A World Without You
What would you do to bring back someone you love? After the unexpected loss of his girlfriend, a boy suffering from delusions believes he can travel through time to save her in this gripping new novel from New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis. "A story that’s both heartbreaking and hopeful." —Publishers Weekly, starred review “Revis’s account of grief, loss, first love, and anguish, presented through a lens of mental illness, is a must-read.” —VOYA, starred review “A heartrending, beautifully complex look at mental illness, life, and loss. I tore through the pages, and, days later, this story still has a hold on me.” —Alexandra Bracken, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Darkest Minds series and Passenger Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his concerned parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have "superpowers." At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofia, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Sofia helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofia, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age. But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she's not actually dead. He believes that she's stuck somewhere in time — that he somehow left her in the past, and now it's his job to save her. Not since Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story has there been such a heartrending depiction of mental illness. In her first contemporary novel, Beth Revis guides readers through the mind of a young man struggling to process his grief as he fights his way through his delusions. As Bo becomes more and more determined to save Sofia, he has to decide whether to face his demons head-on, or succumb to a psychosis that will let him be with the girl he loves. From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpt from A World Without You
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***
Copyright © 2016 Beth Revis
“It’s time, Bo,” Ryan says, putting his hand on my shoulder.
I shrug him off.
“Come on, buddy.” He reaches for me again, but I step further away. Buddy. Ryan’s not my friend, and it’s pointless of him to pretend like he is. Ryan is no one’s friend.
My feet make hollow sounds on the weathered planks of the old boardwalk, but I have to stop soon enough. The giant metal gate before me is painted green to blend into the environment, which is dumb because the environment’s not really that green around here. But either way, it stops me from going forward. Not that I have anywhere to escape to anyway.
Berkshire Academy, where I live five days out of every week, is on an island. Not a tropical paradise—nope, nothing like that. It’s in Massachusetts, of all places. Everything good about living on an island is twisted here. Islands have beaches and the ocean, yeah? Well, Pear Island has those, but good luck having fun under the sun around here. I mean, we have the sun, obviously, but it’s behind clouds. And rain. And some- times snow. A lot of times snow. And wind. Wind so strong that it blows the sand in your face like it has a personal vendetta against you. And the short summer we do have, when there is actually sun, is interrupted by, like, a month of flies swarming around. Not buzz-buzz nice flies, but greenhead flies. They sting and bite and are basically the biggest jerks of the fly population, designed specifically to ruin the day of anyone who may dare think that living on an island means you should be able to, I don’t know, lie on the beach or enjoy the sun.
We don’t even have a decent boardwalk. Our boardwalk was built fifty years ago, so walking on it barefoot sucks. And oh, by the way, the boardwalk goes through a marsh, so the only people who actually want to use it are old farts who look at birds.
Oh, how I love my island life.
“Come on, man,” Ryan says again, this time with more impatience in his voice. “It’s time to go.”
I turn, leaning my back against the green metal gate. “There’s no point.”
I push off from the gate and follow him back toward Berkshire, the bricked mansion just visible beyond the trees in the distance.
The Doctor said Berkshire was placed here—at the end of a particularly non-paradise tropical island—because of a special grant from the government. Most of the island is a state park. The southern tip, where we are, is just the Berk and some old ruins from seventy years ago, when there was a “camp” for people with polio. The top of the island is full of ice cream shops and tourists, but we hardly ever get to go there.
Ryan trudges ahead of me, keeping to himself. Good. I don’t want to talk.
This whole thing is meaningless. This whole day. There’s no point to being here. To doing this.
“You have to understand,” Dr. Franklin told me this morning when I informed him I wouldn’t be going to the assembly. “People need closure.”
“I don’t,” I growled.
The Doctor had given me that smarmy sympathetic smile that people do when they think they know more than you. “Come anyway,” he said.
I’d hoped that if I ventured as far out into the island as I could go, he might forget about me. Or, if not forget, at least pretend to forget about me. Let me be the invisible one for once.
Berkshire Academy rises up from the ground before us as we round the path, all austere and formal. On paper, I guess my life is pretty sweet, living in a mansion on an island. But just like Pear Island is this twisted version of what an island should be, so is the giant brick building complete with pointy spires. It’s not a Bruce Wayne palace; it’s a boarding school. The Berkshire Academy for Children with Exceptional Needs.
