Sarah, Returned--Chapter 22 (A Steemit Original Novel)
I slap on my sweetest smile and lean forward. “Karen.” My voice is sugary and pure. "It is lovely to see you are still the same unfeeling bitch I remember."
Her face pales, stunned.
Satisfied I've shocked her into silence, I continue, innocent as a kitten.
"You have no idea what I’ve been through, yet you assume to know it all. Well, I promise you will hear the entire story in exquisite detail when the police come to take my statement. In the meantime, I must remind you that you are a guest in my home, not the other way around, as you seem to assume. You act like you’re the lady of the manor. Maybe you’ve even moved in here while I was away. Matt hasn’t told me, but I wouldn’t be surprised. You’ve been aching to set up shop in this house since you started dating my cousin. Nonetheless, this is my house, and Matt’s, not yours. You have no rights here but those we give you. I’d advise you to treat me with respect unless you want to find yourself on the receiving end of a restraining order that will force you to leave the premises. You see, someone tried to tamper with the brakes on my car the night I left, and with the way you’re acting now, I could easily make a case for it being you. Mull that over, if you will. And, while you do, I am going to bathe and change into some clean, comfortable clothes."
I turn to Matt and add, "And, yes, Matt, I would love something to eat. It seems like it’s been centuries since I’ve had a bite.”
Karen gapes at me, speechless for once, and I almost laugh. It's hilarious. I’ve never talked to her like this in front of other people, out of respect for Matt. No more. After what I’ve been through these past 14 years, and the chaos and trauma of today, I have no use for her nonsense. I will speak my mind. Besides, with any luck, I won’t be here long enough for anything I say to her to matter.
Rising, I walk away with as much haughtiness as I can muster, my head held high. It's more difficult than I expected, after 14 years of Quaker training in the art of being humble. With concentration, I do a respectable job of looking like the dignified, put-upon lady of the house, but can’t help letting a satisfied smirk slip onto my lips as I pass Great-Uncle Jacob. He sees it, and winks at me.
“Good for you, my girl,” he whispers, just as my path blocks Karen’s view of him. I give him a slight nod in return. Of all the people here, Jacob is the only one I have no doubt is 100 percent on my side.
I’m almost to the stairs when Karen’s power of speech returns. “Well, if you’re so intent on doing things your way, I’m going upstairs with you. No way am I letting you out of my sight until this is resolved, Sarah.”
I don’t even bother to look back at her as I give my answer. “You have no rights here. Take one step toward those stairs before I come back down, and I will make sure you are the prime suspect in my attempted murder. Everyone in this room knows you’ve got motive, even Matt, though he’s too kind to say it. Think twice before you cross me, Karen, because I can make things extremely unpleasant for you.”
“How….how dare….” she begins, enraged.
“My house,” I cut her off and swivel around to fix her with a steely gaze that leaves no question I mean business. “My rules. You get no say. Uncle Jacob, you may come upstairs with me, if you like. I wouldn’t mind the company, and you can be my bodyguard. I think I need one.”
I throw a meaningful stare at Karen. Her face practically folds in on itself, forming an intricate human origami of fury akin to the “angry face” emoji. I think for a moment she might bounce off the sofa with enough force to leap across the room in one bound and try to wring my neck. Let her try. I’ve had years of hands-on practice taking care of people far tougher than her.
The moment passes without incident; the Evil Queen remains seated, her immaculately manicured nails pressed so deep into the sofa, I’m concerned she may tear the aging fabric. I turn my back on her once again, as she continues to glare at me.
“It would be my pleasure, dear,” Jacob says, answering my request, and I hear the ancient springs creak in the chair as he stands. I wait, hand on the banister, and soon, he is at my side. Unfortunately, there isn’t time to check Grandma’s room before the police arrive. It might take hours, or all night, to go through everything she owned, and even longer to determine if any of them are relics from 1864, good for opening a portal. Maybe tonight, when everyone is asleep, I’ll give it a try. In the meantime, I’d like to talk to Jacob about a few things only he will understand.
“Grilled cheese and carrot-ginger soup?” Matt is already heading toward the kitchen. My favorite comfort food combo. Sweet guy. He deserves so much better than that gold-digging shrew.
“Yes, please,” I say, using my kindest tone to reflect how grateful I am for his compassion and manners. “And some coffee with cream and sugar, if you don’t mind? I know I usually avoid sugar, but I’ve been through so much.”
“Of course. Amaretto-flavored coffee?”
“Amaretto.” I give him a thumbs-up. He knows me so well.
There are a lot of things I’ve missed about the 21st century over the years, but real coffee with cream and sugar is up at the top of the list. You simply can’t get that in 17th century New England. I intend to enjoy every ounce of all the little luxuries I can while I’m here. Why not? In all likelihood, I’ll never get to experience them again.
Or, can I? Maybe I can pack a bag and bring some things back with me. Would that be too anachronistic? I wouldn’t want to destroy the future we know by changing the past too much. Grandma’s box came back to the 17th century with me, clutched in my hand, when the portal pulled me through time. That makes it a portal-opener for anyone who may come across it, which is why I locked it away for good when I had Clara. I wince as a pang of sadness hits me, wishing for the millionth time Grizel would have used it to at least try to return to her husband and children in the 1850’s. I offered it to her so many times.
Obviously, objects besides the clothes on your back can go through a portal, so it seems like I could maybe pack a few essentials to bring home with me. Having penicillin, chocolate, coffee, and a good quality moisturizer around when I’m back on the farm would be lovely. I’ll have to see what kind of “17th century comfort kit” I can manage to put together.
Jacob reaches me at the base of the stairs, and takes my arm in his, like the true gentleman he is. Together, we march up, leaving Karen speechless with rage, Carter more confused than ever, and Matt eagerly making me the most love-filled dinner in the history of mankind. Though getting back to my family is still my number one priority, for the moment, at least, I’m pretty happy.
Catch up with the entire "Sarah, Returned" series here: