Chapter Three--Paper Crown

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Nancy nods slowly, jotting something down.  A flicker of anger sparks up in my stomach.  "No.  You don't get to do that anymore, Nancy.  Don't record anything I say."  I clench my jaw, forcing myself to not end this call right now.

She isn't fazed by my anger.  Any hurricane I could create would be a draining bathtub compared to anything else she's seen.  "I need to make sure that this family is a good place for you.  I'm not consciously dismissed from that place yet.  Do you understand?"

I don't.  But I guess I never will.

We finish the call and I hang up as quickly as possible.  Just seeing her face, hearing the noises taking place behind her, is enough to drive me crazy.  I can practically smell the disinfectant too-clean scent of the hospital.  Never again do I want to be there, never again do I want to remember anything that I witnessed.  

I don't realize how loud I'm being until Jenna's behind me, kicking my chair as hard as she can to the point that it topples over.  "What's your problem?"  I stare up at her in disgust, my head throbbing from smacking the wall.

Her eyes are wide, hair hanging over her face, hands by her sides shaking.  "I think that's my line, freak!"  She stoops down to fetch the math book I must've thrown.  When did that even happen?  I need to go back.  I'm not ready for this yet.  They'll take me, right?  Maybe I can see her again.  Maybe I can get her to stop.

Jenna's hands still quake as she moves to pick up everything I threw, one thing at a time.  "Don't ever do that again."

I slump against the wall, a knot already forming on the back of my head.  Just dejectedly watching her stoop countless times to pick up my mess is excruciating.  "It's not exactly within my realm of control."

She takes her sweet time lining up the edges of my books, making sure they're perfect before even looking at me.  "I hate that.  I don't think you understand how impossible it was to force myself into this room, to force myself near you when you were having that episode."

"I haven't had one since I was twelve," I admit, bitterness resonating throughout me.  "I wasn't prepared."

Shuddering, she pulls out the chair and sits, her posture rigid.  "It just feels too close to home."

What does that mean?  I'm dying for her to quit speaking in riddles, to make a clear statement that I won't have to dissect.  I don't want to know too much about another girl that'll just disappear in a few months.  It's too hard to make a friend when your only one was forced into leaving.  "You can go now."

"No."  Finally, she collapses, her head in her hands.  "It's not that easy.  I know that you were raised in that sheltered little program all your life, but that's not how the real world works.  You have a psychotic episode, you own up to it.  You can't just slink to your room, ignore everyone, take a few more pills, and whine to your personal nurse the next day."

What is she talking about?  If I ever had a "psychotic episode" it earned me being strapped to a bed that night.  Why would I ever tell a nurse about something like that?  I would pay for it because it would point to taking steps back in my improvement.  Heaven forbid.  "I think you have a warped view of my childhood home," I finally say.

Her eyes flare up, unadulterated rage hiding behind her perfectly placid facial features.  "What do you think I did in mine?  Bake brownies and climb trees?"  Her countenance is so empty, staring numbly past me like something's fixing her attention far beyond.  I don't think she's taken a breath in hours.

"I don't know anything about your home," I admit, my hands small, as if they're attempting to whisper.  

Her head jerks back a little bit like she forced her brain to reboot.  "You don't want to."

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