7. This is Lye

Lye watches them carry the boy away. Girl? They said her but Lye would’ve bet it was a boy. He shakes his head. Maybe he should mention this to Doc next week. Lye slouches toward the back door. He stoops to pick up a pair of bent glasses. He slips them into his pocket and sweeps dark, curling hair back from his face. He wonders if it’ll start graying soon. He’s thirty-six, which is about the age his father’s hair went.

“Who’s the new kid?” He asks a passing nurse. “The one who had the fit.”

“Miranda Clarke, poor dear.”

6. Clarke Gets Them into Trouble

“Hold her still!”

It takes five orderlies to pin him down while a sixth drives the needle into his exposed buttock. He screams; more rage than pain. He goes still but, even with the sedative, he remains conscious and weakly struggling. His eyes are half-lidded and still angry.  

“When does she see Dr. Smith?” asks the orderly who picks him up. He is stronger than he looks. Surprisingly strong. He growls like a feral dog.

“Friday.”

An audience has gathered. Events like this provide entertainment for the long-term patients. Lye watches from the back, over the heads of the others.

← Chapter 5                                                                          Chapter 7 →

5. They are Both Unhappy

I hate it here, Miranda writes to Clarke. She watches an orderly push a blank-eyed man in a wheelchair across the patio. They took everything when she got inside. No shoelaces, no pencils. Nothing she could use to hurt herself or someone else. They shaved her head, washed her down, and looked for lice and contraband in every cavity of her body. She shares a room with a girl who talks to herself during the day and screams all night. She is fascinating and frightening. Miranda is repulsed by her weakness.

Day two. She closes the notebook around the marker.

← Chapter 4                                                                          Chapter 6 →

4. This is Oz

They tell her that she will be going to a psychiatric hospital. She isn’t surprised. She nods once, adjusts her glasses, pretends that it doesn’t sting like betrayal. “This is how we will pay for it,” she explains. The next day she liquidates her investment portfolio. It is enough to stay in Oz for four years.

The car ride is silent. Her parents sit in the front seat and she sits next to her suitcases in the back. She’s packed mostly books. She is the only one who cries when they leave her with the orderly at the front gate.

← Chapter 3                                                                          Chapter 5 →

3. These Are Their Parents, Who Don’t Know What to Do Anymore

“I’m sorry,” she says it like it’s a catechism. “It wasn’t me. I’m sorry.”

“Just…go upstairs.” Her mother says, a hand pressed against her already bruising eye. She is cradled between cracked plaster and the stove. Where Clarke’s punch landed her.

“It wasn’t me.” Her hands are spread wide in front of her. Pleading. “It was—”

GO TO YOUR ROOM!

Her mother’s voice breaks. It is the unspoken desperation that chases Miranda up the stairs, not the words. Miranda hates Clarke. Her hands shake with rage as she sits at her desk and writes in the notebook they share.  

← Chapter 2                                                                          Chapter 4 →

2. This is Clarke, Who is Not Always Clarke

Sometimes a switch flips and Miranda becomes Clarke instead. He has big hands, big feet, and bony knees. He does not wear glasses. His talent is breaking things. When she was younger and still liked fiction, Miranda read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Clarke is Hyde. Clarke puts his fists through bricks. Clarke throws the table in the middle of dinner. Clarke doesn’t care that he leaves Miranda with broken hands and crying parents. When the switch flips Clarke explodes into being; all fists and fury. Miranda wishes that he didn’t, but Miranda does not know how to stop him.

← Chapter 1                                                                          Chapter 3 →

1. This is Miranda, Who is Not Always Miranda

This is Miranda Elizabeth. She has big hands, big feet, big glasses, and bony knees. She is thirteen. There is a rage trapped inside of her. She does her best to swallow it but it never goes down quite right. She lives with her mother and father. As if in a desperate attempt to demonstrate usefulness despite her proclivity for destruction, she has already begun to utilize her massive intellect for the good of mankind. She has shelves lined with trophies and letters of glorious praise. Her parents share meaningful looks above her head. Her success will not absolve her.

← Chapter 1                                                                          Chapter 2 →