“He’s a very smart person,” I say.
Bernard, the nurse with the kind eyes, pokes his head into the room.
“Sorry to interrupt,” he says. “I saw this and thought Jules might like to have it in the room with her.”
He holds up a red picture frame, the glass spiderwebbed with cracks. One shard has fallen out, the space gaping like a missing tooth. Behind the skein of cracks is a photograph of three people.
My father. My mother. Jane.
I was carrying it when I ran from the Bartholomew. The only possession I thought worth saving.
“Where did you find it?”
“It was with your clothes,” Bernard says. “One of the medics gathered it up at the scene.”
That frame wasn’t the only thing I was carrying. I had something else with me.
“Where’s my phone?” I ask.
“There was no phone,” Bernard says. “Just your clothes and that picture.”
“But it was in my pocket.”
“I’m sorry. If it was there, no one found it.”
Worry expands in my chest. Like a ball of dough. Rising. Growing. Filling me up.
Nick has my phone.
Which means he can find all the information on it and delete it. Not only that, he can read my texts, see who I’ve contacted, learn what I’ve told them.
There are others.
People who now know what I know.
Including, I realize with a rib-shuddering gasp, Chloe.
I think of those texts I sent Chloe and how much they’ve put her in jeopardy.
I need to get out of here. I think I’m in danger.
Now our roles are reversed. Now it’s Chloe who’s in danger. When Nick can’t find me, he’ll go looking for Chloe. Maybe he’ll pretend to be me, just like he pretended to be Ingrid. He’ll lure her in. And God knows what will happen to her when he does.
“Chloe,” I say. “I need to warn Chloe.”
I try to slide out of bed, the pain in my body rumbling awake. It’s so bad that I double over and gasp for breath. It’s hard to take in air, thanks to the damn neck brace. I tear it off and drop it on the floor.
“Honey, you need to get back in bed,” Bernard says. “You’re in no condition to be walking around.”
“No!” My voice—alarmingly crazed, even to me—rings off the white walls. Gone is any pretense of calmness. I’m now panic personified. “I need to talk to Chloe! He’ll be looking for her!”
“You can’t leave this bed. Not like this.”
Bernard swoops toward me, his hands on my shoulders, pushing me back into bed. I try to fight him off, my legs kicking, arms flailing. The IV in the back of my hand feels like a jellyfish sting. When I flail again, the IV tube goes taut. The metal stand by the bed tilts, falls, clatters against the floor.
The nurse’s eyes darken into something distinctly unkind. “You need to calm down,” he says.
“She’s in danger!” I’m still kicking, still writhing. Bernard pins me against the bed, where I thrash beneath his weight. “You have to believe me! Please!”
I feel a pinch on my upper left arm, there and gone in an instant. Looking to the other side of the bed, I see Dr. Wagner with a syringe and the needle that’s just been plunged into my flesh.
“This will help you rest,” he says.
I now know for certain he doesn’t believe me. Worse, he thinks I’m crazy.
Once again, I’m on my own.
My voice has gone quiet. The sedative kicking in. My head lolls onto the pillow. When Bernard backs away from me, I realize I can no longer move my limbs.
I make one last plaintive whisper before the sedative fully takes hold.
I sink against the bed like someone plunging into a warm pool, descending deeper and deeper until I’m so far gone I wonder if I’ll ever emerge.
ONE DAY EARLIER
My family is dancing across Bow Bridge. I sit in my usual spot next to George. Watching them. Wishing I could dance with them. Wishing I was as far away from this place as possible.
The park is silent except for the sound of my family’s shoes beating against the bridge floor as they twirl across it in single file. My father is first. My mother’s in the middle. Jane takes up the rear.
As they dance, I notice that their heads are lit from within by tiny flickering flames. Like jack-o’-lanterns. Tongues of fire lick from their mouths and leap in their eyes. Yet they can still see me. Every so often, they look up at me with those fiery eyes and wave. I try to wave back, but something’s in my hands. I haven’t noticed it until now. I’ve been too distracted by my parents and sister and the flames. But now the thing in my hands takes precedence over the carnival far below.
It’s heavy, slightly wet, hot like the lit matches I sometimes hold to my palm.
I look down.
Sitting within my cupped hands is a human heart.
Shiny with blood.
I wake up screaming. The sound blasts from my lungs, the sound reverberating off the walls. I clamp a hand over my mouth, just in case another scream is on its way. But then I remember the dream, gasp, and pull my hand away, checking it for blood and slime that aren’t really there.