Madame Foster had been to a Police Station before, had even been held for a night for reckless driving and agitating a police officer, but never had she been into a prison, before. Not an active one, anyway.
She had nothing to do with any cells as she was guided through the echoing white halls of the building, relayed between serious looking wardens, until coming to a pause outside a white door, with a small, smoked window in it. In her old age, she was no longer tall enough to see through it. She smiled up at the warden, as he ran what she supposed was a metal detector over her person, which beeped and wailed obnoxiously as it passed over her head. He narrowed his eyes and she giggled, and knocked her knuckles against her crown.
"Metal plate, sonny."
He checked her down all the same, and then went about unlocking the door.
"If you need anything," he assured, stepping aside and slowly pushing the door open for her "I will be right outside this door."
"Thank you, but I don't think that will be necessary."
The little old lady tottered through the door, a care-free tune humming from behind her lips, as she stepped into this small, white room, lit overbearingly with an even whiter ceiling light. There wasn't much, a chair, a sink, a bed, a sullen imaginary friend. Bare minimum.
Madame Foster took the chair by it's back and dragged it across the room, with a dull screech of its legs on the floor, and stopped in front of the imaginary friend, who was sat on the bed, her back to the wall and her knees bent up to her chest. Her face was down, and hidden, so the little old lady could only smile at the top of her head, but there was no doubt in it being as sweet and genuine as her best; the same smile she gave every creation she met.
"You're Zigzag, right?"
The friend kept her head down and her mouth shut.
"My name is Madame Foster. I am here today, to talk to you about you coming to live in my home, with me, and my other friends. How do you feel about that?" A silence hung between them in a long pause, before a smile creased the lady's eyes again "What's the matter, cat got your tongue? How do you feel about that, Zigzag?"
"Un'appy." the English-born accent carried the croaking clues of a smoker, noticeable even when muffled behind Zigzag's bony pair of knees.
"... I understand," there was a second pause, as Madame Foster looked at what she could see of this scrunched up imaginary friend. Skinny and ill-proportioned, but the second quality was not unusual for a figment. She tittered, digressing "You have very long arms. Are they longer than your body?"
"I think so..."
"And HUGE hands. I like you, I like the look of you, you are interesting. Why don't you stand up and show me your face?"
She was not expecting much of a response, but was surprised when after another long, still silence, Zigzag uncurled her arms from around her, leaning down only slightly to put her hands flat on the ground, and proceeded to lift herself up from her seat..
She walked awkwardly on her palms, away from the mattress, her head still down and her knees still up, before she was a safe distance from the bed and the chair and the sweet old lady. She hesitated, then slowly straightened her legs until her feet touched the ground, relieving her weight from her arms and standing up straight. She rubbed the back of her head, and then slowly, slowly raised her face. Madame Foster looked at her, a curious smile playing on her lips.
"Good eye colour. Yellow, very happy, how many eyes do you have?" Zigzag hesitated, then lifted the hair that covered half of her face "Ah, just the one. Interesting, an asymmetric Cyclops, you don't see that very often. Your face, do you have a problem with the half with no eye?"
"... Mi' mouth, I can only 'alf smile."
"Do you smile much?"
"No, I can't imagine in a dreary place like this," the little old lady looked about the room, the only sound being the buzzing of the light, overhead, as she thought carefully about what to say next "We should talk about you coming to stay at my home, girl."
"Why are you talking to me about it, surely it ain't up to you."
"It is up to me, because it is my house. I was contacted by Scotland Yard, and they proposed a small experiment; your conditional release, so long as you stay with me, and learn to be a friend, again."
Zigzag took a long deep breath, her shoulders shaking.
"... I don't want to be a friend, I want to be a person. I'm not some g-god damn guinea pig, for people to EXPERIMENT on if they're gonna release me they should j-just JUST FUUU-fucking release me..." she was shaking more now, her voice fluctuating like someone was playing with her volume dial. She clenched her colossal, spider-fingered hands into fists, teeth gritted as she continued, as calmly as she could "C-can I use your chair?"
