Sarah, Returned--Chapter Twelve (A Steemit Original Novel)
September 3, 1685
Floating. No, not that. Suspended. In bright, white nothingness. And, I feel myself changing. Getting….smaller? Is that possible? Maybe this is how Lewis Carroll got his inspiration for Alice in Wonderland. Could he be a time traveler, too?
Like I am now.
No time to think about it. Whatever happens only takes a split second. I’m drifting in the void beyond the portal, where nothing but light and stillness exists, and then, I’m simply somewhere else.
It’s abrupt. The portal spits me out, flat on my ass in a deep, sandy rut that feels like it was made by a wagon wheel. What’s more, I’m....different. Smaller, yes, but also shorter and more delicate than I was a moment ago; my dress is hanging on me now, a few sizes too large, and my shoes are sliding off my newly tiny feet.
Backward aging, like what happened to Grandma. Has to be. So, I'm clearly younger. As for my new age, I'll figure that out later. The most important question at the moment is, when am I?
Please don’t be Ancient Egypt, please don’t be Ancient Egypt.
As much as I enjoy reading about that time period, being in it would be too radical a cultural and lifestyle change. I don’t think I could deal. Plus, I don’t speak the language. If the universe is benevolent, it will have dropped me somewhere with at least some familiarity.
I scramble to my feet, struggling to keep the shoes on, and pull on the scoop neck of my dress with one hand so it doesn’t dip down and expose my bra. Except, there’s nothing for my bra to cover. What the hell? I reach inside my dress, patting my chest. Nothing. It’s totally flat. The nipples are still there, of course, but the breasts, which were a respectable 34B cup two minutes ago, are gone.
I quickly reach down and under the bottom of the dress, lifting it up as I do, until my hand has access to the top of my black hose. Plunging my hand inside and between my legs, my suspicions are confirmed….no pubic hair. It’s smooth as silk down there. Have I really aged backward that much? I seem to have gone back to before I hit puberty.
And, there it is, my answer, like an echo in my mind. Twelve. It’s like the intuition tug, but stronger, almost like someone is talking to me. In fact, I could almost swear I hear a voice, but there is none, just that strong impression of the number pushing against my thoughts, making itself known, demanding to be heard. Somehow, some way, I have become 12 years old again. No wonder the dress and shoes are practically falling off me. I didn’t have my period until I was well into 13 years old.
Crap. Crap, crap, crap. I suppress the urge to scream in frustration. If I stay wherever I am, I’m going to have to go through puberty again. No freaking way. Once was plenty, thank you. Even worse, if I’m in the past, there won’t be anything to take to ease the pain of cramps. Oh, hell no. Whenever I am, I am not staying here.
I grab Grandma’s memory box, where I left it sitting in the dirt, and flip it open. The earring isn’t there, having been pulled into the void before me. Even though none of the other things I touched in here opened a portal, I still rummage through all the papers and daguerreotypes, all the way down to the bottom, just in case. I have to try. Or, maybe the second earring is in here, and I missed it the first time. That would have to open a portal, if the professor’s assumptions are correct. But, there is no other earring, and nothing happens when I touch the other contents of the box. The door through the centuries just slammed shut on me. How can I get it to open again?
Grandma never went home.
Oh God. Wherever I am, am I truly stuck here? I can’t be. No. There has to be some way back. Maybe I traveled to the future, where more is known about time travel. I need to figure out where and when I am, and then I can work out a way to open up that portal.
Holding Grandma's box tightly in one hand while trying to keep my dress on with the other, I stand straight and take my first proper look at my surroundings. There’s nothing but waving green grass nearby and what looks like a forest of trees in the distance. The sun is just starting to set, but it’s still bright enough to see clearly without artificial light. And, I am indeed standing in the middle of a wagon road, scooped out of the ground by hundreds or thousands of wagons using this same route over a period of years. I’ve seen Little House on the Prairie enough to recognize one. That does not bode well for me being in the future, or even a time when there are cars.
Okay, Sarah, remain calm. Just because you’re didn’t go to the future doesn’t mean you’re the only one on the planet right now who knows anything about time travel. You just have to seek out the right people. It will be okay. You’ll go home. If a portal can open one way, it can surely open the other way. You’ll find it.
A piercing howl surrounds me, coming from the woods to my back. I jerk my head around to look at the line of trees behind me, leading into darkness. It's like I’m in a live action version of Little Red Riding Hood. The sound wasn’t human, but I think I know what it was. A wolf. All those nature programs I watched as a kid finally paying off.
There was a wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, too, and a path. Red was told by her mother to stay on the path to her grandmother’s house. She didn’t, and that’s how she got into trouble. Well, not me. Where there is a path, there are people.
I take off my shoes and hang them from a couple of free fingers on the hand holding up my dress. They’re too big now, and will only slow me down. I’d strip off the hose, too, if it wasn’t so chilly, since it will inevitably get torn up on the bare earth. Until I can find a coat, though, I need all the warmth I can get.
The wolf howls again, sounding closer this time. Box and shoes in hand, dress bunched up on yet another free finger so I don’t trip on it, I take off at a sprint down the road, away from the woods.
To Grandmother’s house I go.
I don’t look at much on my swift trek down the road, but there isn’t a lot to see. Never in my life can I remember being somewhere that was so full of….nothing. Besides the wagon wheel tracks I’m following, there is little to catch my attention except tall, waving grass that has clearly never been mowed, a shrub here and there, and a few tree stumps. I might have thought this area was a natural meadow were it not for the stumps; that tells me people have been here. With any luck, I'm approaching a town, or at least a settlement.
Assuming I’m in North America….and that’s a big assumption….I can only hope it is a European or Spanish settlement, since I can speak the language. If it’s Native American, I won’t be able to communicate with them, if they are friendly to a European girl in the first place. Any luck I might have with Natives depends entirely on the time period, and that is still an unknown variable.
Wherever I am, any people nearby must be getting ready to close their doors for the evening, because I don’t see a single person, or hear a sound other than the light, crisp breeze rustling through the tall grass on either side of me. It’s so empty here. Eerie. To someone like me, who has been raised in a world of electronics, electricity, and constant white background noise, it’s like being dropped into The Twilight Zone.
Lonely, with just me and the wolf. Maybe it won’t matter if I find Natives or Europeans, after all. Any another human would be welcome at this point, language barrier or not. Though I work out most days and am in pretty great shape, I’m starting to become a little winded after what I would guess is about five miles on the wagon trail, the wolf’s howl still hot on my heels a mile or two behind me. I'm beginning to wonder if I will be sleeping in the bushes tonight (or being snacked on by the wolf), when I see it. That beautiful, unmistakable landmark rising into the sky in the distance. One I’ve seen almost every day of my life, and with which I’m so intimately acquainted I would recognize it anywhere….or when.
The very hill I stood on in 2017 not even 30 minutes ago. The portal put me a short distance away from it, but I’m still in Dover. Or, what will become Dover. I wish I knew the current year. That would help me know the best thing to do next.
Catch up with the entire "Sarah, Returned" series here: