They called it a halfway house, but I called it hell.

The beds were small and stiff, the company was, quite literally, insane, and the food consisted of tasteless hospital dishes followed every single day by stale cookies.

I'd had my share of hospital visits, believing that every scrape and bruise I'd ever attained was fatal, and so had spent countless hours in the ER staring at glossy negatives of my unbroken bones followed by a lunch with a nurse over red Jell-O and cold slabs of meat.

"Luke," Dr. Kennedy said one day. "We've got to stop meeting like this. You nicked your shin on a shopping cart at HEB. You don't have a broken leg. You hardly have case for a bandage. And, for the love of Christ, please stop limping."

After that visit, he suggested that perhaps there was something wrong with my head and not my bones. I'd always had a severe personality disorder, but wasn't everyone a little out of their mind in their own right? I mean, I wasn't hearing voices or spastically switching personalities. No, my disorder involved severe hypochondria (not hemophilia, like originally thought), a fear of taking risks, leaving the house, and a trepidation of social interaction.

Honestly, I wasn't crazy, per se, and I'd certainly not done anything to deserve these stale cookies.

Across the table was Marcus Borges. He was a friend of mine at the institution, but only when he was Marcus and not Richard. Richard was hot-tempered and spastic, while Marcus was levelheaded and … well, sane.

"I hate these damn cookies," I said, tossing the half eaten brick onto my tray.

Heaving a heavy sign, Marcus reached over and took my cookie. "I'll eat it. I don't mind the food so much."

He'd never stomached hospital food and therefore couldn't make the comparisons between the two. Quite frankly, Marcus was all kinds of mental, and he was just glad to be at the clean, friendly, teen-only halfway house rather than some sketchy mental institution where his kind usually ended up.

That following day, my family was going to pay a visit. While most people in the halfway house were ecstatic to receive visitors (mostly just the candy and presents that came with them), I dreaded the disappointed look in my father's eyes, the sad stares my mother would cast me, the haughty glare from my sister, and the mocking laughter behind my brothers' smiles.

I was the youngest boy in the family. My eldest brother Matthew was studying economics at Clemson. He was dating Julie, a pretty blonde second grade teacher, and he had a bright future ahead of him. My other brother, Mark, was an all-star athlete and my father's pride and joy. And then there was my little sister Joanna, who was sugary sweet on the outside and Satan incarnate within.

I was the black sheep of the family. The son brushed under the rug because he was so damn crazy that the uber-conservative family wasn't quite sure what to do with him. If I weren't necessary in completing the Gospels, my parents probably wouldn't admit to me.

Either way, sometime during the course of watching Marcus eat my cookie, I'd decided that I wished I could escape this place and avoid the false pretenses of a family visit.

However, there was no escaping, and so the following day I'd met with my family. Joanna flipped her tawny locks and told me my room smelt like a dentist's office. My mother sniffled and hugged my neck and asked me if I were being treated well.

And besides the shitty food, I was. So I'd said so.

Matthew, away at Clemson, couldn't come, but Mark, in all his letterman-jacket glory, was there to wrinkle his nose at my lifestyle.

"How's the school program here? Are you getting a good education?" My mother asked, clinging to edge of her dress.

Before I could answer, Loraine Thompson passed by my room and peered inside. She had her tabby cat in her hands and held him out towards my family.

"Mr. Sniffles," she said, voice low. "Say hello to all the pretty people."

Placing the poor cat in front of her mouth, Loraine raised her voice a few octaves. "Hello pretty people. I am Mr. Sniffles and Luke is one of my very best friends."

Loraine then turned on her heel and skipped away from the door frame.

Mark narrowed his eyes. "Crazy bitch."

My mother gasped and condemned his language, but did little else in the way of punishing one of her angel babies. It was no secret Loraine was crazy after all.

When they left, before lunch, not wanting to have to stomach a meal here, I entered the game hall and watched Marcus and some other guys play Rock Band. Then, Tim Duncan demanded all of our socks which he promptly rolled into balls and juggled.

He had great finesse. Perhaps one day he would make something of himself. Join the circus, travel, see the world, or at least much of the North West.

It was probably more than any of us locked in here would see. I glared down at the bracelet dangling from my wrist. The bulging black box would set off the alarm if I ever tried to slip out the double door. Of course, we were allowed to go out into the court yard through the back, but it was surrounded by a large fence.

It was a strange twist of fate which left me craving a cookie before my evening bath. One of the nurses would come in before lights out and unsnap our bracelets, lock the door, and allow us to shower and sleep without the bulging black box on our wrists.

