The following is a prompt exercise from 712 More Things to Write About by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. I’ve really enjoyed spring boarding ideas from prompts found in this book. Who knows? It may inspire my next book.
Thinking of You in Ireland
by Lauren Sisley
“Thinking of You in Ireland.” I can’t believe this garbage.
When we were sixteen Josie and I planned to one day embark on a European journey. Leaving behind the pressures of high school we would run off and tour the hostels with a couple of local guys. That was our dream and our secret. When all of our friends talked about college goals we would look at each other and smile. We never uttered a word to another person about how we planned to forego university to travel all over a foreign continent.
Ever since Josie went missing the summer before our senior year I’ve been receiving postcards from destinations all over Europe. Most people would view these postcards as clues to her whereabouts, but all of those detective shows we used to watch together taught me better than that. When I received the first card last fall from Prague I was quick to notice the local stamp in the top right corner. And that same stamp accompanied every card sent thereafter.
By the third or fourth postcard I realized that all of them were made by the same company out of Detroit, Traveling Connections. It’s like all of the postcards were purchased at the same time in a bundle. I called the storehouse a few times last month, but I reached an operator on my fourth attempt and she informed me that the company had fallen victim to the poor economy and shut down operations.
Part of me wants to believe that Josie is living our dream. She’s spending days on the pebble beaches being served hard liquor from men with rich accents. At times I visualize her stopping in small gift shops concealing her identity with bug-eyed sunglasses and a visor cap in search of the perfect postcard to send home to her best friend. But then I’m reminded about the local stamps and I get that feeling in my stomach that something is very wrong.
I can’t shake the thought that someone else is aware of our European plans. Either she had written about it in an uncovered diary or she somehow divulged this information to a complete stranger. I’d like to think that Josie would never have left on this journey without me. We were inseparable the summer she went missing. But the further I dig into this bottomless mystery the more I realize there was a lot more to Josie than I knew.