Unhinged Page 47

Yet another riddle to solve on my own.

Strangely, it’s that thought that lulls me to sleep, as if I’ve been preparing my whole life to handle all of this myself. Come to think of it, maybe I have.


I startle awake at Dad’s voice in the darkness. Light slants from the cracked door where he’s peering in.

It takes several seconds to shake the fuzziness out of my head, to remember where I am … what I was supposed to get done before he made it home.

The low rumble of Rabid’s snores from my closet releases a spring in my spine. I sit up, yelping in hopes of awakening my hidden guest.

“Whoa. Didn’t mean to scare you.” Dad comes inside and shuts the door partway so my eyes can adjust. He sits on the edge of my mattress and rubs my head, just like when I was little. Rabid’s quiet now, so I sigh, contented.

“Why are you wearing your clothes in bed?” Dad asks.

I scrub my face and yawn. “Clothes?”

“Are they from yesterday? Your mom said you weren’t feeling well, so I left you alone. But I know you’ve got one final left. I just wanted to check, in case you were up for going to school.”

“School?” I’m like a parrot, mimicking everything that’s said to me.

I glance at my glowing clock: 6:20 A.M. Only then do I notice that I set the alarm for 6:45 a.m. instead of p.m.

My empty stomach turns over. I’ve been asleep for twelve hours. Morpheus kept his word and didn’t haunt my dreams, and I slept soundly. Too soundly. Now I’m not going to have time to send Rabid back or look for my mosaics before school.

My rested brain kicks into overdrive, formulating a new plan. I could leave early and use the full-length mirrors in the girls’ locker room. That would mean tucking Rabid in my backpack and taking him with me to school. The thought of mixing more of Wonderland with my real life rattles my nerves, especially because I still have Morpheus’s mess to clean up with Taelor and the other students.

But it doesn’t matter. There’s no time to lose.

Dad leans over to turn on the lamp. “Something keeps crunching under my feet …” He flips the switch before I can stop him. He gapes as he sees the glass sparkling on the floor. “W-w-what happened in here?”


I suppress a groan. “Mom can tell you.”

It’s shameful how quickly I sell her out, though on some level I feel vindicated. Let her justify the broken mirror. Let her be the one under the microscope. She’s proven herself adept at lying for years.

Dad crouches beside my bed, careful not to kneel in the glass. He’s not in his work clothes yet, which means he’s been making breakfast. Mom must still be asleep.

He touches a shard with dried blood on it. “Allie … did you cut yourself?”

“No. Mom—” I stop talking in midbreath. He’s staring at my palms. Of course. This reminds him of the time she cut me. “Dad, it’s okay.” I toss off my covers and scoot out of bed.

His stunned gaze drops to my boots.

I reach down and adjust their laces, as if it’s perfectly normal to wake up wearing them. “Mom bumped my mirror while she was dusting. It fell against my dresser. She cut herself a little, but she’s fine now. It was … more like a paper cut, you know? Superficial.”

The concern doesn’t leave his expression as he picks up shards piece by piece, careful not to get sliced. “I didn’t notice any cuts. Why didn’t she tell me about this?”

“Maybe she figured I’d already cleaned it up.” I bend to help him, but he lifts a hand in a forbidding gesture.

“Let me take care of this, Allie.”

He’s always done this—he’s always taken care of us, cleaned up our messes. And we’ve done nothing but keep secrets.

Once he drops the final piece of glass into my trash can and sets my empty mirror frame upright, he turns to me. “I’m sorry, sweetie. It’s just … I was afraid it was happening again. She used to break mirrors a lot. On purpose. She wouldn’t allow one anywhere near you since you were a tiny baby.”

The sun creeps up, and the orangey pink light softens Dad’s edges, making him look as young as Mom does. He’s never talked much about how it was when Alison started “losing her mind.” It had to be horrible for him.

“Dad …” I touch his arm, stroking his tattered sweatshirt.

He lays his hand over mine. “I couldn’t bear for it to start again. I can’t be away from her anymore.”

Nodding, I brave a question. “Did she ever try to explain her aversion to mirrors? Did you ever ask?”

He sits on the edge of my bed. After another puzzled glance at my boots, he shrugs. “It was a looking glass thing. Her explanations weren’t sane.”

Of course her rantings would sound demented to someone who didn’t know the truth. Why didn’t she prove it to him when I was little, show him her powers? She had years to find a way to do it.

“If she had given you some real proof that Wonderland existed,” I say, going out on a limb, “you would’ve believed her … right?”

He shakes his head. “The blood on her hands when she cut them on the mirrors. The blood on our baby girl when she attacked her with the garden shears.” He looks up at me, his expression pure agony. “Allie, that was tangible. That was real. That was all the proof I could handle. You just don’t know.” He rubs his face, hiding his eyes behind his palm. “She kept screaming that she had to fix you. Like you were something she could glue back together. But she was acting so erratic, so high-strung—and she had just hurt you, so … I couldn’t let her near you. That was the last straw, but things had been bad for a long time before that. Even I started having nightmares about Wonderland. I knew we had to get some help … you needed one parent who was sane. One who was safe.”

So that was why Mom didn’t heal my palms. My grudge against her thaws an infinitesimal degree.

Dad bends over to pick up my dress bag. It must have fallen to the floor last night. He lays it across his lap.

“Did you actually see her bump the mirror?” He runs a fingernail along the bag’s zipper. “I mean, it doesn’t make sense. She would’ve had to throw it against the dresser to cause that much damage.” He glances at the trash can. “Maybe she should talk to her doctor.”

Prev Next