My Soul to Lose Page 17

Then, suddenly, it was over. Her fingers fell away from mine. Her eyes closed. She fell over backward—still convulsing—before I could catch her. She hit her head on the footboard, and when I fumbled for a pillow to put under her, I realized her nose was bleeding. Dripping steadily on the blanket.

“Help!” I shouted, the first sound I’d made since the whole thing started, several endless minutes earlier. “Somebody help me!” My voice sounded funny. Slurred. Why was it so hard to talk? Why did I feel so weird? Like everything was moving in slow motion? Like my brain was packed with cotton.

Footsteps pounded down the hall toward me, then the door flew open. “What happened?” Nurse Nancy demanded, two taller female aides peering over her shoulder.

“She…” I blinked, trying to focus in a thick cloud of confusion. “She took too much…” Too much of what? The answer was right there, but it was so blurry…I could see it, but couldn’t quite bring it into focus.

“What?” Nurse Nancy knelt over the girl on my bed—Lisa? Leah?—and pulled back her eyelids. “Get her out of here!” She yelled at one of the aids, gesturing toward me with one hand. “And bring a stretcher. She’s seizing.”

A woman in bright blue scrubs led me into the hall by one arm. “Go sit in the common room,” she said, then jogged past me.

I wandered down the hall slowly, one hand on the cold, rough wall for balance. Trying to stay above water as wave after wave of confusion crashed over me. I sank into the first empty chair I found and buried my face in my hands. I couldn’t think. Couldn’t quite remember…

People were talking all around me, whispering phrases I couldn’t make sense of. Names I didn’t quite recognize. So I latched onto the first familiar thing I saw: a jigsaw puzzle spread out on a table by the window. That was my puzzle. I’d been working it before something bad happened. Before…

Cold hands. Dark fog. Screaming. Bleeding.

I’d placed three puzzle pieces when two aides rolled a stretcher past the nurses’ station and out the main door of the unit. “Another one?” the security guard asked, as he held the door open.

“This one’s still breathing,” the aide in purple said.

This one? But the harder I tried to remember, the blurrier the images got.

I’d only placed two more pieces when someone called my name. I looked up from my puzzle to see another aide—her name was Judy; I remembered that—standing next to my uncle. Who stood next to my suitcase.

“Kaylee?” Uncle Brendon frowned at me in concern. “Ready to go home?”

Yes. That much was clear. But my relief came with a bitter aftertaste of guilt and sadness. Something bad had happened. Something to do with the girl on my bed. But I couldn’t remember what.

I followed Uncle Brendon through the main door—the one you had to be buzzed through—then stopped. Two men leaned over a stretcher in front of the elevator, where a girl with dark hair lay motionless. One man was steadily squeezing a bag attached to a mask over her face. A smear of blood stained her cheek. Her eyes were closed, but in my fractured memory, they were bright green.

“Do you know her?” Uncle Brendon asked. “What happened to her?”

I shuddered as the answer surfaced from the haze in my head. Maybe someday I would know what it meant, but in that moment, I only knew that it was true.

“She took too much.”

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