I twist my arms slightly under the jacket to give myself broader space to move in. As Waltraud buckles me up, I use one of my hands to inconspicuously pinch the front, and give myself about three inches for slack. I also take a deep breath so my upper body takes more space inside the jacket. I make sure my stronger arm is above the weaker while she pulls the sleeves behind me. When she is finished, I breathe out and feel the gap inside the jacket. People think escaping a straitjacket is impossible. A well-spread myth.
“I feel like throwing up,” I lie to Ogier and Waltraud. It's not unusual to want to vomit because of the heavy medications patients gulp all day.
“You're not puking on my uniform like last time. I just had it dry-cleaned,” Waltraud sighs in her German accent, the cigarette still between her lips. “Puke in the bucket.”
I turn around, happy my trick is working. With my back facing them, I push my stronger arm toward my opposite shoulder. I kneel to the floor and pretend to throw up, as I bring my arm over my head and begin unbuckling the buckle on my sleeve with my teeth. I stretch my back a little and unbuckle the top and bottom buckles behind me. I do it fast, hoping they won't get it. But when I turn around, Warden Ogier has figured out my trick. A big smirk fills his face. He is happy he's found something to punish me for. If I don't act fast, they'll fry my brains in therapy.
In no time, I grab a sedative syringe from Waltraud's pocket and gleefully stab her in the neck, whizzing the sedative into her brain. It works like a charm, but it doesn't stop me from shoving her face into the bucket. I have wanted to do that all week for the torture she's bestowed on me.
“You little brat,” Warden Ogier growls. He holds me from behind by the arms and lifts me up in the air. I can't free myself. I pull my legs up and flip them backwards until I touch his shoulders. My hands slip from his grip and I start clawing his broad back, like a monkey on an elephant. I don't waste time. I pull his prod from his pockets, then buzz him in the neck. He falls to his knees, and I stand on my feet.
Dashing out of the room, I hear him moan behind me. He's going to pick himself up in a few minutes. I need to run through the hallways to get to the ward's main door, then escape this nightmare. I need to tell the world that I am not mad—or, at least, make sure I am not.
Halfway into the hallway, my feet urge me to a halt. I can't help it. It's my heart that's stopping me, remembering that I have left something precious behind. My Tiger Lily.
Don't do it, Alice. It will stall you. It's just a flower. You only have a minute to run away before the guards know what you've done. Be smart and run away.
I defy all logic and turn back to my cell. I courtesy-kick the warden in the face, curse him when my leg hurts, push the nurse's face deeper into the bucket, then get my pot holding Tiger Lily. I don't leave my friends behind.