THE BOTTOM DROPS OUT

As she was driving the kids home from school the next day, Jo heard Peter discussing his predicament with the now-ten-year-old Susie. She has not talked about what happened to her half a lifetime ago--not since those strangers at the crisis center quit listening to her after she told them she'd made up a story.

Uh-oh, Susie said now. I hope they don't take you to the icky place they took me. I hope they don't make you stay there.

What had she done that was bad? Peter wanted to know.
Oh, I told a stupid story. I lied.
That Wednesday, Jo and Peter went to their meeting with Social Services. While Peter waited in the anteroom--where the sight of all those cops and crying kids stunned even him into motionless silence--Jo met with the social worker. Then Peter met with the social worker. And then the social worker told Jo that he was closing the file.

This file. This time.
It's enough to scare the pants off you.

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