Okay, readers, this is the beginning of my book. This is science fiction, so if you don’t like sci-fi, you don’t have to read but any comments are welcome as long as they are positive. What do you like? What works? What do you want to happen? Where should Scarlett go in the past? If you could go back into the past, what would you change? Or what time period would you like most to visit? Enjoy!
The beautiful May morning pulled me out onto the front porch to read. The soft breeze made sitting in the shade almost cool but I had my mother’s afghan over my lap and my cup of coffee to warm me up. My house has been in the family over 150 years. My parents transferred the title to me on my 25th birthday because they wanted to move into the city and be closer to their office. They own the only law firm in town. Of course, with a population of only 2,000 people, there’s not much call for lawyers. Still, they do a good business and are happier in town than out in the country.
I spend my days reading and writing. I go on book tours every couple of years but they are draining. It’s hard to explain to people who aren’t introverts why being in a crowd wears me out. I prefer animals because they don’t have to talk incessantly about nothing. My two dogs, Yin and Yang, were peacefully laying in the sunny patches in the yard under the magnolia.
You can imagine my surprise when I heard a voice call out to me from behind the house, “Time travel will be perfected in the past.” I looked up from the H.G. Wells book I was reading to see smoky gray eyes watching me and wondering where this woman had come from.
“What?” I stood up quickly from the swing to confront her.
“Time travel will be perfected in the past,” she said again.
“Would you care to explain that?” I asked. She had piqued my interest with only eight words and her mysterious appearance. How had she snuck up the lane without waking Yin and Yang? Where was her car? The only road was a half mile in front of the house. What exactly was she wearing? Her costume looked like she was dressed for a Victorian play.
“I can do better,” she answered. “Come with me and I’ll show you.”
“Hang on,” I said, “I don’t even know who you are.”
“Do you need to know who I am, Scarlett? I will never hurt you.”
Now she had my complete attention. “How do you know my name?” I asked with a hint of fear in my voice.
“I’m your great- great grandmother’s best friend. Helena sent me forward to find you and bring you back to her.”
I stared in dumb shock at the sentence she had just uttered.
“You want to take me back to my great-great grandmother Helena?” I asked. I was beginning to feel panic and concern for someone who obviously needed a mental hospital fast.
“She told me you wouldn’t believe me unless I reminded you about the journal.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I lied. I could see in my mind the exact page of the journal to which she was referring. That page determined my name 130 years before I was even born.
“Ha!” she laughed. “I can hear the lie in your voice. You know exactly what journal I’m talking about but since you want some proof, here you go.”
She handed me a copy of the journal entry my great-great grandmother had written. The page was perfectly new with no stains, rips or tears like the old journal. I knew she couldn’t have copied it because the journal had spent the last 70 years in a safe deposit box at the bank in town. I looked down to read words I had memorized when I was 15.
Last night, I had a dream of the future. I saw my children’s children and their children. All were boys until the last child. I saw a young girl. Her face held the same characteristics as mine. The same straight nose, the upturned eyes, and the same jaw line I see in my mirror. I heard a voice call her Scarlett and as she ran to answer the call, she turned back to me and said, “I’ll come back to see you one day.”
My mother’s favorite story was about the day this actually happened. I don’t remember it because I was only 5 at the time. I’d been playing in the back yard when mom called me in for lunch. Apparently, I got up and started running toward the house when I stopped and turned around and said the exact phrase, “I’ll come back to see you one day.” Mom asked who I was talking to and as she tells it, I said I was talking to “the lady who looks like me.”
“Who are you?” I asked, returning my attention to the present with apprehension. I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear the answer.
“I already told you who I am,” she said with laughter in her voice.
“Fine,” I said in a huff. “Does my great-great grandmother’s best friend have a name or do I just call you ‘Hey, you’.”
“Oh, well, you didn’t ask for my name,” she replied.
I could tell she was enjoying my distress. I was somewhat grateful for any emotion that didn’t involve me freaking out over the enormity of what she was telling me. I took a deep breath and asked very politely, “What is your name?”
“Thank you for asking! My name is Jemma. We need to get going if we’re going to make it back on time. Are you ready?” Now that I knew her name, Jemma seemed in a very big hurry to get to wherever she wanted to take me.
“I can’t just leave,” I exclaimed.
“Why not?” she asked.
“I’ve got friends, a job, commitments, and my family. Won’t all those people wonder about me? How will I explain where I went?”
“Oh, don’t worry about all that,” she said. “You’ll come back close to the same time you leave. It will almost be like you never left at all.”
“I will?” I asked.
“Helena will teach you all the tricks. You’ll know everything we know. We’ve been working on it for years now and have finally gotten all the little mistakes fixed,” Jemma said with a confidence I was lacking at the moment.
“Only the first few times when we went too far back. You do not want to mess with those big lizard creatures. Your scientists have most of them right but a few of those creatures are bigger and nastier than you could ever imagine. Like the one they call a T Rex. The Rex part is certainly accurate. That thing knew it was a king but don’t think for a second that they hunted alone. They were pack animals. They would capture prey and then feed it to each other. They learned to work around those little arms.”
This was the most I had heard Jemma talk so far and I know my mouth just hung open in amazement.
