Sarah, Returned--Chapter 34 (A Steemit Original Novel)
I’m sweating and shaking when I finish; it’s an exhausting tale, and I’m still sick with fury. However, releasing the secret into the world is cathartic; my anger at Matt hasn’t diminished, but I feel more relaxed. I had no idea how tense my secret was making me. The only question now is, how is Matt going to react?
My guess? Not well.
I'm right, of course. As soon as the final word of my tale leaves my lips, I look up at him, and instantly wish I hadn’t. My cousin’s horrified expression tells me all I need to know. All the doubts about my sanity Karen carefully planted in his subconscious are right there, on the surface, plain enough for anyone to see. I can’t blame him, really. It’s an incredible tale; I can’t say I would believe him if the tables were turned.
Yes, it was a mistake to tell him. I knew that before he picked me up at the gas station. But, his incessant pushing pushed me beyond my limits of patience. I don’t regret it. Let Matt do what he wants, think what he chooses. It doesn’t matter, because it changes nothing. I am still returning to 1699 at the first opportunity. No one is keeping me from getting back to my family. Not even Matt.
“Oh my God,” he whispers, voice shaking, a hand flying to his mouth. “Is that really what you believe?” His blue eyes are practically bugging out at me, like in those Bugs Bunny cartoons. In any other situation, it would be comical.
“It’s not what I believe, it’s what happened,” I snap, daring him to question me further.
“It's true. I didn’t want to believe it, but it’s true,” he says, alarmed. “Karen may be a gold-digging whore, but she was right about one thing. You’re delusional. Delusional and being stalked by someone who wants to hurt you. I’ve got to call the police.”
“And what?” I demand, slamming my hand down on the house phone that sits on the kitchen counter. His cell is in the living room, and he’ll have to beat me to it if he wants to make that call. “What are you going to say, Matt? Tell them your cousin actually is crazy, just like Karen warned you? I’ll deny everything. It will be your word against mine, and I know how to be convincing. I’ll make them think you’re working with whoever tried to break in here last night, that you're a danger to me. It won’t take much to convince the police you want me out of the way. You have more motive than anyone. Try to cross me, Matt, and I’ll make you a suspect again. Enjoy your inheritance from behind bars, because I will testify against you.”
Oh, geez. That was beyond harsh. And, after we’d just made up, too. I didn’t mean to take it that far. But, if he has me put on a psychiatric hold, it might be days, weeks, or longer before I have another opportunity to get back home. I can’t let him stand in my way. I don’t want to leave things on a bad note between Matt and me, but I will if I have to. Nothing is more important than returning to my family, not even him.
He’s silent, stunned. I’m not the Sarah he thought he knew. The look on his face says it all. “I didn’t think you could be so manipulative.” There’s sadness in his voice, and a hint of anger, too.
“I didn’t know you could ever turn against me.” That much is true, and I’m still mad about it. We always have each other’s backs; that’s been our first rule since childhood. He broke it. In fact, he broke it twice--first, with Karen, and again just now.
“I’m not,” he insists. “But, you do need help. Karen may be a conniving bitch, but she wasn’t lying about what’s going on with you. I just didn’t want to see it. Well, now I do. I’m calling the police to get you a psychiatric evaluation. Unless you come with me willingly, that is. Can we make this peaceful, Sarah?”
Yeah, right. I laugh, heaping the sound with every once of scorn I can summon. “Screw you, Matt.”
I turn and head back up the stairs, determined to search the rest of Grandma’s floor come hell or high water. He won’t make that call. It’s a bluff. Matt knows it will come down to he said/she said. Won’t it? Let’s think about this. I don’t want to do anything to give him an advantage. Any slip-up on my part could delay me going home.
Okay. What are the facts of the situation? I’m the one who disappeared for a month, not him. That disappearance comes with a good reason, and the police know it, but will it make me seem less stable than someone who stayed and fought it out with their tormentor? Oh man, Matt might actually have the edge here, even if it’s only a slight one. My disappearance, because I was mad at Matt and Karen, may make me seem emotional and manipulative when it comes right down to it. It could be enough for a psychiatric evaluation to be ordered. No way am I letting that happen.
I turn, half-way up the stairs, to see what Matt is doing. Shit. He’s going for the kitchen phone. I should have ripped it out of the wall when I had my hands on it. I can’t believe he’s actually doing it. Bastard! So much for our rule.
