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“So you don’t remember sending this like two seconds ago? You don’t remember cal ing my name?” Ada asked.

She sounded casual enough about it but I could tel from the slant of her brow that she was starting to worry.

I debated about lying to her to save some face but I couldn’t.

“No, I don’t remember. And to tel you the truth, I don’t remember painting my nails the other day either.”

“Maybe you’re sleepwalking. And sleeptexting. And sleepprimping.”

“What’s next?” I grumbled to myself. Things were getting more out of control by the minute.

“I don’t know,” she said, straightening up and tucking her phone into the waistband of her leggings. “Just don’t start sleepfucking.”

“Ada!” I admonished her.

She smiled and shrugged, delighted for having offended me. “So there was real y nothing?”

“Well now there’s something. I’m doing things and not remembering them! Do you have to go to the movies tonight?”

She sucked in her lip. “I don’t have to but I want to. I haven’t been with Layton outside of school all this week.”

“I thought you were going to break up with him,” I said.

“Maybe that’s what I’m doing,” she told me.

I nodded to myself. I wasn’t going to keep her from doing something she needed to do just because I was scared. I mean, what could Ada do anyway except take my mind off of things. And maybe prevent me from sleepfucking, God forbid.

She put her warm hand on my shoulder and squeezed it.

Then she paused as she stared at my face. “What’s wrong with your eyes?”

I felt a strange, sickening fear tighten the muscles in my back.

“My eyes?” I shook my head slowly. My voice trembled, “You tel me.”

She leaned over and tilted my head so that it was facing the light more and looked directly into my eyes. A frightened expression spread across her face.

“What is it?” I asked frantical y.

“Your pupils…are…are huge. Like, so fucking huge. You look like you have, like, shark eyes. Are you on something?

The fear spread up my spine. I leaped out of bed, nearly getting tripped up by the covers, and ran over to my mirror.

I gasped and the room started to spin. I reached out for the corner of my vanity and held myself up, stealing glances at my face. I couldn’t bear to look head on.

Shark eyes were a good way of describing it. My pupils were so unbelievably wide that only a thin ring of color encircled it. And the weirdest, scariest, creepiest thing was that the color wasn’t blue, as it should have been. But brown. A golden brown.

“They’re brown!” I cried out.

“What?” Ada came over to me and gave me another examination. “No they aren’t, they’re blue. And horrifying.”

I looked back at the mirror. My pupils were stil huge but the ring of color was the cornflower blue of my own eyes.

The brown was gone. Maybe it was never there.

“What did you take?” she asked me. “You promised you weren’t going to do drugs anymore, Perry.”

I was shocked and actual y offended at her accusation. I wanted to protest angrily but I could see how hurt she was just by thinking it.

Looking at her honestly, with my funny eyes, I said “I didn’t take anything, Ada. I haven’t done drugs for who knows how long. Haven’t even touched the stuff. I’m not on anything. Not even those painkil ers.”

She was hesitant to believe me. I couldn’t blame her. I must have done a number on her back when I was her age.

I was one stupid teenager.

“But what if you’re sleepdrugging,” she said quietly.

I took one last look at my scary-assed face and brushed past her to my closet.

“Now you’re just being ridiculous. Where would I even get drugs from?”

“Where did you get the nail polish from?”

“Wel , I guess I picked it up at Walgreens,” I said, glaring at her, “right next to the crack cocaine aisle.”

I put a Baroness tee on and a hoodie and hopped back in bed. Ada was stil watching me.

“Aren’t you going out?” I asked her, not wanting her company anymore.

“Are you going to be OK?” she asked.

“I’m not on drugs,” I insisted, my tone laced with annoyance.

“If you say so,” she replied. “Cal me, though, if you need anything. Just try and make sure you’re awake when you do it.”

She gave me a compassionate smile and left the room, closing the door behind her.

“Patronizing bitch,” I mumbled in a strange voice. I quickly clapped my hand over my mouth, horrified at what came out of it. I didn’t mean to say that. I wasn’t even feeling it. Or was I?

I had to distract myself. The more I focused on what was happening, and the peculiar way I was feeling, the more scared I got. I almost felt there were two parts inside me arguing with each other. One was very mean and wanted to do mean things to Ada, Ash, my parents. The other side was fearful and cowering. At this rate, the mean side would win. I would be Mr. Hyde.

I picked up the remote and flicked on the TV. Though it was plugged in again, I hadn’t watched it since the incident the other night. A note of terror tugged at my heart in anticipation of something supernatural happening but everything looked normal and bright. The episode of Friends where Ross and Chandler have to pivot the couch was on and the laugh track was coming from the speakers.

