“The past is but the beginning of a beginning.” —H.G. Wells
Chapter 2: December 25, 2000
Part 2 of 2
Addison’s bedroom was now a sewing room with a reading sofa in front of the far window. Daniel helped Addison there and laid her down. Then he unfolded an afghan draped over the back. While he tucked her in, Catherine and Kay entered the room.
“Is she okay?” Catherine asked as she went to Addison. “Aunt Peggy told us she fell ill.”
Daniel stood and straightened his jacket and tie. “A touch of the flu,” is all he said, though he sounded unsure.
“What’s going on?” Catherine stood and confronted him. “There’s an empty wheelchair downstairs where a woman once sat. Where is she? Why is everyone being so mysterious?”
“I don’t know,” Daniel said. He excused himself and hurried downstairs. The wheelchair was gone.
“Sara took it to her car,” Aunt Peggy explained. Then, “Is Addie going to be alright?”
“She didn’t vanish, if that’s what you mean. Other than that, I don’t know.” He ran a hand through his hair. “This is crazy. I just saw a woman disappear before my very eyes.”
Sara came in from outdoors and stomped snow from her boots. She looked troubled as Daniel approached her with a succession of questions and accusations.
“She isn’t to blame,” Aunt Peggy said.
“Not good enough. I want answers.”
“You read the diary.”
Daniel went to the bar next to the record cabinet. He found some scotch and drank from the bottle. He wiped his chin and said to Sara, “What’s your story? Why are you here?”
“Jane was my mother,” she said. “I recently found that out after some DNA testing.” She examined her hands. “I’m her flesh and blood. That’s the reason I’m here.”
“At the end of the diary, she claimed that she was Addie,” Daniel said. “How is that possible?”
“I don’t know. But that makes you my father.” Sara sounded small and frightened. “Now I know where I get my blonde hair.”
“How am I supposed to believe something so crazy?” Daniel said to Aunt Peggy, who stood silently watching from the center of the room.
“I know how hard it is to believe in something so incredible,” Aunt Peggy said. “But Jane’s blood matched Addie’s. Even her fingerprints were Addie’s.”
Daniel slammed the bottle on the bar and left to clean up the bathroom. When he checked on Addison, she was asleep. Aunt Peggy had pulled up a chair and now sat, holding Addison’s hand and humming. Kay and Catherine were gone. Sara Holcomb sat at one of Catherine’s sewing machines. She looked away, inspected her hands again, and then stared at the floor.
“I hope you don’t mind us being here,” Aunt Peggy said to Daniel.
“It’s fine. She seems better now. Her breathing is normal.” Daniel looked at his sleeping wife. A frown lined her forehead.
Aunt Peggy said, “Even in her sleep she seems troubled. The very same look I saw on Jane all these years.”
Daniel ran a hand through his hair but said nothing.
“I’m glad we’re away from the others,” Aunt Peggy said as she took his other hand and looked him in the eyes. “You’ve read the diary. You saw what happened.” She looked at Addison. “When she’s better, she needs to know the truth. You and she and Sara and Jane deserve better.”
“Her diary says that lightning kills me while we’re running from a rainstorm atop Myers Ridge,” Daniel said.
“Then it’s up to you to see that history doesn’t repeat itself. Promise me you won’t let it happen again.”
“Again?” Daniel’s voice cracked; his words sounded like sandpaper against steel. The heat in the room felt unbearable and his tongue seemed too large for his mouth. Even his hands felt swollen and prickly. “I can’t agree to something I don’t believe,” he said.
“But you read the diary. You heard what Jane said. You saw her vanish. What more proof do you need?”
“Proof to believe that Addie was transported through time, to the past?”
“She hasn’t yet. Not this Addie. You can keep this Addie safe because now you know.”
Outside, wind whipped against the house and Daniel heard the windows rattle. He watched snow swirl past the window behind the sofa. “So, how do I change this?” he asked. “Do I keep her locked up for the rest of her life?”
“You change it by changing the future.”
“You know from the diary that Addie was pregnant when she was transported to the past. And you know that it happened on Myers Ridge. When she becomes pregnant, you make sure she stays away from Myers Ridge.”
“But what about me?” Sara cried. She ran to Daniel. “If you change the future, what happens to me?” She threw her arms around him. He cringed when static electricity sparked between them. Sara buried her face into his chest. “I don’t want to vanish into nothing. I don’t want to die.”
“You won’t die,” Aunt Peggy said. “You’ll be born here, where you belong.”
“That won’t be me … not the person I am now. Don’t you see that? I’m already here.” Sara lifted her head and searched Daniel’s eyes. “I’ll stop existing should you change the past. I’ll disappear like Jane.” Tears fell. “Promise me you won’t let anything happen to me.”
Daniel listened to himself promise, but the words made little sense. Nothing made any sense.
Addison sucked in a breath then as she stirred awake.
“How do you feel?” Daniel asked as he went to her.
“Hungry. So very hungry.”
“We’ll leave you two alone,” Aunt Peggy said. “You have a lot to discuss.”
When she and Sara were gone, Daniel told Addison about the diary. That night, after Aunt Peggy and Sara explained to Catherine and the others what happened, and after he and Addison had gone home, he had her read it. When she finished, they talked in bed about what they knew.
“The whole thing blows my mind,” Addison said.
Daniel agreed before turning off the light.