“I mean no,” she said more quietly. “I do want to go.”

“Okay,” he said. “Well then, we’re still on, don’t worry. I booked our hotel, too. We’re flying up that Sunday, and we’ll be staying in the city two nights, right in the Inner Harbor. Then we’ll check out Tuesday morning, load up the rental, and drive to the school. That’ll be a long day, because we’ll have to turn around and come back later that night to catch our flight home. I’ve got to be back in the office the next morning, too, so we gotta—Isobel, are you listening?”

Isobel nodded. In truth, she’d tuned him out right after he’d mentioned the day of the flight. Sunday was the eighteenth, the same night she needed to be in the graveyard. That meant she’d have to ditch him almost as soon as they arrived.

“Yeah,” she said. “Sure. That works. Um, hey, Dad?”


“Can I . . . be excused?”

He pointed to her plate. “You didn’t eat much.”

“I know,” she said. “I’m not that hungry.”

She needed to get away from the table, away from her father and all his well-meaning plans. She didn’t want to think about hurting him, because that’s what she was going to do. She wouldn’t make it to the special meet-and-greet tryout he’d arranged. Neither of them would, because she would be long gone. And he would be there, alone in that huge city, doing whatever he could to find her.

She could practically hear her parents arguing over the phone, her mother’s frantic I-told-you-sos, her father beside himself with guilt and self-blame.

She could feel the fissure forming in her family now, before any of them were even aware the crack existed. Or that she had been the one to put it there.


Isobel’s breath hitched. She balled her napkin in her fist, trying to play it off as a hiccup. Cringing inwardly, she decided to pull the fail-safe girl card. “Cramps,” she said.

Her dad leaned back in his chair. “Mm,” he said.

Isobel stood. She slid a hand under her plate, but her dad held up a palm. “I’ll get that,” he said.

She backed away. Turning, she hurried up the steps.

Ducking into her room, she shut the door behind her.



Isobel sat on the corner of her bed closest to her dresser mirror. She watched the glass from an angle that did not show her own reflection, only that of the room itself.

From here, she could see the dark square of her window and the white-lace curtains that flanked it. The mirror also showed her nightstand and fringed bedside lamp, which she’d switched on.

The darkness seemed to press in around her, as though waiting for her to make a move or dare to step beyond the cone-shaped pool of yellowish lamplight.

But Isobel wasn’t afraid.

Her eyes remained steady on the surface of the mirror as she spoke.

“I don’t know if you can hear me,” she said. “I can’t tell if you’re listening. I’m not even sure how this works . . . if it works . . . but I know that you’ve seen me. And . . . and I know what you saw today. What it must have looked like.” Glancing down, she took in a breath, then let it out in a long sigh before continuing. “But it wasn’t what you think it was. You know that’s not who I am anymore. Don’t you?”

She lifted her head, her eyes returning to the mirror.

“Varen . . . if you can see me, if you can hear me, why won’t you appear like before? Speak to me. Tell me how to reach you. Show me how to find you. Because right now, I don’t even know if what I’m doing is right anymore.”

The mirror remained clear.

Pushing off from her bed, Isobel went to stand in front of it.

Not liking the way the dim light exaggerated the shadows on her face, Isobel glanced at the reflection of her digital clock and the inverted neon numbers that blazed through the gloom.

“Varen,” she whispered, “I miss you.”

She saw the last digit twitch, a minute having passed by. She waited, and when another sixty seconds elapsed, the number changed again.

Time continued to crawl by, yet Isobel stayed in front of her mirror, hoping that any moment she would see his face appear at her window, that he might step up behind her, or that she would hear him say something. Anything.

But the only thing that changed was the time.

After several more long minutes, Isobel heard the front door open, and her ears perked at the sound of her mother’s voice calling through the house, “I’m home!”

Most Popular