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Knowing eyes.

It wasn’t just me. Ada saw her too.

“You saw her!” I exclaimed.

She shook her head ever so slightly then turned to face mom. “It was nothing. Someone bumped into me.”

“No,” I cried out, grabbing Ada by the shoulders. “It wasn’t someone, it was her! You saw her too! Creepy Clown Lady!”

“Creepy Clown what?” my mother asked, perplexed.

Then she grunted and threw her hands up in the air. “Forget it, I don’t want to know.”

She started walking down the hal and Ada quickly trailed after her, ripping herself out of my hands and avoiding my eyes.

I turned a final time to see Pippa standing at the end of the hal , watching us go.

I forced my thoughts at her with all my strength.

Is that it? I asked. You don’t even stop to say hello?

Don’t take the pills, was her brief answer. Don’t let her trick you. She tricked me.

I was taken aback. I wished I could see her expression clearly at that distance.

Pills? Who tricked you?

“Perry!” my mother cal ed.

I crooked my head to face her. “I’m coming.”

She crossed her arms. “No, now.”

I nodded absently, then looked back at Pippa. The hal was empty.

I sighed, frustrated and suddenly angry again, and scurried down the hal after my mother and entered Doctor Freedman’s office.

Nothing had changed.

There was stil Bethany, the white-haired receptionist who sat on the other side of a frosted pane of sliding glass.

The waiting room was windowless and suffocating with only two magazines and one Reader’s Digest, all from the late nineties. There were a few other people waiting for other doctors, looking blankly at each other, at the wal s, at the floor.

We didn’t wait long. Doctor Freedman appeared outside his door.

He had a beard now, but other than that he looked the same, down to the blasé expression on his face.

“Perry,” he said with false warmth. “Come on in.”

I got up and was surprised to see my mother rise too.

“Thank you for seeing her on such short notice,” my mother said in a sickly sweet voice.

I shot her a look. “Where are you going?”

“I’d like to come in.”

Over my dead body, I thought. I looked at the doctor. He gave my mom a gentle smile.

“I’m very sorry, Mrs. Palomino,” he said. “I’l need to see Perry alone.”

I gave my mother a triumphant look, finding only small victories, and went over to join the doctor.

His office looked the same. The same window that looked out onto the same maple trees that were bare and wet with late winter. I sat down on the couch like it was second nature. It had changed. The cushions were firmer.

Or maybe my ass wasn’t built like a hippo’s anymore.

“You’ve lost a lot of weight, Perry,” he said, pointing his pen at me. I briefly wondered if he could hear my thoughts.

No, but it was his job to read me. “Since I last saw you, of course.”

“Yeah,” I said, not feeling like elaborating.

“No more blue hair, either.”


“I’ve watched your show, you know.”

I grimaced involuntarily.

“It was interesting,” he continued, already scrawling shit down on his stupid notepad. “I understand you’re no longer doing it.”


“Good. I don’t think that’s the best profession for someone like you.”

I nearly laughed at the word profession, then realized he was making fun of me.

“It had its moments,” I said dryly.

He made an agreeable little sound, almost like a sigh.

Then he crossed his legs and leaned forward on them, his ful attention on me.

“Your mother explained what has been happening to you. I’d like to hear your story.”

I was getting real y bored of rehashing the past few weeks. I took a deep breath and dove into it, trying not to get bogged down in too much detail. But I told him everything. He already thought I was crazy by nature, so what did it matter? I never cared what he thought anyway.

He listened, nodded, scribbled, rinsed, repeated.

“And what of this man who broke your heart?” he asked when I concluded with the incident on the roof last night and the time skips in the morning.

“What?” Why was he asking about that? Didn’t he just hear what I said? Demons on the roof!

“Your mom had said something about you being upset over a man. That you were in love with him.”

“What the hel does that have to do with anything?”

He didn’t say anything. He just nodded to himself and made an “mmhmm” noise.

“That was a long time ago. Last year.”

“It takes time to heal, Perry.”

“I am healed.”

“Then why do you think you’re here?”

I made an irritated noise in my throat. I could feel my anger levels rising from my toes to my fingers. I did not like where he was going with this.

“I told you why I’m here.”

“You think you’re haunted, possibly possessed.”

It sounded so insane coming out of his mouth but I had to stick to my guns. I couldn’t pretend. I couldn’t back down.

“Yes. That is what I think is happening. And the last time this happened, people said I tried to burn down a house.

Now, if you don’t want a repeat of that, I suggest you believe me.”

He narrowed his eyes at me. “Is that a threat?”

I narrowed mine back. “No. I’m just tel ing you how it is.

