Hannah was setting the table when the phone rang and she rushed to answer it, hoping it was her friend.
"Oh hello Hannah. Happy thanksgiving. Hope you're having a lovely day. Is Jenny available?" Karen asked breathlessly.
"Yes. Just a minute." Hannah answered and took the phone to the kitchen. "Here mum." As she passed the phone over, she whispered 'Karen' and her mum excitedly grabbed the phone. Being a foster carer, they all knew how important Karen, the social worker's, calls were.
"Yes definitely. Yes. That's great. Yes don't worry. I'll have it done in no time. Yes. Great. See you soon." Hannah felt a little rush as she listened to her mum.
"Tell me. Tell me." She said as soon as her mum pulled the phone away from her ear.
"A little boy is in need of some emergency care and Karen is bringing him over soon. He might not stay long, but he's here for this weekend definitely as it's thanksgiving and all. So no time to waste. I've got to get the bed ready."
"I'll do that mum. You get on with dinner."
Hannah said whilst walking towards the door.
"Thank you hun." Her mum called out behind her.
Hannah loved helping her mum and she quickly made up the bed with the blue sheets and pillows. She placed a blue lamp on the chest of drawers and then decided to put one of her teddies on the bed for him.
As she finished, she heard a knock on the door and swept a quick glance around the room and then made her way down. She looked at herself in the mirror and patted her hair as she walked towards the living room door. She knocked lightly and walked in after hearing her mum calling her through. Her eyes fell on the young boy and she smiled as she greeted everyone. 'He's adorable," she thought to herself. He was looking at her with wide grey eyes and he had a thumb in his mouth.
"Hello Hannah. Meet Charlie. Charlie, this is Hannah." Karen said.
"Hello Charlie." Charlie slowly took his thumb out and after several seconds, whispered 'hello.' As Karen took out papers, Hannah took out the box of toys and sat down to build a tower with the lego. 'Would you like to help me Charlie?' She asked, hoping to break the ice. He looked at her and then the toys and then at her again, then making a decision, he walked straight over and began to play. Karen gave her a thumbs up and her mum smiled at her proudly.
As Karen stood up to leave, several minutes later, they heard the sound of breaking glass from outside and Karen ran to the window. She quickly ran to the front door making sure it was locked as she instructed Hannah to take Charlie upto the loft. The loft had a pull out staircase that could be locked from inside that could keep them safe in an emergency Karen ordered Jenny to call the police and go upto the loft.
"Karen come up with us." Jenny ordered as she picked Charlie up. He was still sitting watching Karen running about. His wide eyes showed fear and he was sucking his thumb whilst rocking.
"No Jenny. I will keep talking and stalling him till the police arrive. I have no idea how he found out. I am really sorry. "
"Karen..." The thumping on the door got Jenny moving and she ran upstairs with Charlie whilst dialling 999 from the mobile. Hannah had already pulled the steps down so Jenny ran straight up and handed Charlie to Hannah. She turned back and pulled the steps up and locked it. She prayed Karen was safe whilst giving details on the phone and cuddled upto the children, hoping to comfort them. Hannah tried to distract Charlie with the toys but he was terrified and wasn't responding. Jenny took Charlie into her lap and put an arm around Hannah, whispering to them that everything was going to be ok. They were safe. The sounds of shouting and banging could still be heard so it was hard to feel safe, but Jenny kept whispering to them whilst she kept the phone glued to her ear, needing someone to tell her everything was going to be ok as well. After what seemed like an hour, but was just a few minutes, a siren was getting closer and Jenny tried to get the children to focus on that rather than the noise downstairs. She then realised that the intruder must have ran away as she could no longer hear noises from downstairs and sighed in relief. She related this information to the operator, who told her to stay in the loft till the police officers came up as they were aware of where they were hiding but would have to check the house and surroundings before letting them out. She focused on the children again, hugging them to her as she imagined Karen explaining everything to the police, some checking around the house, some inside. She remembered the food was in the oven and was probably going to go in the bin. She wondered what she had in the freezer to make a quick meal but couldn't focus properly as she started wondering why the police weren't coming to get them. She hugged the children again needing to feel them close to her as a chill lay low in her belly. She looked at Hannah who had silent tears rolling down her cheeks and she realised her face was wet too.
"Jenny? This is Officer Baker. Can you open the latch please?" A voice called out from below and Jenny stretched to unlock it. As the Officer pulled down the steps, Jenny asked Hannah to hold onto Charlie whilst she went down first and then she would reach up for him. The Officer helped them all down and took them into Charlie's room. Jenny turned to ask questions and the Officer looked at the children and took Jenny out, whilst another officer came to stay with the children. Hannah realised she had some toys in her hands and placed them on the bed for Charlie who was looking at the teddy. She brought it closer to him and he looked at her before reaching out to hold it. Once it was in his arms, he hugged it to his chest and put his thumb back in to his mouth. Hannah sat closer to him and he slowly inched a little closer till eventually, he sat in her lap. The sound of Jenny crying, came through the door and Hannah felt tears over spilling again. Charlie settled in deeper and Hannah quickly wiped her face and eyes. By the time, Jenny walked back into the room, Charlie had fallen asleep and Hannah felt her composure crumble. Her mum hugged her and they sat like that till Hannah felt calmer.
"Honey, we're going to have to go somewhere, but through the back door. When we go down, please... just look straight forward towards the door, ok?" Hannah nodded and Jenny lifted Charlie and they started to make their way down. There was a police officer in front who stood aside to block the scene but Hannah saw glimpses of blood on the floor and as the police officer moved forward, she couldn't help but peep from the corner of her eye and saw a white sheet on the ground and knew Karen was under there. As she quickly looked away, her tears started falling again and Jenny put an arm around her shoulders and pulled her towards the door.
Jenny couldn't help looking too and she felt guilty for leaving Karen downstairs. If only she had pushed her up the stairs or been more forceful, Karen would still be here. Even though deep down she knew Karen would have stayed down hoping to calm the situation, the guilt still wrapped it's slithery feeling around Jenny's heart and squeezed it. From that day onwards, thanksgiving became a day with much more to be thankful for with the hint of sadness outlining it.