“Make sure you remember socks and underwear.” She gives me a small, wan smile.

Socks and underwear. I wonder if all moms do this—try to make the terrifying seem mundane. She steps away. She knows that I need a moment.

I look around the room. There’s a little bit of space left in my duffel, so I take some rolls of washi tape and a blank journal I got in Paris last summer. The cover has a drawing of a girl and her dog curled up on a giant pot of red jam. The label says CONFITURE DE MOTS. I glance at my bookshelf—the yearbooks, my shoebox of notes and cards from David. I saved every note David ever passed to me in school. He laughed and called me a romantic when I asked him to write me notes instead of texting. But I love the notes. Each one is a little gift. A tangible surprise that doesn’t eat up gigs on my phone. And now I’m leaving them forever? For someone else to look at? What happens to our house? Will it be searched? Is it still ours?

Too many questions and no answers. And I desperately want to take that box with me, but there is no room and no time.

A door shuts downstairs, and my mom calls up for me.

I pick up my duffel and turn off the light. But before I shut the door, I go back and straighten the kantha quilt on my bed. I see Fluffy—a brown stuffed dog with one ear almost falling off who joined me on my first day of nursery school. It was the only way I’d allow my parents to leave; he made me feel secure. My impulse is to take him. But I leave Fluffy on my pillow, where he has spent thousands of nights, in a place that was once safe.

I stomp down the stairs. I reach into my pocket, an instinct to grab the phone that isn’t there. I clench my empty hand into a fist, and a tear plops onto my knuckle. What would I text to David if I even had a chance? Good-bye? I love you? Find me?

I meet my parents in the foyer.

There are a million shards in my heart, but the one that really stabs is having my damn phone taken away. Maybe it’s dumb to think of it this way, but it’s not only my phone. It’s all my pictures, every memory of school and tennis team and David. I stifle my sobs. Dread clutches me, but so does anger. They didn’t merely take my phone; they took my voice, my choice.

An invisible hand pushes us outside the door. The nights are so quiet here. That’s one thing I always liked about our little town. The crickets in summer, the trees whispering on the breeze. You can actually see stars. But not tonight. Tonight, there is only dark sky.

I take a last look inside. A guard has his hand on our doorknob. On our door. He’s going to pull it closed. But… the dishes. Are there still dishes in the sink? I can’t remember if we loaded the dinner plates into the dishwasher. Will someone do the dishes? My mom hates leaving dishes overnight.

The door slams behind us. My parents don’t even look.

I swing my head around. There are cars at the curb, the van we saw earlier, and more Exclusion Guards. The Suits. The Suits are conferring with the chief of police. There is talking around me, I hear words, but the words don’t make sense. Like everyone is speaking in tongues. My parents shuffle me into the backseat of the chief of police’s car and shut the door. There’s no air. I try to open the door, but apparently you can’t open the backseat doors from the inside of a police car. So I watch as my parents exchange words with Suit #1, who hands them some papers. Then they turn to the chief, who also has something to say, but seems to be having a hard time looking my parents in the eye. We know the chief. We’ve known him since his daughter, Ivy, and I were in kindergarten together. My dad nods. My mom stares at him blankly. Then the chief opens the back door for them, and they slide in next to me. I move over to make space for them. We don’t look at one another. We don’t say anything. It’s like we’re all in mourning, but for different things, in our own way.

The chief starts up the car. I see something, someone running toward us. I squint into the darkness. I can’t see.

David? Could it be David? Does he know? Did he see me?

The chief pulls the car away from the curb.

I yell David’s name, but the chief doesn’t respond. It’s like no one can hear me. I strain to see, but the chief has the light on inside the car, and all I can see is the reflection of a girl who doesn’t really look like me. I try to roll the window down, but it won’t roll down. I look at the girl in the window; her face is puffy and red, and her watery reflection looks like a ghost. I look at my parents; they’re ghosts, too. The world has shattered, and all that’s left is this alternate universe full of broken people with nothing to hold on to.

We are silent for a long time as we pass through the town center to head onto the highway to Los Angeles. Car lights whiz by us. Even in the middle of the night, there’s traffic in LA. The chief is in the right lane, driving impossibly slow, like he’s trying to prolong the ride to scare us more. But he doesn’t really need to bother. There’s so much anxiety in this car that it feels like the backseat is shrinking, crushing us into a small cube of vinyl and sweat and fear.

The chief clears his throat. “Now, you all know I’m sorry about this, um, formality. Doing my job, following orders that come from above my pay grade. I’m sure you folks will be cleared in no time. The bigwigs need to see you’re not a threat.”

He’s trying to fill the silence because he’s uncomfortable, but all he’s done is make it worse. My dad continues to stare at his own feet. My mom takes his hand. Say something, I want to tell them. Call him out. He knows us. Ask him how he can do this. I watch my parents, but they don’t say a word.

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