After lunch, when Ava was sitting in the activity center, Marty came up beside her on the long couch. They sat together in silence, neither speaking. Ava held the TV remote in her hand, but it shook slightly, and she wasn’t sure why.
“Anything good on?” Marty asked.
Ava shook her head. “Not really. Where’s everyone else?”
“Bridget and Ari are in their rooms. How come you’re out here alone? Don’t you want to spend time with everyone?”
“Not particularly,” Ava muttered. Then she turned to look at her. “What was it like, you know, at Easton?” She sighed, feeling guilty for prying.
“It wasn’t like here,” Marty said, giving her a small smile. “I didn’t talk to anyone, not even the doctors, for a long time. I didn’t want to have to tell them why I was there. I didn’t want to be labeled as crazy.”
“But, if you were there, would you be—” Ava’s eyes widened as she stopped talking. She mentally cursed herself. “I’m sorry.”
“Oh, don’t be. I wasn’t well, obviously. But in there, the levels of crazy differ. I wasn’t as worse as some of the patients.”
“What happened?” Ava asked, biting her lip.
Marty laughed softly, like she found this question amusing. Cautiously she said, “I sort of killed my stepfather.”
For this not being the answer Ava expected, she was still rather calm about it. The truth was, she didn’t know what she thought Marty was going to say, but it definitely hadn’t been that.
Thankfully, Ava was interrupted by new voices. Bridget, Ari, and a boy were talking loudly as they walked in.
“Cole!” Marty shouted to the boy. “Come and meet Ava!”
The boy, who looked about fourteen, had messy brown hair and grey eyes. The black sweatshirt he wore was too big for him. He locked his gaze on Ava and smiled. Then he came over and sat next to Marty.
“Hey,” he said, nodding. “You’re the new girl, huh?” Then he grinned and leaned forward, saying quietly, “I heard what you did to Bridget. Well done.”
Ava was picking a loose thread on her sweatshirt, but she heard his words, and she blushed. She didn’t even know there were boys here, but she figured it made sense.
“I didn’t push her,” she said, looking up at him. “It wasn’t me.”
“Oh, right,” Cole murmured. “I forgot. You’ve got a friend. Where is he today?”
“Ignore him,” Marty said, glaring at Cole. “He’s got a severe cause of asshole.”
Cole smirked at her. “I may be an asshole, but at least I didn’t kill anyone.”
Marty opened her mouth to say something, but shut it. When her eyes started to tear and her hands shook, he laughed.
Bridget had come over and snatched the remote from Ava, before she could do anything. “I think I’ll take over now.”
Ava shot up. “Give it back.”
“You’re not so intimidating without your freaky invisible friend here,” Bridget said. She shoved Ava back down onto the couch. When she turned her back, she heard Ava gasp.
Ian was standing next to Bridget, glaring at her, his eyes dark. He gripped her shoulder and leaned close to her ear. “She said give it back. Do it now or I swear I’ll kill you.”
Then he pushed her.
Bridget fell; face first, onto the floor. When she managed to roll over and look up at Ava, her eyes were wide, terrified.
“What did you do?” she whispered. “What the fuck did you do, you freak?”
“I didn’t do anything,” she replied. She wasn’t afraid.“But I don’t think you want to mess with me again.”
Beside her, Ian smirked, and then he was gone.