Excerpt: Wish You Were Here

Excerpt: Wish You Were Here

Book 3: I Wish Series

It was another screw-up in a long line of screw-ups, and I would survive this one, too.

Sitting on a bench in the main hall of Union Station, watching the Washington commuters pass by, I’d been so lost in my thoughts that I’d forgotten the time. A glance at the beautiful old clock high on the wall told me it was three-fifteen.

The last train back to North Carolina left at three-oh-five.

The responsible part of me demanded attention, rousing me long enough to notice that I was alone in this manic city, that I had a major problem to solve, and that my absence had to be alarming my friends and teachers. I dug my phone out of my pocket. It was set to no-vibrate. Of course.

Seven texts awaited me. I read the two from Ms. Dewan first.

Where are you? We’re boarding

We’re 2 cars from the dining car. Did you board somewhere else?

Please answer

The screen blurred as I winced through a pang of regret. I hated that I’d scared her.

There were two texts from Mr. Dewan.

We’re about to leave. I hope you’re somewhere on this train

We’re pulling away from the station. You’re on your own, Sara

Mr. Dewan was right about that. I’d been on my own for 127 days. I was getting pretty good at it.

The last three were from my best friend Lacey.

Do you have your phone on? No need to answer because of course you don’t or you would’ve seen us frantically trying to get in touch with you

Where are you?

Call me. We want to know you’re ok

The first thing to do was reassure someone. I chose Lacey. She’d be the least judgmental.

I’m fine. Still at Union Station

She responded immediately.

Do you have a plan?

No, but I had a credit card.

I will soon

Plans were something I was good at making. Following through? Not as sure about that.

My life had become a sepia-toned movie, all brown and beige with the volume on low. It was as if, when my brother left us, he’d taken color and music with him. Over the past four months, I’d become a spectator of the world, seeking signs for what I should do next. Was this mistake a sign? Maybe I was supposed to be lost in the middle of something huge and vibrant and impersonal.

From safe inside my bubble of anonymity, I watched the crowds thicken as people passed through, fleeing our nation’s capital as quickly as they could. It was kind of mesmerizing. Much easier to manage than getting myself out of the current mess.

The credit card could buy an airplane ticket. I could be home tonight if I wanted, but I didn’t want to go home. It felt oddly good, to be surrounded by people and noise, in a place so full of importance that one small person wasn’t worth noticing. I was tired of being noticed.

“Hello, Sara.” Someone spoke from behind me in a smooth British accent. “Is everything alright?”

I glanced over my shoulder. “Grant? What are you doing here?”

“Perhaps I should ask you the same.”

Should I be surprised to see him? I was, but only mildly. Grant seemed to drift in and out of my circle of friends at the strangest times. Last fall, he’d been Lacey’s boyfriend before disappearing suddenly and quietly. In the final weeks of my brother’s illness, Grant had hung out with us and our friend Kimberley before disappearing again, suddenly and quietly. “I’m fine. Really.”

“Yes, I can see that. May I offer my assistance anyway?”