The Evolution of Mara Dyer Page 1

Author: Michelle Hodkin

Series: Mara Dyer #2

Genres: Young Adult , Fantasy



The words echoed in my mind as I ran through clots of laughing people. Blinking lights and delighted screams bled together in a riot of sound and color. I knew Noah was behind me. I knew he would catch up. But my feet tried to do what my heart couldn’t; they tried to leave him behind.

I finally ran out of breath beneath a leering clown that pointed to the entrance to the Hall of Mirrors. Noah caught up to me easily. He turned me to face him and I stood there, my wrist in his grasp, my cheeks wet with tears, my heart splintered by her words.

If I truly loved him, she said, I would let him go.

I wished I loved him enough.




Miami, Florida

I WOKE UP ON THE MORNING OF SOME DAY IN SOME hospital to find a stranger sitting in my room.

I sat up gingerly—my shoulder was sore—and studied the stranger. She had dark brown hair that bled into gray at the roots, and hazel eyes with webs of crow’s feet at the corners. She smiled at me, and her whole face moved.

“Good morning, Mara,” she said.

“Good morning,” I said back. My voice was low and hoarse. It didn’t sound like my own.

“Do you know where you are?”

She obviously didn’t realize that the floor directory was positioned directly outside the window behind her, and that from the bed, I had a clear view. “I’m at the Lillian and Alfred Rice Psychiatric Unit.” Apparently.

“Do you know who I am?”

I had no idea, but I tried not to show it; she wouldn’t have asked me if we’d never met, and if we had met, I should remember her. “Yes,” I lied.

“What’s my name?”

Damn. My chest rose and fell quickly with my breath.

“I’m Dr. West,” she said evenly. Her voice was warm and friendly but not at all familiar. “We met yesterday, when you were brought in by your parents and a detective by the name of Vincent Gadsen.”


“Do you remember?”

I remembered seeing my father lying pale and wounded in a hospital bed after he was shot by the mother of a murdered girl.

I remembered that I was the one who made her do it.

I remembered going to the police station to confess to stealing my teacher’s EpiPen and releasing fire ants in her desk, which is why she died of anaphylactic shock.

I remembered that it wasn’t true—just a lie I would feed the police so they would keep me from hurting anyone I loved again. Because they wouldn’t believe I wished my teacher dead and that not long after, she died. Choked to death on a swollen tongue, exactly the way I imagined she would.

I remembered that before I could tell anyone any of this, I saw Jude at the Thirteenth Precinct of the Metro Dade Police Department. Looking very much alive.

But I did not remember coming here to the hospital. I didn’t remember being brought. After Jude appeared, I remembered nothing else.

“You were admitted yesterday afternoon,” the stranger—Dr. West—said. “The detective called your parents when they couldn’t get you to stop screaming.”

I closed my eyes and saw Jude’s face as he walked by me. Brushed past me. Smiled. The memory stained the backs of my eyelids, and I opened them quickly, just to see something else.

“You told them that your boyfriend, Jude Lowe, who you thought died in a building collapse in December, is alive.”

“Ex,” I said quietly, fighting to stay calm.

“Excuse me?”


Dr. West tilted her head slightly and employed her carefully neutral psychologist expression, one I recognized well since I’d seen it often on my psychologist mother. Particularly in the past few months.

“You said that you caused the abandoned asylum in Rhode Island to collapse, crushing your best friend, Rachel, and Jude’s sister, Claire, inside. You said Jude sexually assaulted you, which is why you tried to kill him. And you said he survived. You said he’s here.”

She was perfectly calm as she spoke, which magnified my panic. Those words in her mouth sounded crazy, even though they were true. And if Dr. West knew, then so did—

“Your mother brought you here for an evaluation.”

My mother. My family. They would have heard the truth too, even though I hadn’t planned to tell it. Even though I didn’t remember telling it.

And this was where it got me.

“We didn’t begin yesterday because you were sedated.”

My fingers wandered up my arm, beneath the short sleeve of my white T-shirt. There was a Band-Aid on my skin, covering what must have been the injection site.

“Where is she?” I asked, picking at the Band-Aid.

“Where is who?”

“My mother.” My eyes scanned the hallway through the glass, but I didn’t see her. The hall looked empty. If I could just talk to her, maybe I could explain.

“She’s not here.”

That didn’t sound like my mother. She didn’t leave my side once when I was admitted to the hospital after the asylum collapsed. I told Dr. West as much.

“Would you like to see her?”


“Okay, we can see if we can work that out later.”

Her tone made it sound like that would be a treat for good behavior, and I didn’t like it. I swung my legs over the bed and stood up. I was wearing drawstring pants, not the jeans I last remembered myself in. My mother must have brought them from home. Someone must have changed me. I swallowed hard. “I think I want to see her now.”

Dr. West stood up as well. “Mara, she isn’t here.”

“Then I’ll go find her,” I said, and started looking for my Chucks. I crouched to look under the bed, but they weren’t there.

“Where are my shoes?” I asked, still crouched.

“We had to take them.”

I rose then, and faced her. “Why?”

“They had laces.”

My eyes narrowed. “So?”

“You were brought here because your mother thought you may be a danger to yourself and others.”

“I really need to talk to her,” I said then, struggling to keep my voice even. I bit down hard on my bottom lip.

“You’ll be able to.”


“Well, I’d like you to speak with someone first, and have a doctor come in, just to make sure you’re—”

“And if I don’t want to?”

Dr. West just looked at me. Her expression was sad.

My throat wanted to close. “You can’t keep me here unless I consent,” I managed to say. I knew that much, at least. I was a lawyer’s daughter and I was seventeen years old. They couldn’t keep me here unless I wanted to be kept. Unless—

“You were screaming and hysterical and you slipped. When one of our nurses tried to help you up, you punched her.”