I take a deep breath and pick up my pace so I’m walking beside Ryan instead of behind him. I’m being a jerk. I’m angry and I don’t want to be here—and I don’t mean on the island, I mean here. Now. I do want to be on this island. I want to be at the Berk. Don’t get me wrong, all that stuff about the flies and the cold and all, that part sucks. But Berkshire itself . . . this place is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
But I don’t want to be . . . here. Not in this moment. Not in this way. I want to be here two weeks ago, when everything was fine. Or seven months ago, when I first drove up the gravel road to the academy’s open doors. Or eight months ago, before I’d even come to Berkshire or learned that it would be my new home. I want it to be then.
Black bunting hangs over the arched walnut doors at the top of the steps, where there are still a few students hanging out. A handful of cars are parked around the circular drive, and I recognize my dad’s Buick. Great. So the families have been invited. Dr. Franklin, my unit leader, hurries outside and down the brick steps. His gaze falls on me, and something in his face eases; the lines around his eyes soften, and his jaw unclenches. “Come on,” he says to me, his voice gentle. Then he turns to the other students still lingering outside and gives them a stern look. “Everyone, it’s time.”
Dr. Franklin leads the way down the hardwood halls of Berkshire’s main floor. Hardly anyone ever uses the main floor—it’s formal, reserved for Family Day, scholastic banquets, graduation ceremonies, and once, after a fund-raiser, a fancy ball hosted by the board for top contributors to the school. Sofía and I snuck down to the kitchen the morning after the ball and pilfered the remains of half-drunk bottles of flat champagne that were supposed to have been thrown out.
We follow the Doctor past the main living areas, our feet barely audible on the heavy rugs that line the floors. Everything on the first floor is dark and gloomy—I much prefer the common room I share with my unit on the second floor. The cook staff is setting up a sort of buffet along one wall. I guess we’re dining as a group today rather than in shifts, like we usually do. Why is it that whenever there’s a hint of tragedy in life, all old people want to do is cook? It’s not like a covered dish is going to solve anything. My hands clench in fists as the scent of melted cheese and roasted vegetables wafts around us.
A nice dinner isn’t going to make any of this better.
The Doctor pushes open the wide doors at the back of the long hallway and holds them for us as we file into the court- yard. The rest of Berkshire’s students are already waiting for us in the small arena that teachers sometimes use for outdoor les- sons when the weather’s not too cold. I scan the crowd quickly and notice my family standing at the back of the room, dressed in their Sunday best. My father must sense my gaze. He turns around and watches me as I follow Dr. Franklin down the steps toward the small stage at the bottom. Dad shakes his head at my ripped jeans and faded black T-shirt. Whatever—let him glare. There’s a reason why I’m at boarding school and he’s back at home—we’re both happier when there are miles between us, and his presence does nothing but highlight just how sucky today is going to be.
The director of the school—an older, bald man whose eye- brows reach to the heavens—stands at the center of the stage in front of a table. He looks bored, but when Dr. Franklin signals to him, he nods, straightens his spine, and assumes a mask of benevolence.
“We are here today to remember the life of one of our own,” he intones. His voice is low, but nearly everyone is focused on him.
Not me, though. I don’t need his lies. Instead, I watch as some of the staff arrange paper lanterns on the table. After a moment, the director raises his voice. “And now, I’d like to invite Sofía Muniz’s closest friends—her unit and headmaster—to say a few words.”
He steps back, and for a moment he looks as if he’s going to push past everyone and head back inside where the food is. But one of the teachers offers him a chair beside the table, and he sits down.
The Doctor nudges Ryan and me forward. Gwen and Harold, the other kids in our unit, are already stepping down the granite stairs toward the table with the paper lanterns. When I don’t move, Dr. Franklin pushes me again.
Fine. I’ll do this. Even if it’s false.
The Doctor speaks first. He talks about Sofía like she was his star pupil, and I guess she kind of was. Is. I mean is. Out of all of us, Ryan has more power and control than Sofía ever did, but Sofía is the kind of quiet, attentive student that teachers like. She never causes trouble. She never messes up.
Not like me.
The Doctor’s voice is tight, as if he’s trying to hold back tears, and it’s only now, watching as he tries to describe what Sofía meant to him—to all of us—that I feel a hard lump rising in my own throat. I blink rapidly and look away, trying to focus on the ivy clinging to the bricks on the side of the academy. I’m not the only one affected by Sofía’s absence—I have to force myself to remember that. We all miss her.
