ONE Deirdre moved like a sleepwalker, as hollow as if someone had scooped out the inside of her heart. Grand Central Terminal was so big. Track numbers and gates, and stairs to go down. People going every which way. She walked close to her older brother, Sean, so close that sometimes she bumped him. She felt small and lost, and she clutched her little brother Jimmy's hand too hard as the agent hurried them along with the group. Jimmy squirmed and whimpered, so she loosened her grip. Her other hand held tight around the handle of the small cardboard suitcase. O'Rourke, Deirdre was printed on its side in black crayon. Cardboard tags hung over their chests: Deirdre O'Rourke, Age 11. Sean O'Rourke, Age 13. James O'Rourke, Age 3. There were eighty other kids with them--little ones like Jimmy, others bigger than Sean, all of them in fresh-starched clothes, all of them carrying cardboard suitcases with their names in black crayon. Some of the kids were unruly and noisy. A quiet group walked automatically in double file; the girls wore the same navy pinafores, the boys had the same blue shirts. They had to be from the orphanage, Deirdre thought. And for a moment she was grateful the new dress she'd been given was different, with brown and white checks. Before yesterday, she'd never even heard of the Children's Aid Society; she hadn't known anything about trains taking city kids to someplace far away. Not until Mum had handed each of them a suitcase from Children's Aid. Yesterday. August 23, 1927. At least the date was something real to hold on to. A loudspeaker blared. "Track Four. Washington... Richmond..." Mum had to have planned this way before yesterday. When? Why? The loudspeaker voice echoed in Deirdre's mind. "Richmond...Richmond..." Deirdre pulled Jimmy along and looked up at Sean. "Did you know?" She swallowed the sudden thickness in her throat. "Did Mum tell you ahead of time?" "No." Sean's lips were set in such a tight line that there was a circle of white around them. "Last night--you should've stopped her--" Sean was Mum's favorite; he always got into lots of scrapes, but no matter how good Deirdre behaved, Sean was still her favorite. He could have-- "She had it all set," he said. "All your hollering and crying didn't change anything. You were just making her feel worse." Making Mum feel worse! When had Sean said that before?--something like that, long ago. She could almost remember... It was all she could do to make Jimmy keep up. He was only three; he couldn't walk that fast. Anyway, he wasn't used to wearing shoes. A gate. A sign: track 9. Jimmy held on to the banister; he was slow on the stairs. The platform was dimly lit. Everything was gray. A train with a long line of cars stretched as far as Deirdre could see. There was smoke rising, and hissing and rumbling. "Here we are," the lady agent said. Deirdre hadn't known the word agent before. Mum explained, "They're the ones from Children's Aid taking care of you while you're traveling. So you see, it'll be fine." As if anything could be fine again! The lady agent had come for them early that morning; she found them in front of the building on Division Street. She had bobbed hair and wore a cloche. Deirdre could tell she was the uptown kind. When the lady came to get them, all Mum had said was, "Remember to say your prayers." She'd wiped a smudge from Deirdre's cheek. "Be good." "No! No, Mum, I don't want--" "Sure it's grand and glorious places you'll go, all the way west." Mum had put on a pretend smile, but her voice was a whisper. Deirdre could hardly hear her over the rumble of an ice truck driving by. The lady had glanced at their blanket spread out on the sidewalk and quickly lookTamar, Erika is the author of 'Midnight Train Home' with ISBN 9780440416708 and ISBN 0440416701.