With no conversation lingering between us, she pries her eyes away from me and shuffles over to the marble desk. She slides into the swivel chair with astonishing grace as one of those mythical ballerinas one of my partners mentioned. Her pale hands spread across the marble tabletop, and a spell is curt against her lips: Veiled from plain sight, bring this screen to light.
There’s a chime in the air. As I gather my breath, a thin, glass screen curves atop the desk. In its fog, I have to squint to get a clear view of the undulating, black letters at the top of the screen. AMITY JANE GOTHEL. Under my name, blurry words spread out in perfect rows like a file.
Scrolling past my picture, the doctor stops and glances at me with a gasp. “Oh, where are my manners?” In the silence, her eyes pierce my soul as if she expects me to answer. “Welcome to Enchancia.”
“Le monde dans les nuages,” I mutter under my breath. While meant to go unheard, Doctor Kingsley seems to have heard; she cocks her head to the side and folds her arms over her plump chest. “World in the clouds. Kids in the Fiery Haven mention it.”
“Well,” Doctor Kingsley says, “c’est un monde dans les nuages, but we call it Enchancia; it’s a dimension where the new generation can find redemption.” I grab my lip with my teeth at these words. It sounds like reciting a mandated mantra than truly believing what leaves her mouth. Suddenly, this Doctor Kingsley—if it’s even her name—becomes shrouded in mystery.
Our eyes bulge against one another until Doctor Kingsley returns to the thin screen. Her eyes flicker against the gauzy words before returning to me. With her hands folded primly in her lap, she clears her throat. “Who is your father?”
Doctor Kingsley cuts me off before I can answer. “I can’t find him in your file.” There is some darkness in her eyes that sends a militia of chills crawling down my spine.
Hail Caylee screeches against my skull. I bite my lower lip to keep the sigh inside my body before saying in unison with the doctor, “Hail Caylee.”
My eyes waver against Doctor Kingsley’s firm stare. “My father, I don’t know who he is. My mother clams up whenever I inquire such.”
The doctor, now out of her swivel chair, takes a step in my direction. “Do you know why she clams up?” she asks. Her piercing voice has my heart echoing loudly against my chest.
“No.” A quick and faint no. That’s what leaves my lips.
With another step towards me, her feet made echoing clicks against the linoleum. “Do you know why there’s no mention of a father in your files?”
Again. “No.” This time, however, the word grits against my teeth as a heat sears my cheeks, and my fingers ball into fists.
“And oh—” Doctor Kingsley glances down at the black mark tracing down my forearm “—do you know why you have that mark?”
A malediction begins to form in the fog that fills my brain. “No!” This answer shoots out of my mouth like a ball of fire being thrown. Hmm, maybe a ball of fire will suffice for her punishment.
Pissed me off, so, right here, this stops—
In a second, I’m yanked to the wall. Thick vines encase me against the plaster. I grunt and struggle until Doctor Kingsley is right in front of me. Her glassy eyes reflect my fear. I bite down on my lip and compose myself into the image of someone who can survive in the Fiery Haven. Someone without fear.