With the power of a thousand militant kangaroos, I leap down the stairs, clearing them all in one jump, and race around the kitchen counter.
“Yes, I need to call in a psychiatric hold for my cousin, Sarah Morgan,” he’s saying into the receiver. “She’s been missing for a month, and now that she’s back, she seems delusional. I want her to get examined. No, she’s not being cooperative.”
I make a grab for the phone, but he pulls it away from me, twisting and turning to keep it just out of my reach. I have to stop him, convince the people on the other side that there’s no reason to come here.
“Examples of her behavior?” he asks with some difficulty, as I grab the back of his shoulder-length brown hair and pull him almost all the way into a backbend. “She’s saying she traveled back in time, for starters.”
I slam my knee into the back of one of his, causing him to lose his balance and fall to all fours on the floor.
“Ouch!” he cries, then grunts in pain. “She’s being uncharacteristically violent, for another.”
How the hell does he still have the phone in his hand? I jump on his back while he’s still down, and dig my elbows into his ribs.
“Ow, ow, ow! Damn it, Sarah, stop it!” he shouts, bucking back and forth like a steer at a rodeo to try to get me off him. “Yes,” he grunts into the phone. “It’s the same Sarah Morgan with the police guard on her house. We still need them to make sure no one breaks in here. Can you send someone else to get her? It’s important. I’ve never seen her act like this.”
Well, there’s no way they’re not coming now. After hearing me beating up on Matt, they’ll at least give me an evaluation, and it won’t be voluntary. I won't let it happen. Who knows how long I may be there? They might examine and question me, and let me go right away, or they might decide to hold me. If they do, I’m at the psych ward for a minimum of three days. I can’t wait that long.
If there weren’t police outside the house right now who are no doubt getting word about my altercation with Matt on their radios, I could let Matt chase me, lose him in town, then circle back to the house and finish my search. Unfortunately, there’s no time for that now. Dover is a small town; a cop car will be here in minutes. There’s got to be another way to find something of Grandma’s that she brought with her from 1864.
Great-Uncle Jacob! Of course. If anyone has what I need, it’s going to be him. He knew more about Grandma’s history than any of us, until I met Grizel. I need to get to him. But, how? I don’t even know where he lives, except it’s in Portsmouth. Portsmouth is a big town by New Hampshire standards. I’ll never find him without an address. Well, maybe if I went door to door, I might find someone who knows him. Portsmouth may be big, but it’s still small enough for most neighbors to at least know each other’s names. Unfortunately, I think my car keys are upstairs in my purse. There’s no way I can get them and make it back into the garage without getting cornered by Matt, and Portsmouth is too far away to walk there.
What to do, what to do? I know! I’ll hitchhike. One thing about this part of New Hampshire I’ve always liked is that it’s pretty safe. It has to be. Too many people are connected by centuries-old family relationships. We all look out for each other. And, everyone hears about everything that happens, even several towns away. Honestly, I think the police outside are keeping the local newspapers at bay, or they’d have reporters at the house interviewing me about my return by now. One thing being in the 17th century taught me is how resourceful I can be when necessity calls for it. Once I get to Portsmouth, I can figure out how to find Great-Uncle Jacob. I just need to ditch Matt first.
I turn my head toward the back door, and something amazing catches my eye. Can I be that lucky? Yes! There is a neat row of shining keys on rings, dangling from a decorative key organizer on the wall, just like always, including mine. They’re not in my purse after all. Matt or Karen must have moved them back to their proper place at some point after they were extracted from my car. Thank God for small miracles.
I jump off Matt just as he’s giving the dispatcher our address, and make a dash for the keys. His Scooby-Doo key ring is hanging right next to my heart-shaped one with the rainbow on it, as always. I grab them both. Matt hears the clinking of keys and turns around. I grin and hold both sets up to him, shaking them a little, to let him know if he wants to catch me, he’s going to have to do it on foot, since I just removed his ability to take his car or mine.
“Sarah, no!” he shouts, still on all fours, and reaches a hand out toward me.
I shake my head. “Sorry, Matt,” I say with genuine sincerity, since I may not ever see him again if all goes well when I find Jacob. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but he instigated it. Once I’m back home in 1699, maybe he will finally entertain the idea I was telling the truth, and look for me in the historical records of the town. It's the best I can hope for with him now.
With an apologetic smile, I slip out the back door, and am gone.
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