Splintered Page 87

Perfect timing. When I used the mirror in the asylum’s bathroom to come home, I made it back in time to change and crawl into bed for a few hours. Although I don’t really remember anything once I stepped out of my cheval glass.

Maybe because I didn’t step through. Maybe I never went to Wonderland to begin with. Maybe I dreamed everything . . .

Panicked, I throw off my covers and swing my feet over the bed’s edge. Something drops to the floor: the jade caterpillar. It lands next to Morpheus’s hat.

I feel around my neck and find the necklace with the tiny key.

Relief untangles the knots in my stomach.

Picking up the caterpillar carving, I make a beeline to my mirror—unbroken and as smooth as crystal—to face my reflection.

There it is: proof positive that I rode a wave of clams and captured an ocean in a sponge. The glistening skin and streaks of flaming red in my platinum hair are still there. The tattoos around my eyes are gone, as are my wings—although by wrenching my arm around, I can feel ridges at my shoulder blades. Buds ready to sprout if I need them.

I turn around and stare at my eels in their aquarium. The memory of the bandersnatch’s tongues shakes my core. Then I glance at my cello and recount another memory . . . Chessie’s song, warped and weird. Even looking toward my desk and the dried spider mosaic takes me back to the amazing spiral constellations I saw while in the rowboat.

Memories, real and irreplaceable, all of them. The happy ones, the bitter ones, the terrified and the poignant. Two guys willing to sacrifice their lives for me.

Morpheus, who’s imprisoned forever in the belly of a bandersnatch. And Jeb, who probably spent last night at a hotel with Taelor after prom. It’s possible they didn’t break up in this reality. Since I never answered the door when Jeb first came by, he wasn’t in my house when Taelor came to get him.

I race out of my bedroom, forgetting to throw a robe over my camisole and flannel boxers, half hopping and half sprinting into the hallway. I need to go next door, to see for myself that he made it out of the jabberlock box. To see where things stand with us.

“Whoa there, Butterfly.” Dad catches me as my fluffy ankle socks lose traction and I skid across the wooden floor.

It’s so good to see his face again, I laugh to keep from crying. “Trying to skate without a board.” I motion to the slick floor.

He slaps me with the Elvis smirk. “Just be careful, or you’ll hurt your other ankle, too.”

I throw myself against his chest in a hug.

One of his arms wraps around me, and he holds the other one between us. “Hey . . . you all right?”

I nod, unable to speak over the torrent of emotions. I let my hug say everything for me. I missed you. I love you. And I’m so sorry for fighting with you.

The arm Dad holds between us wiggles. He has the cordless phone against his sternum. I pull back.

My first thought is Taelor. She figured out I stole from her. Maybe Persephone found the purse in the trash. I can’t believe I didn’t think to use the mirrors at the store to put the money back before coming home.

I was wrong to steal it in the first place. So I guess, just like Morpheus said before the bandersnatch swallowed him whole, I’ll have to take my medicine. I’ll have to tell her that I’m the thief and hope she won’t press charges.

I squeeze the caterpillar carving between my fingers to give me courage. “Who are you talking to?”

Dad winks, then lifts the phone to his ear. “Hey, sweetie. Would you like to say good morning to our daughter?” He holds out the phone.

I’m relieved it’s not Taelor, but twist my face into a confused expression. I have a part to play.

“Patients in Alison’s ward never get to use the phone,” I say, making my voice tremble for effect.

Dad shrugs and grins.

The phone’s cold against my ear when I finally take it. “Alison?”

“It’s working, Allie.” Her voice sounds strong and clear.

“Yeah?” I ask, still feigning shock.

“Dad will tell you the details. Come visit me later today, okay?”

“Have they given you anything this morning?”

“No,” she answers. “I did what we agreed on. I’m letting them see that I’m sane. For some reason, they think it was the sedatives causing my delusions. How’s that for irony?”

I smile. “It’s so good to hear your voice.”

“Yours, too. I want to see you again, to hug you . . . to tell you how proud I am. I love you—” Her voice cracks.

I tear up, and this time I’m not pretending. “I love you, too . . . Mom.”

I stand there, rooted to the floor. Dad gently pries the phone loose and says his good-byes before leading me to the couch in the living room.

“The asylum called this morning, before the crack of dawn.” His eyes mist, smile lines framing them. “I went and visited right after, while you were still asleep. She’s lucid . . . really lucid. She’s not talking to anything but people. And she ate an omelet off a dinner plate. A dinner plate, Allie! All of this without meds. The doctors are conferring . . . they think maybe all along she was having a reaction to the meds that somehow exacerbated her symptoms. Weird part is what led them to that conclusion. You know Nurse Jenkins?”

I nod, wary. Last I saw her, she was conked out on the bathroom floor with a hundred-volt smile on her face and an empty syringe in her hand. It looked like she took my advice.

“Well, a janitor found her in the restroom really late last night. She had given herself the same sedative they’ve been giving your mom. When she came to, she was talking about fairies walking through mirrors and stealing her keys. Thing is, the keys were right there next to her. The doctor thinks there’s something wrong with the brand of sedative they’ve been using . . . they’re sending it out for further testing.” He sighs and chuckles at the same time. “To think, all this time it could’ve been bad medicine making her worse. I’m so glad we found out soon enough to stop the treatments we’d planned for Monday.”

“Me, too.” I catch his hand and hold his knuckles against my cheek.

“Say.” He tugs at one of the red streaks in my hair. “This a new hairpiece?”

“Sure,” I answer mechanically, not even realizing it’s a fib until I’ve already said it.

Prev Next