I ascended the concrete steps of the old brick building and waited for the gruff female guard to wave me through the metal detector.

“Come on,” she barked.

I smiled my thanks, but she remained impassive. I waited, uncertain where to go.She had already turned back to her book.

Summoning my courage, I approached her. “Excuse me, ma’am. Where is family court?”

Her eyes flickered over my face, and then returned to her book. “Third floor.”

The elevator creaked on its journey up. As I stepped out and began walking down the corridor, my heels clicked on the old linoleum. Almost every chair in the long hallway was filled. A baby cried as her mother held her. Another woman rocked in unspoken anguish. Most were dressed in faded jeans. Old sweatshirts covered too-thin bodies. The stale air felt tense. Armed police »

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