Brooke opened the note and read it. She maintained her calm demeanor. “How do you feel about this?”
I narrowed my eyes. “Wasn’t that the point of the feelings check-in? Why don’t you tell me what you think about it?”
“Well, Mara, I think it’s something that has clearly upset you.”
I laughed without humor. “Yes, clearly.”
Adam raised his hand. Brooke turned to him. “Yes, Adam?”
“What’s it say?”
“I see you,” I said. “It says ‘I see you.’”
“And what do you think about that, Mara?” Brooke asked.
If Phoebe wasn’t going to admit to it, I would call her out and let the chips fall as they may. “I think Phoebe wrote it and put in my bag.”
“Why would you think that?”
“Perhaps because she is batshit crazy, Brooke.”
“Jamie,” Brooke said calmly. “I’m not sure that’s productive.”
“I was applauding Mara for her extraordinarily appropriate use of the term ‘batshit crazy.’”
Brooke grew annoyed. “Do you have anything you’d like to share, Jamie?”
“No, that pretty much covers it.”
“My elbow hurts,” Adam chimed in.
“Why’d you write it, Phoebe?” I asked.
She looked as squirrely as ever. “I didn’t write it.”
“I don’t believe you,” I said.
“I didn’t write it!” she shouted. Then she dropped to the floor and began rocking back and forth.
Fantastic. I rubbed my hand over my face as Brooke moved over to the wall and pressed a button I’d never noticed before. Phoebe was still rocking on the floor, but when Brooke’s back was turned, she glared at me.
“You little shit,” I whispered under my breath.
Brooke turned. “Did you say something, Mara?”
I narrowed my eyes at Phoebe, who had covered her ears now. Ponytail Patrick had appeared and was trying to coax Phoebe up off of the carpet.
“She’s faking it,” I said, still staring at her.
Brooke glanced down at Phoebe, but I could tell she didn’t believe me. She looked up at the clock. “Well, we don’t have much time left anyway. Patrick,” she asked him, “will you take Phoebe back to Dr. Kells?” And then in a lowered voice, added, “I can page Wayne if you think she needs to relax.”
And look at that. Phoebe was off the floor. Magic.
“Everyone else, grab your journals and take a few minutes to write about your feelings. We’re going to talk more about what happened today later, all right? And don’t forget—tomorrow’s family day. You should all be working on your list of ten things your family doesn’t know about you but you wish they did.”
And with that, everyone stood and retrieved their journals to write. I only pretended to. I was still furious. Phoebe could fool Brooke and Dr. Kells and the rest of them—I knew from experience it wasn’t that hard—but she could not fool me. She wrote the note, and I would make her admit it.
And just before the end of the day, I got my chance.
I found her in a small lounge area, writing something in her journal with robotic, bloodless focus.
I looked around. There was no one in the hall, but I didn’t want to be too loud. I kept my voice low. “Why’d you do it?” I asked her.
She looked up at me, all innocence. “Do what?”
“You wrote the note, Phoebe.”
“Really,” I said, my temper flaring. “You’re really not going to cop to this? I don’t even care—God knows you have enough problems—I just want to hear you say it.”
“I didn’t write it,” she said robotically.
I grabbed the door frame with one hand and squeezed it. I had to go or I’d lose it.
“I didn’t write it,” Phoebe said again. But her tone had changed; it made me face her. She was staring directly at me, now, her eyes focused and clear.
“I heard you.”
Phoebe dropped her eyes back to her journal. A smile inched across her lips. “But I did put it there.”
MY BLOOD RAN COLD. “ WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?”
Phoebe began to hum.
I walked right up next to her and crouched so that I could look her in the eye. “Tell me what you said. Right now. Or I’m going to tell Dr. Kells. Right. Now.”
“My boyfriend gave it to me,” she said in a singsong voice.
“Who’s your boyfriend, Phoebe?”
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are gray,” she sang, and then reverted back to her humming.
I wanted to smack her head off of her spine. My hands curled into fists. It took everything I had right then not to hit her.
I almost, almost wanted to kill her.
I closed my eyes. After a minute of paralysis, I turned around and walked away. Let’s call it progress.
I was very ready for the pointless day to be over. When I got home, I wanted to try and decipher New Theories in Genetics, and also see if Noah had any luck scouring Calle Ocho on his own. But Joseph roped me into a video game war before I made it to my room, and when I called Noah after I lost thrice, he sounded strange.
He asked if I was all right. I said yes, and then immediately attacked him with questions. But he cut me off quickly, saying we’d talk tomorrow.
I hung up feeling a bit uneasy and I hated myself for it, for feeling insecure. We’d been spending nearly every moment together and I was even the one who suggested he spend more time at his house, more time apart. But his voice sounded so off and we were dealing with so much—I was dealing with so much—that part of me couldn’t help but wonder if my baggage might be getting too heavy for him to want to carry anymore.
When the last day of my first week at Horizons arrived, I found myself about to unpack some of said baggage in front of my older brother. It was Family Therapy Day and I was completely unenthused about having Daniel bear witness to the whole psycho-sister scenario in full color. We were greeted by Counselor Wayne, who led us to the common area where we were divided into mini-groups. Most people brought parents, but a select few, like me, brought older or younger siblings. And when they sorted us into smaller rooms, and Jamie walked in followed closely by an older, freckled, very chill-looking girl I didn’t recognize, my mouth fell open when I realized Jamie was one of them.