I shake my head. I’d never take drugs. It wasn’t my style.
“You carved the word ‘Icarus’ into your arm with a knife, then swallowed a bottle of sedatives. They had to pump your stomach when they brought you in.”
I am shaking my head, eyeing the bandage on my arm, but he keeps talking. Icarus? Leroy. Suddenly my chest feels tight.
“You had other drugs in your system too…”
Sedatives? Drugs? Something I would never do. I do not wish to die, only to live with purpose. I tell him this as I sit slumped in the scratchy white sheets of the hospital bed, two strangers looking on. Leroy did this. As what? A punishment? A warning? Why wouldn’t he just kill me, like I was planning to do to him?
I lower my voice. “Suicide? I don’t do that shit, Judah. You know that.”
“I don’t know anything anymore, Margo. You’re not the same…” He won’t meet my eyes. I feel something curl and flare inside of me. Anger? Resentment?
He steps back, as the two people in the corner step forward.
“Miss Moon, my name is Charlotte Kimperling, John and I are here to escort you to Westwick Hospital.”
“Westwick? Isn’t that…?”
“Miss Moon, you were found to be a danger to yourself. At Westwick, you will be able to get the help you need. It’s one of the best—”
“I’m not crazy!” But, even as my words echo around the room, I know I sound every bit like a woman tethered to denial. How many movies have I watched where a woman at the edge of her acumen screams out I’M NOT CRAZY to a group of frightened observers?
I can’t believe Judah. That he’d connive with these people to lock me away in a nut house. I look from one face to another, all of them grim, determined. I don’t have a choice in this. They are going to take me, and the best chance I have is to be limber … compliant. I can fight, or I can demonstrate my sanity. For that reason, I press my lips together and study the wall to my right with the intensity of a woman trying to prove something. They wheel me to the ambulance, and when I glance back, I see Judah in his chair. It looks like he’s crying, except this time I don’t care.
I AM TO BEGIN MY SESSIONS WITH THE DOCTOR in just about a week. I want to speak to someone sooner, explain to them that I do not belong here, but one of the nurses, who has braces and is named Papchi, says that they have to go through the right channels first—get me acclimated to my surroundings, process me in the computer.
I stare at the computer, which sits like a sentry at the nurses’ station. It is white and flat, and there is always someone clacking on its keys. I hate it because it’s keeping me here longer than I should be. Listen to yourself. Turning your rage onto a computer. Maybe if it pisses you off too much, you can try to kill it.
I stay in my room unless they herd me out, which is three times a day for meals and recreation. I have a roommate; her name is Sally. I laugh when she tells me, because who the hell is named Sally anymore? After that she won’t speak to me anymore. At night she turns her back to me and sleeps facing the wall.
I spend most of my hours being angry with Judah. Traitor. And where is he now? Why hasn’t he come to see me? The wound on my arm itches under the bandage. I pull it off to see what Leroy carved into my flesh. Icarus. So neat and precise, like he used a … razor blade. My razor blade. My God. It’s badly scabbing; the skin around it looks swollen and red. I’ve never wanted a tattoo, but I suppose I have one now. I ask Papchi if she knows what Icarus is, and she shakes her head. We are given computer time on Thursdays if we behave. Just thirty minutes to send out e-mails. I write an e-mail to Judah, asking him where he is and end the message signed ‘m.’ Then I type Icarus into the search bar and find an explanation of Greek mythology.
Daedalus, imprisoned with his son, Icarus, by King Minos built two pairs of wings fashioned from feathers and wax. Before Daedalus and Icarus made their escape, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea, but to carefully follow his path of flight across the ocean. Icarus, overcome by the giddiness of flying, soared into the sky, but, in the process, he came too close to the sun, which melted the wax. Icarus fell to his death into the Icarian sea—named for him. A tragic theme of failure, the website called it.
I touch the bandage on my arm, wondering if that is what Leroy meant to convey when he etched the words into my flesh. Failure. Nice try, little girl, but I’ve been a criminal a lot longer than you. My anger flares, flamboyant in its color. I bite it back. I have to get out of here before I can think about Leroy.
The next time I get computer time I check my e-mail and find that the message I sent to Judah has bounced back. Return to sender: E-mail address unknown. I wonder why he would close out the account, but there is no one for me to ask. I think about e-mailing Sandy, but in the end choose not to. No need to drag the Bone into things.
Finally, it is time to see the doctor. I comb my hair, though it is limp and greasy. I try to look normal, arranging my face in a neutral, bored expression. Papchi tells me that I will be seeing Dr. Saphira Elgin. “Everyone likes her,” she says. “She’s our most popular doctor. Some of the patients call her Doctor Queen!” Her voice is so cheerful.
I am given directions to her office, and I set off, shuffling down the linoleum-streaked halls in my paper slippers. I arrive outside her office, which is in the west corner of the building and the most modern. The nurses here are more cheerful, and I’ve heard each patient room has a sink. Her name sits regally on a plaque outside her door. I knock.
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