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August 11, 1996
Harmony continued to sit on the cold hard plastic chair in the hospital waiting room. She hadn’t spoken to anyone or eaten anything since she came here in the ambulance with her Grandma Pat the previous evening. Every now and then a nurse would stop to talk to her. They would offer food or crayons and paper. None of them would let Harmony see Pat or even tell her whether or not she was ok. Mostly, people just walked by and pretended they didn’t see the little girl with the tear streaked face sitting there.
A door at the end of the hallway opened and there was lots of noise and movement. Harmony looked up to see what was going on and saw Mary Harrison rushing toward her. Mr. Harrison had stopped to talk to the security guard that watched the hallway and a lady in a suit that was holding a clipboard.
Mary Harrison threw her arms around Harmony and hugged her. “Oh honey, you must have been so scared. We’re here now and you can come home with us. We would love to have you. Gene is talking to the lady from child protective services right now to make the final arrangement.
Harmony didn’t hug Mary back or even talk. All she wanted wanted was her Grandma Pat.
“Did they feed you anything? We can go to the cafeteria and get breakfast. Do you want to do that? Do you want to go to the cafeteria?” Mary asked one question right after the other without giving Harmony time to answer. Not that Harmony would have answered.
Harmony sat zombie like looking through Mary rather than at her. Gene Harrison and the clipboard lady who had been joined by a uniformed police officer walked up and stood in front of the scared little girl.
“Hi, Harmony. Are you doing alright?” Gene asked as he bent down toward the fragile little girl.
Harmony looked up with large ghost filled eyes and took in the adults that were staring at her and trying to smile. “I made Grandma Pat sick.” She whispered.
The clipboard lady and the police officer shared a look. Gene Harrison lowered his head and put his hand on Harmony’s shoulder as his wife pulled her in for another embrace.
“You didn’t do anything wrong, Harmony. It’s not your fault.” Mary tried to assure the child.
“Would you mind if I spoke to Harmony alone for a few minutes?” The clipboard lady asked as she smiled down at the frightened little girl.
“I would also like to speak with you and your wife if that’s alright Mr. Harrison.” The police officer chimed in.
Mr. Harrison stood up straight as his wife handed Harmony a tissue. “We won’t go far. We’ll be right over there where you can see us.” Mary pressed her hand to Harmony’s cheek before kissing it lightly and standing to join her husband.
Harmony watched the small group take a few steps away then huddle up for a whispered conversation as the clipboard lady sat in the seat beside her.
“Harmony, my name is Madelyn Wilson. I’m a social worker. Do you know what that means?” She hesitated for a moment, but when there was no response from the little girl Madelyn kept talking. “It’s my job to make sure you’re safe. That means I need to find a good home for you to live in. Would you like to live with the Harrisons?”
“Grandma Pat,” came a barely audible whisper from the little girl.
“I know that you love her, but I’m afraid that you can’t live there any more.”
“Did I kill her?”
“Oh no, you didn’t do anything wrong. Your Grandma Pat isn’t dead. She’s just sick. She’s really sick right now.”
The girl lifted her head, stuck out her chin and looked toward the police officer. “If I didn’t kill Grandma Pat, why are the police here?”
There was a long slow intake and release of air from the clipboard lady before she responded. “Honey, that police officer wants to talk to your Grandma Pat not to you. He has some questions for her and they have nothing to do with you.”
“Is Grandma Pat in trouble because I didn’t listen to her. She told me to stay in the yard. I should have listened.” Harmony lowered her head and began crying again.
“I promise the questions that police officer have for your gandma have nothing to do with you. You aren’t in any trouble. No one here is mad at you.”
The clipboard lady stood as the Harrison’s returned with the police officer. “Harmony you go on home with the Harrisons and you and I will talk later. I promise you and I are going to become good friends.”
Mary Harrison held her hand out for Harmony to take and Harmony took it because she had learned her lesson about not listening. When she didn’t do what she had been told to do bad things happened. The clipboard lady and the police officer talked quietly to each other as they watched the sad trio walk away.