Made for You Page 27

“Did I hurt you?” my father asks, and I stare at him, reminding myself that he is not dying, but here at my bedside. My heart still hurts. We aren’t as close as I want, but he’s still my daddy. He’s the one who taught me to ride a bike—and the one who helped me hide my very bloody knees when I thought I was more capable than I really was.

Tears are once more racing down my face. I really need to get a handle on this crying problem, too. I force myself to keep from chattering my teeth. I can’t tell him. I can’t tell anyone without sounding like I’m crazy, sick, or having weird side effects. None of those things would get me home and back to a normal life—or at least as normal as possible now that I look like a failed science experiment.

“I was going to hug you and made the mistake of moving my arm wrong,” I lie. This is what we do now: we take turns lying to avoid hurting each other. I add a sort of truth to ease my guilt: “My ribs are still sore.”

I slowly reach out to touch his arm.

“I’m glad you’re home,” I tell him, and this isn’t a lie at all.

“We should’ve been here sooner. Your mother was ready to charter a boat, but that wouldn’t have been any faster. I think the people at the airport were starting to draw straws to see who had to talk to us; we were there constantly.”

“I told you I was fine. The Yeungs were here, and I’m in a hospital with great nurses. Honestly, I have some headaches and crutches.” I shake my head, and then I lie horribly. “This is not a big deal.”

My father nods, and I think that he means that he hears me, not that he agrees with me. Instead of pointing out my lie, he says, “I should check and see if your mother needs help. She’s not always great with paperwork.”

I nod, and I wonder if he realizes that I mean the same thing when I nod: I hear you, not I agree with you. I have a sudden almost crippling need to keep him here a little longer. “Dad? Wait, please.”

“Do you need a nurse or—”

“No,” I interrupt him, something I would never do typically, but this isn’t an average day. “Thanks for keeping some of the theories from Mom. I know you did, and I’m glad. I didn’t want to upset her.”

He nods. “She’ll hear the rest soon enough now that we’re back. She’ll hear about the Adams girl, and . . .” His words fade, and I know we’re both thinking about the rest of that sentence, about the possibility that my accident wasn’t an accident.

I mock-sigh to try to make things lighter and tell him, “Luckily, she still buys into that ‘watching the news isn’t ladylike’ story that Grandfather Cooper fed her.”

He smiles a little, and I feel a wash of relief that the hurt in his eyes is gone. “Are you okay while I go check on her?”

“Go ahead.”

I think about my hallucinations, briefly considering the idea that they’re real. I’m not sure if it would be a gift or a curse.

It’s certainly not something I want to tell people about, but I also—for the first time—want to convince people to touch me, to test it, to see how it works. There seems to be a pattern to it. If there is a pattern, maybe I can control it.

I also wonder why I can’t recognize any faces in the visions. I don’t understand why all the faces are blurry to me—or why I feel like I’m actually inside another body.

Maybe the episodes are a combination of drug side effects and my own fears. After all, there might be a lunatic in Jessup who killed Micki and tried to kill me. That makes far more sense than the other thought, annoying, like an itch in the back of my mind. It makes far more sense than the idea that what I’m seeing is real.

That thought makes me feel sick, like I want to vomit, and I start to shiver.

I’m still queasy when my parents and Kelli come into the room. I’m glad she’s my nurse today. Seeing her somehow makes me feel a little better. As a nurse, she deals with some pretty awful stuff, but she handles it and isn’t falling apart like I want to right now. I want to be like her.

“Ready to get out of here?” She wheels the chair up to the bed and puts the brakes on so it doesn’t slide when I go to get in it. “I know you’re getting good with the crutches, but discharge requires the chariot.”

“No problem.” I return her smile.

Both of my parents step forward as I start to slide myself to the edge of the bed. My father reaches a hand out to rest on my mother’s back without even looking at her. She steadies at his touch, but she still looks like she’s strung too tightly and the slightest thing will cause her to snap.

“Can you pack up the last of my things, Mom?”

She seems to relax a little at having a task to focus on instead of watching me. I don’t have a lot to collect, but there are a few odds and ends that need to be shoved in the box against the wall.

My father picks up the bag of clothes. His attention flits between us, but he says nothing as he watches me lower my foot, take my crutches, and move to the wheelchair. He accepts the first crutch as I release it to lower myself into the wheelchair, and then takes the second now that I’m in the chair. Kelli arranges my skirt over my cast, and I tuck the rest under my unbroken leg.

“Doing okay?” Kelli asks.

“So far, so good.”

She nods. “You’re going to hurt after the ride home. I know you don’t like the pain medication, but if you need it, don’t refuse it this time. There’s a prescription for it in your papers and some pills in the bag for tonight.”

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