This has nothing to do with Dex.”

“Perry,” he said. He took off his glasses and rubbed his forehead slowly, like I pained him just by speaking. “You were in love with a man, he broke your heart. You end up pregnant by him without even knowing it, then you lose the baby in a traumatic miscarriage. I hear what you are saying but you are missing something very obvious and plain here.”

“Such as?”

He sighed, getting visibly frustrated with me. Good.

“You have gone through a terrible, heartbreaking event and you haven’t been able to deal with it. It’s all manifested into this delusion of yours, that you’re possessed, that you’re being haunted. There’s no one else in your head, Perry. It’s just you. You’re haunted by the very feelings you haven’t addressed yet. You’re grieving and hiding it and when you try to hide grief, it can come out in the most peculiar ways.”

For a split second I believed him. I thought it was total y possible that it real y was all in my head and that my subconscious was making it all up as a way to face what was real y going on.

But that’s what he wanted me to think. I was smarter than that.

“I didn’t even want a baby,” I told him, trying to think of something to refute it with. “It would have ruined me.”

“That doesn’t mean you wouldn’t mourn the loss. That would have been the last tie you ever had to him.”

For some reason, that phrase dug into me: the last tie.

I’d gone from thinking we’d always be connected in some way, that we were the same person separated a long time ago, to having no ties at all . I was here, going through hel , and he had absolutely no idea. He real y was cut and gone.

But he had nothing to do with anything and I was suddenly furious that the doctor tried to turn my broken heart into some emo cry for help. Who was I, Taylor Swift?

“I think you’re ful of shit,” I snarled.

He nodded as if he agreed, and I wanted to punch him.

He sensed me tensing up and quickly scribbled down on his pad and said, “I’m going to recommend you come in once a week from now on.”

“And if I don’t?”

“I can’t make you. You’re an adult. But I’d hope you’d do it for your family. They love and care about you.”

I snorted at that and got up.

“Meanwhile,” he said quickly as he ripped off a prescription pad, “start taking these two pil s.”

Remembering what Creepy Clown Lady said, I took the paper from him and eyed the chickenscratch suspiciously.

“I can’t read this. What are they? Do you think I’m schizo now?”

“No,” he said plainly. “And schizophrenia is a real deal, not to be taken lightly. One is to help you relax. You need rest and relaxation more than anything. The other is to help you deal with your grief.”

“And if I have no grief?”

He gave me a terse smile.

“Perry, we all just want to help you.”

That’s what they always said. Everyone always wants to help but no one ever wants to believe me.

I’d been down that highway so many times, they might as well cal it the Perry Expressway.


I was so livid and defeated when I left Doctor Freedman’s office that I couldn’t remember what happened afterward.

We must have dropped Ada off at school, we must have gone to Walgreens to fil the prescription for me. But I couldn’t recal any of that. My memory was wiped.

I was just suddenly in the passenger side of my mother’s car, my hands smel ing like vinegar salad dressing, the clock on the dashboard indicating at least two hours had passed.

We were leaving downtown going over the Burnside Bridge, the river water below reflecting the dull , colorless sky above.

I was hit with a wave of nausea, fol owed by another wave, a warning, that something extremely terrible was about to happen. A feeling of absolute dread. I looked at my mother like it might be the last time I’d see her. She was driving cautiously, her hands gripping the wheel so hard her bony knuckles protruded. She had her sunglasses on even though it was frighteningly dark for the late afternoon. She’d looked exhausted lately – I knew it was because of me. Tiny lines had a permanent home at the corners of her pinched mouth.

“Mom,” I said careful y. Scared.

She jumped a little, then covered it up with a quick smile.

“What is it, Perry?”

“I don’t feel well .”

And it was suddenly the world’s biggest understatement.

The most revolting, violating feeling flushed my insides. I wasn’t alone in my head. Someone else was inside me with me, waiting, perched just out of the corner of my eyes.

They were in me, watching me, monitoring these very thoughts.

Then my world stretched forward in a horrific display of tunnel vision. I was thrown back, back into oblivion, but only my mind, not my body.

I watched as I raised one hand in the air, waving it slowly in front of my face. I wasn’t doing it. I wasn’t in control. I wasn’t the one in charge.

Mom! I shrieked.

But I was only screaming in my head, not out of my throat. I didn’t have control over that anymore. My throat wasn’t mine.

I was being held hostage in my own body.

And at that realization, something inside churned with anger.

The arm I was holding in front of my face, which was now drawing a curious glance from my mom, suddenly shot across to the wheel, gripped it and swung it violently over to the right, toward the cars in the other lane.