When the Doctor finishes his speech, he turns to the rest of us. His eyes fall on me, and the expectation is clear: He wants me to talk. He wants me to say goodbye.
My teeth grind, and my eyes narrow, and I do not move. Dr. Franklin sighs, and his gaze skims over the rest of us.
Harold will never speak in public; he looks like he’s about to throw up right now, just standing here. Since this has nothing to do with him, Ryan doesn’t give a shit about being here. But Gwen trembles beside me, the words inside her boiling like water about to rattle the lid off a pot. She wants to speak, I know it. But she glances at me and then shakes her head just a little, and the Doctor nods, accepting our silence.
We move around the table that the staff set up for us. There are five paper lanterns, each a pale white. Gwen reaches forward first, her fingers sparking with light, but Dr. Franklin covers her hand with his, pulling her back. There are parents here, people not a part of the school. Can’t let them see. The staff light the lanterns with the long matches they use for the fireplaces, then they hand one to each of us. Dr. Franklin looks like he’s about to say something else, something poetic, but before he can break out into a full-on dirge, I let my lantern slip from my fingers, and it rises into the gray sky without any more ceremony. The others follow suit, Dr. Franklin releasing his lantern only after he mumbles something to himself, his eyes closed and his head bent. Everyone looks up. A gust of wind knocks Harold’s lantern down, punching at the inflating paper balloon, but it staggers back, following the others as they drift in the direction of the ocean.
No one notices me as I leave.
That’s something I learned from Sofía. Being invisible is easy.
I step further into the garden—which is basically just some stubby trees and scraggly bushes—and then round the academy and head back out to the edges of the property. Not toward the ocean—not where the lanterns are fighting through the winds to float higher—but back toward the gate and the ruins on the edge of Berkshire’s grounds.
Back to the last place I last saw her.
It’s such bullshit, this memorial with its empty words and fragile lanterns. All of this mourning is totally pointless.
Because Sofía’s not dead.
I hear her before I see her. I’m not surprised that she’s the only one who bothered to find me after the memorial service.
“Hey, Gwen,” I say, as she plops down beside me.
She gives me a sullen look. She’s pissed I left the ceremony. “You’re not the only one who misses her, you know.”
She glares at me, but then the fight leaves her. “This was my place first,” she says, her voice softer now. “I’m the one who showed it to Sofía.”
I didn’t know that. I’d always sort of thought of the chimney as my place on the island. I discovered it my first week here, after doing some research on Berkshire and finding out that the island held one of the oldest remaining houses built by the colonists. My eyes drift to the black-and-bronze plaque adhered to the crumbling bricks near the border of the academy’s grounds: Remains of the Cedric Mooreheade House. Destroyed in a fire in 1775. Originally built in Salem in the 1660s, like the Isaac Goodale House of Ipswich, and moved to Pear Island in 1692.
“Why’d you come out here?” I ask Gwen.
She flicks her fingers, a burst of flame dancing out. “I like chimneys.”
I like history, so of course I’d sought the ruins out, but all that was left was the chimney. Still, I like this place for what it used to be—a house built before America was a country—and for what it might have been—someone’s dream, someone’s birthplace, someone’s safe haven. Pear Island hasn’t been used for much. In the early days, settlers grazed livestock here. But at some point, a family decided that this island, with its biting flies and harsh winds and terrible weather . . . this island would make a perfect home. The chimney is all that’s left of a family. Real people who stood here centuries ago, with lives lost to time.
But Gwen doesn’t care about the history. She likes it simply for what it is now. She stares into the blackened center of the chimney, where hundreds of fires must have blazed over the years. Now there’s just green moss and a few plants trailing up the center. Gwen cups her palm, rubbing her thumb over air, and a tiny ball of fire appears in the center of her hand. She tosses it toward the grass and plants growing in the chimney, but the ground is too wet and the foliage too young for the flame to catch. A thin wisp of smoke trails up the bricks, then dies.
That’s Gwen’s power. Pyrokinesis. The ability to make and control fire.
Gwen stares at the smoke. The trees’ shadows reach toward us, and the air is damp and cool and slightly salty.
After a long stretch of silence, Gwen speaks. “Harold hates it out here,” she says. “Says there’s witches.” She rolls her eyes. “That boy is crazy. Like, he doesn’t just have problems, he is crazy-crazy.”
