The police station had changed again.
Not by a lot, just the windows had a little arc on the top of them.
Dad adjusted her gown and went in.
The inside looked smaller, a little claustrophobic. Officer Lidbeck wasn’t at her desk, which left the room empty. Dad didn’t seem to know what to do. Miranda worried that he’d rush downstairs to the jail. He looked manic.
He took a step forward, but stopped when Officer Lidbeck came up from the basement. Officer Lidbeck looked dazed. She put her hands out like she was on a tightrope and tipped forward. Dad barely got her before she fell. Dad seemed through by her own lack of strength. She Dad walked Officer Lidbeck over to a chair.
Once Officer Lidbeck was settled, Dad sat next to her.
Officer Lidbeck’s eyes rolled in her head. “What can I do for you?” She sounded as if she didn’t notice her own state.
Dad waved at Miranda. “Get a glass of water.”
The office was a maze of desks, but Miranda ran off looking for a water cooler. Cindy stood frozen at the front desk.
When she got back with a little paper cone full of water, Dad was nodding and listening intently. Officer Lidbeck mumble something unintelligible. Miranda stepped closer.
Officer Lidbeck whispered, “Alice McGee.” She frowned.
Dad said, “Yes, yes, my wife.”
The officer nodded. Miranda knelt down and put the cone of water in her hand. She was reminded of Officer Lidbeck giving her a mug of hot chocolate … it seemed like forever ago. She couldn’t believe it had only been two days.
Officer Lidbeck leaned forward to drink the water. She drained the paper cone and leaned back. When she opened her eyes again, she looked a less confused.
She pointed at Miranda. “I had a dream about you.” She frowned again. “And your mother.”
Dad’s face twisted in panic. He leaned in. “Where is she?” Dad searched the room. The door down to the prison was still where Miranda had seen it last time. Dad pulled Officer Lidbeck to her feet. “Take me down there.”
Officer Lidbeck eyes cleared. “Ma’am. Please calm down.”
Dad did … something. Miranda felt the tiniest ripple in the air and Officer Lidbeck’s eyes glazed again.
She nodded. “Right down here.” She walked stiffly, but navigated the desks easily. She grabbed a set of keys from her desk. Dad followed.
It was like Dad had forgotten Miranda and Cindy were there. She looked back to Cindy, but Cindy shook her head, no.
Miranda waved to Cindy and rushed to follow Dad and Officer Lidbeck. They were already through the door by the time she reached it. She barely caught it before it locked.
The stairs were dark. Darker than she remembered. Down at the bottom, Officer Lidbeck said, “That wasn’t real.”
Dad’s voice cracked. “There’s no one down here.”
Miranda felt cold in her chest. She wanted to turn and run, but almost against her will, she went down the steps.
There was only one bulb lighting the four cages. The room looked unused and dusty.
Dad fell to her knees. “You remember her. You said so.”
Officer Lidbeck leaned away from Dad, like her angst was catching. She shook her head. “I think that was a dream.”
Dad put her face in her hands. “Bring her back.”
Officer Lidbeck said, “I don’t remember.”
Again, as if against her will, Miranda backed away from the cells. She had to get away from Dad, away from what she’d done. She took the stairs two at a time.
Behind her Dad screamed, “Miranda, bring her back!”