Sarah, Returned--Chapter 42 (A Steemit Original Novel)

in #fiction4 years ago (edited)

“It’s okay,” I assure him, reaching over the glass-topped coffee table to take his hand. “It’s a lot to ask someone to believe.” 

“She’s right,” Jacob agrees. “I never blamed you for being suspicious. Any sane person would be. I just knew if I could get you to watch this video, you would be convinced. And, Sarah, I want you to know Lizzie couldn’t have known that earring was in the box. She always assumed you, Matt or both of you would open the box one day and examine its contents. She wouldn’t have left it in there for you to come across, especially since she didn’t know if you could go through a portal or not. It was an accident. And, surprising, since she was so careful with those things.” 

“I know. I think maybe she was wearing it, or holding it, and it slipped off and into the box without her knowing. Otherwise, the other one would have almost surely been with it.” 

“True,” Jacob agrees. Then, to Matt, “Are you all right, son?” 

“I will be,” Matt assures him, standing up. He helps me to my feet as he does, ever the gentleman. “I just have one more question. Grandma has this vast fortune she left to us, but she never used it much when we were kids. Grandpa had to have known about it. She only seems to have started using it after Sarah and I came to live with her. Do you know how she got it, and why she didn’t spend it earlier? Did she bring it with her from….where did you say she came from, Sarah?” 

“The more appropriate question is when,” I remind him. “And, it’s 1864. You know, that’s something I’ve been wondering, too. With everything else going on, it just kind of took a back seat. Do you have any idea, Uncle Jacob?” 

Jacob grins with glee. “As a matter of fact, I do.” He pauses for dramatic effect. Matt and I stare, impatient. “Antiques,” he says, throwing his hands wide, as if giving the punchline to the best joke in the world. 

“Antiques?” Matt and I ask at the same time, perplexed. 

“Well, yes. She came from the past. When she saw the things that were common in her house growing up being sold for large amounts of money in the 20th century, it didn’t take her long to figure out how to earn a living for herself. As soon as she arrived in 1938, she sold some of the things she had in her dress pockets—this was before she knew touching those things could send someone through time, mind you—and used most of that money to get herself a 1938-appropriate outfit and hairstyle, as well as a meal. She invested the rest in more antiques. And, she worked in a textile factory briefly, just enough to get a place to live, and then invested all the rest she made in more antiques. Lizzie went to thrift stores and estate sales to find old things she recognized, and bought them cheap. She re-sold them to wealthy investors and collectors. By the time she met your grandfather the next year, she was already a wealthy woman; they continued antiquing together for a long time after their marriage, and while the boys were young. The vast majority of it went into savings for the kids, but she and your grandfather indulged in a few little luxuries here and there. They were comfortable. Eventually, once the boys were in school, she decided there was plenty of money for the next few generations, and retired to enjoy her life and family. She built a wonderful, happy life here, as you know. I don’t think she ever regretted not going back to 1864.” 

“Do you think anyone who bought the original things she sold went backward or forward through time?”  How many people are out there, traveling, maybe trying to get home, because they touched the wrong thing, maybe Grandma’s thing? 

“Maybe,” Jacob admits. “Who knows? Lizzie didn’t know any better back then. You can’t blame her.” 

“I don’t. Just curious.”  

“She used the money to send her boys to college, buy them nice houses, and keep them and their wives and children comfortable,” Jacob continues. “Most of it was meant for them to inherit one day. After the mudslide, she decided to splurge on her grandchildren a little, and to make sure you both never had to be concerned about money. Hence the trust funds. Once you kids started to get older, and her determination to find her sons grew, she knew she had to make arrangements for you to eventually do without her. The money she spent to keep her secret from you was only a drop in the bucket of what she actually had, but it was a necessary expense. If your dads were out there, she was determined to find them. I wonder if she did, and that’s why she didn’t come back this time.” 

“Did she ever try to travel with Grandpa?” Matt asks, and it’s a good question. They could have stayed young together forever that way. 

Jacob shakes his head. “By the time she figured out how to travel at will, your grandfather was already gone. Believe me, once she discovered the means of travel, she was happy she stopped engaging in the antiques trade. Lizzie had the same concerns as you, Sarah. She hated the idea she might have sent unsuspecting people to different times, away from their families, never to return.” 

“But, some might have figured it out and returned,” I point out. Depending on when they went, there might be others who traveled who knew the secret, or more knowledgeable physics professionals who could explain it to them. Maybe some even went to a time where time travel is a well-known and common thing, with time machines instead of random objects that have been through the vortex. 

