My Soul to Lose Page 11

Stunned, I could only stare for a long moment. It took all of my remaining focus to breathe. They really weren’t going to take me home!

“Kaylee?” my uncle asked, and I hated how concerned he looked. How fragile he obviously considered me now.

“I’ll try.”

My aunt and uncle knew that my panic attacks always seemed to be triggered by someone else. So far, always someone I’d never met. But they didn’t know about the morbid certainty that came with the panic. Or the weird hallucinations I’d had at the mall. I was afraid that if I told them those parts, they’d agree with Dr. Nelson, and the three of them might put me back in that restraint bed and weld the buckles shut.

“Try hard.” Uncle Brendon eyed me intently, his green eyes somehow shining, even in the dim overhead light. “Because if you start screaming again, they’ll pump you so full of antidepressants and antipsychotics you won’t even remember your own name.”

Antipsychotics? They really thought I was psychotic?

“And Kaylee…”

I looked up at Aunt Val and was surprised to see visible dents in her armor of relentless optimism. She looked pale, and stressed, and the frown lines in her forehead were more pronounced than I’d ever seen them. If someone had shown her a mirror at that moment, she might easily have wound up my roommate in the loony bin.

“If you even look like you’re going to hurt yourself again—” her gaze strayed to the scabbed-over scratches on my neck, and my hand immediately flew to cover them “—you’ll wind up strapped to that table again.” Her voice broke, and she pulled a tissue from her purse to blot tears before they smudged her mascara. “And I don’t think either one of us can handle seeing you like that again.”

I woke up at four in the morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. After an hour and a half of staring up at the ceiling, ignoring the aide who came to check on me every fifteen minutes, I got dressed and headed down the hall in search of a magazine I’d started the day before. To my surprise, Lydia sat on a couch in the living-room half of the common area.

“You’re up early.” I sat next to her, uninvited. The television played in the corner, tuned to the local news, but no one watched it. As far as I knew, the other patients weren’t up yet. Neither was the sun.

Lydia watched me just like she had the day before, in mild interest, no surprise and almost total detachment. Our gazes met for a long minute, neither of us blinking. It was an odd sort of a challenge, as I silently dared her to speak. She had something to say. I was sure of it.

But she stayed silent.

“You don’t sleep much, do you?” Normally I wouldn’t have pried—after all, I didn’t want anyone else poking into my alleged mental instability—but she’d stared at me for hours the day before. Like she wanted to tell mesomething.

Lydia shook her head, and a strand of lank black hair fell in front of her face. She pushed it back, her lips firmly sealed.

“Why not?”

She only blinked at me, staring into my eyes as if they fascinated her. As if she saw something there no one else could see.

I started to ask what she was looking at, but stopped when a purple blur caught my attention on the other side of the room. A tall aide in eggplant-colored scrubs checking in on us, clipboard in hand. Had it been fifteen minutes already? But before she could continue with the rest of her list, Paul appeared in the doorway.

“Hey, they’re sending one over from the E.R.”

“Now?” The female aide glanced at her watch.

“Yeah. She’s stable, and they need the space.” Both staff members disappeared down the hall, and I turned to see that Lydia’s face had gone even paler than normal.

Several minutes later, the main entrance buzzed, then the door swung open. The female aide hurried from the nurses’ station as a man in plain green scrubs stepped into the unit, pushing a thin, tired-looking girl in a wheelchair. She wore jeans and a purple scrubs top, and her long pale hair hung over most of her face. Her arms lay limp in her lap, both bandaged from her wrists to halfway up her forearms.

“Here’s her shirt.” The man in green handed the aide a thick plastic bag with the Arlington Memorial logo on it. “If I were you, I’d throw it out. I don’t think all the bleach in the world could get rid of that much blood.

On my right, Lydia flinched, and I looked up to see her eyes closed, her forehead furrowed in obvious pain. As the aide wheeled the new girl past the common area, Lydia went stiff beside me and clenched the arms of her chair so tightly the tendons in her hands stood out.

“You okay?” I whispered, as the wheelchair squeaked toward the girls’ hall.

Lydia shook her head, but her eyes didn’t open.

“What hurts?”

She shook her head again, and I realized she was younger than I’d first guessed. Fourteen, at the most. Too young to be stuck at Lakeside, no matter what was wrong with her.

“You want me to get someone?” I started to stand, but she grabbed my arm so suddenly I actually jerked in surprise. She was a lot stronger than she looked. And faster.

Lydia shook her head, meeting my gaze with green eyes brightly glazed with pain. Then she stood and walked stiffly down the hall, one hand pressed to her stomach. A minute later, her door closed softly.

The rest of the day was a blur of half-eaten meals, unfocused stares, and too many jigsaw puzzle pieces to count. After breakfast, Nurse Nancy was back on duty, standing in my doorway to ask a series of pointless, invasive questions. But by then I was annoyed with the fifteen-minute checkups, and beyond frustrated by the lack of privacy.

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