White Sheets, White Lies
Where did you get this? Like all politicians, his voice was tinged with solemn concern. Never mind, I don’t want to know. This is genuine correspondence from my local authority. It seemed more like a question, asked in a flat tone of voice. Ira shook her head slowly. It also says in this report that Laura has a Vitamin D deficiency, which seems to be making up part of their verdict on neglect. Yes, you’re right, but I think we need to have Laura’s arm re-examined. By an expert in non accidental injuries. If I find someone to look at Laura’s arm and check into the deficiency, would you be able to look into her case?
I thought for a moment you were going to ask me to look into every case on the list. Ira felt the corners of her mouth rising. Well, I might have wanted to, but I don’t want to press you on that. I’m sure your office is very busy, but if I find out more about the injury itself, and it turns out that there’s a conflict of opinion, that Laura’s injury could have been an accident, I’d be so grateful if you could help. There’s another boy in your borough, on that list, with the same injury as Laura. But the stats speak for themselves, none of these parents have ever been pulled up on neglect, and the little boy has two older and two younger siblings, who are all fine. Now the local authority are pushing to take him and all of his siblings into care.
Fine. Come back with the evidence, if you can get it.
Ira picked up her telephone and dialled Steve and Jan’s number. Steve answered. Hello. Hi Steve, it’s Ira. I have an idea.
A week had passed and the agency was still receiving cases on a daily basis. Mariam, as the head of the agency, was now often out at court with parents and the other McKenzie friends were also dashing around doing the same. The agency had never seen anything like it, and as most of their cases came to them at the eleventh hour, they were often left with the unpleasant and hopeless task of trying to make a foregone conclusion and all the pain and heartache it would bring, feel like less of a shock. Ira opened the door to her flat and flicked on her stereo.
It was dark inside, so she turned her desk lamp on and impatiently flipped the space bar on her laptop. Wakey, wakey, let’s see what you got for me. The welcome screen blinked and gave way to her desktop, where her Gmail was open. There was an email from Steve and Jan. The title read “Expert Report on Laura’s Arm”.
We took your advice and contacted an expert in our borough on non accidental injuries. He managed to get the X Rays of Laura’s arm, we don’t know how. We’ve attached the letter. It says the injury could not have been non accidental, due to the nature of the fracture. It also says the fracture was probably caused by Laura’s vitamin deficiency, which probably is as a result of her being vegan, like us. We’re so relieved! What do we do now? We’re worried about the vitamin deficiency.
Ira breathed out, almost as if she had forgotten to breathe for the last week, and started to type. I’m so glad, that’s great news. I leave it to you, Laura and Steve to deal with the deficiency itself but in the meantime, can I take this report to your MP? Ira clicked send.
With Jan and Steve’s blessing, Ira made her way to their local MP’s office. There was a large chocolate cake, which looked like it had been attacked with a machete, sitting on his desk. Despite the missing chunks, Ira could make out that it had been some kind of campaign cake. Help yourself. No, thank you; chocolate makes me overly perky. I’ve got the report for Laura Loxton. The fracture was caused by a Vitamin D deficeincy. The family are practicing vegans. The Loxtons managed to get an expert to look at Laura’s x rays, but noone knows how he got hold of them.
I’ve been looking over the first sheet you gave me. Something’s very wrong. I made some enquiries and notified the local authority that I was looking into this case; I asked them to make sure the expert had everything he needed. They were very co-operative. Now, I think, we need to locate Laura and allow the expert and her parents, to see her.
We Got Our Laura Back, read the email header as it sailed gently into Ira’s inbox. Filled with thank yous and updates on Laura’s health, the email was a happy one, with, unusually in this line of work, a happy ending. Another email, from the local MP, also a thank you for alerting his attention to a local authority gone rogue, who had decided a blanket care policy on all home-schooled children and who were now being investigated. But it was time for Ira to write a thank you letter of her own. She placed her fingertips on the tops of the black buttons of her keyboard, smiled and bit her bottom lip.