“I like to think so,” Jacob agrees. “So did she.” 

“So, how come it only works with touching inanimate objects, and not the people who travel through time?” Matt observes. It's good that he's asking questions now, and not making accusations. He appears to have accepted everything Jacob and I told him as true. I can file that looming psychiatric hold away for good. 

“The professor always thought it was because quantum particles from the time vortex clung to inanimate objects, but fell away from living things. The biological processes would clean them away naturally. It’s only a theory, mind you, but it makes sense. None of us have traveled after touching Sarah, have we?” 

“No. That’s true,” Matt says, nodding. I never thought about that. Thank God it doesn't apply to living things. Otherwise, I’d be like King Midas, never able to let anyone touch me directly without the risk of losing them forever. One person turned to gold, the other sent through time to an unknown location in an unpredictable year. I shudder at the thought. 

That’s it. Our questions are answered. Well, all except for Grandma’s whereabouts. It’s nice to know she didn’t die, at least not in our time, and it’s wonderful to realize she’s young and vibrant wherever she is, more than capable of taking care of herself. Still, I’d like to know what happened to her, and if she is safe, even if she isn’t coming back. 

If I think about her, can I go to her? No, that can’t work, or she would have found our dads (or at least one of them, if only one survived). Right? Besides, I have somewhere else I have to go first, before I consider traveling anywhere else. It’s time I let Matt and Jacob know. 

“You believe me now?” I ask Matt, standing up and moving back over to the sofa. He does the same, only sits on the same one as me this time. 

“I do. I should have known better than to doubt you, Sarah. You’ve never shown any signs of schizophrenia. All the same, you’ve got to admit, there aren’t many people who would believe your story without proof. I am sorry I doubted you, though, and I’m even more sorry I almost got you killed by making you flee the house.” 

“You also saved my life,” I point out. 

“That’s true. Maybe you owe me this time.” He nudges me playfully, smiling. 

I smile back, giggling. “Yeah, well, you’re going to have to collect quickly if you want anything from me. I have to go back to 1699.” 

Matt’s smile fades, realization dawning on him. Jacob, on the other hand, merely looks at us with interest, as if he expected this. 

“You still intend to go back?” He sounds like his feelings are hurt, as if my desire to leave is a personal insult. 

“You know I have to,” I say, with as much gentleness as I can. “My husband and children are there, Matt. They need me. I have to go back to them.” 

He shakes his head, not in denial, but with a hint of amazement. “Oh yeah. You’re married, with four children. I forgot. It’s still so hard to grasp, Sarah. Remember, I saw you only a month ago. To me, you’re still twenty, and a student at UNH. It’s weird to think you had 14 years you lived during that month, where you got married and had kids.” 

“Granted, I did age back to 20 when I returned here,” I allow. “I probably don’t look different at all.” 

“Not a bit.” 

“I have an adopted daughter, too,” I remind him. “Hannah. Actually, she’s Grandma’s half-sister, considering they share the same mother. How weird is that? Do you remember the original stories we heard about the Penacook smashing Hannah’s head on the hearth stones to kill her before they took Grizel and Margaret to Canada? Or, did that change when I changed history by saving her?” 

“I still remember it the original way,” Jacob says, just as familiar with the Otis stories as we are. 

“It’s strange,” Matt ponders. “I remember it both ways. There was the version where Hannah was killed by the Penacook. But, there was another one, too. A ward of Richard Otis, an orphan he took in, hid in the shadows while the Penacook conducted their raid, crawled out of the burning garrison house with Hannah, and later raised her as her own. My God!” he exclaims, realization dawning on him. “That was you.” 

“Guilty,” I smile sheepishly, raising my hand. “Grizel and I worked out that plan before Hannah was born. I spent years making friends with the local Penacook in Dover, learning their language, gaining their trust. Grizel and I made sure when they came, they wouldn’t hurt me, and by extension, may spare Hannah at my request. We also had a backup plan of me hiding with Hannah until they left, which is what actually happened. Though, one Penacook did see us hiding during the raid. But, he knew me. And, he let me be. He moved on without letting the rest of his tribe know Hannah and I were there.” 

“It’s so dangerous in those times, Sarah,” Matt urges me. “You lived it. You know. Just look what you went through to save Hannah. You could have been killed.” 

“It was actually getting out of the burning garrison house that came the closest to killing me, not the Penacook.” 