Also, if they didn't lock our doors people would probably go about running aimlessly through the hallways, barging into people's rooms at random and shouting things that only made sense in their own heads.

That evening, craving a cookie so badly that I wasn't sure if I could sleep, I hit the call button beside my door, signaling a nurse. I hadn't yet showered, but I had put on my pajama pants and a plain blue tee-shirt.

I hit the call button again when no one responded. Perhaps the nurse on duty was getting some coffee while the other finished her rounds?

Either way, I'm not sure what possessed me to do it, but I pushed on the door and, viola, it opened. With a nervous step back, I timidly peered into the dark, empty hallway.

It looked like a hotel, rows of closed doors flanking the mauve carpet, and with my head outside the door, I looked both ways and gently let the door slide back into its frame.

When it clicked shut, I felt my nerves ablaze and I thought I might faint right there in that hallway.

Down the hallway, someone was singing an a cappella ballad from The King and I. I figured no one could hear my footsteps over that racket; my feet were bare anyways.

At the edge of the hallway, I peered into the empty lobby. With a longing glance at my unadorned wrist, I look one step forward.

The tile was cold on my bare feet. With another step, I heard the singer switch to "Getting to Know You" and took off at break-neck speed.

My feet flew across the tiles, onto the entrance mat. Arms extended, I pushed open the door, and was soon racing along the sidewalk around Baker's Street.

I passed a CVS, two banks, and the cinema. The halfway house took us on a field trip every week. Last week we'd gone to the zoo, but quite frequently we'd been the sole visitors at the cinema's noon showings.

I continued to sprint down the street in awe. There were lights and people were dressed stylishly in day clothes (it was only eight, after all), chatting and staring openly at me.

When I turned another corner, I came to a stop, placed my hands on my legs, and wheezed. My lungs fought for air, my bony knees shook under my sweaty palms.

That's when I had a revelation.

I was free! I could do whatever I wanted! I could get a cookie! A Great American Cookie! Oh, the greatest cookies in all of America, no, in all of the world!

I was overcome with joy.

Now, if only I knew how to get to the mall from here …

With a glance down the street, I spotted a girl digging through her purse. However, her purse was more like luggage, and form the random things that she pulled out, from a tape measure to a pot holder, I wondered if it were a bit more like Mary Poppins's bag.

I watched her from afar, and eventually she pulled out a ring of keys and started towards a small Honda.

"Hey," I said, approaching her from the sidewalk.

She turned and her eyes widened in horror. Suddenly she was digging through her bag again, and I wondered if she had pepper spray in there …

"Look, sorry." I raised my hands in a defense manner. "I just need directions."

Upon my words, she stopped digging frantically through her bag and blinked. "Oh."

Then, she looked at me, her brown eyes wide and her blonde hair whipping around her face.

My heart slowed.

She was the most beautiful girl I'd seen. Of course, my opinion may be a bit biased considering I hadn't seen a girl who wasn't a nurse, a family member, or bat-shit crazy in years.

"Where are you going?" I asked. It wasn't what I'd wanted (what I wanted was a cookie), but I couldn't help but pass up on the opportunity of chatting with the most beautiful girl in the world.

Soon enough they would discover I was missing and I would be in all kinds of trouble. Back in the halfway house I wouldn't be able to go anywhere unsupervised and would probably never see another truly beautiful girl again.

"Me?" She asked. And then, if just to further her confusion, she looked left and then right. There was no one else there.

"Right," I answered. "You. I'm Luke, by the way."

"Right," she parroted. "I'm going to work."

"Where do you work?"

"The … mall." She was debating whether she was giving me too much information or not. She was worried I would be a stalker or something. I may be crazy, but I most certainly was not a stalker.

And then I realized fate was smiling upon me.

"Is there a Great American Cookie at the mall?"

Her mouth opened, as if to speak, but she only continued to stare at me.

Finally, she nodded. "Yes, I work there. I get a discount of forty-percent. If you come by later, I'll let you use it."

One of the things I'd never worried about at the institution was money. Crap. I most certainly didn't have any of that.

"Can I have a ride?"

She stared at me as if I'd just asked her which direction space was. Lowing her eyes, she took in my pajama pants and bare feet.

I ran a hand through my tousled brown hair and smiled sheepishly.

"A ride?" She repeated with a nod.

"Yep," I grinned. "And a cookie?"

"You're mental," she said.

