Ryan, 9, holds his knees up to his chest behind the living room couch. As he rocks himself slightly, the sleeves of his oversized t-shirt reach sharp elbows, which seem to row his bony body forwards and backwards. His piercing blue eyes are glued to the carpet.
After several minutes, Ryan comes out and starts playing again with his towheaded sister Audrey, 5. Their mother, Mindy, is sitting at the kitchen table, still dressed in her brightly patterned CNA scrubs. She cleans the white boards Audrey and Ryan used for a game of bingo with her earlier.
To read more of this story, pick up the Wednesday edition of Catawba County's community newspaper, The Observer News Enterprise, at newsstands throughout the county.