10 The New Deal

Was it air or was it water? Kate felt like she was swimming. The light was so strong that there could not be water all around. Should she swim towards the light? Could she swim at all? Then she saw it! An angel with wings floating towards her. Her hair was light blonde. Her eyes shone a bright blue colour. There was something familiar with this slim, tall angel who had appeared from where that bright light originated. Then Kate realized who it was. It was her mother!
– “Mum!”
The angel smiled at her.
– “My Katie!”
Floating through the air, they met in an embrace that seemed to last for an eternity.
-“You’ve got to go back!” her mum urged.
Kate gripped harder round her mother.
-“No, I wanna stay here with you… for all eternity!”
Her mum stroked her hair gently.
-“It’s not your time yet! You have a whole lifetime ahead of you!”
Kate sniffed.
-“I don’t care! I wanna stay here with you!”
The angel pushed Kate away. She was extremely strong, and Kate could not stop it. Then the angel gave a sudden jerk that sent Kate spinning and rotating back away from the light.
-“We’ll meet again, Katie dear, but not for many years to come.”
Kate’s mouth opened widely, but nothing came out. Then, a fews seconds later, her scream ripped through the otherwise calm scene.

The paramedics stopped the heart massage as Kate spat out water and fought to catch her breath. Her eyes flickered around the room as she coughed several times.
-“Mum!” she yelled. -“Mum!”
Therer was a small circle of people round her. Mrs. Barnes and Carmen were both there as well as two paramedics who had arrived with a stretcher. Kate had been pulled out of the cubicle and onto the floor of the restroom. Mrs. Barnes made clicking sound wth her tongue.
-“The poor child is dilerious!” she mumbled.
Kate looked around, but there were no sign of Brenda or her helpers.
-“How are you feeling?” the female paramedic asked.
Kate coughed.
-“My chest and throat hurts,” she complained.
The male paramedic spoke softly.
-“We will take you to the hospital just in case, but you should be okay. There might be some water left in your lungs, but that should not prove to be any problem.”
He peered around at the others.
-“Put her on the stretcher, and let’s go. She should be fine, though.”
Carmen raised her voice.
-I’ll come with you!” she exclaimed. Then she turned to Kate.
-“What happened, Kate?”
Kate went quiet. She didn’t know what to say, so she didn’t answer.
-Kate?” Mrs. Barnes raised her voice.
-“You didn’t drown by yourself!”
Nausea and tiredness crept up on Kate as they laid her on the stretcher and lifted her up.
-“Brenda happened!” she whispered.
So there! Now it was out in the open. What would happen to Brenda because of this? Would she be sent away? kate could only hope…

There was something very familiar with that woman. The round glasses and pointed nose belonged to Jill Turner, the social worker that she had met before the trial. Her brown eyes looked at Kate with great interest. Heaven knows how long she had been sitting there with her notepad, chewing gently on her pen.
-“Miss Turner?”
Kate’s voice was a bit croaky after her sleep. Jill Turner smiled.
-“Yes, Kate! It’s me again! How are you?”
Kate sighed.
-“Oh, I’m doing just great!” she blurted out, ironically.
-“What are you doing here?”
Miss Turner picked up a folder from the nightstand and started flipping through the papers.
-“We – that is Amanda Colman, your lawyer, and myself – we are trying to appeal your conviction from court. We think 10 years is an awful long sentence for such a young girl as you. What do you think?”
Kate was excited to learn that the two women were actually interested in helping her, and she sat for a long time talking to Jill Turner. Eventually, she got tired, and they decided to meet again the next day.

Kate told Jill Turner as much as she could in their pow wows at the hospital. She also came to see her after she had been released from the hospital. Kate was put in an emergency foster home while they were working on the appeal for the court. She was not allowed to go out, and there was nobody else there. The home was run by another social worker, Ann – something – Crowden. She was a strict redhead with green eyes who always wore her hair in a bun on top of her head. She was extremely fit, thick arms and legs, but they were muscular, not fat. Ann Crowden wore military clothes, although she was not military. It was probably her style of clothing. Upstairs was a room with loads of training equipment. Kate was allowed to train with the weights and run on the treadmill. She quite enjoyed the training, hoping that she would get bigger and more muscular, but although she grew stronger, she still looked tiny and fragile.

Judge Catherine Cooke was an old, silverhaired lady with a stern look, but her brow eyes looked kind. Her octagon shaper glasses were bifocals, and she tended to drop her head somewhat when she looked ar Kate. Jill Turner and Amanda Coleman flanked Kate on either side. They had both given their best to try and help Kate to get a more lenient verdict that ten years. After all, this was a life sentence for the 10 year old.

