Sarah, Returned--Chapter 40 (A Steemit Original Novel)
“I told you she traveled to 1938 from 1864,” I press him. “That’s her, Matt. You can’t deny it. No one but a twin is going to look that much like someone else. And, this woman here,” I point to Grizel in the photo of her and Grandma together, “this is her mother, our great-grandmother. Her name was Elizabeth, Matt. I’m named after her.”
“I thought you were named after Grandma,” is his disinterested reply. I could slap him.
“Yes, both of them," I say, my voice sharp with irritation. "Sarah Elizabeth Morgan. Their shared first name became my middle name. That’s not the point. I met her, Matt. In 1685, when I walked out the other side of the portal, she was there. Did you know she disappeared in 1856, when Grandma was only 11? She did. She went back in time to the same place I did. She changed her name to Grizel Warren, and married our ancestor, Richard Otis. Remember the story? We were told it so many times in school, and by Grandma. It’s a famous event in Dover’s history. She was taken captive by the native Penacook tribe along with her infant daughter, and sold to the French in Canada. I was there when it happened. I saw them take her. She was my friend, Matt, and she knew who I was, too. She found the daguerreotypes I brought with me, the ones that were in Grandma’s memory box, along with a lot of other things that prove Grandma traveled through time. It was Elizabeth, Grizel, whatever you want to call her, our great-grandmother, who helped me survive my first few years in the 17th century. I lived in her house for four years, until the Penacook took her. It’s all real. I don’t know how you can deny it after seeing these pictures.”
“You always did have a vivid, creative imagination, Sarah.” Matt's voice is soft and gentle, almost like he feels sorry for me. “With everything going on with Grandma, and then Karen coming in and treating you like a second-class citizen in your own home, I’m sure imagination was a great escape for you. The way I acted didn’t help, I know. But, it doesn’t mean any of this is real. As for Jacob, I’m not sure. He wants you to believe, but I can’t tell if he really believes himself. That’s the mystery here, not whether you, Grandma, and Grandma’s mother traveled through time.”
“You are such a jackass,” I mutter, and turn away from him. I look up at Jacob for some support, and am momentarily stunned. He’s turned almost pure white. In fact, he’s staring at me as if he’s just seen a ghost. His lower lip is trembling, and so are his hands. What the heck?
“Uncle Jacob?” I ask, reaching a hand out toward him. He leans forward, and grabs it with intensity.
“You saw Elizabeth Otis? Elizabeth Frances Wentworth Otis?” He makes it sound like the most important question anyone in the world ever asked, and the answer is crucial to the survival of our planet.
“Yes,” I say, nodding. “She was there, living as Richard Otis’s third wife, Grizel Warren. She knew as well as I did what would happen to her and the two daughters she would go on to have with him. We spent years, even before the girls were conceived, planning a way for me to save the older girl, Hannah, and I did it. She said she didn’t mind being taken to Canada, as long as she knew Hannah was safe. And, I got to tell her about her eldest child's life as my time-traveling grandmother.”
His bright eyes are brimming with tears, but only for a moment. He blinks them back almost as soon as they appear, shaking himself back to normal. He releases my hand and sits back on the edge of his chair, closing the binder.
“We must talk more about that later,” he says, an unmistakable hint of deep emotion in his voice. “In the meantime, I have more evidence for young Matt here.”
Matt rolls his eyes, but in a respectful way. Who knew you could do that? “Do we really have to continue this game, Uncle Jacob? Sarah obviously believes she traveled through time. Whatever reason you have for wanting her to believe it, it worked. Can I just take her to be evaluated now? I need to get her de-programmed.”
“Matt, I promised you that you will leave here convinced of everything Sarah and I have told you, and you will. The pictures are just the beginning. I thought you might need more to believe. I’ve got more. Please give me the courtesy of at least looking at it.”
Matt sighs long and loud. “Fine. It seems to mean a lot to Sarah, so I’ll do it for her.”
“Thank you. Back in a moment.” Once more, he returns as if by magic, giving Matt and me no time to discuss anything amongst ourselves. He has a packet of papers in one hand, and a cell phone in the other. The papers are more exchanges between Grandma and the mysterious Professor Robert Johnson, all talking about time travel, as well as three more pages from her journal; she only kept one page in her memory box, which I found before I left 2017. Did a full one, with binding, ever exist, or did she just write down thoughts she believed were worth recording as they came to her?
