“Wish You Were Here”: Frank Jones Summary, Plot Synopsis

“Wish You Were Here” is a short story by Frank Jones about an older woman who starts getting harassed in an unusual way. Here’s a summary of “Wish You Were Here”.

“Wish You Were Here” Summary

While out with her friend Norah, Dorothy notices a garden gnome with a lop-sided grin on its face. Norah thinks it’s a bit corny but Dorothy likes it and buys it. At her place, they position it in the rockery where it looks perfect.

After they have tea and Norah leaves, Dorothy adjusts the gnome so it’s face can be seen from the living room window. Norman, the mailman, comes by and compliments the gnome. He’s in his mid-twenties and looks out for the older people on his route.

The next morning, Norman points out the gnome has been knocked over, maybe by the Allen boys. He fixes it up. Petty vandalism is fairly common in the area.

A few days later, the gnome has been pushed over again. Furious, Dorothy goes to Mrs. Allen and blames her boys for the incidents. Her boys are out of town; she slams the door on Dorothy. Embarrassed, Dorothy goes home.

The next morning, the gnome is gone. Dorothy’s upset but also a little afraid. She calls the police. She has a coffee and Norah stops by before she leaves on her trip to Charlottetown. An officer arrives and gets the details, but doesn’t offer much hope.

Dorothy and Norah walk down to the viaduct to see if the gnomes been dumped. The trail is littered with beer bottles and they’re startled by a man lying in newspapers. Norah says they’ll get a new one when she comes back.

Wish You Were Here Frank Jones Summary Plot Synopsis
“Wish You Were Here” Summary

The next few days Dorothy looks out in the morning at the empty spot. The following Wednesday, she gets a postcard of the Rockies via Calgary signed by Mr. Gnome. Her heart races.

Two days later, another postcard arrives from Vancouver with the same handwriting. During the next week, she gets a postcard from Norah. Then a postcard arrives from Sydney, from Mr. Gnome. She’s scared and has a drink.

When the next one arrives two days later, she catches Norman and gets him to read it to her. She invites him inside and explains what’s been happening. He encourages her to pay no attention to them, and says he’ll deliver any future ones personally.

That night, Dorothy dreams the gnome is her deceased husband, Ted. He’s too ill to come inside and asks for help.

Dorothy gets another postcard from Sydney. The gnome says it’s ill and misses her. She calls the police again and an older officer comes this time. He sympathizes but can’t really do anything.

Norman brings another postcard the next day. The gnome says he needs an operation and asks for her prayers. Dorothy cries and just wants to be left alone.

She works in the garden that day to distract herself and then goes out to dinner. She can’t fall asleep until three in the morning. The phone wakes her at 5:14 a.m. It’s the phone company with a telegram that the operator reads out to her.

“Wish You Were Here” Summary, Cont’d

Norah calls Dorothy the next morning but doesn’t get an answer. She goes over to her place, passing an ambulance on her street. Norman is sitting on her step looking sad.

He saw Dorothy passed out on her floor through the window. He broke the window on the back door to get in and tried to revive her. He called the ambulance but it was too late. Shaken by the news, Norah goes inside with Norman. He shows her the postcards Dorothy had been getting, including a new one today from Adelaide.

Norah wants to talk to the police in case someone was at Dorothy’s place last night. Norman has to get back to work. He writes his contact information on one of the postcards and goes.

At the phone, Norah sees a message written by the phone. It says, “The gnome died today.” Her heart pounds as she looks at the card in her hand. The handwriting from the gnome is the same as Norman’s contact information.

She looks out the front window at Norman walking away. She can hear him whistling. She feels like she’s being watched. The gnome is back in its old place with the same insolent smile.

I hope this summary of “Wish You Were Here” by Frank Jones was helpful.