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That sah the rest of the day I don’t kno else to explain the way I o back to the quarry, tell Laurel to et the files back froinals to Clayton’s office Especially on this of all days, when V’s break-in had everyone up in ar all top-security It was like so me; it took me a while to understand that that soest part of me

I hadn’t meant to read anyone else’s files The plan had been to distribute each one to its subject and let the girls annotate their own, separating the truth from Red Rock’s lies And really, all I wanted was for Missy to fall asleep so I could read ured Grandma must have found Mom’s note and sent it to me But why had Clayton chosen not to show it to hts went out and I cracked our door to read by the glow of the hall, V’s papers were on top And on the top of her file was her date of birth V was Aquarius, born in February At first I didn’t give it a second thought, and I put her stuff on the bottoet back to my own file But then I looked back at her year of birth and I did the hteen for o And I don’t knohy, but the truth about Vinia"

It was the nextto school, I had walked over to the isolation roo kept Once upon a tio over there, but, ironically, V’s oords egged ht to be there Act like you have a right to know the answers

"You can’t talk to her She’s on Level One," replied the annoying Level Sixer sitting outside the roo to tell," the Sixer said

"You do what you have to," I said, pushing past her to open the door V was in her pj’s, sitting on the cot, with her legs curled up against her When she saw me, she motioned forto do you favors," she said, offering up a weak so so well"

"I’ht everyone was gone, but Sheriff was there waiting foraround Besides, I got the files"

"You did? How?"

"It doesn’t hlook "Or maybe you already did"

"No, I haven’t read it That wouldn’t be right But I did see soh Like a balloon losing its air

She sluhteen Why are you still here?"

"Is that what you saw? My birthday?"

"Yeah Why? What else is in that file? Whatever it is, does it explain why you’re still here, why you of all people, you who hate this place so ed and shrank farther back toward the wall She was a tall girl, but she suddenly looked sile, broken I reached out to touch her wrist She looked up at e of her nose and took another breath "I lied to you I lied to all of you My dad’s not a diplomat with the United Nations Not anymore He’s dead" V started to cry

I was stunned All I could say was, "I’htened out her shirt and wiped her eyes "My dad used to work for the UN We lived all over the place, in sono with hiot killed in Iraq?"

V looked up at h "No I mean that’s what you’d expect to happen I was at least a little prepared for that Moht But no, he stayed safe there until the UN cut his reat Moot back, he and Morandparents On the way home, their car was broadsided by a drunk driver Mom walked aithout a scratch, but Dad was killed on i believe it?"

I was numb All I could do was stroke her hand and say, "Oh V," over and over She kept going, the words tulued Mo I could’ve ies I’d wake up expecting hiain Every day You knohat that’s like, don’t you?"

I thought ofthat I’d find her downstairs,breakfast I nodded

"So that was that And then o berserk, and I felt like I couldn’t trust et hit by a car or electrocuted by a power line or bitten by a dog It was totally irrational It got so I couldn’t even leave our apart in the most random of places It was obvious that I needed so, Brit I’m the one who chose Red Rock I chose this place"

"Why? Why would you want to come here?"

"It felt safe to me It still feels safe to me We’re way out here in the middle of nowhere We’re watched We’re taken care of…"

"We’re spied on It’s horrid You hate it here You hate it h "And I really do hate it That’s the oddest thing I hate what it does to s I knohat to hate, what to fear, what to expect"

"And you also kno to keep yourself here"

"I guess All the level deh Clayton and Sheriff are as hard onas I need to She’s petrified of losing h weakening to a nervous giggle Then she looked up and bore into me with those eyes of hers "Did you see your file?"

I nodded

"And were there any bugaboos?"

"A letter fro est part She was lucid She kneas happening to her For that moment, anyway" I shook my head

"What?" V asked

"It’s just that we’d like to think that craziness and sanity are on opposite ends of an ocean, but really they’reislands"