“Still,” he presses. “I know you want your husband and children back. Trust me, I would never stand in your way in reuniting with them. Can’t you go back and get them, bring them here? We know how to control where you go now. The house is big enough for everyone. Can’t you do that?” 

It’s occurred to me. In the time we’ve spent at Jacob’s house this afternoon, finding out the real truth about our grandmother and time travel, I’ve thought about that exact thing...extensively. The God’s honest truth is there is nothing I’d like better. Living with Joshua and the kids here? With Matt? That would be wonderful. But, I can’t. 

“The kids would adapt to life three hundred years in the future with ease,” I agree. “Children adapt to new things so quickly. It’s seamless for them. Even Hannah, who is 12 now, would get the hang of things in an instant. It’s not like we speak a different language here or anything.” 

“Then, do it,” he urges me. “We can all be a family together. Please, Sarah. Besides Jacob, you’re all I have left.” 

Oh, not the guilt, Matt. Please, not that. This is hard enough as it is. 

“Matt,” I say, drawing out the words as much as I can to avoid getting to the crux of it. I take his hand, hoping to soften the blow. “I can’t ask Joshua to leave everyone and everything he knows behind. It’s different for me. I lived 14 years there. I learned their ways. I know how to survive in that place, how it works. It’s not so hard or unusual for me anymore. But, Joshua’s parents are there, his siblings, his nieces and nephews, all his friends he’s known his whole life. And, he doesn’t know anything other than the Quaker way of life, and being a farmer. Yes, I’ve told him about modern technology, but it would freak him out to actually see it or try to use it. I would be asking him to give up way too much for me.” 

“Don’t you think he would?” There’s a little edge of bitterness to Matt’s tone, and I understand why. “If he really loves you, he would follow you anywhere. Or when.” 

“You’re right. He would. He wouldn’t even question it if I asked him to come here. And, that is why I can’t. I love him too much to ask.” 

Ooh, awkward silence. Neither Matt nor Jacob knows what to say. Okay. What can make this better? Think, Sarah

“Um….I could bring them to visit? At least the kids. Of course, we don’t know if any of them can travel through a portal yet. But, if they can….” 

Both men look skeptical, especially Matt. And, I don’t know how the reverse aging thing would work out with visiting, anyway. We would all eventually have to start living a life like Grandma, pretending to be older than we were when we went back home. Besides, I owe it to the kids to give them the chance to grow up before I start turning back the clock on them. 

“Er….you could come back with me?” I suggest, more to Matt, but to Jacob, too, if he wants to. He has a son and grandchildren in California, though, so he might want to stay. 

“I don’t know if I could adapt to life back then as well as you did,” Matt admits. “And, if I did, I might be young enough to be your son when we got there. That would be too weird. Besides, what if Grandma comes back? I want to be here for her.” 

“Lizzie will know you think she’s dead, son,” Jacob points out. “If she returns, she won’t come to you.” 

“But, you’ll know if she comes back, won’t you, Jacob?” Matt asks, his voice sharp, accusing. Jacob is quiet for a moment, not knowing how best to answer. But, we all know the answer already. 

“Yes,” he finally says. “If she returns, she will know she’s been gone long enough for the protocol to have been put into place. Her timing is too perfect for a late return to be anything other than on purpose. If she comes back, I’m the only one she’ll contact. That’s how we’ve always done it.” 

“If she comes back, I want to know,” Matt insists. “I don’t care what she looks like, or how young she is, and I don’t care what she told you to do. She’s my grandmother. If she somehow returns, you tell me, Jacob. You’ve got to promise me. Tell me you will call the instant she re-appears.” 

Jacob is silent for a moment, then smiles. “I promise,” he assures Matt. “You’re right. You deserve to know, now that you have all the details. I’ll let you know if she surfaces again. Lizzie will just have to understand, that’s all.” 

“We’ll make her,” Matt says, smiling, and I realize he isn’t coming back with me. Matt is pinning his hopes on Grandma returning. The notion of bringing him with me is only minutes old, but knowing he will stay here makes me sad. Maybe I can come back and visit, just me, every once in a while, so he won’t be alone. 

He notices my frown, and smiles weakly at me, shrugging. “We don’t even know if I can go through a portal,” he offers.  

“I know. We could try.” 

“If Grandma comes back….” 

“It’s okay, Matt. I know you want to stay. But, you know I have to go back, right? And, I don’t know if I’ll be able to come back here again to visit you. I’ll try, but I don’t know what’s going to happen when I get back there. I can’t promise anything.” 