-“So,” the judge cleared her throat.

-“It is your assertion that Miss Stewart has suffered great mischief by the State, and that incarceration is not the best way to reintegrate her back into society. You even claim…”

She pushed her glasses further up her nose.

-“You even claim that it might cause her great damage. Is that so?”

-“Yes, your Honour!” Coleman answered.

Judge Coke gave a big sigh.

-“Very well! I will take this matter under advisement. I will give my ruling tomorrow morning at 9 A.M.”

She grabbed the gavel and swung it in the air.

-“Court is adjourned!”

The gavel hit the striking block with a great bang, and the bailiff called for everyone to rise.

-“What will happen tomorrow?” Kate wondered.

Jill Turner smiled reassuringly.

-“It will not get any worse, but you might get a more lenient verdict. This judge is not as strict as the other one, and you might get a shorter verdict. It is the best we can do, now we must wait till tomorrow…”

Kate felt Turner’s hands stroke her hair. It felt like her mother had done all those years ago.

-“Try to get some sleep, little Kate!” Jill Turner whispered, reluctantly getting ready to leave.

Kate looked wide eyed at Miss Turner.

-“Oh, I won’t be able to do that…” she said hoarsely.

-“This court is now in session! Please rise for the honourable judge Cook!”

Everybody stood up, and Catherine Cooke sat down at the judgement seat. The gavel sounded, and everybody was allowed to sit down.

-“Will the accused please rise?”

Kate stood up along with Miss Turner and barrister Coleman. The judge peered at Kate with a stern look.

-“Kate Stewart, you have previously been judged at this court for ten years of confinement for your murder of  Priscilla Edwards with the possibility of shortening that sentence to five years. Is that correct?”

-“Yes, ma’am… your Honour!”

-“Well, I have looked over your case. There are some mitigating circumstances that the court has not previously considered. There is your age and your difficult upbringing, as well as your being attacked by your schoolmates and injured pretty seriously…”

Judge Cooke squinted at her papers in front of her.

-“I am going to rule that you be given another chance in foster care, but this will be with specially selected foster parents who know their job. You will not be mistreated by these foster parents, and you will be watched closely. But I do have some conditions, young lady…”

-“Anything…” Amanda Coleman blurted out, forgetting to address the judge as “your Honour”.

-“If you, Kate Stewart, break any law, no matter how minor, you will be back in Greenville Juvenile Detention Center or some other place before you can cry ‘help’, and you will be there for 10 years. Do I make myself clear?”

Kate’s eyes grew huge.

-“Yes, your Honour! Thank you, your Honour!”

Catherine Cooke breathed heavily and corrected her glasses.

-“I am sticking my neck out for you, young woman!” she said.

-“Don’t let me down!”

Kate jumped excitedly.

-“I won’t, your Honour! You’ll see!”

Judge Cooke snorted.

-“I suppose we’ll see… in time! I wish you the best of luck!”

Kate started crying.

-“I will not let you down, judge! I will do my very best!”

The judge stared deep into her eyes.

-“You better!”

The taxi stopped by the entrance to the West’s house. It looked like a farmhouse, red and white and huge. But there was no barn or any animals in sight. The garden was full of flowers in a wide spectrum of colours, and there was fruit trees and bushes scattered around everywhere. It all looked so idyllic it was hard for Kate to fathom. She leaned towards Jill Turner.

-“I can’t belive it!” she smiled.

-“I get another chance! I will nor blow it this time!” she tried to convince herself.

Jill Turner looked at her papers one more time.

-“Sam West is the sheriff deputy in Coleson village,” she explained.

-“His wide Deborah is a school teacher here. They are both upstanding pillars of the community, and if you have any problems, it is vital that you tell them, okay?”

Kate nodded, tears pressing on.

-“Thank you, Miss Turner! I would not have made it here without you!”

Jill held Kates head in her hands and looked deep into her eyes.

-“Remember what judge Cooke said! This is it! You will not get another chance!”

Kate nodded.

-“It is vital that you are honest and open with your foster parents – they can help if things get rough!”

Kate nodded again. Jill turned to the taxi driver.

-“Drive on!” she said quietly.

Kate felt a knot in her stomach. She didn’t know what she was in for, but she felt certain that this was the start of a new phase of her life.

The taxi came up to the house and rolled to a stop right in front of the red house. The driver honked, and the screen door of the house opened…


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