Glancing down the sidewalk in the direction of the institution from which I had just escaped, I replied; "Yes. I am. Now can I get that ride?"

"Er…" Her jaw shifted, and she moved her eyes between her car and I.

When I'd settled into the passenger seat of her car, and clicked the safety belt into place, I caught her peering nervously from the corner of her eye. Her hands were stiffly placed at three and nine, and she was concentrating on her breathing.

"Don't worry," I said. "I won't hurt you."

She visibly stiffened and I flinched. Wow, that wasn't a creepy thing to say…

"I mean, I … er, I just want a ride." I put my hands on the knees, feeling the flannel of my pajamas.

A silence settled between us. She eventually turned up the radio. It was a song I'd never heard, but she hummed happily along as she changed lanes. She was very cute.

"What's your name?"

Her shoulders stiffened again. "Holly."

"Nice to meet you, Holly."

She nodded, gulped, and continued to drive.

When she pulled into the mall's parking lot, she hoped out of the car.

"Thanks for the ride," I said, giving her my best grin. "Seriously."

After staring at me for a bit, and, I guess, deciding that I was basically good, she also smiled. "No problem. So, Luke was it?"

I nodded, continuing to grin.

A slight blush stained her cheeks. "What brings you to the mall?"

"I told you already."

"Oh, right. Cookies?"

"Yep. I haven't had a good cookie in years."

When we were inside the safety of the mall, she took off her jacket. She was wearing the required employee polo, and I couldn't help but laugh when she fished a black visor out of her bag.

"Stop it," she commanded, looking slightly offended. "I have to wear it."

When she put the visor on, tucking it behind her ears, I doubled over in laughter. When I'd finally stopped laughing, I smiled down at her, she looked offended.

"I like it," I said. "Honestly. I think it's cute."

Once again, she blushed, and then she turned on her heel, entering the mall.

I quickly followed. She was a good deal shorter than me, and I watched as she made her way around the mall. Apologizing to random people for 'getting in their way', she moved out of the way for people who were clearly in the wrong.

She was one of those kinds of people. The innocent pacifists who tried to make everything right and get on the bad side of no one.

However, before I could smile, my foot slammed into something. I looked up and noticed a woman holding a hair straigtener was staring at me, wide eyed. I let out a howl and stepped away from her kiosk.

Upon hearing my wail, Holly turned around.

"Hurry up; I'm going to be late for work!"

I peered down and saw the blood seeping from my bare toe.

The world was spinning. This was it … I was going to die … And before my cookie! The scene around me blurred and I staggered towards the wall.

"Oh, go on without me."

Her face closed in on me, a brow cocked over one of her eyes. "You big wus, you're fine!"

I peeked down again and wobbled.

"What's wrong with you?" She asked, taking hold of my shoulders to steady me.

When I looked down towards the floor quickly and then back up to her, she followed the path. Upon seeing my bloody bare foot, she burst into laughter.

"You're crying because you stubbed your toe?" Rolling her eyes, she dug through her bag and pulled out a first aid kit. "Here, sit down."

And right there, in the middle of the mall, Holly cleaned off, disinfected, and bandaged my big toe.

"Good?" She asked, a mocking smile on her lips, but an honest smile in her eyes.

I wiggled my toe; the room slowed its spinning. "Yeah, better."

She patted my head, giggled, and helped me to my feet. The room stopped spinning altogether, and my stomach fluttered.

"So you can't handle blood?"

"Not when it's coming from me," I confessed.

As we continued to walk, the smell of freshly baked cookies filled the air. My stomach ached for them. It felt a bit like I hadn't had any real food in a while; like I'd been surviving on C-rations for years and now I was on my way to getting a home cooked meal.

"I'll pay you back," I said.

Holly blinked. "What?"

"For the cookie." I clarified. "If you buy me a cookie, I'll pay you back. I can't do it right now," I said, motioning to my pajama bottoms and bare feet. "But I can pay you back later."

A smile lit up her features and a small laugh escaped her lips. "It's fine."

Going behind the counter, she relived a boy with dark hair. He tore off his visor and, with a wave, darted out of the mall booth.

"So," she said, sliding behind the cash register. "What'll it be?"

I scanned the desserts behind the glass. Cookie cakes, assorted pastries, and numerous cookies were displayed. Some of them had fancy names or ornate decorations. However, nothing could clinch my cookie craving the way a warm chocolate chip cookie could.

When I pointed, she pulled out a cookie and handed it to me.

"This one's on me."

I thanked her, and then the flavors exploded in my mouth. I chewed, my eyes closing in ecstasy, and smiled.

