Sarah, Returned--Chapter 45 (A Steemit Original Novel)

in #fiction4 years ago (edited)

When I told Matt I never expected Joshua to leave his own time and adapt to life more than 300 years in the future, I meant it. The moment I realized it was my husband and children coming through the portal, I assumed they were here to collect me, and we would return to 1699 together. That's why Joshua's answer takes me utterly by surprise.

“Of course we’re staying.” Joshua looks at me as if this should have been obvious. “You have told me everything about this century in remarkable detail, Sarah. Do you think I want my children to return to the 1600’s, where so many dangers await them that are not a concern here? They are safer here, and so are you. Those are the only things that matter to me. It's my job to keep you all safe. Staying here is the best way to do it.” 

“This time has its own dangers,” I remind him. 

“Yes, but nothing like what we face back home. I want an secure, safe life for you and the children. I know it will take me longer to adapt and learn the new ways than them, and you already fit in here because it is where you are from, but I will get by. I will learn everything I need to know to become a man of the 21st century, and I will take care of you all, I promise. This is our home now, Sarah. When I took the children through the portal, there was never any question of us going back. We all knew once we found you, we were staying.” 

"But, your parents, your brothers and sisters...." I protest.

"They have each other and will learn to get by without me. You and the children are my only concern, now and always."

This….this is why Joshua is my soul mate. He is willing to give up everything and everyone he ever knew for me, the exact thing I told Matt and Jacob I would never ask of him, and he’s doing it without question or regret. No looking back. He’s such a prince. I will reward him properly as soon as we are alone. His impish grin tells me he knows. 

Now it’s confirmed all of my closest family members can go through portals, measures will have to be taken to protect them. Not just the children. Joshua, too. And Matt. And that means more than just keeping them from touching the memory box I notice Joshua has tucked under his arm. So, it didn’t disappear in the void like the earring that brought me to the 17th century. 

I’m happy about that, because those daguerreotypes mean a lot to me, especially after meeting Grizel. I can show them to Hannah one day, so she will know what her birth mother looked like, and how much she loved her, even before she was born. Until we learn more about time travel, however, everyone is banned from touching it once we get home, except for me, and I will only touch it while wearing gloves. 

Dover in 2017 is resplendent with antiques; if I want to continue to protect my family and make sure none of them accidentally open any portals, we must track down Professor Johnson. It’s more important than ever, now that my family is here. We’ve managed to get some answers on our own, but so much is still unknown. We need an expert to help us navigate this new, portal-filled world. 

In the meantime, I know I’ll sleep easy tonight, for the first time since taking custody of Hannah, knowing with certainty my husband and all my children are not at risk of being kidnapped to Canada in another Native raid….because I know more are coming to ancient Dover,….or eaten by wolves, or getting caught up in a smallpox epidemic. The most primitive type of inoculation for that particular scourge is still decades away from being invented back in 1699.  

I lean my head against Joshua’s broad shoulder, inhaling deeply of his distinctive meadow scent, musky and fresh at the same time. Only two days away from him, and I missed that scent so much. What must it have been like for him to be without me for two whole months? I’d have gone crazy if the tables were turned. He kisses the top of my head, gentle, tender, and more than a little protective. Just like him. He’s here now, with the children, and that’s all that matters. No more “what if’s.” We’ll figure out the rest as we go along. 

“I missed you, Mama,” little David says, cuddling back against me. “Do not leave again.” 

Tears well up in my eyes. For a two-year-old, two months must have seemed like forever. “I won’t, my darling,” I promise him and give him a kiss on the cheek. I’ve got to remember to teach Joshua and all the kids about contractions. They aren’t used in the 17th century, and I had to work hard to avoid slipping into them, lest my speech give me away as “different.” However, in 2017, a two-year-old saying “do not” instead of “don’t” is going to sound strange. He’ll get used to it. They all will. Just like I did when I was in their shoes. 

Hannah, Clara, and Patience smile at their brother, enchanted by him as always. Even the normally reserved seven-year-old Thomas shows the barest hint of a grin. They’re still innocent, but none of them would be for much longer in the 17th century. Children have to grow up so fast there. Boys and girls alike know almost everything they need to about the adult world by the time they are Clara’s age; innocence vanishes quickly, out of necessity. We’re lucky it can be preserved a little bit longer today. I want that for them. 

And in that instant, I know Joshua is right. Now that we’re reunited, we must stay here. In this century, the children can enjoy fuller, longer childhoods, and while there are dangers here that didn’t exist back then, they will be safer overall, and far more comfortable. With our inheritance, Matt and I can protect them and give them a more magical childhood than most.  

