50. Secrets, Secrets, and More Secrets

Shou shreds a page between his fingers. “I was trying not to sleep because, you know.” He holds out his forearm, the criss-crossing scars bright and ugly against his skin. “It worked for a while, but…” 

“But nobody can stay awake forever,” she finishes, eyes on the ruined paper.

He can feel his cheeks start to burn. 

“I tried to once. To kill myself, I mean.”

“What happened?”

She grimaces, looks over at the bookshelves. “Clarke took over. He’s tougher to kill than I am.”

He isn’t sure what to do with this confession, so instead he asks, “Who’s Clarke?”

Where to Begin

49. The Explanation

No, he doesn’t have to know the person, but if he does, he can make the nightmare more specific. Yes, about anything. Maybe good dreams, he doesn’t know. She laughs when he says this, but he isn’t sure why. He didn’t give Jeremy a nightmare, but he agrees that would’ve been stupid. What happened was the blowback. For every nightmare he gives, he has one. When he has nightmares, the monsters bleed into reality for a few minutes but fade away when he wakes up. Yes, it hurt him. They always do.

Lastly, she asks, “Is that why you’re here?”

Where to Begin

48. The Answer

He stares at his hands like he’s written the answers on his palms. “I can give people nightmares.” He waits for her to laugh. 

She doesn’t laugh. “How?”

He shrugs. “I don’t know. I just have to think of what I want them to dream about and then I touch them. It’s like putting something in their pockets. But there’s blowback.” He winces. “Consequences.”

She stares at him with wide, hungry eyes. She lets out a shuddering breath.  “I have,” she pauses. Her cheeks are pink. She looks more alive than Shou has ever seen her before. “So many questions.”

Where to Begin

47. The Question

“He didn’t attack you, did he?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He bends the page’s corner back and forth. He’s never been a good liar.

“He said you did something. Everyone heard him, even on our floor.” 

Shou winces.

“He’s in solitary now, you know.” 

The muscles in his face contract. 

She knows the names of every one but doesn’t know what’s going on beneath them. “He said you warned him, Shou.” She leans forward, catches his gaze. “What happened?”

The page beneath his fingers rips. He smooths it flat. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

Where to Begin

46. Miranda Wants Answers: Library Edition

“Can you wait until I’m done with this section?” He asks, winces, and tsks loudly three times. 

The librarian glares at him, unsure if he’s doing it on purpose. He’s not. 

“What for?” 

“The SAT.”

“Because I’m illiterate. I meant why are you studying, obviously. We won’t be able to go, even if we get out of here.” Miranda doesn’t grieve the lost opportunity. She hasn’t bothered with school in years.

“I will,” he says softly. “I’m going to become a lawyer. I’ll defend the people who need it most.” 

Her eyes narrow, but she waits until he’s done, anyway. 

Where to Begin

45. Miranda vs Therapy: Round 3, Concluded

“That’s our time for today.” Dr. Smith flips his legal pad closed. 

Miranda stands. Her mind is busy elsewhere, so her pride doesn’t stifle her sycophantic forced cheer. “Thanks so much!” 

At the doorway, “Oh!” she says like a thought just occurred to her, “Will Shou get another roommate?”

Dr. Smith smiles. “Soon. But don’t worry: Jeremy won’t. He’ll spend a few days in solitary—just to be sure he isn’t a danger to himself or others.”

Miranda’s mind flashes to the white room, the buzz of silence in her ears.

She forces her lips upwards and bares her teeth. “Great!”

Where to Begin

44. Miranda vs Therapy: Round 3, continued

“Let’s talk about last week.”

“I went to bed and when I woke up, I was in that room.” 

“So you didn’t know Clarke wanted to leave? Why she was digging?”

“He,” she corrects. “Clarke is male.”

Dr. Smith smiles indulgently.

Punching Dr. Smith in the face will get her locked in solitary again, so she retreats into her mind, lets it wander. 

What was that box Clarke dug up? Why did he give up control when he found it? Curiosity rolls over in the back of her mind. 

“Well, however Clarke thinks of herself, let’s talk about her motivation.”

Where to Begin