Out of Sight, Out of Time
Page 9

 Ally Carter

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“Your mother is a very smart woman.”
“Can you help me?” I pleaded. “I need to remember where I went and what I did. I need to know.”
Dr. Steve considered this, then said, “Do you know what pain is, Cammie? It’s the body’s physical response to imminent harm. It is the mind’s way of telling us to move our hand off the stove or let go of the broken glass.”
“Will you help me?”
“The human mind is a miraculous thing. It is designed to keep us safe. Maybe your amnesia is your mind’s way of saying that those memories could be harmful to you.”
He was right, of course. My mother and aunt had said almost exactly the same thing. But there’s a difference between knowing something in your mind and knowing it in your gut.
Through a window at the end of the hall, I saw the moon breaking through a cloudy sky. “It’s been almost a year since the best spies in the world told me it might never be safe for me to leave this mansion.”
“I know,” Dr. Steve said softly.
I could still feel the rifle in my hands, the pressure of my fingers around Dr. Steve’s throat, and so I told him, “Now I think it might not be safe for me to stay.”
There’s a power that comes with silence. I had grown to fear the unsaid thing. So it felt like a release to say it—to admit that the risk wasn’t just inside our walls—it was inside my skin. I was willing to claw, scratch, and bleed until I’d found it.
“Your mother is correct, Cammie. You shouldn’t try to force those memories.” I opened my mouth to object, but Dr. Steve stopped me with a wave. “However, people who have sustained trauma often find it useful to have someone to…talk to. I’ll speak with her, and if she agrees, then you can come see me Saturday afternoon. I’ll be happy to help.”
He smiled and swallowed, the red line on his neck moving up and down. “We’ll see what we can do.”
I wasn’t exactly proud as I crept into the suite at one a.m., because, well, first of all, there was the creeping. And the fact that I actually stubbed my toe on the corner of my bed. But the hardest thing was realizing that I was no longer at home in my own room.
My things were unpacked and neatly folded, while my roommates’ stuff was strewn around—the room a study in organized chaos like it always was in the middle of the semester. And all I could do was stand there wondering if I was destined to spend the rest of my senior year a half step behind.
“I see you.” Macey sat up in bed. The light from the full moon fell through the window. Her eyes looked especially big and blue.
“Sorry,” I whispered. “I didn’t know anyone was awake.”
“I know you didn’t,” Macey said. “That’s why you decided it was safe to come in.”
I sank onto my bed, but it felt strange—too soft compared to the cot at the convent. “I’m sorry, Macey,” I said. “I don’t know how many times I can say it. I’m sorry.”
“Sorry you left or sorry you got hurt?”
“Both,” I said. “And I’m sorry everyone is mad.”
“You don’t get it, do you?” Macey threw her covers off and stepped barefoot across the floor. “We’re not mad because you left.” She practically spat the words. I wondered if Liz or Bex might wake up, but neither stirred. “We’re mad because you didn’t take us with you.”
I wanted to tell her that I’d do it all differently if I could. But that wasn’t true, I realized. They were still alive, and that was what I’d wanted most of all. So I just looked down at my hands and admitted, “No one seems happy I’m back.”
“You are back, Cam.” Macey went into the bathroom and started to close the door. “Which means for the first time since you left, it’s okay for us to be mad at you for leaving.”
Chapter Ten
Most teenage girls look forward to the weekend. Even at the Gallagher Academy, that is universally true. After all, who are we to deny the awesomeness of free-lab days and all-campus sparring competitions—not to mention the waffle bar and Tina Walters’s legendary movie nights? But that weekend was something of an exception.
For starters, there’s nothing like missing over a month of school…AT SPY SCHOOL!…to put a girl behind academically. Also, you don’t really realize how much weekend time is actually hang-out-with-your-friends time until the aforementioned friends are acting all weird around you.
But that Saturday after lunch I didn’t want to think about any of those things as I made my way to a closed door that, always before, had led to an empty office. The support staff had used it to store broken chairs and unused desks, but when I knocked, the door swung open and I could see the room had been completely transformed.
There was a tidy desk and an old wooden swivel chair like Grandpa Morgan kept in his office on the ranch. I saw a long leather couch and a cushy armchair beside a roaring fire. I hadn’t realized how cold the rest of the mansion was until I stepped closer and lowered myself into the chair.
There were no diplomas or pictures, nothing personal at all, and I wondered if that was a Dr. Steve thing or just a shrink thing. Or maybe a Blackthorne thing. But the room was cozy and peaceful nonetheless, so I closed my eyes and felt the warmth of the fire washing over me.
I heard the words but didn’t want to open my eyes.
“Cammie, it’s time to begin.”
Then I started, bolting upright.
