsible parent. Leaving my daughter home alone with Peter. From what we have put together, the last time the girls stayed while I was away, about three or four weeks ago, Peter drunk more than usual, was more drunk than he normally got. He claimed Nala, my daughter, ‘got smart’ to him and he punched her, Suzy, Penny and Tony's’ daughter, saw it and after Peter noticed her he walked over and threatened to do worse if she ever told anyone, and she hasn’t spoken a single word, or made any noise since. Hence the divorce and me being here.” Imogene hung her head when she finished speaking, and Penny saw a tear land on the table next to her coffee mug. She stood up and walked behind her friend, placing a hand on her shoulder.
“It’s not your fault this happened Imogene. Peter is the one to blame, not you. He knew he gets aggressive when drinking, yet he still did.” She squeezed her friends shoulder in a comforting manner, Officer Hugh nodded in agreement.
“You can’t blame yourself for this Imogene, you weren’t there, you did nothing wrong. Blame yourself and you’ll start resenting yourself, leading to Depression. You just need to focus on supporting the girls right now. Speaking of which, are they around? Can I talk with them?” The parents all looked at each other and nodded.
“If you can get Suzy to talk, I’d be mighty impressed, and grateful. But Nala will definitely talk.” Penny said, walking down the hall, leading Officer Hugh to the girls bedroom. She knocked lightly on the door and heard Nala’s muffled voice saying ‘come in’ so opened up and stepped inside. Purple walls greeted the Mother and Officer, decorated with pictures of the girls and a few of them with other friends, stuffed toys and clothes everywhere, dressers white with more photo’s framed a top of them. “Girls, Officer Hugh wants to ask you about the night at the Lark residence.. Are you happy talking to him? We’ll be right down the hall.” Nala looked at Suzy, who just shrugged and went back to texting. She looked up at Penny and Officer Hugh and nodded.
“Yea, we’ll be okay Mrs. Golde. Thank you. Leave the door open?” The last question sparked alarm bells in the Officer's mind, and he made a mental note for later. Penny smiled at the girls, nodded to Officer Hugh and walked back down to talk to Tony and Imogene.
Officer Hugh waited till he heard the adults talking within themselves again before he sat down on the end of one of the beds, the girls sat on the other and looked at him. “So, which of you is Suzy?” he asked and smiled softly at them. There was no movement for a moment until Nala elbowed Suzy who glared at her and put her hand up a little. Officer Hugh frowned and nodded. “What’s happening Suzy? How’s things been?” he asked, Suzy sat there awkwardly, before Nala noticed she was sitting on her pad, and grabbed it, passing it to her. Suzy smiled at her tightly and scribbled down some words.
I’ve been okay, not looking forward to school. She held the pad up to Officer Hugh who didn’t look at it, kept his eyes on her.
“Can you answer me, Suzy?” he asked, leaning back and raising an eyebrow. Suzy’s brow furrowed and she thrust the pad further towards him, trying to put it in his line of sight, but he kept avoiding it. She knew what he was trying to do so shook her head and gave up. Nala frowned at the Officer.
“That’s not very nice, I can only guess my parents already told you about her not talking, and in that case you’re just ignoring her. When you asked her a question.” Nala stated, anger lingering in the air. Hugh just looked over at Nala and nodded in understanding.
“As much as I can see where you’re coming from, it is a technique to try and get Suzy to talk, it often works. When they get worked up enough they will just scream, not polite of them, but effective. After that they can generally say what was bothering them, with a lot of encouragement.” Nala shook her head and glared at him.
“Do you not think we’ve tried that? We’ve tried everything. It’s not that she doesn’t want to talk, it’s that she physically can’t.” Hugh sat there thinking about this, then looked back at Suzy.
“Can you tell me what happened? Or, if not, can you say your name?” Just show me, please, he thought to himself. He felt a strong need to help this girl, he could tell more had happened that night then they were saying, but until they said what there wasn’t much anyone could do. Suzy suddenly opened her mouth, he watched as her tongue moved, obviously trying to form words, or at least make noises. He watched as she struggled, trying to say something, anything. He watched tears fill her eyes as she closed her mouth and gave up, hanging her head and sobbing silently. He could tell she had a lot to say, just no way to say it. Nala was fuming now, watching her friend cry over her loss of speech once again. She stood and pointed to the door.
“Leave. Now. You are asking too much of Suzy, we’ve all told you she can’t. You wouldn’t even look at her only way of communication. Get out!” She was shouting, and Hugh could hear footsteps coming down the hall.
“I have a few more questions for you too Nala.”
“No, no questions, no games, no nothing. I want you out, now!” Tony appeared in the doorway looking very concerned.
“Nala, what’s the problem?” He asked, Nala just pointed to Suzy, whose body was shuddering with each sob. Tony took three big strides and was in front of his daughter, kneeling before her, pulling her into his arms and hugging her tight. “Sweetie, everything will be okay, you’ll be fine. Daddy’s never going to leave you, I promise.” he kissed her forehead and patted Nala on the shoulder then stood. “That’s enough, Officer. Suzy can’t talk, aNala obviously has nothing to say to you, for now at least, Maybe try again on a later date.” He suggested, walking the Officer back down the hall o the living room. Hugh nodded, frowning, he could tell he’d need to work hard with these girls, there was definitely something they were hiding.
“Okay, well thank you for answering my questions. I may be back to try and talk to the girls, if need be. Try and get them talking to someone at school perhaps, anything to try and help. We’ll make sure Peter stays away, and the Divorce papers will be received. Take care all.” With that said, Tony showed him out, shut the door behind him and looked at the two women sitting at his table, the cold pot of coffee between them.
“How about we clean up and take the girls out? They need new supplies for school.” He suggested. The women nodded and stood up, clearing the coffee and mugs while Tony went to talk to Nala and Suzy.
After Tony showed the Officer out Nala leant over, taking the pad away from Suzy and pulled her into her arms. She was absolutely horrified by the police’s behaviour. That may be useful for some people, but why would he think they hadn’t tried that yet?! Suzy was struggling enough as was, she didn’t need some cocky pig showing up and throwing his weight around like that. It didn’t take long for Suzy to calm down, having her best friends arms wrapped around her. Her breathing became normal again and she settled, then sat up and gave Nala a tight lipped smile. She grabbed her note pad and scribbled down one word. Thanks. Nala just smiled and shrugged.
“It’s what friends do, right?” Suzy just nodded and hugged Nala tight again. There was a knock on the door and Tony walked in. Suzy pulled away quickly and blushed.
“Hey, girls. You okay Suzy Lou??” He asked, leaning down and giving her a hug. “So, as you both know, school starts back tomorrow, you both need new school gear and we thought we’d treat you to a meal out too. Sound good?” He asked. Both girls smiled at this, and threw their arms around him. “Am I the best Dad ever, or what?!” he laughed and walked out, carrying them both. They were heavy, but it was like when they were just toddlers again, and moments like were so precious, specially with the current going ons.