When I opened them again, Holly was staring at me.

"Er … good?"

"The best," I answered. "Thanks!"

"So, what's your deal?" she asked, moving things around the countertops, trying to look busy.

"Oh, I'm insane," I replied. "Not like dangerous or anything, no, but definitely on the legally-crazy side."

She blinked, and then a smile encompassed her features. "I kind of figured."

"At the halfway house, or, uhm, institution if you will, we don't have very good cookies." I took another bite. "Today I kind of escaped, so thanks."

With a thoughtful nod, she handed me another cookie. "Do you need a ride back, or you planning on running away forever?"

"Oh, no, I'll go back," I answered. The second cookie was just as delicious as the first. "It's not too terrible. I mean, the food sucks, but I've get my own room. And even though everyone there's a nut, the place is never boring. Definitely better than living with my real family."

She smiled. She smiled quite often, but I liked it. I hoped I could continue to make her smile.

"So, what do you do all day?"

I scratched my nose. "Uhm, well, we watch a lot of movies, play video games, browse youtube. Normal stuff, I guess?"

"Sounds about right. Another cookie?"


This time she handed me a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. It was also delicious.

"Do you go to school?"

"Yep. It's kind of a home school program. Of course, the halfway house is my home, so, you know."

"Yeah." She nodded. "Social interaction and all that."

"Funny thing is, when I was young I couldn't deal with social situations. I hated going places, meeting new people, and large groups. And now, I can hardly find some alone time. What about you?"

"Oh, I don't mind social settings," she said. "I go to school at Rock Prairie High, I'm a junior."

"Do you do anything?" I asked.

"Anything, like …. Uhm, well," she flushed, the heat reaching her neck, "I play the violin and march the flute."

Leaning against the counter, I grinned. "Tell me more."

"More?" She looked thoughtful. "More about what? Band?"

"Yes. No. More about you."

"Well, I absolutely love Disney movies, I hate making left hand turns, and I really wished we pronounced 'females' the way we did 'tamales', you know?"

Her blonde hair fell across her shoulders as she leaned back. "Oh, and I'm completely sick and tired of cookies."

I blinked. "How could you be sick of cookies?"

"I just am. I've worked here for nearly six months." She handed me another cookie. "So, how long have you been crazy?"

"All my life," I answered, accepting the oatmeal raison cookie. "I've only been certifiably crazy for three years though. I'm a junior as well, by the way."

"Do you play basketball?" She asked, looking up at me.

"Just because I'm tall doesn't mean I play basketball, that's offensive."


"Besides, my brother Mark's the athlete in the family." I sighed. "And Matthew's the smart one. Only staple I have is that I'm insane I guess."

Her smile was becoming contagious. However, as she was going to respond, two twelve year old boys approached the counter and ordered a cookie a piece. One of them called Holly 'sweet-cheeks'. Before I could defend her honor and all of that, Holly had dismissed him with a roll of her eyes.

When the boys had left, Holly invited me to sit behind the counter with her. I did. Her purse was thrown on the floor and I caste it a glance; a small stack of orange cones had fallen out.

I quirked an eyebrow. "Why do you have so much stuff in your bag?"

"You never know what you'll need." She stuffed the cones back into the bag. "The first aid kit came in handy, no?"

I couldn't argue, so I shrugged. I was full, and so I refused her offer of another cookie. Before I knew it, two hours had passed.

"Closing time," she announced, looking at her watch. She took off her visor, fixed her hair, and I wiped down the countertops as she balanced the cash register.

"All set," she announced, slinging the garbage bag over her shoulder.

I took it from her, and she thanked me with a blush.

"No. Thank you for letting me hang around all evening," I said as we made our way out the back, in the direction she'd said the dumpster was. "And for the free cookies."

"Oh, thank you for keeping my company. I'm probably boring compared the colorful cast of characters in your life."

I grinned at her. "A small dose of normality never hurts."

"Wow, I've never been considered normal before." She laughed. "It feels sort of nice."

After tossing the garbage into the dumpster, we made our way back to her car.

She wasn't sure exactly where the halfway house was, but we eventually found it after much light-hearted arguing.

When we pulled in front of it, it suddenly dawned upon me how much trouble I really could be in. I thought of which nurses were on duty and prayed it was good-natured Margaret working the front desk. With my luck, it would be Nurse Joy, who was quite possibly the least cheerful person on the entire planet.

