Day Seven Limps By

a rose by any other name

Thank you for coming by again.

Hannah watched the old woman open the first locker. The bag that hung at Hannah’s side was heavy, but she’d held on to it in spite of all the running. In the bag was everything she’d taken from the lockers earlier when she’d first gotten into the building.

Hannah wasn’t about to admit to anything.

“I wonder what trinket was meant to be here?” the old woman asked.

“What do you mean?” Meredith asked. “Where’s the comb?” She stepped closer, but not too close.

“It’s empty,” the old woman replied. “This was the one that held Laila’s comb, was it?”

“Laila? I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

“Don’t play dumb, Nurse. Laila the poisoner in room 12. I didn’t like her. She was too vain.”

Meredith frowned. “You think you’re clever, but—”

The old woman kept her eyes on Meredith as she moved to the next locker. “I am clever.”

Meredith risked coming closer to the old woman. She had to reach past the old woman to touch the lock. “How can it be unlocked?”

“It’s possible when you have a key and a mind to get the better of me,” the old woman said.

The old woman and Meredith turned to Hannah at the same time.

Meredith lunged at Hannah, her arms stretched out for Hannah’s bag. The old woman stuck out a foot, sending Meredith to the floor. “Don’t touch the girl.”

Meredith rolled on to her side and pushed herself up. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Go read my chart.”

Meredith smoothed out her white skirt. “I know it by heart.”

“You—”

“Shut up. Both of you.” Hannah jutted out her chin. “I didn’t come here for this.”

Meredith and the old woman were both startled.

Hannah gripped her bag more tightly. “And I don’t want to hang out in a basement until we get caught. I want to find my grandmother and then I want to go home.”

“Nobody here cares what you want,” Meredith said. She smoothed out her skirt again. “In a few minutes Security will be here, and I’ll make sure you are punished.”

The familiar burn of rage pressed out from within her chest.
“No, you won’t. When Security gets here, you’ll lose your job.”

Meredith opened her mouth, and then she shut it again. The old woman laughed.

Hannah fumed. Whatever the truth of the Asylum, the nurse took part in its lies and cruelties. Hannah wanted nothing to do with her. “I’m not afraid of you. Either of you.” She was almost sure she meant it.

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