“I know. But, you can’t go anywhere until we find the right object for you to touch. Karen and I donated all of Grandma’s things to the local thrift shops; nothing was a real antique, so we couldn't sell anything. Looking back, that's not surprising anymore. We can go search the thrift stores we used, to see if anything is left. And, I’ll get you back to the house to let you finish looking for that other earring like you wanted to.” 

“Actually, I can use the dress I was wearing when I returned. It’s at the house. Unless you have anything we can use here?” I ask Jacob. The house is full of antiques. Real ones. Maybe something is from one of Grandma’s trips to the past….or the future. 

“Sorry.” He shakes his head. “Lizzie was extremely careful with anything that could be used for time travel. She didn’t leave anything here.” 

“Don’t worry, Sarah,” Matt assures me, patting my hand, comforting me this time. “We’ll get you back to your family. I promise you.” 

We say our goodbyes to Jacob, with me promising to call him if I ever do come back to 2017. I even tell him I’ll leave some time capsules for him with letters from me in them, and where to find them. He’s so understanding, and he’s been so great, I hate to leave him behind. Any little possibility there may be of communicating with him again, I want to be sure to voice it, so we both know this isn’t a real “goodbye.” I don’t think there ever is, as long as people can travel through time. Who knows what the future holds? Literally. 

Declining his offer to drive us back to Dover, Matt and I elect instead to take a cab, so we can spend some quality time alone together, as cousins and surrogate siblings. Jacob understands, and hugs us both, whispering in my ear that he wishes me all the happiness in the world, wherever I find it. I kiss his cheek. He calls the cab for us, which arrives a few minutes later; no town is ever truly far away in New Hampshire. 

I didn’t realize we’d been at Jacob’s so long. It’s dark when we step outside to get in the cab. It seemed like such a brief visit. Then again, so much happened while we were there, so many revelations were made. I guess it made time feel like it moved more quickly than it did. Time. Haha. Oh, it’s a tricky thing, all right, in more ways than one. 

Matt and I are quiet on the trip, not knowing what to say. It’s awkward, knowing I’m leaving and probably not coming back. We just sit close to each other in the cab and enjoy being in each other’s company while we can be. As we enter Dover, Garrison Hill looms large before us, a shadow against the black night sky, outlined only by the light of the twinkling stars above it, and the large circle of light glowing at the summit. 

Large circle of light? 

I lean forward in the back of the cab, straining to get a better look.  

No. It can’t be. But, it looks just like…. 

“Stop the cab!” I shout, as the driver pulls alongside the hill on Central Avenue. He slams on the brakes, almost causing Matt and me to be tossed against the seats in front of us. 

“What is it?” Matt asks, alarmed. 

“A portal!” I shout, scrambling for the handle on the door. Oh my God. A portal is open on top of Garrison Hill.

________________________________________________________________   

Catch up with the entire "Sarah, Returned" series here:   

Chapter One 

Chapter Two 

Chapter Three 

Chapter Four 

Chapter Five 

Chapter Six 

Chapter Seven 

Chapter Eight 

Chapter Nine 

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven 

Chapter Twelve 

Chapter Thirteen 

Chapter Fourteen 

Chapter Fifteen 

Chapter Sixteen 

Chapter Seventeen 

Chapter Eighteen 

Chapter Nineteen 

Chapter Twenty 

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two 

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five 

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty  

Chapter Forty-One

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I meant to say this on yesterday's chapter, but it was a busy day and I never got chance. If Sarah goes straight back now, she will reverse age back to being a teen or pre teen, and won't be the mother they know and need. She doesn't seem to have thought that through. She could live in modern times for 10-14 years or so, then go back to them and be about the right age. Best of both worlds.

Wonder who is coming through the portal. Grandma? or somebody else....

Dun-dun-DUNNNN! Lol!

No, she hasn't thought it through. All she's thinking is she's desperate to get back to Joshua and the kids. She could easily reverse age back to 12, like the first time she went through, and be the same age as Hannah when she got there.

She can't stand being away from them, but look at what her grandmother does....she goes away for decades at a time, and comes back seconds after she left, sometimes far younger than when she left.

Let's just say the person who opened the portal at the top of the hill is a BIG surprise.

I've got a picture of me walking around in the snow on top of Garrison Hill in January of 2006. It was freaking FREEZING up there. I keep looking for it so I can post it here. It's in a huge cache of photos somewhere.

Exactly! She can just take a chill pill, and take her time getting back. She can have so many different lives over time, and that's just one. Once she realises she can go back at her leisure and they will still be the same, maybe she will relax a bit :-)

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