Chapter 22

Chapter 22: Sadina

The first thing I see in the attic is a mouse.

When I push the trapdoor aside I’m blinded for a second, coming from dark into the dusty light. As soon as my eyes adjust, I find myself practically nose to nose with a tiny, pointed grey face. I’m not the kind of girl who shrieks at the sight of rodents or spiders, but it’s so close I can’t help it—I let loose a little yelp. The mouse starts, gives me a look that I swear is more annoyed than anything else, then turns its back on me and disappears behind a rusty brown file cabinet.

I step into the attic. Right away I’m glad I’m wearing a hoodie. It’s cold, but I don’t plan to be here for long. I rotate in place, scanning in each direction. The walls are lined with junk: a tangle of grey metal folding chairs, piles of old paperbacks warped into permanent comma-shapes, a cardboard box overloaded with dishes and bowls and cups that don’t match.