Chapter 11

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That day after school, Trey's mother gave him the keys to her gray Civic. She looked reluctant to trust him, but pleased that he was volunteering to get back behind the wheel. I buckled into the passenger seat as he fired up the engine, kind of hoping that he'd miraculously overcome his fear of driving and get us all the way to Green Bay. But instead, he drove around the block and then pulled over. He took a deep breath as the engine idled, and wiped sweat from his brow.

"Enough?" I asked gently, seeing how hard it was for him to steer the car.

Without saying a word, he unbuckled his belt and threw it off of himself. He jerked the parking brake and climbed out of the driver's side door. I took a deep breath and prepared myself for a first in my own life: driving in a car all alone. I stepped out of the car, prepared to walk around its back to take my seat behind the wheel. Surprising me, Trey sat down again in the passenger seat, and suggested, "Maybe you could just drop me at the Starbucks in Silver Springs, and pick me up on your way back from the mall."

Without him saying so, I inferred that he really did not want to be in the mall parking lot again so soon after finding Olivia there on the night she died. I agreed, and ran through my checklist of tasks before pulling away from the curb. Engine on? Check. I peeked in my rearview mirror and my side mirror, and then eased onto the gas pedal. Oddly, the car didn't move.

"You might want to release the parking brake," Trey gently reminded me.

It had been over two months since Dad had taken me for my license in Florida, and another three months before that since I'd driven regularly when I was practicing during my sophomore year Driver's Ed class. I was shamefully out of practice at driving, and feeling very unqualified to transport myself all the way to Green Bay and back in a car that was a lot fancier than any I'd ever driven before. But Trey and I had agreed: we needed that Ouija board. It was our best shot at contacting Jennie or any other spirit who might be cooperating with Violet. There was simply no other way we were going to obtain one. Buying one online would have required me not only to ask my mom for permission to use her credit card, but also to deal with her insatiable curiosity when the box arrived at the house. I was going to have to drive to Green Bay alone, whether I liked it or not.

I abandoned Trey at the Starbucks as he had requested, and pulled out of the parking lot, back onto the rural highway. Fortunately there was a lull in the slow, dreary rain that had fallen all day, but even that did little to ease my fears about the wet leaves everywhere on the flat stretch of highway ahead as I drove, other than relieve me of the need to locate the windshield wiper controls on the dashboard of Mrs. Emory's car. The drive to Green Bay was a boring, unremarkable journey punctuated by few things more exciting than barns painted dreary colors, and out-of-date billboards marketing morning radio shows and local car dealerships. I was thankful that at least it was still light out, but knew that the drive back to Willow would be infinitely more difficult for me in the dark no matter how quickly I shopped. Nervously, I tinkered with the car's satellite radio, and succeeded in filling the car's interior with Mrs. Emory's preferred honky-tonk country western music. I was too anxious about keeping my eyes on the road to bother trying to find a more appealing station.

Parking was tricky, and to avoid a collision due to my sloppy turning, I parked further away from the mall's entrance than I probably needed to, in a space fairly far from other cars. Once I stepped outside Mrs. Emory's car and clicked the doors locked with the automated key chain, I breathed a sigh of relief, and then looked around. I was standing at the very place where Olivia must have realized that Violet's prediction was coming true. For a minute, I stood in the lot hugging my purse to my chest, wondering why in the world Olivia hadn't just waited out the storm at the mall. She must have sensed when her car wouldn't start that she was in danger.

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