Truth be told, as soon as I saw them all standing in front of the portal, I knew they belonged here, each and every one of them. Even Joshua. I still expected to go back with them, but I knew they belonged. 

Hannah is already old enough and has seen enough to be pretty jaded, though she’s still just 12. That’s almost marrying age in 1699. Maybe I can bring some innocence back to her life. With just a little prompting, there’s a good chance Clara will transform into a typical 21st century girl with ease. The same goes for Thomas. Patience and David are young enough to require no coaching at all on how to be children, and will grow up in this century, with all it has to offer being perfectly normal to them. Joshua is the only one who will have a hard adjustment, but I will work to make it as easy on him as I can. I adjusted to the 1600's; I know he can do the same in the 21st century.

“Well,” I say, wiping the last tear away with the back of my hand, “if we’re staying, I suppose we better go home, our new home. You’ll all get to see the house I grew up in, and we’ll live there together. Isn’t that exciting?”  

The all nod and shout their agreement with childish glee. Even Joshua, which makes me giggle. He’s a wise man, but not above being goofy with the kids, which just endears him to me even more. 

“I’ll call us a cab,” Matt says, voice soft, still uncertain of his position in this new family that just walked into his life from another century. I need to reassure him nothing has changed, except our family has gotten bigger, like we always wanted; we both planned to have several children each to grow our family's dwindling ranks. There is enough room in the house, and my heart, for all of us. Matt will know that soon enough, if he doesn't already.

“We may have to walk down the hill a way before I can get a signal, though", he continues, holding up his phone to get a look at his bars in the moonlight. 

“We better get going, in that case,” I say, indicating to everyone we should stand up. “It’s a long way to the bottom.” 

“Mama, this hill looks familiar,” Clara says as we rise. I carry David in my arms, as the road is too steep for a child as small as him. Joshua does likewise with Patience. 

“It should,” I tell her. “It’s Varney’s Hill.” I give her a playful tug on her wheat-colored hair. “Where Ebenezer and Mary Varney’s house was, and Ellen Wentworth's. Remember?” 

“Yes. It has changed,” she notes.  

“It has,” I agree. “Let me tell you about it.” I regale the children with tales of the hill and how it has changed through the centuries, including the name changes from Great to Varney's to Garrison Hill. They listen with rapt attention until Matt finally gets a signal about halfway down the hill and calls a cab. We make a detour from the history lesson to discuss what a phone is and how it works; I return to the story of the hill while we wait for our ride. 

Just before the cab arrives, I explain what a car is to everyone, and what it is like to ride in one, then tell them they’re about to get try it themselves, which generates more excitement among my beautiful brood.   

As the bright yellow taxi pulls up to the sidewalk at the bottom of the hill, I realize it’s going to be strange explaining to people how I’m a 20-year-old college student with a husband and five kids. I guess I can say I’m older than I look. Technically, that is true. I’ve lived more years than my body reflects. Just like Grandma. And Grizel.  But, Joshua looks pretty young now, too...almost as young as he was when I first saw him. It might make more sense to say the children are orphaned relatives Matt and I took in, and Joshua is my new boyfriend; later, we can say Joshua and I secretly eloped and adopted the kids.

“Do I look younger to you?” I ask Joshua, noticing the intense attention he is giving the sidewalk, the paved street, and the streetlights.   

He turns to me, looking me up and down. “Yes,” he says, after some consideration. “You do. You really do age backward when you go through a portal, don’t you?”  

I nod. “I’m 20 again, the same age I was when I left here. The children did not reverse age, but you must have. I think it’s something only adults do. Do you feel younger?”  

“I don’t know,” he admits. “I felt the same way at 15 as I did at 32. How can I tell?”  

“Be quiet for a moment, and listen for a voice that is inside your head, but outside at the same time. You’ll know what I mean when you hear it. That voice will tell you your new age.”  

Joshua does as I instruct, closing his eyes to provide extra concentration. When he opens them again, they are wide in amazement. “Twenty-three,” he exclaims with wonder. “That is incredible. A full nine years were given back to me. I suppose we must have gotten married very young, Mrs. Hanson.” He winks at me, and I chuckle at the implied scandal.  

“Do you think I’m prettier now that I’m 20 instead of 26?” I ask, playful.  

“I don’t know.”  

“What do you mean you don’t know?”  

“Because,” he says, putting his nose against mine, “whether you are 20 or 120, you are still the most beautiful woman in the world to me, Sarah.”  

I grab his arm with my free one to keep my knees from wobbling. Smooth talker. Oh, he is getting extra rewarded when we get home. Our home.

________________________________________________________________   

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

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

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