Harold talks to the dead. His power is probably stronger than any of ours, but it’s also the most useless and will likely drive him over the edge. The Doctor works with him often, trying to help him control his gift and filter out the voices so he can maybe glean some useful information from them.
Gwen stretches her legs in front of her, her eyes still on the chimney. There’s an ease to the silence between us. I don’t feel like I have to talk; we’re both comfortable just being together.
Before I came to Berkshire, I thought I was alone. I have these powers that no one else has. I can control time—well,control is a strong word. I can sometimes, sort of control time. And sometimes it controls me, throwing me around history until I snap back to where I’m supposed to be. When the episodes first started, I thought something was wrong with me. I didn’t know what was happening, so I was scared. Not any- more, though. Not unless I lose control.
I was fifteen the first time I lost control of my power. I was sitting in history class, and my teacher was giving a lecture about the Civil War. She was describing the Battle of Shiloh, one of the bloodiest battles ever, and she told a story about a little pond near the battlefield that turned red with all the blood from the wounded. She explained to us that the story was a myth, that it probably never really happened, but then I blinked.
And I was there.
Just like that. One minute I was in class, and the next minute
I was at the Battle of Freaking Shiloh in Tennessee, and it was loud, it was so loud, and the air was thick like fog and smelled like blood. There were people shouting and guns drawn and cannons firing, and I could see it all. And then I saw the pond. It was just as my teacher described it: small and stained red with blood.
And I don’t know what happened next. I guess I just lost it. I started screaming and screaming and screaming, and then I blinked again.
And I was back in class.
Obviously I freaked everyone the hell out. The whole class was staring at me. I was gone so quick no one even noticed, so as far as they knew, I was yelling for no reason. They didn’t know that I could still smell the blood and the gunpowder and the death that hung in the air.
After that, I was scared, really scared. What if I got stuck in the past? What if I spent the rest of my life bouncing around time, powerless to stop it?
Instead, Dr. Franklin found me. And I came here. Here, where Gwen can wrap fire around her hands like a glove, where Harold whispers to ghosts and they whisper back, where Ryan can move things with his mind and influence people’s thoughts. We all have powers here, except for some of the staff and a few of the tutors. Even Dr. Franklin is one of us. He can heal him- self and others, which is ironic because he is literally a doctor, but he’s the kind of academic doctor that teaches, not the medical kind. But even with his degrees and experience, he hasn’t really been able to help me progress all that much.
“What are you thinking about?” Gwen asks, breaking the silence.
I shrug. It’s sort of embarrassing to admit that I don’t have much control over my powers. From the moment I arrived at Berkshire, everyone else seemed to advance so much faster than me. And while the Doc is nice, I can tell that he’s getting frustrated with my lack of progress.
When the Doctor found me and told my parents about the academy, we were all pretty relieved. I was glad that someone finally understood me, and I kind of hated high school anyway, so it was nice to get a change of scenery. I also liked that the Berk was a boarding school. I mean, I love my parents, but I don’t really feel comfortable at home. I never have. To be honest, I think I get along better with my old man now that I’m out of the house. We can tolerate each other when we only have to be in the same building on weekends. Our relationship is built on absence.
It’s little wonder that Berkshire has become my real home. “I wish I knew what she was thinking,” Gwen says, her eyes still fixed on the fireplace. She glances at me, but looks away again. “You know, before.”
I don’t want to talk about that, about the day Sofía went missing.
Just thinking about it makes my head hurt. Like sharp, shooting pains.
And my tongue. How weird is that? Thinking about the day Sofía got stuck in the past makes my tongue hurt. On the back of my tongue, near my throat, it just aches. It feels like that sort of burning dread rising in your throat when you know you need to cry but you just can’t.
I open my mouth. I don’t know what I’m going to say to
Gwen, but it doesn’t matter anyway, because in that moment, she disappears. The cold twilight air is replaced with morning mist and damp dew, and the shadows from the trees suddenly all point away from me.
And I am standing in front of the chimney on the day Sofía disappeared.
My heart thumps, and I feel like I might throw up. I bend over, my hands on my knees, trying to catch my breath.
My powers have been more and more erratic since Sofía disappeared, but they’ve never brought me back here, to this moment. And I’ve tried. I’ve tried to get back so many times.
