"He just fell hard while riding his bike, that's all," Karen, 26 years old, explains to the doctor. She's holding her eight-year-old son, Daniel, by his hand tightly. His left arm has a hairline fracture, and is in a sling. Daniel remains quiet as his mother talks about him always falling, always dropping things, always getting into school fights. The doctor hands her a bottle of painkillers and sends her on her way. To everyone else in the clinic, Daniel and Karen seem like a normal mother and son, but to these two, they are everything but.
Daniel's father, and Karen's current boyfriend of nine years, Justin, had met Karen at a New Year's party when he was 18. He had been a shy person for the majority of his life, and Karen had been just like him. They quickly got into a serious relationship, and Karen, 17, soon became pregnant.
Daniel had been a happy, healthy baby. He had no problem growing like a normal child. Karen dropped school to take care of him, supported by her parents, while Justin went on to college. He started talking right after his second birthday, and was a perfect child- that is, until a small-scale college party changed his life. Neither Karen nor Daniel attended the party; only Justin had. And there, he was introduced to crack.
Karen sighs as she stares out the front window. She waits some more, and finally passes by Justin- 4 hours late. She rushes out to meet him, but he just stumbles past her. As he climbs the porch steps, he faints and falls back.