Mz Lennix stepped away to take another phone call and the stewardess stepped in to top up Mr Georgiadis’ hot chocolate.
“I agree with your brother that you should take some time to consider your options,” he said between appreciative sips. “It might be that you do wind up living with your parents, working to support them and your siblings as well as being a carer, and in some circumstances there is nothing wrong with that, but I think you should at least be allowed to find out if there is something that would pay better and be more fulfilling than grocery.”
“Someone has to work grocery,” pointed out Yollie.
“Indeed,” agreed Mr Georgiadis, “but if you’re going to one day wind up supporting yourself, two elderly parents, various siblings, your own theoretical spouse and equally theoretical children, then you owe it to everyone to do the best for yourself that you can.”
“I don’t suppose anyone would want to marry me, but it would be nice to have a boyfriend for a while sometimes.” Yollie had already had two mugs of hot chocolate and three ganache-centred cookies and really thought that ought to be enough.
“That, young lady, is a whole different discussion and one you should have with your therapist, not me.” Mr Georgiadis drank some more hot chocolate. “Although I might wind up being your social worker because I’m the only one in the department who hasn’t dealt with your family before.”
“I’ve never had a social worker assigned to me before,” commented Yollie. “They and therapists have always happened to other people.”
“No therapist,” said Mr Georgiadis said slowly and put down his mug carefully. “The only neurotypical child in a family of eight and it never occurred to anyone that you might need someone to talk to?”
“I think it might have occurred to them,” replied Yollie fairly, “but it was a ‘nice to have’ compared to actual treatment, so treatment got the available money.” She shrugged.
Mz Lennix put away her phone and came back over to them. “That was Jorja Weathers. She’s bringing over a travel permission form signed by Ted, Yollie’s older brother. Their parents are away but Ted’s an adult. Apparently there are a few more things she has to tell us about the situation when she gets here.”
Yollie asked, “Can I still get on my flight? It’s due to leave in about fifteen minutes – I could still make it, couldn’t I?”
“You might make it,” said the steward sympathetically after he exchanged a glance with the stewardess, “if they hadn’t already allocated your cancelled berth to a standby passenger who’s now boarded the airship. We’ll have to try to get you on another flight.”
“I have to leave this weekend,” said Yollie quietly, “or I can’t go at all.”
“Our booking staff can do amazing things,” the steward assured her. “As long as your travel permission arrives, I’m sure we can do something.” Then he went over and spoke to the staff at the check-in counter before returning to stand beneficently on the edge of the group. It finally occurred to Yollie that, aside from carrying things for the stewardess, the steward was probably another security guard.
Mz Weathers arrived maybe a quarter of an hour later with a permission form signed by Yollie’s brother Ted. She and the other two social workers conferred for a few minutes then went to talk to the check-in staff, after some interesting changes of expression. There was some deep discussion between the adults, a lot of keyboard tapping behind the counter, and then the senior check-in clerk of the two now apparently dealing with Yollie beckoned her over.
“Mz Renver, we’re sorry for the inconvenience that our need to comply with the recent badly publicised changes in the protection of minors regulations have caused you and we’ve rebooked your flight at no additional fee to you.”
The clerk smiled at Yollie and Yollie smiled back, murmuring,”Thank you,” as she did so.
“The flight will leave here this afternoon but it will take three nights to get you to your destination instead of one. That means you will require a cabin and given the limited options available on the ship in question, we’ve taken the liberty of upgrading you to first class, at no extra cost of course.” The clerk smiled at Yollie again.
“But don’t you need fancy clothes for first class?” Yollie was almost stammering. “Dressing for dinner and stuff like that? And aren’t there extra tips for the staff?”
The check-in clerk smiled. “The Chief Purser can lend you suitable outfits it you lack anything – passengers sometimes don’t realize when they pack that certain dress codes are a requirement, not a suggestion, so a remedial wardrobe is available. We’ll make a note against your record that you’ll need help picking something suitable.”
“And supplying you with a suitable amount of cash to supply tips you wouldn’t have had to otherwise pay, is something I can do,” put in Mr Georgiadis. “The amount is under my emergency cash limit.”
“I’ve conferred with your brother, and we agree with this plan you two’ve come up with to get you to university,” added Mz Weathers. “As this is your technical place of residence, you’ll go on Mr Georgiadis’ case load for at least a year, and he’ll look in on you every so often. Good luck, Yollie.”
Mz Lennix nodded in confirmation and Mr Georgiadis added, “We’re not fairy godmothers and I can’t promise any balls, but now’s your chance. Go for it.”
At the moment, anything seemed possible.
This is now followed by Cocktails At Sunset.