By Jemima McEvoy
“You haven’t missed much. It’s been raining non-stop for the last two weeks.”
I squirmed a little in the cold metal chair, wondering whether it had been an appropriate thing to say. Jaheem, the boy sitting opposite me, took in the statement with a cool disregard. It seemed as though he barely even registered what I said; the corners of his lips turning up slightly as he leaned backwards in his chair on the other side of the glass. The gentle, orange glow reflected a halo onto the separation between us, and I couldn’t help but think about how he was beautiful. Big, beautiful, black eyes, beautiful dark, dark skin. A beautiful smile that made me sad. His skin was cutting against the “danger” colour of his clothes, but he didn’t seem dangerous. He was so small.
“I don’t like wearing this,” he put his thin fingers onto his temples and rubbed in a delicate, circular movement. I watched in uncomfortable silence for a moment, thinking of the right thing to say. Knowing I couldn’t promise release and I couldn’t truthfully say that he’d be wearing sweatpants or a sports shirt any time soon. I don’t like to lie to my clients, but I hate to incite false hope. He raised his eyes so they were directly in line with my own—it was unsettling. Not because I was afraid of him, but because the way he looked at me without faltering made me think that he knew more about myself than I did. Another thing that scared me was knowing that he did it and not knowing why. I didn’t know what to say so I shook my head and flitted attention back down to my notepad which sat undisturbed on the grey plastic table below my damp palms.