I gather myself, breathing in the crisp morning air. I may not have meant to snap back to this time, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use it.
On the day Sofía disappeared, I had gone for a walk by myself. I went north to the gate on the boardwalk and then turned around and was heading back to the school. But I veered closer to the beach and went past the old camp ruins. They’re state-owned property, and we’re not supposed to hang out there. But that day I ignored the Doctor’s rules.
I look around and then up. You’d be surprised how adept you get at using the sun to tell time when you never know when and where you’re going to end up. Judging from the position of the sun, I figure that the past me, the me on a walk about to meet
Sofía and screw up her life, is probably near the polio camp ruins.
The abandoned camp is left over from the days before vaccinations, when the sick had to be quarantined. It was built in the ’50s for people with polio, but it remained open through the ’80s. Now, after years of neglect, it’s just a bunch of rot- ted wooden buildings that look like a haunted summer camp. Berkshire was built when the camp closed, and no one bothers to maintain the abandoned buildings.
I still don’t know why I went there that day . . . but I did. And that’s where I saw Sofía.
To be accurate, I saw her shoes first. Bright red, perched on the edge of the remains of a shallow swimming pool at the center of a circle of broken-down buildings. It’s nothing but a concrete depression now, no water or anything, and Ryan keeps talking about how it should be turned into a skate ramp, but Dr. Franklin says that’s disrespectful.
She was just sitting there, her legs dangling over the edge. “Hey,” I said.
Sofía didn’t respond.
I walked over and sat down next to her, her red shoes between us. It seemed strange that she’d taken her shoes off. The morning was cold, the dew on the blades of grass frozen like crystals. It was no longer quite winter but close enough. I guess Sofía was in denial about the weather.
“What’s up?” I asked. Still, nothing.
And that’s when I noticed she was crying.
Not, like, loud, sniffling crying that makes your shoulders hunch and your face hurt. Just quiet tears leaking from her eyes, trailing down her cheeks, and dripping from her chin. She was so lost in her sadness that I wasn’t even sure she was aware of my presence until I touched her cold face, wiping away one of the tears with the pad of my thumb.
“Hey,” I said as gently as I could. “What’s wrong?” I moved her shoes so I could scoot closer, but she stood up abruptly, stepping back from the edge of the pool.
“Nothing,” she said, and I knew it wasn’t true, but she started walking away, barefoot on the cold, sandy soil. I figured if it meant that much to her not to talk about it, then she could keep her secrets.
Still, I followed her. I knew she wanted to be alone, but there was something about the way she walked, something about the little hiccup sound she made as she wiped away her tears and pretended like they never existed . . . it didn’t feel right to abandon her.
Maybe I should have left her alone. Maybe then she wouldn’t have gone away.
As she passed by one of the old camp buildings, she whirled around. “You can go back in time, right?”
“Yeah,” I said. I watched her closely. She wasn’t acting like herself, but I didn’t know how to make it better.
“Can you take other people back?”
I nodded. “Do you want to go back here?” I asked, waving my hand toward the abandoned buildings of the polio camp. “It’s just a bunch of sick kids.”
She shook her head. “No, not here. But, you know, I think maybe . . . maybe this place wouldn’t be so bad.”
“Sick. Kids. Just, like, buckets of sick kids all around being sick. Not my idea of a fun place.”
“You don’t understand,” Sofía said. “When you’re sick with, like, a terminal illness, something you live with forever, there are very few moments you can forget about it. It’s like a lead weight inside your chest, cracking your ribs. Every time you move, you can feel that weight shifting inside of you. But then there are moments when, for whatever reason, the weight goes away. You forget you’re sick. I bet this camp was full of those moments. That’s what I’d want to see. That’s what I want to feel.”
She was right. I didn’t understand.
“So where do you want to go?” I asked, still unsure of this wild mood of hers.
Sofía looked off into the distance, toward the ocean and the sun and forever, but she couldn’t see any of that. “I want to go somewhere far away.”
She didn’t bother explaining any further. She just kept walking. I don’t think she was going anywhere in particular, but we headed toward the state park. I thought about running back to get her abandoned red shoes so she wouldn’t have to walk on the splintery wood of the boardwalk, but she veered left, where the ground was soft.
I look around me now. Any minute, past-me and past-Sofía will come around the bend and be standing right in front of me, at the chimney. It’s where Sofía took me that day, right before she whirled around, her eyes blazing, her long, dark hair whipping back, and said: “Here.”
