“It will be okay,” Ava said. She was sitting cross-legged on the bed the next morning. The door was opened and her mom was standing there, shaking her head, muttering to herself. “You don’t believe me?”
“No,” her mother said. “I think you shouldn’t let some doctor tell you what to do. You should make your own decision about it.”
“I decided on my own,” Ava murmured. “Tessa is a good doctor.”
“Tessa?” Evelyn’s eyebrow rose. “You should call her Dr. Hadley.”
“Why? She asked me to call her by her first name.”
“It’s just polite,” her mother replied.
“Jake came in last night after you left,” Ava said, hoping to change the subject. “He stayed with me until early morning.”
“Did he?” her mother asked. “Did your friend come to visit, too?”
Ava scowled. It was bad enough that she was still here, that her family seemed less than thrilled about her getting help, because, God forbid it meant time away from them from awhile, but now her mother was acting as though what was going on was just some kind of vacation.
“Mom, can you stop?” she asked, glaring. “This isn’t some sort of trip. You said it yourself, I’m sick. I realize that and I’m going to get help. I thought that’s what you wanted.”
“It is,” Evelyn said, sighing. “It’s difficult. It took me a long time to accept that your father had gone, that he had left me to raise you and Jacob on my own. But now…”
“You’re acting like I’m abandoning you!” Ava nearly shouted. “You’re acting like you can’t come visit me because I’ll be locked away forever. If you don’t want to see me, that’s fine.”
Ava rummaged around and began to pack what extra clothes Jake scrounged out of the dryer. She folded them and stood with them against her chest, then stared at her mother.
There was a knock on the door frame.
“Are you ready?” Tessa asked, stepping into the room. She regarded Ava’s mother with a slow gaze, but said nothing to her.
“Definitely,” Ava said, nodded. When she was out of the room, she said loudly, “I think this is going to be good. At least I’ll be with people who understand me.”
Evelyn frowned and sat on the bed. When she heard footsteps coming toward her, she looked up to see Ava staring at her, her arm outstretched.
“Oh, baby, I’m sor-”
To her dismay, Ava wasn’t reaching toward her, but under the sheet on the bed. She smiled in satisfactory as she plucked her stuffed elephant from its hiding place.
Before Evelyn could utter another word, her daughter was gone, and she had made sure to shut the door behind her.