The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Author: P Hana

Page 52


“God, Daniel. I know, okay? I know.”

We drove the rest of the way home in silence, but I felt guilty and broke it when we pulled into the driveway. “What’s Sophie doing this weekend?” I asked.

“Dunno,” Daniel said as he slammed his door. Fabulous. Now he was in a pissy mood too.

I walked into the house and went to the kitchen to rummage for food, while Daniel disappeared into his room, probably to limn the contours of some exquisite constellation of philosophical nonsense for his internship applications and gasp in the throes of his overachieving OCDness. I, meanwhile, mulled over a bleak future starring myself as a New York sidewalk sketch artist living off of ramen noodles and squatting in Alphabet City because I didn’t have any extracurricular activities. Then the phone rang, interrupting my thoughts. I picked it up.


“Tell your husband to drop the case,” someone whispered on the other end of the line. So low I wasn’t even sure I’d heard correctly.

But my heart thundered in my chest anyway. “Who is this?”

“You’ll be sorry.” The caller hung up.

I broke into a cold sweat and my mind went blank. When Daniel walked into the kitchen, I was still holding the phone, long after the dial tone went dead.

“What are you doing?” he asked as he passed me on his way to the fridge.

I didn’t answer him. I checked the call history and scanned for the last one that came in. My mother’s office, two hours ago. No record of any calls after that. What time was it now? I checked the clock on the microwave—twenty minutes had passed. I’d been standing there, holding the phone, for twenty minutes. Did I delete the call? Was there even a call?


I turned to Daniel.

“Yeesh,” he said, taking a step back. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Or heard one.

I ignored him and took out my cell on the way to my room. I’d taken my pill this morning, just like I had every morning since the art show. But if the phone call was real, why wasn’t it showing up in the call history?

Freaked out, I dialed my father just in case. He picked up on the second ring.

“I have a question,” I blurted before even saying hello.

“What’s up, kid?”

“If you wanted to drop the case now, would you be able to?” My father paused on the other end of the line. “Mara, are you okay?”

“Yeah, yeah. Just an academic question,” I said. And it was kind of true. For now.

“Okaaay. Well, it’s highly unlikely the judge would allow a substitution of counsel at this point. In fact, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t allow it.”

My heart sank. “How did the other lawyer get out of the case?”

“The client agreed to have me step in, otherwise Nathan would have been out of luck.”

“And your client wouldn’t let you back out now?”

“Doubtful. It would screw things up for him pretty badly. And the judge wouldn’t let it happen—she’d have me sanctioned if I pulled something like that. Mara,” he said, “are you sure you’re all right? I meant to ask you about therapy last week but I got tied—”

He thought this was about him. About him not being here.

“Yeah. I’m fine,” I said, as convincingly as I could.

“When’s your next appointment?”

“Next Thursday.”

“Okay. I gotta go, but we’ll catch up on your birthday, all right?”

I paused. “You’ll be home Saturday?”

“For as long as I can be. I love you, kid. Talk to you soon.”

I hung up the phone. I paced in my room like a wild thing, running over the phone call in my mind. I was on antipsychotic medication for hallucinations and possibly, probably delusions. I’d been all right for the past week, but maybe the pressure of exams had gotten to me after all. If I told my parents about the phone call but there was no evidence for it, nothing to back me up, what would they think? What would they do? My father couldn’t drop the case anyway, and my mother? My mother would want to pull me out of school to help me cope with the stress. And not being able to graduate on time or go to college right away—that would not help me cope with the stress.

I didn’t mention it.

I should have.


nOAH PICKED ME UP THE NEXT MORNING, but I was unsettled and silent on the way to school. He didn’t push. Even though this had been our routine for virtually every day for over a week, all eyes were on us as we walked from the gate through the quad. Noah’s arm never left my waist, but he did leave me at the door to Algebra, albeit reluctantly. Anna and Aiden breezed past us, making faces like they smelled something foul.

“You all right?” Noah asked me, tilting his head.

“What?” I was distracted, thinking about the call last night. And the metal forest at the art show. And Claire and Jude in mirrors. “Just thinking about my Bio exam later,” I told Noah.

He nodded. “See you later, then?”

“Mmm-hmm,” I said, and walked into class.

When I reached my desk, Jamie sauntered in and sat beside me. “You’re still with that prideful ass?”

I dropped my head in my hands and tugged at my hair. “God, Jamie. Give it a rest.”

He opened his mouth to say something, but Mr. Walsh had already started class. But I was sick of listening to Jamie whine about Noah, and today we were going to have it out. I narrowed my eyes at him and mouthed lunch. He nodded.

The rest of my morning classes flew by, and Jamie was waiting for me by the picnic tables at the appointed time. And for the first time I could remember, his eyes were level with mine.

“Did you get taller?” I asked him.

Jamie raised his eyebrows. “Did I? Crazy hormones. Better late than never, I guess,” he said, shrugging. Then he narrowed his eyes at me. “But don’t change the subject. We should be discussing your unfortunate taste in men.”

“What is your problem?”

“I don’t have a problem. You have a problem.”

“Oh? What’s my problem?”

“Shaw’s playing you,” Jamie said quietly.

I grew irritated. “I don’t think so.”

“How well do you really know him, Mara?”

I paused. Then said, “Well enough.”

Jamie looked away. “Well, I’ve known him longer.” He pushed his dreadlocks out of his face and chewed on his lower lip.