At What Price?
Katherine Gardner is awakened at 6:30 in the morning with a call from a strange woman who claims to have her granddaughter, Rio. This woman is calling the police if Katherine doesn’t make arrangements for somebody to pick this little girl up.
Katherine is a fifty-six years old woman and all alone, since her husband died over three years ago. Her life takes a dramatic turn when six-year old Rio comes to stay with her. Rio is a scared little girl whose life is filled with uncertainty and fear.
In her grandmother, Rio finds a safe haven and an unconditional love that she has never known in her six short years and Katherine has found a love to fill the void that has been absent for way too long.
Unfortunately Katherine’s daughter, who deserted Rio, has other ideas.
When she first came to live with me, Rio was a frightened little girl who cringed at every loud noise. She chewed on her fingernails and was terrified to sleep by herself. After two weeks had gone by without hearing from Lacey, I decided school was in order.
We went to the school and, after explaining the situation, I was able to fill out the paperwork. Rio seemed excited about the prospect, but when it was time to take her to class, she was as pale as a hen’s egg and had a death grip on my hand. The fear in her eyes was heartbreaking. I gave some flimsy excuse about school already being in session for the day so we would start fresh tomorrow.
The receptionist said, “It won’t be easier tomorrow. I can assure you, she will be perfectly fine if you allow us to take her to class now.”
This bitch had no heart. “I’m aware and thank you for your concern. We will be back tomorrow.”
I took Rio to the store to buy school supplies and a few new dresses, but she seemed to retreat back to the scared little girl I found in the plane.
At dinner, I talked about the new friends she would meet and all the stuff she would learn in first grade. I was babbling about riding the school bus when she interrupted me.
“Mimi?” she whispered, “where will I go next time if nobody picks me up from school?” She bit her lip, as if to keep it from quivering, and her eyes seemed to fill her entire face.
I pulled my chair next to hers and ran my hand down her mass of tangled curls, physically hurting for my granddaughter. “Rio, as long as you are with me, I will pick you up – always! That’s a promise. I love you and you will always be safe with me.”
The next day, except for normal “first day school jitters”, Rio walked right into class.