“Can you take me back to this place? Back when there was just one family on the island, the ones who built this house?”
“It wasn’t built here,” I said. “It was built in Salem.”
“Fine, then when the house was moved here. To . . .” She turned around, her eyes scanning the plaque. “Let’s go back to
“I . . . um . . .”
“You can do it, right?”
“Yeah,” I said immediately, wanting to impress her, to erase the doubt in her voice. “I’ve been back further than that. It’s just . . . why?”
“I want to go away. I want to be as far away from this world as possible. Take me back further than 1692, I don’t care. Let’s go to the days when Native Americans were here. Let’s go further. Let’s go to the dinosaurs.”
All my muscles were tense, and I moved very carefully, like I would if there were a wild animal in front of me. “I’ve never been that far back before,” I said. I regretted telling her that I could take her back. I wanted to wrap her up in my arms and hold her tight, not fling her through time and space. I didn’t realize it then, but a part of me sensed that she was running away, and I didn’t want to let her go, even if I was going with her. “I don’t care, I just—” Her voice cracked. “I need to escape.”
I took a deep breath and grabbed both her hands in mine. I didn’t know what was wrong with her, but I knew I would do anything to make her happy. As I was holding her, I called up the timestream. I saw it expanding out from the two of us, strings erupting in every direction, each one linked to a different time and place. She couldn’t feel it; she didn’t react at all as I focused on the date engraved on the chimney, on the house that once contained it, on the island of the past.
And then we were there.
We had been standing among ruins; we were now standing in front of a chimney with bright red bricks streaked with soot. A roaring fire blazed at the bottom, casting Sofía in an orange-yellow glow and flickering shadows across the wood floor. There were herbs drying in one corner, an iron cauldron bubbling in another. The house smelled . . . warm. It wrapped around us, peaceful and beautiful.
Sofía sighed. In that moment, I think, she was happy.
Then the door behind me flung open, and I could hear a man’s deep, accented voice: “Oh my God.”
I started to turn.
Sofía’s hands slipped from mine.
And suddenly, like a rubber band breaking, I was snapped back to the present. I gasped for air, my entire body in shock, having been thrown through more than three centuries. My arms and legs trembled, and I fell to the cold ground, my fingers clutching the sharp blades of the long sea grass.
“What happened?” I said.
But there was no answer. Just the ruins of an ancient chimney. Since then, I’ve spent every waking moment trying to find
a way back to Sofía. But my powers have worked sporadically at best, and never in a way that would be helpful. Now, though . . . now that I’m here, back to the time before she was trapped . . .
I have a chance.
I could save Sofía. I could stop my past self from taking her back, from leaving her stuck in a world that wasn’t hers. I’ve tried so many times to reach this time and place again, and now that I’m here, I can fix it. I can make sure she never ends up in the past, abandoned, trapped where I can’t reach her.
I hear voices down the path. It’s past-me and Sofía. This is my chance. I can save her.
I stand up straighter, prepared to run to her.
I take one step forward, my voice already rising in my throat, ready to shout a warning . . .
I’m snapped back to the present.
I feel a cool hand on the back of my neck. “Hey,” Gwen says softly. “You okay? You were gone there for a moment.”
I nod, swallowing. I don’t know why I expected this time to be different.
I can’t save Sofía. I took her to the past, and I left her there, and I can’t bring her back. I’ve tried and I’ve tried. Every time I get close to her, time snaps me away again.
She’s trapped. And I put her there.
“Where has that boy gone off to?” Dad asks. He scowls at the dispersing crowd.
Mom looks at me like I’m keeping Bo’s location a secret, but I just shrug. He stormed off before the memorial service was over. How am I supposed to know where he went?
A tall black man with a thin mustache and old-fashioned waves in his hair approaches us. He holds out his hand for my dad to shake, and Mom greets him with a smile.
“I’m Dr. Franklin,” he tells me. “I’m your brother’s psychiatrist.”
A muscle twitches in my dad’s jaw at that last word, but he doesn’t say anything.
“Do you know where Bo went?” Mom asks the doctor.
Dr. Franklin frowns. “He’s been greatly affected by Sofía’s death,” he says. He glances up; the paper lanterns are still visible, tiny specks of light in the fading sky. “They were close,” he adds, looking back down at my mom.