Summary: Agloe

They drive around looking for Margo. They pass an old barn that might have been the Agloe General Store, and Margo’s car is parked out front. They go inside and see her hunched over a desk, writing. They approach her and call out her name. Margo is grimy, with chapped lips and dead eyes, and she stares at them. She tells them to give her five minutes, and returns to her writing.

After these five minutes, she closes the notebook and asks them what they’re all doing there. Margo makes fun of Lacey for being with Ben. Lacey, Ben, and Radar all stomp away, frustrated and annoyed. Quentin yells at Margo for being a brat, and Margo counters that they shouldn’t have come to search for her. She says that she didn’t want to be found. Quentin yells that she didn’t think about how her departure would affect the people she left behind.

Quentin asks why she left all those clues if she didn’t want them to find her. Instead of answering, Margo says that she didn’t know how else she could lead her own life without leaving suddenly. Their friends call to say that they’re staying in a nearby motel, and that they are going to leave the next morning with or without Quentin. Margo describes her living situation, and then tells Quentin she is leaving for New York City that day.

Margo explains that this all started with a detective novel that she wrote when she was ten. In the novel, the character named Margo had a crush on the character named Quentin, and she, Quentin, and a magical version of Myrna Mountweazel investigate the death of Robert Joyner. Ever since then, she’s been plotting various escapes from her life, one of which was the Mississippi trip. The previous year, she reread her old detective novel and started going to the minimall hideout to plot her final escape to Agloe. It was supposed to happen on graduation night, but when she found out about Jase cheating on her, she shifted the timeline back.

Margo says that she had always planned to involve Quentin in this plan, but that he had surprised her by being a three-dimensional person, not a “paper boy,” as she’d imagined him all these years. She tells him that she left him the Woody Guthrie poster and the Walt Whitman clue at the last minute because she didn’t want him to worry, and led him to the minimall so that he would go out of his comfort zone and explore. She tried to cover her tracks in the minimall so that Quentin wouldn’t read into it as much as he did.

Margo says that she’s always felt like a paper girl, which was why she was obsessed with going to Agloe, a paper town. Quentin tells her that he thought she was dead. Margo reads a passage from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, which talks about contemplating suicide but being unable to do so. Margo says she feels that there are deep cracks inside her.