With a glance at Holly, I couldn't help but smile. Maybe God wasn't completely cruel. This was my night, who knew, it would probably be Margaret manning the front desk.

"Thank again for the ride," I told her.

Holly laughed. "Again, you are more than welcome. Like I said, I had a good time."

I exited her car, and she met me on the sidewalk in front of the institution. We stared at one another. Being the man, I figured it was my duty to act. However, I was an incredibly awkward individual. What I supposed to hug her, shake her hand, give her a high five?

Proving my inability to interact with normal people, when Holly stepped towards me, I patted her on the back and thanked her again.

She blinked up at me, and then smiled sheepishly. She returned to her vehicle, staring at the steering wheel. Eventually, she drove away, not looking back.

I cursed myself. She was the kindest, cutest girl I'd ever met, and I couldn't have acted any lamer. And she knew I was crazy to boot.

"Well, it's now or never," I grumbled to myself. I hadn't made a habit of talking to myself, but the fact that I did wasn't solely because of my lunacy.

With a knock, I waited until a flustered Margaret approached the door.

She opened the glass door and threw her hands around me.

"Good Lord Child! How'd you get outside?"

She didn't come up to my chest, and it was an awkward embrace.

"My door was unlocked. I slipped out to get a cookie." I answered.

Margaret pulled away and glared at me. Well, at least I was truthful.

"Well, I won't tell anyone if you don't," she muttered. "Best be getting back to your room."

I grinned and practically skipped down the hallway.

The following morning, if my toe hadn't been neatly bandaged, I would have passed it off as a dream.

It had been the best night of my life, I thought during breakfast. Marcus chatted to me about how we were going to play X-Box after class today. I nodded absently, noticing how today's eggs had more flavor than usual.

Katrina Fluteheart had one of her 'spells' during calculus that day, and so we got to leave early. During English we read a poem that I didn't bother to try to understand, and when classes were done, I met Marcus and Ryan Lucas in the game room to play Call of Duty.

One of the nurses approached us after a couple hours, a smile encompassing her features.

"Luke," she said, clearing her throat. "You have a visitor."

I blinked. A visitor? Surely my parents wouldn't visit two days in a row. It may have been my mom. She was worried I wasn't eating properly; perhaps she'd brought something that'd 'stick to my ribs'?

"Uh, okay." I got up, giving Tanner Walker my controller. The game continued.

"Who is it?" I asked.

"I'm not sure," she answered. "I've never seen her before. Do you want me to bring her in?"

Suddenly the game stopped. "Her?" Marcus asked. "A girl? Not your sexy sister or your mom or your grandmother?"

"Nope," the nurse answered. "This one's young, and pretty!"

"Marcus, my sister's not sexy," I said. "Just bring her in."

When the nurse reappeared, my heart nearly stopped. There was Holly, a nervous smile tugging at her lips, clutching her Marry Poppins' bag.

"Holly!" I couldn't keep the excitement from my voice.

"Luke, hey," she smiled. "Can I, uhm, talk to you in private?" Her eyes darted to the five or so males whose mouths were agape.

I glared at my 'friends'. "Sure."

Leading her to a study room adjacent to the game room, I couldn't help but eye her. Today she'd worn a pair of jeans rolled at the calf, a tank top with a cardigan, and her blonde curls were held in place with a thick hair band. She was, again, very cute. And … what the heck was she doing here?

"I … I thought I'd come see you," she said, as if reading my mind. "Since, I mean, you can't leave right? So, I didn't think you'd be able to see me, if," she bit her lip nervously. "If you even, God, Luke, stop me if I don't make sense. So, I thought I would stop by to, er, see if you ever wanted me to stop by?"

I chuckled. And because I was still kicking myself for not doing it last night, I hugged her. She felt tiny in my arms. I'd never hugged anyone in a romantic way, and I liked the feeling. Holly's hair smelt sweet. Like a fusion of fruit and flowers. Her shampoo probably had a ridiculously complicated name, but I liked it.

When I released her from the embrace, she stared up at me, a blush tingeing her cheeks.

"I'm glad you stopped by," I said, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "And, yes, you should stop by again. Well, if you're still willing to after meeting everyone."

"Really?" She asked, her eyes lighting up. "I can meet your friends?"

I chuckled. "Sure. You want to meet everyone?"

She nodded ecstatically.

"You know, you're pretty strange Holly. Maybe you should enroll?"

Ignoring my comment, Holly grabbed my arm and I led her back into the game room.

"Everyone," I said. They looked up from the paused game. Once again, the guys eyed Holly and it was clear that they also found her beautiful. "This is Holly. Holly, this is everyone."

