It was Friday afternoon. Emilia had gone AWOL and Olivia feared they’d never have time to fix things between them. It was stupid and insane but she missed her. It was because of that she convinced herself she made up some excuse not to see Noah on Thursday evening and not because she was freaking out over her imminent meeting with Michael.
She was so nervous, it took Olivia three tries before she was able to leave her house successfully. The first time she forgot to lock her door. Then, as she searched for her keys she realized she’d left them on her bedroom dresser. And finally, when she was already backing out from her driveway she remembered it would a nightmare to find a parking spot near The Mall on a Friday afternoon.
The closest metro station was ten minutes walking distance. Olivia knew she was nervous about seeing Michael again but there was also an underlying anxiety she couldn’t comprehend. There was an edge to the air, it felt heavy. Like something was about to happen. She felt like running as if to leave that awful feeling of doom behind but only increased the speed of her pace.
She was just getting ready to cross the street to get to the Ballston-MU station when a voice from behind her made her scream and hence, startle an old couple standing next to her.
“What happened to your car?”
Emilia was glaring at Olivia as she stepped right in front of her. When it was their turn to cross the street, the old couple hurried away and kept throwing suspicious glances at the woman who stood staring fixedly at the empty air in front of her.
“What? That I had left? Yeah, it turns out we are not so lucky. And either you still have to make some other stupidity or I am eternally bounded to you, which believe me, makes me miserable.”
“Emilia, about what I said last night, I….”
“Don’t.” The ghost shook her head and her long hair accompanied the movement.
“I can’t deal with you going all sentimental on me. Since we are going to be stuck with each other for a while longer we might as well put it behind us.”
“But…” Emilia had already begun crossing the street so Olivia had to run to keep up with her, her own chestnut hair getting in her eyes as the wind picked up force.
Maybe she didn’t want to talk about it but Olivia needed to say the words. As there were several people gathered at the metro’s entrance, she waited until she was behind the ghost as they made their way down the electrical steps and mentally said.
I am sorry.
If Emilia heard her, she gave no sign of it.
Inside her own thoughts, the ones Olivia couldn’t listen to, Emilia replied.
Yeah, me too.
For a second, Emilia swore she saw the same old lady she’d bumped into almost a month ago when she’d come out from the same metro station on the National Mall. As they made their way to the National Gallery, the ghost couldn’t quite shake the dark feeling seeping into her transparent skin, making it even more pale, that she should be careful. Which was stupid, it was not like she was going to get run down by a car again.
Emilia was sure it was her imagination playing tricks on her as she had to blink twice as she thought she also saw the same couple she’d seen that day walk by her and Olivia. Or the way the weather transformed all of a sudden from a mildly windy December afternoon to a savage cold one.
Besides she already did what she assumed had been her mission and had failed. What could possibly go wrong now?
Camila Hurst was coming out from the botanical garden where she’d gone with Damon and Samantha to work on their science project. Well, they’d done that for the first ten minutes then they’d just hung out for the next two hours until the other two kids declared they had to be home early for dinner.
It was the first time since getting herself grounded that she was out on her own. Of course, Camie’s dad had been reluctant to let her be free on a Friday afternoon, but since this was merely an academic outing, he’d been forced to let her come.
She was busy texting him saying she could get herself home on her own when her phone began to play I gotta feeling by the Black Eyed Peas, which was the ringtone she’d given to her uncle Michael. They both liked that song even if her uncle looked far from cool when he tried to dance to it.
“Hey, kiddo. So I see you tricked your dad into letting you out?”
“I had school stuff to do.”
“Yeah, right. On a Friday afternoon? Who do you take me for, your dad?”
She let out a chuckle. Camie imagined it had been something his uncle had done many times while he had been her same age. Even if she was telling the truth, it still made her laugh.
“Nah, dad is way better looking than you are.”
“And you are one annoying girl.”
“So, what’s up?”
“I just called daddy dearest and he told me where you were. I am actually at the National Art Gallery waiting for Olivia.”
“You are? Oh my God, are you going to have a date?”
“Sort of. Listen, I was thinking we could grab dinner afterwards.”
“Sure. Wait whose we?”
“You, me and……..Olivia if she wants to.”
Camie noticed his hesitation but said nothing. Probably he was nervous about seeing Ms.B.
“Okay. I’ll be your chaperone.”
“No way. You are coming on the condition you don’t embarrass me or be a little pestering fifteen year old. You won’t get food otherwise.”
Camie rolled her eyes and sighed.
“Fine. I promise not to share all those embarrassing childhood stories Grandma told me last Thanksgiving if you convince dad to let me go to this party tomorrow.”
Someone else would’ve been appalled that she was blackmailing her uncle but their relationship was more brother and sister than uncle and niece. Besides, he owed her big time. And, if they didn’t go at each other like little kids and upset her dad, then their day wouldn’t be complete. He was such a goofball and she loved him for it.
“I always said you got the brains from me. Deal. Meet me at the entrance steps?”
“Sure, I am on my way.”