Scarlette pretended. She pretended that her arms were crossed across her chest because she wanted them to be. She pretended that the buckles of the white jacket didn’t pinch her skin through the fabric and that the quilted walls around her were squares of snow rather than a cage. They didn’t understand. They thought she needed to be protected from herself, that the world needed to be protected from her.
She wiggled her shoulders within the tight confines of their jacket and struggled to get off of her cot without the support of her arms. The strength of her legs sent her off the bed and onto the soft fabric of the bubbled floor. She used her head to force her body to balance on her heels and walked on her knees to the other side of the room. Scarlette faced the corner.
Cecely didn’t understand why her father made her stare into a corner or why she had to be in time-out. She hadn’t done anything wrong. If Megan had shared her Barbie doll, then Cecely wouldn’t have needed to half it so they could both have something to play with. The Barbie didn’t need a head anyway. Next time Megan wouldn’t share, Cecely would punish Megan instead of the doll.
“Cecely, you can come out of time out now.”
“Scarlette… Scarlette, come out of the room now.”
Scarlette blew a raspberry and turned away from the corner to crawl toward the door. She knew she scared them when she stood up so she had stopped walking upright. She could be a dog and get a treat. The exasperation she could see in their eyes now was much more fun than the fear that was present when she first got here. How long had she been here? Where was here?
Kalia was lost. This wasn’t the first time she had come to Overlook Mall, but the rush of people around her was disturbing her sense of direction. She couldn’t remember where she was suppose to meet her parents and the frustrated tears in her eyes blurred her vision so much that she couldn’t see the names of the stores around her. She rubbed her face against her shoulder to brush away the wet film and started looking for the billboard that would have a map of the mall on it.
“Are you okay?” The man came up from behind her and gripped her shoulder. Kalia twisted around to force his hand away from her, pushing it back against his body as hard as she could until she felt his wrist snap and heard him scream.
Someone else grabbed her from behind and another person tightened up the buckles she had loosened on the jacket when she crawled out of the room and down the hall, a snake slithering on legs. They faced her toward the screaming man and continued to hold her tight even though she had stopped struggling. The pain apparent on the man’s face fascinated her and calmed the confusion she had felt. The contrast between his pristine blue scrubs and the violent red color of his face was comforting.
“Damn it, John. I told you not to touch her; she’s done this before,” said a male voice behind her.