Three teenagers, two boys and a girl, stood close together under the trees. Moonlight glowed through the branches, but only a sharp eye could’ve seen the young people standing there. They wore black, as they always did, and hoods hid their faces.
Sneaking into the asylum had been Hannah’s idea. She’d longed to see the inside for as long as she could remember. Rumors said her grandmother lived there, but her parents insisted the old woman rested at the bottom of the ocean. Convenient, Hannah said, to have no body.
The boys, Nate and Clem, had quickly agreed to join in her adventure. Of course they wanted to go. That’s what they said. Under her gaze, neither would admit otherwise.
Hannah sensed their hesitation. “I’m going first,” she said. “Don’t follow me if you’re scared.”
The boys insisted they weren’t scared. They said one of them should go first and make sure it was safe.
“My plan. My glory,” she replied. In her gloved hands she held the hook and the rope she’d stolen from her father’s workshop. She stepped out from under the tree, steadied herself, and tossed the hook up. The first few tries sent the heavy hook hurtling back at them. They boys jumped backwards. She tried again.
The hook caught. She pulled herself up. At the top of the wall spikes and broken glass stabbed outward from the concrete. It took effort, but Hannah climbed up to the top of the wall getting only one thin cut in the side of her hand. She balanced with one foot on each side of a spike. The heel of her boot cracked a bit of glass. She could see into the courtyard. She saw the front doors of the asylum.
A light shone above the grand doors, but otherwise the building stood in shadows. The moonlight reflected on the windowpanes. No bars covered the windows. She’d assumed there’d be bars.
One of the boys, Nate, called to her.
Hannah looked over the grounds and judged it safe enough. She was about to say something to the boys, when the sound of a rusty hinge caught her attention. She looked up at the roof. She gasped.
A boy in pajamas was climbing out a window onto the steep roof. Surely the child was going to fall, but she couldn’t take her eyes off of him. There was nothing she could do, watching this little boy risk his life for no discernable purpose. So, she watched him, and she willed him not to fall.
Her eyes still on the boy, Hannah bent down and picked up the rope. She coiled it into her hands.
“Hannah?” Nate said, his voice hoarse. “What are you doing?”
With all the rope in her hand, she readjusted the hook to let the rope go the other way, and let the rope fall down the other side of the wall. The little boy stood on the roof, his hands outstretch as if catching raindrops, except that no rain fell. Not one cloud drifted across the black sky.
“Han!” said Clem the other teenage boy down on the ground. “Hannie!”
She looked down at the two of them and waved. She didn’t want them with her after all. She’d talked them into coming with her because there was safety in numbers, but close to her goal, she wanted to be on her own. The boys didn’t dream of the asylum as she did.
Hannah knelt on the top of the wall and picked the rope up again. The afternoons practicing rappelling down the walls of her parents’ house paid off. The asylum wall was easy. Of course, it was always easier to get into the asylum than to get out.