Sarah, Returned--Chapter 29 (A Steemit Original Novel)
I flip on the light and close the door behind me. Everything in my room is exactly as I left it, almost like Matt has been keeping it as a shrine. It looks untouched, but I can’t help but wonder if Karen snooped around in here while I was gone, looking for any evidence to prove her accusations of my madness.
It is weird being back in my old bedroom, I’ll say that. Though I’ve only been away a month to everyone here, it’s been 14 years for me. I built a whole other life in a different century in those years; after Clara was born, I never imagined I would ever see this place again. Standing in the room now is like being in some kind of especially vivid dream, real and not real at the same time. It’s disorienting as hell, and for a moment, I wonder if I am crazy.
Finally alone in my bedroom from a lifetime ago, with nothing but my thoughts to entertain me until Matt is asleep, I begin to wonder if this is all real, or if I will wake up in the morning next to Joshua on our feather bed, little David in the cradle beside us, and Patience in her trundle bed on the floor. This is exactly the way I felt when I first realized I was in the 17th century. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder what is real. I can’t let myself go down that road.
I understand how Grandma came to accept it after spending decades here, but this going back and forth messes with your mind. Am I the only one to ever do it, to cross back and forth? And, I’m about to do it a third time, if all goes according to plan. How crazy will I feel when I return to my husband and children? Maybe time travel isn’t something you should do more than once. So little is known about it. Who knows what weird side effects may be involved? I’ve got to keep it together.
This disorientation can’t be unusual. I’m doing something that would make anyone question reality. I am perfectly normal. Though madness does run on Mom’s side of the family, she didn’t suffer from it, as far as I know, and neither do I. Karen’s hateful accusations from so long ago must be forgotten. Karen must be forgotten. I know what happened to me, and I know what is real. I need to focus on that. I have gone through something extraordinary, not imaginary. And, I can do it again. I must.
I sit down on the edge of my bed, the comforter silky under my skin, the mattress softer than any luxury feather bed in 1699. People today don’t know how good they have it compared to their ancestors. Even a century ago, things were much harder. Technology has made us soft, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It just makes it hard to adapt if you happen to travel back in time. I know I struggled mightily. All those nights I cried myself to sleep because there was no air conditioning or heating, the mattress was scratchy and full of fleas, and there was no light to turn on or music to play to take the edge off the all-encompassing darkness and deafening silence once everyone in the Otis house went to bed. Oh man, that utter silence, where there is no background noise at all, that was the hardest thing to deal with for a long time. Now, I long for it, if for no other reason than my husband is in that darkness, waiting for me, and wherever he is, that is where I belong.
I’m beyond tired, and the soft bed is enticing. I can’t let it pull me in, though, because I know I would fall fast asleep and lose my chance to search Grandma's bedroom tonight. I know what I'm trying to do has a flimsy chance of succeeding at best. Even if I do find the appropriate artifact, I don’t know if it will take me back to Joshua, or somewhere else entirely. I don't know if controlling your destination is possible. If I do find something, I still have to locate Professor Johnson, and he might not have the answers I need.
I’m sorely tempted to open a portal at the first opportunity and jump in with abandon, trusting it will take me where I need to go, but it’s not the smartest move. If I find anything that looks antique in Grandma’s room, the best thing is to avoid direct contact with it until I can find and communicate with the professor. He is my best shot at getting home. I don’t want to blow it by being careless; I could end up separated from everyone I love in the 17th century and this one if I walk into another portal without some instruction on how to navigate it, and that's assuming such instruction even exists.
There are a lot of variables and unknowns here, and I'm aware my chances of going home are small. Still, I have to take what little is there and do everything in my power to make it work for me. It's the only hope I have. Any devoted mother or loving wife would do the same.
It’s going to be a long night. Should’ve had Matt make me another cup of coffee. Maybe I’ll go down and make myself one. I think I still remember how to do it. Matt usually falls asleep within about a half hour of lying down, so I’ll try to stay awake sans coffee until then. Though coffee sounds heavenly, and I may not get another chance to have a cup before I leave, I don’t want the bean grinder to wake him up. He would want to stay up with me, which would make me lose my chance to search Grandma’s room before Sgt. Baker comes to pick me up tomorrow. It's not like I'm expecting to go through a portal tonight, but I need to at least have something in hand that could be used to open one, and the sooner I get it, the better.
I wander around my room, thumbing through my old things. There are items in every corner I remember well and think of fondly, but have no real need of anymore. My iPod, books, and laptop. Posters on my walls of philosophers, artists, and innovators. The diary I kept in high school. A stuffed tiger Carter won for me at the county fair. All symbols of a life I treasured, but left behind for something greater 14 years ago. Looking in my closet, I see Matt even hung my purse back up on its hook just inside the door, the same purse I left behind at the top of Garrison Hill.
I wonder…. I unzip it and rummage about inside. There’s my cell phone, still turned off. I wonder if I’m still on the family plan, or if Karen insisted on removing me. I can’t imagine the police would allow that during an open investigation, but then again, the phone looks like it hasn’t been used since I left. They obviously weren’t expecting any calls from me on that phone. The clothes I stuffed inside the purse are still there, untouched. My wallet, cash, credit cards, driver’s license…everything is in perfect order, like someone simply zipped up the purse and put it away. Did anyone even look through this thing? It seems like it would be an important thing to do in a missing persons investigation.
Maybe Karen paid off someone to keep the investigation light. She’s got money, and possibly friends or acquaintances in the right places. If she didn’t want them looking too deeply into what happened to me, she had the means to make it happen, while still putting on a good show for Matt. Hell, for all I know, Karen found my purse before anyone else, and hid it until she could slip it back into my closet, unnoticed. It makes sense.
I would poke around at that theory some more, except I notice the time on the clock on my wall. It’s been about half an hour since I came in here. Matt should be asleep. It’s time to get to work.
A quick and ever so quiet check of Matt’s room, which involves me gently lifting up on the old wooden door and pushing it open with agonizing slowness so it doesn’t creak…a move I perfected in high school…confirms he is far away in dreamland, exactly where I need him to be. Poor guy is exhausted, so he’ll be slumbering for a while. Perfect.
I tiptoe down the hallway to Grandma’s room, thankful for the long, decorative throw rugs along its length that dampen the sound of my feet on the ancient wooden floor planks. Her door is also made of wood, covered in crackling white paint, with a 1920’s-era crystal doorknob, just like the other bedroom doors in the house. We like to keep it old-school but classy at Morgan Manor.
I used to think it was so cool how ancient our house was, and how my grandparents lavished it from top to bottom with picture perfect antiques, though now I suspect they were all replicas; knowing what I now know, Grandma would never let real antiques into the house. Even so, I had no idea what antique really was until I went to where those items are new, or not even made yet. If I decided to stay here, I could make a killing on the antique dealers’ market.
The thought makes me smile at its absurdity. If I stayed, I’d have no need to go into business, as my inheritance pretty much guarantees I can spend my life doing whatever makes me happy. Work to earn money for basic necessities wouldn’t be part of my 21st century existence.
Oh well. I’m not staying, so there’s no need to go down that train of thought.
Grandma’s room is dark inside, and I shut the door behind me before turning on the light, just in case it spills across the hall and disturbs Matt. I can’t have him coming in here.
Oh my God. While my room has remained virtually untouched, Grandma’s has not.
It’s been ransacked. ________________________________________________________________
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