Warnings: Bad news, minor in possession of illegal drugs, pregnancy, dead babies, loud voices, and running in hallways while school is in session.
Lillian Grey was in fourth period German II when the office runner called. She was glad for the distraction - currently, most of the class was watching a documentary on famous German landmarks that was narrated by some celebrity who mispronounced almost every single foreign word.
The office runner was actually Lillian's good friend, Nina Herbst, so Lillian was almost pleased when her German teacher handed the note to her.
There were a few snickers as she got up -- office slips were obviously only for people who got in trouble -- but Lillian blocked them out. She was kind of a teacher's pet, not to mention one of the best soccer players on the eighth grade girl's team, so she got a lot of passes for breaking minor rules. Running in the halls during breaks and eating lunch an art classroom were the most common offenses, but occasionally she and her friends would slide down the stair rails.
"Do you know what this is about?" Lillian asked.
"No," Nina said. "All it said was 'URGENT.' I'm sure you'll be fine," she added. "If it's about the pot Meadow got for her birthday, just tell the truth -- it's not like you smoked any." That was true; when illegal substances showed up, Lillian tended to leave the area. What happened at the unofficial soccer team captain's birthday party had been no different.
"It's probably about my mom," Lillian realized. Her mother was pregnant -- again -- and due any minute. "You don't think something would go wrong, do you?"
"She's survived sixteen pregnancies so far," Nina said. "I doubt anything will happen this time. Come on, we've wasted enough time. Let's go."
As usual, they ran all of the way down to the office.
"I'll see you Tuesday, right?" Nina asked once they were outside the principal's door.
"Yeah," Lillian agreed. "The movie starts at eight, right?"
"Always," Nina said. She looked at the door and then prodded Lillian toward it. "See you at lunch."
Principal Sharpe was talking to someone when Lillian peered through the glass, but he waved her in anyway.
"Hello, Lillian," he said. He wasn't smiling, something that happened very rarely. That only made Lillian more sure of her hypothesis: Anne Marie, the girl's mother, had had nothing but stillbirths after Lillian had been born. It was strange and sad, but there was really nothing Lillian could do.
Lillian directed her gaze to the woman that Principal Sharpe was talking to. She seemed nice and well-dressed. Lillian wondered why she was here.
"Hi," the woman said, as if reading Lillian's mind. "My name is Pearl Clarke. I'm a social worker."
Whatever expression that was on Lillian's face froze. For politeness's sake, she hoped it was a smile.
"Please sit down, Lillian," Principal Sharpe said belatedly. "I have some bad news," the man continued. "I was just informed that your mother was arrested this morning."
"WHAT?" Lillian almost shrieked the word. "Why would she get arrested?" she asked, being careful to lower her voice. The secretaries out front were notorious for calling the school's security at any loud noise.
"From what I've heard, she gave birth this morning around nine a.m. Two hours later, Mrs. Shilling called the police because her dog found an infant buried under your back porch," Principal Sharpe said. "When the police came and questioned your mother, she confessed to burying the newborn and was taken into custody."
"The police are digging up your yard as we speak, and they've apparently found more bodies," Pearl Clarke added.
Lillian leaned back against her chair, feeling dizzy. What was she supposed to say to this? How was she supposed to react? Were they even telling the truth? How was this even possible? Anne Marie had her shortcomings, but was "serial killer" really one of them?
"What happens to me?" she finally asked.
"I've talked it over with Ms. Clarke," Principal Sharpe said, "and we've decided that you're going to go into foster care temporarily. At least until we can find your family."
"I don't have anyone," Lillian said automatically. "I had a grandpa, but he died when I was ten."
"What about your father?" Ms. Clarke asked.
Lillian shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know anything about him," she said.
Ms. Clarke sighed, but stood up and smoothed her sweater, as if getting ready to leave. "I'll look anyway," she said. "Before we leave, I have some papers you need to see, but after that we can go out to lunch if you're hungry."
Lillian vaguely remembered hearing the bell that signaled the end of fourth period. She had just learned about her mother committing multiple counts of infanticide, though, so her memory was a little hazy.
"I'm skipping the rest of school?" she asked, glancing pointedly at Principal Sharpe.
"You have a lot to take in," he said. "Nobody will blame you for taking the afternoon off."
Reluctantly, Lillian stood up and followed Ms. Clarke out the door.
Notes: Sorry the chapter is so short. I'm still trying to figure out how to pace this story.
When I think about it, this story takes a lot of time. The "current" Lillian -- the one in my head -- is actually eighteen. It's kind of weird to play around with her fourteen-year-old self. But it's fun because she's popular and social and really cool. Like, you know, a normal teenage girl.
It's really bizarre to think about her being in middle school, though. There will be several time-skips in the future to fix that.