“I’m sorry. I…”
“You fell asleep, Cammie,” Dr. Steve said, taking his place at the end of the leather sofa. “Are you having trouble sleeping in general?” he asked, but didn’t really wait for an answer. “Do you wake up tired? Is your sleep fitful, erratic?”
“Yes,” I said, realizing it all was true.
“I’m not surprised,” Dr. Steve said, reaching for his glasses. “That’s quite normal, you know.”
“I think I would sleep better if I knew if my memory would ever come back—if it can come back. Can you tell me that much?”
Dr. Steve put his index fingers together, making an upsidedown V against his lips. He seemed to weigh his options carefully before admitting, “I don’t know.”
“Then can you make me not dangerous?” I asked.
“Well, as I’ve already said, we don’t know that you are dangerous. I need you to understand that you’re not here to remember, Cammie. Your mother and I agree that it is important for you to talk about last summer—for you to come to terms with all that’s happened.” He took a deep breath and leaned slightly closer. “Can you do that? Can you wait? Can you work? Can you trust?” He sounded like he didn’t know I was a Gallagher Girl. But then I realized I wasn’t exactly acting like a Gallagher Girl.
So I nodded and said, “Yes. I’ll do anything. How do we begin?” I asked, standing. “Should I lie down or…”
“Do whatever makes you feel comfortable. We’re just going to talk for a while.” He leaned back on the couch and crossed his legs. The fire crackled. There was a window to my left, and I found myself staring out at the kind of fall day where the wind is cold but the sun is bright. The sky was so clear and blue it might as well have been late June. But the leaves on the trees were turning, and the forest was laid out before me like a patchwork quilt.
“What’s on your mind, Cammie?”
“It’s supposed to be green,” I said softly, as if speaking to the glass. “I keep thinking that it’s the start of summer. It feels like the start of summer.”
“I’m sure that’s very confusing.” Dr. Steve sounded sympathetic enough, but the problem wasn’t that I was at risk of forgetting my jacket or not being prepared for Halloween.
Outside, girls were lounging on blankets by the lake; people ran laps around the woods, enjoying the sun while it lasted. And that was when I saw them, Bex and Zach leaving the P&E barn, both drenched in sweat, passing a bottle of water between them. And a part of me couldn’t help but notice that they made a very striking couple (no pun intended).
“I think Bex and Zach are…together.”
Okay, just to summarize, I had amnesia, a concussion, a knot on my head the size of a golf ball, half a semester’s worth of work to make up, senior pictures to take, and an international terrorist organization that may or may not have still been after me at that moment. And yet, all I could say was, “He spent the summer with her family because…well…I guess he probably didn’t have any place to go. He spent the summer with her,” I said again, more for my benefit than Dr. Steve’s.
“I know,” Dr. Steve said. “I was a part of that decision.”
“You were?”
“Do you think that was a mistake?” Dr. Steve asked.
“No.” I shook my head and remembered that I had been the one to run away from home. But Zach…Zach didn’t have a home to run to. Or from. “I’m glad he had someplace to go. It’s just…he spent all summer with her family.” Outside, Bex was sitting on Zach’s ankles while he did sit-ups. With his shirt off. I felt my heart sink.
“I think I lost him,” I said, and just then I realized that wasn’t the half of it. “And her. I think I’ve lost them.” Then I felt exhausted and turned from the window. I sank down into the chair and admitted, “But I guess they lost me first.”
“And how do you feel about that?” Dr. Steve asked.
“Like maybe I had it coming.”
“Do you think your friends are punishing you?”
“I ran away. I did something…stupid.”
“Was it stupid?” Dr. Steve asked. It was the first time anyone—especially an adult—had said anything of the sort. “You must not have thought so at the time.”
“No,” I said, tugging at the memory. “It wasn’t stupid. I was just…desperate. He said it first, you know—about leaving. About going away to try to find answers. Zach said it first.”
“But you didn’t take him with you,” Dr. Steve said, and I shook my head.
“I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.”
“And yet you got hurt.”
I didn’t have anything to say to that. I leaned back in my chair. I wanted to close my eyes and curl up into a ball, sleep until my memory returned, but I knew that wasn’t an option.
“That’s a pretty tune,” Dr. Steve told me, and I bolted upright.
“What?” I asked.
“That song you were humming. I like it.”
“I wasn’t humming,” I said, but Dr. Steve looked at me as if I were crazy (a fact made far scarier because it might very well have been his professional opinion).
Then he shook his head and said, “I guess not. That must have been my mistake.” He closed a notebook I didn’t even realize he’d picked up, screwed the cap on to a really nice pen, and placed it in his pocket, then rose from the leather couch. “Very well. I think that’s enough for today. It’s getting late.”