Quietly. Everything in the Quiet Home was quiet, save the patients. You could scream and scream and scream yourself raw, until your throat was chunks and bloody like a butcher's window, until your nails had cracked and split into pieces, until your knees ached coldly and the skin was burning around your wrists from where they'd bound you and nothing would be different. Some people did, you know. It was preferable to silence. The room was wide and cold. It was the way of rooms with windows and bars, she could see a little of the sky every day and how the light changed. Cass said nothing. She ate nothing. They brought trays and trays and it was disobedience for its own sake, but without eating she was less present. Less here. She could be there again, there and there and gone. She was illusionary. It was as if it had all ended and she was nothing but words and predictions, a faint outline of girl in a room behind a door inconsequential.
'Disobedience' and she imagined the aftermath. Of Christmas on the ward - the second Christmas - she'd always liked Christmas. Lights and evergreen and the faces behind windows on the street, the way they filled up like shells with sea-water, washed clean. When had been the last Christmas? she could think of three and none of them were true. They dosed her. The strong kind, the kind that separated her from her skin and her toes until she was clean, white as snow and with nothing Cass about her until it was over.
She didn't know when it was over until it was. They gave her clothes back. They gave her name back and it was days before she was truly who she was instead of someone else. Her throat was husk and dark and when they delivered her to the diner, she didn't quite believe it.
Petticoat Man, Petticoat Man. Am I too late? Did you find someone's secrets stuffed in a sock?