“It became an emergency situation, so under the Baker Act, your parents were able to consent for you.”

I whispered so I wouldn’t scream. “What are you saying?”

“I’m sorry, but you’ve been involuntarily committed.”


WE HOPE THAT YOU’LL ALLOW A DOCTOR TO DO a physical examination,” she said kindly. “And that you’ll consent to our treatment plan.”

“What if I don’t?” I asked.

“Well, your parents still have time to file the appropriate papers with the court while you’re here—but it would be really wonderful for you, and for them, if you cooperated with us. We’re here to help you.”

I couldn’t quite remember ever feeling so lost.

“Mara,” Dr. West said, drawing my eyes to hers, “do you understand what this means?”

It means that Jude is alive and no one believes it but me.

It means that there is something wrong with me, but it isn’t what they think.

It means that I’m alone.

But then my racing thoughts trailed an image in their wake. A memory.

The beige walls of the psychiatric unit evaporated and became glass. I saw myself in the passenger seat of a car—Noah’s car—and saw my cheeks stained with tears. Noah was next to me, his hair messy and perfect and his eyes defiant as they held mine.

“There is something seriously wrong with me, and there’s nothing anyone can do to fix it,” I said to him then.

“Let me try,” he said back.

That was before he knew just how deeply screwed up I was, but even when the last piece of my armor cracked on marble courthouse steps, revealing the ugliness beneath it, Noah wasn’t the one who left.

I was.

Because I killed four people—five, if my dad’s client never woke up—with nothing more than a thought. And the number could have been higher—would have been higher, if Noah hadn’t saved my father’s life. I never meant to hurt the people I loved, but Rachel was still dead and my father was still shot. Less than forty-eight hours ago, I thought the best way to keep them safe was to keep myself away.

But things were different, now. Jude made them different.

No one knew the truth about me. No one but Noah. Which meant he was the only one who could possibly fix this. I had to talk to him.


I forced myself to focus on Dr. West.

“Will you let us help you?”

Help me? I wanted to ask. By giving me more drugs when I’m not sick, not with anything worse than PTSD? I’m not psychotic, I wanted to say.

I’m not.

But I didn’t appear to have much of a choice, so I forced myself to say yes. “But I want to talk to my mother first,” I added.

“I’ll give her a call after your physical—okay?”

It wasn’t. Not at all. But I nodded and Dr. West grinned, deepening the folds in her face, looking for all the world like a warm, kindly grandmother. Maybe she was.

When she left, it was all I could do not to fall apart; but I didn’t have time. She was immediately replaced by a penlight-wielding doctor who asked me questions about my appetite and other wildly mundane details, which I answered calmly with a careful tongue. And then he left, and I was offered some food, and one of the staff—a counselor? A nurse?—showed me the unit. It was quieter than I imagined a psych ward would be, and with fewer obvious psychos. A couple of kids were quietly reading. One watched TV. Another talked with a friend. They looked up at me when I passed by, but otherwise, I went unacknowledged.

When I was eventually led back to the bedroom, I was shocked to find my mother in it.

Anyone else wouldn’t have noticed what a mess she was. Her clothes were unwrinkled. Her skin was still flawless. Not a single hair was out of place. But hopelessness trampled her posture and fear dulled her eyes. She was holding it together, but just barely.

She was holding it together for me.

I wanted to hug her and shake her at the same time. But I just stood there, cemented to the floor.

She rushed up to hug me. I let her, but my arms were chained to my sides and I couldn’t hug her back.

She pulled back and smoothed the hair from my face. Studied my eyes. “I am so sorry, Mara.”

“Really.” My voice was flat.

I couldn’t have hurt her more if I had smacked her. “How could you say that?” she asked.

“Because I woke up in a psychiatric unit today.” The words were bitter in my mouth.

She backed up and sat on the bed, which had been freshly made since I was last in it. She shook her head, and her lacquer-black hair swung with the movement. “When you left the hospital yesterday, I thought you were tired and going home. So when the police called?” Her voice cracked, and she held her hand up to her throat. “Your father was shot, and then to pick up the phone and hear the police say, ‘Mrs. Dyer, we’re calling about your daughter?’” A tear fell from one of her eyes and she quickly wiped it away. “I thought you’d been in a car accident. I thought you were dead.”

My mother wrapped her arms around her waist and hunched forward. “I was so terrified I dropped the phone. Daniel picked it up. He explained what was happening—that you were at the police station, hysterical. He stayed with your father and I rushed there to get you but you were wild, Mara,” she said, and looked at me. “Wild. I never thought . . .” Her voice trailed off and she seemed to be staring right through me. “You were screaming that Jude is alive.”

I did something brave, then. Or stupid. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

I decided to trust her. I looked my mother in the eye and said, without any trace of doubt in my expression or voice, “He is.”

“How would that be possible, Mara?” My mother’s voice was toneless.

“I don’t know,” I admitted, because I didn’t have a clue. “But I saw him.” I sat down next to her on the bed, but not close.

My mom pushed her hair away from her face. “Could it have been a hallucination?” She avoided my eyes. “Like the other times? Like the earrings?”

I had asked myself that same question. I’d seen things before—my grandmother’s earrings at the bottom of my bathtub, even though they were still in my ears. Classroom walls collapsing around me, maggots squirming in my food.

And I had seen Claire. I saw her in mirrors. I heard her voice.

“You two kids have fun.”

I saw Jude in mirrors. I heard his voice, too.

“You need to take your mind off this place.”

But now I knew that I had heard them say those same words twice. Not just in mirrors at home. In the asylum.

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