A day had passed, I learned. Doctors and nurses and psychologists swept in and out of the room in a blur of tests and questions. I went through the motions, answering them the best I could without looking in their faces and screaming about Jude. About the truth. About Lukumi.
How did he find me?
I couldn’t let myself think about it because one question led to more and I was drowning in them and I couldn’t panic because I wouldn’t be allowed to see Noah if I did. The drugs and the tubes made me lose it, always, but without them now I could compose my face into an expressionless mask to hide the seething beneath. Good behavior would buy me time, I had to remember. With my father’s help, I was even able to talk with a detective about the cop who was found dead on the dock right by me. He had a stroke, it turned out. Not my fault.
Even if it had been, I wasn’t sure I would have cared. Not then. The only thing I wanted was Noah. To feel his hands on my face, his body wrapped around mine, to hear his voice in my ear, to listen to him say he believed me.
But another day passed, and he still didn’t show up. Joseph didn’t come, either. He wasn’t allowed, Daniel told me when he finally visited. He sat hunched over a can of soda, flipping the tab back and forth.
“What about Noah?” I asked quietly.
Daniel shook his head.
“I need to talk to him.” I tried not to sound desperate.
“You’re on another hold,” Daniel said, his voice weak. “They’re allowing immediate family only. Noah came straight here from the airport when he found out you were admitted and didn’t leave until a few hours ago.”
So he was here and gone. I deflated.
“You scared the hell out of us, Mara.”
I closed my eyes, trying not to sound as infuriated as I was. This was Jude’s fault, but they were the ones who had to pay. “I know,” I said evenly. “I’m sorry.” The apology tasted foul, and I felt the urge to spit.
“I just keep—What if the police found you an hour later?” Daniel rubbed his forehead. “I keep thinking about it.” His voice shook, and he finally broke off the tab on the soda can. He dropped it inside and it landed with a clink.
His words made me wonder. “Who called them?” I asked. “Who called the police?”
“The caller never left a name.”
There’s this look people give you when they think you’re insane. On the ferry to the Horizons Residential Treatment Center on No Name Island the following morning, I got it.
The wind snapped at my skin and tumbled my hair in front of my face. I smoothed it back with both hands, exposing the twin bandages on my wrists. That’s when the captain, who had been chatting with my father about the ecology of the Keys, realized he was taking us to the glorified mental hospital, not the resort that shared the island. A slow wariness crept into his expression, mingling with fear and pity. It was a look I was going to have to get used to; the doctors told me that my wrists would scar.
“We don’t have too far to go,” the captain said. He pointed at some indistinguishable clump of land in the open ocean, and I felt obscenely small. “No Name Island right there, to the east. See it?”
I did. It looked . . . desolate. I recalled Stella’s words.
Lakewood is . . . intense. It’s in the middle of nowhere, like Horizons—practically all RTCs are.
“Do you like astronomy?” the captain asked me.
I hadn’t really thought about it.
“Look up at night, at the stars. The island is off the power grid, though the electric company is lobbying hard to change that. Most of the No Name residents don’t want it, though.”
I couldn’t imagine not wanting electricity. I couldn’t imagine not having it. I said as much. He just shrugged.
I must have looked panicked, because my mother reached over and smoothed her hand over my back. “Horizons is powered by solar energy and generators. There’s plenty of electricity, don’t worry.”
As we approached the island, a small dock appeared before us, with just a few boat slips and a sign:
LAST FERRY DEPARTS SIX PM, NO DEPARTURES IN INCLEMENT WEATHER
The captain looked up at the iron sky and squinted. “Might be changing things up today,” he said. “Those clouds aren’t friendly.”
“That’s what the cabin’s for,” my mother said to him, nodding in the direction of the covered part of the boat. She didn’t like being told she’d have to leave me before she was ready. She looked at me, and I could tell how much it hurt her to leave me at all.
The captain shook his head. “It’s not the rain, it’s the waves. They get choppy in the storms. Best be getting on, otherwise you’ll be spending the night.”
“Thank you,” my father said to the captain. “We’ll be back soon.” We disembarked, my parents quietly toting the luggage I didn’t even get to pack myself as we left the ferry.
I didn’t get to see Noah before we left, either. It would be twelve weeks before I saw him again.
The thought turned my stomach. I pushed it away.
It was then that I noticed a golf cart idling near the dock. The Horizons admissions counselor, Sam Robins, nodded condescendingly at me. “Well, Mara, I wish I were seeing you again under different circumstances.”
Under no circumstances.
“Come on,” he said to my parents. “Hop in.”
We did. The golf cart whizzed around a paved path surrounded by tall reeds and grass. We stopped in front of a cluster of whitewashed buildings with bright orange Spanish roof tiles. There was lovely, wild landscaping in the courtyard, evoking my mom’s issues of Cottage Living. Purple hibiscus and white lilies edged a small pond filled with goldfish that drifted lazily near the surface. There were neat hedgerows lined with some kind of pink wildflowers and yellow daisies everywhere. It felt inappropriately cheerful and I hated it.
The four of us walked into the pristine building—the main one, I guessed, since it was in the front. The walls were white stucco and the floor was white tile. Pedestals with a statue or figurine on top dotted the occasional corner, and terra cotta pots filled with manicured topiaries flanked the doorways. But other than that, the space and decor echoed Horizon’s outpatient counterpart almost exactly.
“Hermencia will check your suitcases and your clothes, Mara. And lucky you, it’s the retreat weekend, so all of your friends are here.”
The retreat. I ended up on it after all.