I giggled despite myself and settled back in my bed, deciding to spend the evening watching sitcom reruns. I couldn’t remember the last time I had done something like that and mindless entertainment was long overdue.

After two episodes of Friends and two episodes of Frasier, I heard my dad pul his car into the driveway and a wave of relief rushed through me. Subconsciously, I must have been on edge, despite the antics of Niles Crane.

I heard the front door open and my mom saying something to him. Then I heard their footsteps cross the driveway and the car doors close.

“Nooo!” I cried out and ran to the window. My dad’s SUV was backing up down the drive, my mom in the passenger seat. They pul ed onto the street and disappeared into the darkness and waving trees.

“Fuck,” I swore. They probably just went to a friend’s house or out to get food, but that meant I was all alone in the big house for who knows how long. The wind whipping around outside, the cold blasts, and shuddering windows weren’t making the situation any calmer. Of all days, I did not want to be by myself.

I tried to watch a rerun before prime time kicked in but couldn’t get into it. I left it on so that the voices would keep me company but my mind was all over the place. I kept relaying the events from the day over and over again and wondered what was next.

Twenty minutes later, an old episode of The Outer Limits came on the tube. Now that was something I didn’t need to see. I made the move to switch the channel and as I picked up the remote I knocked the miscarriage pamphlet off the bed. It made a solid sound as it landed on the floor.

Odd. It was essential y just a few pages and light as a feather.

I looked over the edge of my bed and saw the pamphlet sticking up at a funny angle, as if there was something under it. Curiously, I reached down and picked it up.

The blue baby slippers were beneath it on the floor.

I dropped the pamphlet in alarm and leaped back in my bed, my heart doing a jackhammer impression. I grasped nervously at my hoodie and wished to God that my parents were home.

Seriously, what the fuck was going on? Had Ada brought them to me? I peered my head over. The slippers looked clean and new, waiting for newborn baby feet. There was no sign of them ever being in the trash but I know they had been there. I had seen my father put them in there and I even tossed an empty carton of orange juice on top of them in the morning. I could have gone downstairs and checked but leaving the false security of my room seemed out of the question. It didn’t matter anyway. Somehow they had found me again and I didn’t think I could ever ful y escape. Like clock wheels that were just beginning to fit in place, I realized someone, or something, was on a mission to frighten me. It wasn’t all in my head. It couldn’t have been.

With my parents out and Ada on her date, there wasn’t much I could do. But I could cal Maximus and I did just that.

I grabbed my phone from the table, keeping a safe distance from the slippers in case they started moving on their own, and quickly dialed his number.

“Perry,” he said warmly as he answered.

His voice fil ed me with a spark of hope. “Hi, listen, what are you doing right now?”

“Right now?” he repeated careful y. I held my breath, afraid he might already have plans. I was so scared though, I would do what I must to convince him.

“Yeah, I could real y use some company. I need to get out of my house,” I tried to say as calmly as possible, but it stil came out flustered.

“Are you in trouble?” he asked, getting straight to the point.

“I’m not sure,” I said honestly.

“I’l be right over. Where do you live?”

I told him and we hung up. The thing I knew about Maximus was when you cal ed, he came running to you.

I passed the next thirty minutes by dol ing myself up. I don’t know what possessed me to start thinking I was going on a date – he was saving my ass from going crazy was what he was actual y doing – but looking at it this way eased the terror from my stomach and replaced it with butterflies. The good news was when I finally found the courage to look at myself in the mirror, my reflection was no longer demonic. My eyes were back to normal, and though I was pasty, I covered that up with a swipe of bronzer.

I ransacked my closet looking for something to wear but couldn’t decide on anything until I spied a purple sundress at the back. For some reason I was drawn to it and I slipped it on.

I glanced in the mirror. It was startling to see myself in that color but it went well with my black hair and paleness. I looked girly and for once I liked it. It felt oddly natural. I put on my own leggings and black combat boots to even things out and as I grabbed a cardigan from the closet, I heard a car vroom up to the house.

Below was an old-fashioned red truck with white trim, steam rising up from the exhaust and blowing away in cold gusts. Maximus kept the truck running and got out. I knocked on the window quickly to indicate I’d be right down, then I grabbed my purse and went for my door.

I hesitated before I touched the door knob. There was a tingly feeling in my hands, kind of like when you think you’re going to get a static shock. I wasn’t afraid of no shock; however. I was suddenly, inexplicably afraid that I’d try to open the door and there would be something on the other side refusing to let me out.

“I’l just jump out the window then,” I said out loud to intimidate things that were probably in my imagination.

It was true, too. The roof below my window sloped gently and with an oak tree at the corner of the house, it was easy to stealthily move across and then climb down the tree. It was an escape route used many times in high school.