She smiled at the group and introduced herself.

"I'm Marcus."

"And I'm Tanner," Tanner said, shaking her hand. "How do you know Luke?"

"Oh," she glanced helplessly at me. "We go … way back."

I grinned. "Yep. We're old friends."

She winked at me, and the exchange didn't go unnoticed. We would certainly be the talk of the house for weeks to come.

"Holly," Marcus said, pushing Tanner out of the way. "Would you like to stay for dinner?"

She turned to me, but I was too busy shooting Marcus a death glare that clearly stated 'Dude! Stop scamming my woman!'.

"Holly," I said, meeting eyes. "Marcus' right. You should stay for dinner."

Happily, she accepted.

She told me on our way to the cafeteria that she thought Marcus was nice. I informed her that he had split personalities and she seemed intrigued.

"And Tanner," she asked, "what's wrong with him? Not that's there's necessarily something wrong … but-"

"Bi-polar," I answered. "Major mood swings."

At dinner, I introduced her to Loraine and Mr. Sniffles. Holly and Mr. Sniffles got along quite well, and she and Loraine found lots to talk about. Apparently Holly also had a kitty that she talked to. Holly, however, didn't believe that her cat could talk back.

Marcus, Tanner, and Sandy Palmer also joined our table. Sandy Palmer was a manic; she suffered from insomnia and sporadic, racing thoughts. Either way, Holly felt right at home with my friends.

After dinner, Holly pulled a box of cookies from her bag. My friend's reached eagerly for them. They urged her to visit again through mouthfuls of cookie crumbs.

When they left us alone at the table, she beamed.

"Thanks for dinner."

"Thanks for the cookie." I was now wearing jeans and a pair of socks, but I motioned to my foot anyway. "And, also, thanks for wrapping my foot by the way."

"I didn't save your life, trust me."

"Do you want to see my room?" I asked.

"Uh…" She stared at me, looking right into my eyes. "Yes, I do."

It was only seven o'clock, but that was late at a place like this. The hallways were thinning out.

I stood nervously in front of the number twenty-eight room. "This is it."

When the door was opened, Holly entered, looked around, and then sat on the edge of my bed.

"I like it."


"You have a lot of books," she said, noticing my impressive collection.

I don't know why I did it, but at that moment, sitting beside her on the edge of my bed, I couldn't think of anything more right to do. So I leaned over and kissed her.

It was short, and when I pulled away she was blushing.

It was my first kiss. I leaned back, hoping I wasn't terrible at it.

She glanced up at me and kissed me again. This time, instead of pulling completely away, I rested my forehead on hers and smiled down at her.

"I'm glad I ran into you last night," I told her.

"Me too."

"Will you come back?"

"Of course." Her lip's found themselves in that beautiful smile of hers, and I pecked them again.

Walking her to the door, I stopped in front of the entrance. "When will you come back?"

"I don't have any plans Friday night," she said. "Uhm, if that's alright?"

"Friday. Yeah. Can I take you on a date?"

She looked around the empty entrance. "I thought you couldn't leave this place?"

I smiled. "I can't. I wish I could take you somewhere, but we can do something here. If the fact that it's a mental institution nulls the romance, I understand."

Holly laughed. "No, it sounds perfect."

I hugged her again, and watched from behind the glass as she drove away. Perfect? Perhaps she really did belong here.

In less than twenty-four hours, Holly had become the light of my life. Yesterday I was sulking, hating this place and my family and the cafeteria cookies, but today I was grinning, actually looking forward to something.

Before going back to my room, I went to the video library and checked out Beauty and the Beast and reserved a media room for Friday night. Inside my room, I scrolled through an online florist selection. Browsing through the flowers, I decided on Gerber daises. Roses were classic and beautiful, but Gerber daises were bright, pretty, and fun. They reminded me of Holly.

So I placed an order to arrive here on Friday.

I hoped I had something nice to wear. I probably didn't need anything too fancy for a date inside a mental institution, but I wanted to impress her nevertheless.

Nurse Joy was on duty and locked my door. When I tugged it open, just to see, I found it firmly locked. Hm.

Yesterday must have been a fluke. I couldn't help but smile; it had been the best fluke of my life. It had also been the best night of my life. Of course, tonight had come to a close second, and, who knew, perhaps Friday would top the charts.

It started with a craving for a cookie, and perhaps it would end with finding my soul mate, the love of my life, or, at the very least, my very first girlfriend.