Home > Asylum (Asylum #1)(10)

Asylum (Asylum #1)(10)
Madeleine Roux

“There will be naked giiiirls,” Abby said, drawing out the last word teasingly.

“And naked guys,” he replied.

“Good point. Ooh! Maybe Jordan will sign up with me.”

They passed through the quad and the path divided into two, one leading to the admin building where they were going to register for classes, and the other to the sports center. Up ahead, Dan spied Felix coming from the gym, pale and upright, walking to registration on his own. Dan thought about calling out to him, and really felt that he should. But to be perfectly honest, he was having a good time just being alone with Abby.

“Hey, losers! Wait up!”

So much for being alone. Jordan ran up the path, a sleek-looking leather satchel slung diagonally across his chest. A key chain with a twenty-sided die hung from the satchel’s zipper. Jordan looked like he had just rolled out of bed and thrown on whatever was at hand, yet somehow he made Dan feel like the sloppy one.

“Where were you?” Abby asked, slipping her arm through Jordan’s. “We missed you at breakfast.”

“Overslept. How was the food? Gross, probably.” Jordan walked quickly and they had to trot a bit to keep up.

“It wasn’t bad, actually,” Dan answered, although he wasn’t sure Jordan really cared about the answer. Jordan was hard to read, he thought. One minute he was up, and the next he was acting all snide. And then there was the Jordan who was so afraid of getting kicked out and going home. “Although Abby’s coffee was a diabetic’s nightmare.”

“Dan’s just grumpy because his roommate shamed him over his class choices this morning.”

“Shamed? What the hell? How is it any of his business?” Jordan laughed. “You lost the roommate lottery, Danny boy. Me? I won it. Yi is good stuff. He played the cello for me this morning.” Jordan waved to a tall, disheveled guy who was setting up his cello on the grass. “He’s getting together a chamber music group to play outside on the lawn. Can you imagine? I mean, can we hurry up and get to college for real, please? I want cello every morning. I want this.” He swept his hand out in front of him. “It sure beats living under the Talibans. I’m so ready for it.”

“You shouldn’t wish away your life,” Abby said smugly. “You only get it once.”

“Not if you’re a Buddhist. Or a ghost. But you’re right, who wants to get old? Not me. I’ll be handsome, of course, distinguished, but still . . . Wrinkles? Back pain? No, thanks.” He tweaked Abby’s nose. “At least you’ll be gorgeous forever.”

Dan couldn’t argue with that.

“Dan, on the other hand, already looks middle-aged,” Jordan continued, chuckling again. “In a good way! Don’t hit me—in a good way! Look at you over there, all quiet and earnest and crap. Wise beyond your years, man, like a hot, skinny Buddha.”

“Uh, thanks?” Dan looked at his feet, his face growing warm. He didn’t particularly want anybody, especially Abby, thinking of Buddha when they looked at him.

“Is he blushing? I think he’s blushing.” Jordan cackled and sped up, tugging Abby swiftly along the sidewalk, forcing Dan to hurry to keep pace.

“Leave him alone, Jordan.” She turned to Dan with an apologetic smile. “Don’t worry, you don’t look middle-aged to me. He’s just trying to rile you up.”

“From the state of his face I’d say it’s working,” Jordan said.

“You’re awfully chipper this morning,” Abby said. “No bad dreams after last night?”

Jordan shook his curly head. “Me? No, I slept the sleep of the innocent. It’s probably from being away from home.”

Dan thought of his own night and the sleep he definitely hadn’t gotten. He seemed to be the only one whom the basement had really affected. He was also the only one who had dug deeper into the asylum’s history. He didn’t want Abby and Jordan to think he’d gone all obsessive, and was glad he hadn’t said anything to Abby. It was time to change the subject before he said something he’d regret later. “So, Jordan, Abby and I were just talking about what classes we want to take.”

“Okay . . . ?”

“Well, we were just thinking of some we might take together. You interested?”

“Sure,” Jordan said, although he took out his phone and began texting at light speed with only his thumb, turning away slightly to shield the screen from them. Dan didn’t give it a second thought; who Jordan texted was his own business.

Talk of courses carried them the remaining distance to registration. Dan’s mood lifted with every step. Abby and he agreed on two classes together, but while Abby and Jordan were taking Life Drawing, Dan would be in History of Psychiatry. He probably knew a lot of the subject matter already, but he knew classes at NHCP were designed to push even the smartest kids.

Posted on a wooden pillar off to the side of the admin building were flyers for a harp concert, an L.A.R.P. demonstration, and a casual bocce ball match. The morning mist had yet to burn off, and the students milling around looked almost like ghosts in a dream. A good dream.

“Can you imagine doing this every day?” Dan said.

“Picking classes? No, it’s exhausting.” Abby slipped her course catalog back into her patchwork messenger bag.

“No, I mean this. Walking around campus on a nice day with kids who actually want to be here, going to classes you actually want to take.”

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