“It’s unbelievable,” Tessa said. “I’m going to send one of these to Jack Kerouac.”

“You don’t know where he lives,” Carla reminded her.

“I’ll send it via his publisher. I’ll write a note that will make him burn with desire. I envy your life on the road. Take me with you!”

THEY SNEAKED OUT at the midnight hour. It was the Fourth of July, so no one would notice. Everyone would be out in Band’s Meadow watching the fireworks or they’d be at the annual Independence Day party at the Jack Straw Bar and Grill. Carla had come through the woods alone. She was nervous in the dark. She was nervous about meeting the Motts. She wondered what it felt like to cut yourself, to be so daring, to be asked to leave school, to not care about your reputation.

Tessa climbed out her window while Carla waited in the yard. She shinnied down the drainpipe, then jumped down from the porch roof. There were red roses growing there and the thorns had torn into Tessa’s skin, but she didn’t seem to mind. She and Carla looped their arms around each other and went toward the museum.

“Who do you like better? Frank or Jesse?” Carla asked.

“They’re just boys,” Tessa said dismissively. “I need a man like Mr. Jack K. Someone with experience. Frank and Jesse have probably never been outside of Blackwell.”

That was true of Carla as well, but she agreed with Tessa. “They’re mere babies,” she remarked, even though she herself would have run off with Jesse in the blink of an eye.

The Mott brothers were waiting behind the museum. Their mother volunteered in the gift shop, and Jesse had swiped the key to the back door. They stumbled inside, laughing, giddy, then stopped so their eyes could adjust to the dark. There was the wagon wheel that had been on the first settlers’ carriage. There was the wolf someone had shot up in the mountains when there were still wolves slinking through the woods in Massachusetts. They stood in front of the bats in the big glass case. When Jesse made a whoo whoo noise, the others all jumped in a fit of fear, then exploded into laughter.

“Come over here,” Jesse said, grabbing Tessa by the arm. “I want to show you something.”

When he led her into the rocks and minerals exhibit, Frank and Carla stood there uncomfortably. They knew what Jesse was initiating—a kiss, maybe more. Still, they had nothing to say to each other and were somewhat grateful when Tessa shrieked. They both ran into the room where there were fossils and samples of the local mica.


“I saw the ghost,” Tessa cried. “The runaway sister. She was right outside the window, with her horse.”

Jesse rolled his eyes; he had one thing on his mind, but Frank said they should go out to investigate. Carla and Tessa held hands. “What did she look like?” Carla asked.

“She was about our age. Long hair. She looked sad.”

“There’s nothing here,” Jesse said, disgusted.

Frank was kneeling on the ground. “Look,” he said.

They all crouched down. There were the marks of something that might have been a horse’s hooves. Tessa sat down in the ivy. She declared that she thought she might faint, and in fact her creamy skin had paled dramatically.

“Come on, Tessa,” Jesse urged. “It was probably some kind of joke.”

But Tessa was so upset it was decided she would go home with Carla since Ava was out at the Independence Day party. The boys walked them through the woods, then regretfully said good-bye. Although Carla was pleased to have Tessa to herself, she worried about having her worlds collide. When she took Tessa in to meet her parents, the Kellys were wary but polite. The girls went into the living room and looked through a copy of The History of Blackwell. They found a reference to the two sisters who were said to be ghosts, both from the Starr family. They had lived in the museum when it was still a house. One was a little girl who had drowned, the other was her older sister who had run off with a horse trader. There was a hazy photograph of the elder one, whose name was Mary.

“That’s her!” Tessa said. “I’m not kidding. She’s the one I saw tonight.” She took Carla’s hand and whispered. “It means someone will be leaving Blackwell to go on a journey. Probably me.”

“Don’t say that!” Carla cried.

Because it was so late Mrs. Kelly asked Johnny to drop Tessa at home on his way out to the Jack Straw Bar and Grill. She didn’t want her daughter’s friend to be wandering through the woods all alone.

Tessa was absolutely thrilled when she saw Johnny’s motorcycle. He was in the driveway wearing boots, torn jeans, a white T-shirt. She remembered him from the time the car broke down. “Let’s go to California!” she said. “We won’t stop till we get to City Lights bookstore.”

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