Here is the (rough draft, unedited) scene where foster daughter meets foster mom. Let me know what you think of it so far. Does it ring true or sound unbelievable in any way? Thank you in advance for your feedback!
“What is in that?” Elise whispered to Judy when DJ had walked out of earshot.
“In what?” Judy sent her a quizzical look.
“In the garbage bag. Why is she bringing trash in here?” Elise shuddered.
“It’s her stuff.” Judy looked bored and dug her vibrating cell phone out of her pocket.
“Her…” Elise blinked, the thoughts in her head felt as if they were traveling through molasses, “stuff?”
“Yeah, like clothes and belongings? Her stuff.” She looked down at her phone.
“In a garbage bag? For garbage?” Elise had let her voice grow too loud. DJ spun around and scowled.
“It’s her bag. Sorry. Gotta go.” Judy pasted on a smile and waved. “See ya, kiddo.”
Elise opened her mouth and turned to ask another question, but Judy had already ducked out and shut the door. Licking her dry lips, she looked back to DJ and tried to remember to inhale.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult your . . . your bag. It’s just . . . I mean . . . I thought someone would have given you some nice luggage or something to carry your things in. Because your belongings are important. And they deserve something . . . special. So, if it’s okay with you . . . that’s going on the list!” Elise strode to the kitchen and grabbed a piece of paper and a pen. “I haven’t had a chance to go shopping this week, and I thought we could go tomorrow. Get a few things we’ll need, you know. And I’ll put that right on the top.” She wrote in big, loopy letters. “Luggage for DJ. There.”
DJ still stood in the same spot, arms hanging down by her side, garbage bag clenched in her fist. Elise could only see annoyance in her eyes.
“Is that okay with you?” Had she already offended her first foster child within five minutes of her stay?
DJ’s body finally unlocked and relaxed slightly to let out a shrug. Then a yawn.
“Oh! I’m so sorry. You must be exhausted! Here, I’ll show you to your room! Actually, you have a choice of three bedrooms. They are all set up for guests, but feel free to pick the one you like the best.” Elise marched down the hall and flicked on lights as she went. “This one’s the tiny room, but it does have easy access to the bathroom, right across the hall. This bathroom is yours, I have my own attached to the master, of course, so you can just use anything in here you need. And if you need anything else, I’ll add it to the list.”
Elise flipped on another light switch. “Here is the room with the most natural light. Two windows on that wall face south. And this one . . .” she pushed open a door and flicked on the light. “This is the largest one with the biggest bed. Queen sized.” She smiled and turned to see DJ down the hall, still staring into the first bedroom. “You want the one closest to the bathroom?”
DJ walked in the room without a word. Elise bit her lip, turned off the other bedroom lights, and joined DJ in the smallest room in the house.
“If there’s anything you need at all to make your stay more comfortable, I can just add it to the–”
DJ sighed and looked at her feet.
“Okay, then, umm, light switch is here, towels are in the bathroom along with soap, shampoo, conditioners, lotions, disposable razors, et cetera, et cetera. Extra blankets and pillows are in the closet along with lots of hangers so you can hang up anything you’d like. And if you need anything else at all, just let me know and I’ll, well you know. Add it to the list.” She let out a laugh that surprised her. “I’ll let you get some sleep. I’ll be in the living room for a while doing some paperwork, umm, but then I’ll be in my room upstairs, so just barge in if you need me for anything at all. Anything. At all. I don’t mind, and I don’t bite. Okay?”
DJ was a statue again.
“Okay, well. Goodnight.” Elise bobbed her head and made her escape, trotting down the hall and collapsing into the safety of her living room couch.
Why did she make such a big deal about the garbage bag? She probably embarrassed her so much when that’s all she had in the world. Why did she babble on and on? She’d probably made her so uncomfortable already when she was attempting to do just the opposite.
She sighed and grabbed her laptop from the coffee table.
Why had DJ chosen to stay in the most cramped room in the house? Did she really need to be that close to the bathroom or did she just not want to impose? How could she make her feel more at home? How could she connect with her at all if she refused to so much as speak to her?
Elise rubbed the bridge of her nose and let out a long breath. Maybe Melissa was right about the whole thing. Maybe she couldn’t do this.