We meet in the office of The School Head. The conference table, like the rest of the office, is spare and modern, with a square glass bowl of tiny, colorful jelly beans at the center, next to a box of tissues.
The Counselor and School Head each have pads of paper with nothing written on them. The Counselor speaks first.
The Child told her boyfriend about her suicide plan.
The boyfriend told the Counselor about the conversation.
The Counselor interviewed The Child, and concluded the threats were credible.
The conversation is peppered with private, personal details, made public now, even though the door is closed and it’s just the three of us in a confidential meeting. They talk about my mother’s two cousins who committed suicide, my schizophrenic aunt, and The Child’s plan to hang herself from the rafters of the garage. I acknowledge the facts and people and deaths, but struggle to find the logic: the cousins died long before The Child was ever born, and I don’t think there are any rafters in my garage. If there are I can’t picture them, and while I’m trying to visualize my garage and sort out the mess of details the conversation has moved back to reality and what must happen now.
The Counselor suggests a hospital nearby would be the best place to take her, and mentions other places, treatment facilities, and I realize I should be writing this down, but I don’t have a pen or paper. The School Head hands me a blank sheet and a pen.
Everything is calm and restrained and I’m still not sure why I’m there or what I’m supposed to do; I was prepared for a different meeting, and keep expecting that meeting to begin.
This is not a disciplinary hearing, says the School Head.
I ask for directions to the hospital, and they seem relieved, and begin to describe the route as I realize that I know where to go. They retrieve The Child and sit with her in another room as I make hurried phone calls, to my office, explaining I need to leave for the day, and to my friend, who used to be Mayor and isn’t afraid to speak in public, and ask her to give the speech I am supposed to give the next day. She tells me: I’ve got it, do what you need to.