“I can take you there if you don’t believe me,” she said in a whisper.
“No, thanks,” I quickly responded. “I don’t need to see the dinosaurs.”
“That’s that crazy lizard word!” she exclaimed. “I told Helena you would know what to call them!”
“Grab what you want to take with you. Helena has been getting ready for your visit for months now, so we have everything you need in the past. She has the most beautiful clothes for you so you’ll blend in.” Now her costume made sense. It wasn’t a costume at all. These were her everyday clothes.
Jemma began rushing me inside the house. I didn’t grab anything to take because I didn’t really know where we were going.
“What’s the big rush?” I asked.
“Well, the time portal only opens for about a half an hour at a time,” Jemma said.
“About?” I squeaked. I couldn’t believe this conversation was even happening and now she was giving me a guess.
“Time moves in a circle so it can get pretty complicated. That’s why your modern scientists can’t figure it out. They think time only moves in a straight line.”
I didn’t have anything to say to this statement. I looked up to see Jemma walking towards my room.
“Where are you going?” I asked as I ran after her.
“To the mirror,” she answered.
“The mirror? What, like Lewis Carroll?”
“Yes, except he stole the idea from Helena. I told her not to show him how we were travelling through time but she wouldn’t listen to me.”
By this time, we had reached my room and much to my surprise, the full length mirror hanging on the back of the door was glowing in a rainbow of iridescent colors.
“Oh, whew, we made it back in time,” Jemma said with much relief. “Okay, girlie, you’re going first and it’s very simple. Just walk through the light. There is no mirror here at the moment so you won’t get hurt or run into anything. The floor on the other side is the same height as the floor here, so you can even leave one foot here until you put your foot down on the other side and then step through completely. Just pretend you’re walking through a doorway, which is exactly what you’re doing, except it’s a doorway to the past and not another room. I’ll be right behind you.”
I turned to the shimmering light, took a breath and put my foot into nothing. I felt the floor on the other side before I saw it. As my face passed through the light, I felt a cool breeze. As I pulled my other leg through and opened my eyes, I felt shock to see I was still standing in my bedroom. I felt Jemma’s hand on my back as she came through behind me.
“Welcome to 1880, Scarlett” I heard a new voice say.
I turned toward the voice and saw the face I saw when I was five.
“Great-great grandmother?” I asked even though I knew the answer was yes.
“Oh, my child, just look at you! Come, come, give me a hug,” Helena said with tears in her eyes. It was quite bizarre to be called ‘child’ by someone who appeared to be about the same age I was.
Helena had been sitting in an oversized chair by the window and I quickly began to cross the room. As she stood up, I could see she was very pregnant. I stopped suddenly, staring at her stomach.
“Is that who I think it is?” I asked awestruck.
“Yes, your grandfather. You see why I sent Jemma to bring you back. I couldn’t risk going through time in my condition,” she answered.
I couldn’t move while this new information sank into my brain. She walked the last few feet towards me and wrapped my in her arms. As soon as she touched me, I came out of my confusion and began hugging her back. Jemma let out a whoop from behind us and joined in the hug.
I don’t remember the next half hour or so very well. It was a mixture of tears, hugs and exclamations. Finally, my brain caught up with my emotions and I could begin to pay attention to what Helena and Jemma were saying.
“We have so much to teach you. But first, please ask all your questions,” Helena said.
“Oh, wow, I don’t even know where to begin,” I said in a dazed voice. I walked over and sat on the bed as the questions flew out. “Why me? Why did you figure out time travel? How did you make my mirror glow? Why do you travel through time in the first place?”
“Excellent questions which have excellent answers, although I will start with your last question first. We travel through time to change history based on what happened in the parallel universe. We choose you because this is work that must only be done by a female and you were the next female in our direct bloodline. As to how we made the mirror glow, that is just part of the magic of time travel. The mirror started glowing all by itself one day, so figuring out time travel happened by accident,” Helena answered.
“You purposely change history? I thought that was a big no-no in time travel,” I said with confusion.
“Who came up with that rule?” asked Jemma.
“I don’t know,” I answered. “But all the books that are written about time travel specifically say that if time travel is possible, then going back to change the past would be the worst thing a person could do.”
“What’s the fun of traveling through time if you can’t change things?” Jemma asked.
“Good point,” I said.
“We discovered areas where we could change time quite by accident. When someone has a choice, time splits into the choice not taken as well. We found the universe where Hitler did not write his manifesto and there was no Holocaust. Of course, we were devastated to learn that in your future, Hitler did write his manifesto, come to power in Germany and commit such atrocities,” Helena explained.
“If time splits in the choice not taken, what happens if there are multiple choices?” I asked.
Helena answered, “While there may seem to be many choices at first, there are usually only two that a person has to decide between at the end and it is these two that determine what happens to time.”
I thought about this for a moment and realized she was right. I knew in my own life, it usually came down to just two choices and my friends were the same. They would ask me if I thought this or that would be the better way to go. I did know of exceptions but I could see the logic behind what she was saying.
“So, we go back through time to the parallel universe and see what worked and then change the past in this universe?” I asked to clarify.
“Exactly right,” Helena said. Her face showed relief that I had grasped the concept so easily.