“A changeling?” I fought to keep my voice even. “What does that mean?”
“What do you think it means?” she snapped, looking at me like I was an idiot. “Changeling! You were changed out for another child! My son was taken and you were put in his place!”
Her cheeks reddened with rage, and the orderly took a step closer to her. She held up her hand and fought to keep herself contained.
“Why?” I asked, realizing that I should’ve asked Finn this question days earlier. “Why would anyone do that? Why would they take your baby? What did they do with him?”
“I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing.” She smiled sadly and fresh tears stood in her eyes. Her hands trembled when she touched her hair, and she all but refused to look at me. “You know what you did with him. You know far better than I do.”
“No, I don’t!” The orderly gave me a hard look, and I knew I had to at least look like I wasn’t freaking out. In a hushed voice I demanded, “What are you talking about?”
“You killed him, Wendy!” My mother snarled. She leaned in toward me, her hand clenched into a fist, and I knew she was using all her willpower to keep from hurting me. “First you killed my son, then you drove my husband insane and killed him. You killed them both!”
“Mom . . . Kim, whatever!” I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples. “That doesn’t make any sense. I was just a baby! How could I kill anyone?”
“How did you get Matthew to drive you here?” she demanded through gritted teeth, and an icy chill ran down my spine. “He would never drive you here. He would never let you see me. But he did. What did you do to him to make him do it?” I lowered my eyes, unable to even pretend to be innocent. “Maybe that’s exactly what you did to Michael!” Her fists were clenched, and she breathed so hard, her delicate nostrils flared.
“I was just a baby,” I insisted without any real conviction. “I couldn’t have . . . Even if I did, there had to be more people involved. It doesn’t explain anything! Why would anybody take him or hurt him and put me in his place?”
She ignored my question. “You were always evil. I knew it from the moment I held you in my arms.” She had calmed herself a bit and leaned back in her chair. “It was in your eyes. They weren’t human. They weren’t kind or good.”
“Then why didn’t you just kill me then?” I asked, growing irritated.
“You were a baby!” Her hands shook, and her lips had started to quiver. She was losing the confidence she had come in with. “Well, I thought you were. You know I couldn’t be sure.” She pressed her lips together tightly, trying to hold back tears.
“What made you so sure?” I asked. “What made you decide that day? On my sixth birthday. Why that day? What happened?”
“You weren’t mine. I knew you weren’t.” She brushed at her eyes to keep the tears from spilling over. “I had known forever. But I just kept thinking about what the day should’ve been like. With my husband, and my son. Michael should’ve been six that day, not you. You were a horrible, horrible child, and you were alive. And they were dead. I just . . . it didn’t seem right anymore.” She took a deep breath and shook her head. “It still isn’t right.”
“I was six years old.” My voice had started quavering. Whenever I’d thought of her or what happened, I’d only ever felt numb. For the first time, I really felt hurt and betrayed.
“Six years old. Do you understand that? I was a little kid, and you were supposed to be my mother!” Whether she really was or not was irrelevant. I was a child, and she was in charge of raising me. “I had never done anything to anyone. I never even met Michael.”
“You’re lying.” My mother gritted her teeth. “You were always a liar, and a monster! And I know you’re doing things to Matthew! Just leave him alone! He’s a good boy!” She reached across the table and grabbed my wrist painfully. The orderly came up behind her. “Take what you want, take anything. Just leave Matthew alone!”
“Kimberly, come on.” The orderly put his strong hand on her arm, and she tried to pull away from him. “Kimberly!”
“Leave him alone,” she shouted again, and the orderly started pulling her up. She fought against him, screaming at me. “Do you hear me, Wendy? I will get out of here someday! And if you’ve hurt that boy, I will finish the job I started!”
“That’s enough,” the orderly bellowed, dragging her out of the room.
“You’re not human, Wendy! And I know it!” That was the last thing she yelled before he carried her out of my sight.
The staff let me sit there for a minute, trying to catch my breath and get myself under control. Matt couldn’t see me like this. I really, really thought I was going to throw up, but I managed to keep it down.
Everything was true. I was a changeling. I wasn’t human. She wasn’t my mother. She was just Kim, a woman who had lost her grasp on reality when she realized I wasn’t her child. I had been switched for her son, Michael, and I had no idea what happened to him.
Maybe he was dead. Maybe I really had killed him, or someone else had. Maybe someone like Finn.
She was convinced that I was a monster, and I couldn’t argue that I wasn’t. In my life, I had caused nothing but pain. I had ruined Matt’s life, and I still was doing that.