She did use the chair, but not in the sense that an ordinary chair user would use it. Instead she hurled it around the room in a tantrum, screaming and shouting, effing and blinding as it bounced of the walls and the floor and swung it around over her head then smashed it over and over again against the ground. As the chair was breaking and splintering away into pieces, Madame Foster knocked noisily on the door and called sweetly "Oh, guard! Can we get a new chair and maybe some sedatives?"
Frankie Foster stared at her Grandmother as she walked casually into the Business Affairs Office of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, so casually even, that she could have just been to the convenient store down the street, not a federal prison "Uh... How'd it go?"
"How did what go?"
"Madame!" interrupted Mr. Herriman, the head of business affairs himself, who also just so happened to be a six foot tall, lop-eared bunny rabbit in a suit jacket and top hat "How can you be so casual about all of this, you just came back from PRISON, visiting a PRISONER, who is going to be living IN OUR HOUSE."
"I know where I've been Funny Bunny, don't make such a fuss," Madame Foster waved her hand dismissively at her oldest friend as she drew closer the desk, where the three of them were all now clustered round "It went very well, it's was all discussed and she has promised to be on her best behaviour."
"What, that's it?" Frankie blinked at her "B-but you've been gone all day! You even missed dinner, how could it have been so simple!"
"Oh it wasn't, she was furious, she started smashing a chair and had to be held down by two guards and given sedatives!" the old lady laughed aloud, while the bunny and the caretaker just stared at her, then one another, with their mouths agape "Such a wild card, I think she's great!"
"Madame, please, I beg of you, you MUST reconsider; this is far too reckless and dangerous. We can not bring a criminal into this establishment. Especially not as a result of her crime!"
"He's right, Grandma," Frankie agreed, bending her knees a little and putting her hand on the old lady's shoulder, who was starting to frown a little "We both know you mean well, but Foster's is a foster home, not a rehabilitation centre."
"I've been assured by both her and the police that she is not in any need of addiction rehabilitation," Madame Foster insisted.
"That's not what I meant, Grandma. We do not know this friend, all we know is her crime; manslaughter," the three of the sighed in unison "We could be putting everyone in this house in a lot of danger."
The old lady looked at Frankie and Mr. Herriman thoughtfully, her brow furrowed as she thought about what she could possibly say. She knew it was dangerous, but the friend in question, even in her rage, had clearly done her best to be reserved in any violence towards her. Manslaughter, by definition, is an accident, and she didn't want to pry for details. What business was it of hers? But that single yellow eye, the most tired eye she'd ever seen, heavy with regret, said enough. A second sigh passed from her lips, and she looked at the old rabbit with determination.
"I realise that this is not a prison, or a rehabilitation centre..." she began "But it is a place of second chances, and today I met a girl who's only chance is a second chance. I am not going to let myself be afraid, and neither should you two, the three of us are bound by our promise to help any friend who needs it... And we are also bound by a contract because I already signed it, so there."
She stuck her tongue out at the rabbit and he let out a loud exasperated sigh "Fine! Let's just let the criminal swan in here and ruin the sanctity of this household!"
"She has promised to be on her very best behaviour! She understands what a great kindness this is, and is ready to step into the real world again, and try and make something of herself and her life. I've also asked if she'll be willing to help you, Frankie, around the house while she stays here. She will not be put up for adoption right away, because we have no way of knowing how she is going to be with us, let alone a new family. So she will be working for her bed. It's all signed, all cleared and it is happening, she will be arriving here, next week, on Wednesday," the old lady paused, rubbing her chin and then continued, walking towards the door "Do you suppose we could organise some sort of field trip that day, so as not to scare our other residents?"
"A field trip?"
"Madame, whatever for?"
"Oh, of course! She's going to be arriving in a police car and precautionary hand cuffs! Goodnight!"
And with that, the old lady shut the door behind her and tottered off to bed. Frankie and Mr. Herriman slowly turned to look at each other.
"I don't like this," Mr. Herriman said quietly "... I don't like this at all."