There is also a picture of Grandma and Grandpa with Jacob in the 1960’s, with both my dad and Matt’s as little children. To my surprise, Matt shows interest in the letters, and reads every paper, pausing for long periods on individual paragraphs and words. I wonder what those pages say? Do they talk about Grandma’s theory of one or both of our dads being alive? What will Matt do with that kind of information?
After a long time, with utter silence filling the house, Matt puts the papers down. Once they’re no longer blocking his face and I can see his features again, the first thing I notice is how furrowed his brows are. Oh. He’s confused. Well, that’s understandable. But, is he willing to believe?
“A family delusion,” he concludes, his voice shaking and, looks down at the papers he just set on the coffee table. “A tendency toward hallucinations in the family that got transformed into a tale of time travel passed down through the generations, so those susceptible believed it. I just can’t believe a professor at UNH would talk to Grandma about it in those letters like it was a real thing. That seems so reckless. He should have gotten her help. It must have been a way for her to cope with losing both her children at the same time. Did she ever talk to you about time travel, Sarah? Is this how you started to believe it?”
“No, Matt, our grandmother never talked to me about time travel,” I say, drily. He’s really still questioning this? Honestly?
“And, why would I believe it if it’s a family delusion?” Jacob asks. “I’m your grandfather’s brother, remember? Different side of the family.”
“The story is pretty convincing,” Matt concedes. “I could see where some people might believe it. We know enough about time travel now, though, to know it’s highly unlikely, and if it was to occur, it would take technology far more advanced than we have now. It doesn’t just happen out in nature. It takes machines, tremendous amounts of energy, and a fine understanding of quantum physics, if it’s possible at all.”
“Does it?” I ask, arching an eyebrow at him. “There’s still a lot we don’t know about quantum physics. The things scientists are observing the smallest quantum particles doing are straight out of science fiction, but they’re real. Who is to say this isn’t?”
“People have been vanishing without a trace for all of human history,” Jacob chimes in. “Maybe some of them were pulled through time portals and never returned home. Perhaps some of them did return, and just never told the real story of what happened to them, because they thought other people would think they were crazy. Maybe Sarah is quite brave for telling you the truth.”
“I don’t know….” Matt begins, gnawing on the back of his index finger, a tactic for solving complex problems he’s used ever since I can remember. It goes hand-in-hand with his finger-on-the-lip move for making important decisions.
“Well, if all that doesn’t convince you, I’ve got one more thing,” Jacob says, and picks up the phone. “This one is a message from your grandmother to you.”
“Impossible,” Matt declares. “She had dementia long before video cameras were on cell phones.”
“Just watch it,” I urge him, even though I have no idea what’s on the phone. I trust Jacob. Whatever it is, it’s worth watching.
“Fine, fine. Whatever you say.” He throws his hands up in mock surrender. “Show me the video, Uncle Jacob.”
Jacob turns the phone around so both Matt and I can see the screen, then hits “play.” Grandma appears, standing in her room at the assisted living facility, looking as alert and aware as anyone. She’s dressed in a gentle floral print blouse and coral skirt, with white low-heeled shoes and small gold hoop earrings, an outfit that indicates it was spring or summer when this video was taken. Her hair is long and loose around her shoulders like she always preferred it, even after it became gray, and is brushed and sprayed so not a single strand is out of place. She’s even wearing makeup, done low-key and in soft pastel colors. To me, she looks like she’s getting ready for a spring brunch with her Daughters of the American Revolution group.
“Matt and Sarah, my darlings,” she begins, looking right at the camera, and I tear up a bit at hearing her beloved voice again. There is no hint of anything off about her at all. She is perfectly, miraculously herself. It’s true. I believed it after reading her letters to the professor and talking to Jacob, but here’s the evidence if I needed it; she never had dementia.
“If you are watching this," she continues, "then the time has come where you both have questions. Those questions deserve answers, and you’re old enough to know the truth. Jacob will have shown you the photos and papers, but I understand if you need more proof. I would, if it were me. I’m going to give you that proof, my sweet, sweet children.”
Matt's eyes are wide, stunned. “When was this taken?” he whispers. But, he already knows the answer, as do I. No more than a year ago, two at most. There’s a chance it may have even been taken this year.
“Shhh,” I shush him. “She lied about the dementia. I’ll explain later. Just watch.”
I’m as curious to hear what Grandma is going to say as Matt.
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