55. What Miranda Read

“So let’s see if I understand: This woman—”

“Sarah Ozymandius.”

“—had the magical ability to communicate with and create plants. One day, she made one that stopped her magic from working? Then something happened, but she doesn’t say what, and she buried her seeds and notes, unable to bring herself to destroy her creation?”

Miranda nods. 

“Now you, for reasons not entirely clear, believe this is more than lunatic ramblings. And you want to grow these plants to cure Shou’s nightmare problem? Out of the goodness of your heart?”

Miranda looks at her shoes and mumbles, “For science.”

“How generous.”

Where to Begin

54. Dinner

When Lye manages to drag himself down to the dining hall, he finds two very excited teenagers waiting for him. He doesn’t have time to wonder what he did to deserve such energetic companions before they set upon him with questions. 

“How long can seeds survive if they’re not planted?” Miranda stumbles over her own words. 

“It depends,” he replies cautiously, “Why?”

“Because I think we’ve found a cure. Well, maybe a cure. If it grows.”

Lye raises one eyebrow. “A cure for what exactly?”

“A cure for—” Miranda’s gaze shutters. “Shou, tell Lye what you can do.”

He does.

Where to Begin

53. What’s in the Box

“A book,” Shou glares into the box, like he’ll be able to make something else appear, just by willing it.

Miranda glances up at him. “You don’t have to sound so disappointed. And look,” she holds up a frail-looking little burlap bag with SEEDS sewn into the front. “Not just a book.”

“It was so heavy, I just hoped it would be, I don’t know, something more interesting.”

“It’s heavy because it’s so thick. Lead, probably. If it were thinner, I doubt it would have lasted so long.” She opens the book, flips through a few pages. “It’s a journal.”

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