THE ADVOCATE 389
VOL. 76 PART 3 MAY 2018
as I struggled to get River under my physical control. I’d decided the permission
I’d received earlier to restrain him was still good.
“You can’t touch me! I’m telling and you’re going to be in huge trouble
and you won’t be able to look after me anymore thank God, bitch!” River
shouted at the top of his lungs. The elderly man’s glasses fogged up as if
River’s words, not the cold, had caused it. He shook his head, fixing me with
a long stare. I put my head down, as I always do, and did not meet his eye.
I pulled River along the icy sidewalk towards home, the truck’s horn and its
driver’s cussing following us.
River has been in the bathroom a long time now. I decide I need to leave
the respite of the office, which serves as a safe zone in the middle of this
suite. Its bullet proof glass keeps us safe from our clients’ violence. It’s a
standard feature in care facilities for kids who are not suited for foster family
I soon see that there is water running out under the bathroom door onto
the floor of the family room. I move quickly to the bathroom calling River’s
name and asking if he is ok. There is no response.
I turn the handle, but despite the no-locks condition of all the inside
doors in this suite, this door won’t open. Something has been moved against
the door to prevent me from opening it. My mouth dries up at the same
time it opens to shout for River to open the door.
“HA!” River barks out that single word. I slam my sore shoulder into the
door, trying to dislodge whatever is keeping me out. Something seems to
move but not enough for the door to open. I step back to think, heart
tharumping like the beat in some crazy war dance. I remember the shovel
My idea is to ram the shovel against the door till it gives. The first impact
is awkward and not fully committed. The force of the impact sends me
backwards and I fall flat on my butt. I am pumped full of cortisol myself. I
throw the shovel aside and start kicking the door with all my force.
“Don’t! Don’t! You’ll break it Cherry!” River is shouting from the other
side, but the door yields, flying open and narrowly missing River, who is
half standing, half crouching over a Lego dam on the floor, now broken and
scattered by the force of the door, and the chair that had been keeping the
door closed, sweeping through it.
We both stare at the destruction for a long moment. Time hugs us in a
complete freeze, but I can feel my stomach dropping and I am pretty sure
River can feel his dropping, too.