36. Shou vs Smith, Part 2

“This has been a productive session!” Dr. Smith stands. 

Shou doesn’t. “What about Miranda?”

“We haven’t left enough time. Maybe next time.”

“You said we could,” Shou accuses. “You said—”

“Next time, Shou.” Dr. Smith holds the door open to reveal a waiting orderly. “I have other patients to see. Please don’t be difficult.”

The orderly looks at Shou with merciless eyes.

Shou uncurls his fists. He can’t get what he wants, but he can get revenge. He stands and holds his hand out for the doctor to shake. “Next time.” 

Dr. Smith looks surprised, but takes Shou’s hand anyway. 

Where to Begin

35. Shou vs Smith, Part 1

Dr. Smith smiles. “She’ll be out the day after tomorrow. While I am very glad to see that you—”

“She is a prisoner against her will! It’s unethical! What happened to patients’ rights?” 

In the subsequent silence, Dr. Smith asks, “How are you sleeping?”

“Are you kidding me?” 

“I understand that you’re worried about Miranda, but this session is regarding the state of your health, not hers.”

Shou crosses his arms over his chest and doesn’t answer.

“We’ll spend our last few minutes talking about Miranda, ok?” 


Dr. Smith clicks his pen. “I notice the tics are improving, too.”

Where to Begin

34. The Story

Lye spent most of the afternoon putting the story together. All he wants now is a nap. 

“Why? For how long? Why?” Shou demands.

“A day or two. Until they’re sure she isn’t a danger to herself or others.”

“She isn’t dangerous! That’s crazy!”

Lye massages his temples. “She assaulted an orderly and tried to dig her way out of a mental hospital. Sounds dangerous and crazy to me.” 

“It isn’t fair!”

“Fair!” Lye throws up his hands. “Nothing is ever fair! The sooner you learn that, the happier you’ll be.”

Shou shakes his head then, without a word, leaves.

Where to Begin

33. The Buzz

The door is locked so Lye goes in through the broken window. Miranda’s shoes, still in their cubby. Miranda’s glasses, still on the windowsill. 

He pauses when a key turns in the locked door.

Two orderlies enter.

One unrolls plastic sheeting and holds against the window. “The way he just stares up at the house.”

The second tapes it in place. “Someone should tell Dr. Smith.”

The first snorts. “That the neighbor’s weird? Hiram would probably hire him to get ‘some real local flavor.”

Lye slips out the open door. 

“Ha! Like someone from White Haven would ever work here.”

Where to Begin

32. Breakfast, Sans Miranda

“Where is she?” Shou repeats. “Do you think something happened?”

Lye snaps his book shut, tucks it under his arm, stands. 

“Where are you going?” Shou’s chair squeals as it slides across the floor.

We, nothing. You stay here.” Lye points to Shou’s chair, until Shou sits. “I’m going to see if she’s in her room. New dosage might have her tuckered, you know how it goes.” He means to be comforting.

Shou bites his lip, looking undecided. Finally, he nods.

Lye slouches out. 

Alone, Shou’s hands shake. “It wasn’t me,” he mumbles, though no one asked. “I couldn’t have.”

Where to Begin

31. Miranda, Locked Up

Her head pounds. She cracks an eye and looks around at burred white walls.

This is not her room. 

Here at Oz, we take security very seriously, had been printed neatly in her brochure.

The room is layered with stiff, cushioning. Pale, calming light shines down on her. Her finger has been bandaged. There is no dirt under her nails. She is dressed in fresh pajamas. She reaches up for glasses that are not there, then stands on tiptoe to press her nose to the door’s tiny window. 


No answer. What time is it? What day?

“Is anyone there?”

Where to Begin

30. Miranda Gets Caught, Part 2 of 2

There is no nail on her left index finger and it is still bleeding. She is filthy. She is outside in her pajamas. She is not wearing shoes or glasses. It is almost dawn. She is standing in a hole about five feet deep and she is holding a dirty metal box.

“Over here! I see her!” Someone calls, “By the wall!”

Panicking, she covers the box in dirt to hide it and scrambles out of the hole and says, “I’m not going to resist! I’m not—”

But they bring her to the ground and jam the needle in anyway.

Where to Begin