phone rang. True to his word, Paul called from the hotel. Lottie
heard someone in the background calling to him. “I’ll be right there.
Sorry, honey, it’s bedlam here, I can barely hear myself. “I’ll call you
tomorrow.” He rang off.
The pinging of the rain as it fell on the metal roof had a soothing effect. Lottie sat at the kitchen table with a pad and a pen, willing herself to relax. She closed her eyes, felt her body go limp. Breathing deeply, she allowed her mind to wander to a pleasant place. Slowly, she drifted into an alpha state. Suddenly, the pen began to move across the paper. Lottie watched with fascination as the old-fashioned script wrote,
Lottie, come home. It's time. You are needed here. There is something you must do…
A persistent scratching at the door and Teddy’s urgent barking broke her concentration. The pen stopped flowing as abruptly as it had begun. Rain was coming down in torrents when the dog rushed in nearly knocking her down. The wailing of the wind as it moved through the pines gave her goose bumps She closed and bolted the door. After she’d dried and fed the dog she returned to the table and picked up the paper.
It's time to come home? What does that mean? I am home. Who are you? What do you want to tell me?
She dropped the paper on the table and pressed her hand against her throbbing temple.
“Paul may be right, I probably am coming down with something.”
“I’ll take a warm bath, have a nice hot toddy and read for a while.”
in the first Lottie’s journal, the violence of a nearby lightning strike
startled her. The kitchen light flickered and died. Simultaneously, a
loud banging emanated from the upstairs bedroom. She sat for a moment,
waiting for the lights to come back on. When they didn’t, she thought
of the oil lamp. She set the journal on the table and felt her way to
the sideboard. Taking matches from the drawer she lit the wick and
replaced the glass chimney. With the lamp in her hand, she headed for
the stairs to investigate.
The house had never seemed spooky to her as it did to Paul, but with the storm, the darkness and the banging coming from upstairs, it took on a mysterious air. She climbed the curving, narrow stairs with Teddy close behind.
She stood on the landing holding the lantern aloft and surveyed the main room. It felt cold and damp. As she’d thought, the window had blown open. The curtains billowed into the room as if possessed. Lottie set the lamp on the dresser and reached out to grasp the flapping window. The rain clawed at her face as she struggled against the wind. Using both hands she pulled it closed and latched it.
The soft light from the lamp lent a hypnotic quality to the room. Lottie shivered from the cold and pulled a quilt off the bed, wrapping it around herself. She sat in the old rocker, tucking her feet up under her. Content to be wherever his mistress was, Teddy curled up on the overflow of the quilt.
Lottie admired the beauty of the room as she rocked. In the borning room, a small alcove off the main bedroom, an 1800's cradle that had rocked generations of Slocum infants now held a collection of Lottie’s old Teddy bears. The magnificent walnut tester bed had been hand crafted by her great- great- great grandfather, Elihu, a wedding present to his wife, Cornelia in 1835. For some reason she couldn’t fathom Paul had an aversion to the room, refusing to sleep there. Yet for her it held a special charm.
The faint scent of rose potpourri blended with the smell of aged wood. As she rocked contentedly, her thoughts drifted back to the cryptic message. If she tried it again, would it work? If it did, would the message be continued? The psychic’s prophetic words reverberated in her ears:
You have a mission, but you must work hard to find out what it is. Only then will you know true joy.
How was she supposed to know what her mission was, if indeed, she had one?
Feeling suddenly sleepy, Lottie stood up. Unsteady on her feet she felt herself falling and reached for the bedpost.
“Whoa—the hot toddy must have been more potent than I thought.” She giggled when she saw Teddy watching her. “There’s no reason we have to go downstairs, is there fella? You’re not scared to be up here like Dr. Winslow, are you?” He cocked his head at the sound of her voice. “Course not. You’re my big, brave boy.”
She turned down the wick of the lamp, lifted the coverlet and nestled in the warmth of the down quilts.
“There, now. Let the wind blow where it will.” Not waiting to be invited, Teddy jumped up and settled on the foot of the bed. He snuggled against the footboard, warming Lottie's cold feet. Within minutes she fell into a deep sleep.
The wind moaned and shuddered through the trees like a creature in pain. Intermittent flashes of lightning alternately lit the room then left it in darkness, culminating in angry crashes of thunder. Rain lashed the window without mercy—and still Lottie slept.
enveloped the tunnel and swirled around her, lifting and carrying her
forward. Her feet floated over the mire as she moved ever closer to the
light. The voice called to her, “Come, Lottie. Come home.” Feeling
light as air she came to the mouth of the tunnel. A woman, bathed in
dazzling light pointed.
Lottie turned to look. A house began to take shape in the mist. She turned back toward the woman who nodded, urging her on. She glided up the steps and the door swung open. As she floated across the threshold, her heart swelled with boundless joy. She had come home at last.
Part Two Echoes of the Past
Lottie has realized that she's made a transition in time, but now she must explain herself to Caroline Patterson, the woman in the 1886 photograph. Caroline has mistaken her for the first Lottie. Present-day Lottie finally convinces Caroline that she is, in fact, from the future. "I think I may be a reincarnation of your friend, Lottie."
realized Lottie was speaking in earnest. “You think you are a
reincarnation of yourself? Is that supposed to be funny?”
“Not to me, it isn’t. What I’m trying to tell you is—I’m not your Lottie.”
“Well if you’re not my Lottie, Missy, what are you doing here?”
“Your guess is as good as mine. I’m married to Paul Winslow, a surgeon in Scarsdale, NY. I’m a nurse. That’s why I have all this medical knowledge. It’s my job. This is our vacation home; I inherited it from my father. Charlotte Burnet Slocum, your Lottie—was my great-great-grandmother.” Lottie hesitated as
Caroline backed away from her, her eyes wide and uncomprehending.
“I know it sounds crazy, and I don’t mean to frighten you, but I can’t pretend any longer. I’m from—” heaving a sigh she plunged in, “I’m from another time. I can’t explain how or why I got here. There’s no other way to say it—I come from the future.”
“It not only sounds crazy, it is crazy. You must have been hit on the head or something. You’ve played some strange pranks, Lottie Slocum, but this is going too far.”
“I wasn’t hit on the head and it’s not a prank. You must believe me.” How can I convince her? I know—
“Suppose I tell you that the president of the United States is Grover Cleveland, and that his vice president was Thomas Hendricks. Hendricks served less than a year. After his death, there was no vice president.”
“Any American would know that.”
“Granted. But would any American know that Benjamin Harrison will be the next president, and after his term, Grover Cleveland will be elected again?”
“Nobody could know that.”
“But I do. Look, Caroline, I didn’t choose to transport myself to another time. I don’t know how or why I came to be here unless it’s tied in with the dream.”
“A dream I’ve had for several months. I happened to meet with a psychic. Don’t look at me like that. It wasn’t my doing. She told me my grandmother wanted to contact me and she suggested I try automatic writing.”
“I don’t understand.”
“The principle is that you sit with a pen and paper and allow yourself to relax completely.”
“Then, if conditions are right, the pen will move. It will write a message.”
“Who moves it?”
“Spirits? What nonsense. That’s what comes of reading all those peculiar books. Tell me, what did you do?”
“I did what I just told you.”
“And did your grandmother contact you?”
“Somebody did. It was a cryptic message, though. It broke off when Teddy startled me with his barking. Would you like to see it?”
“Yes, I would.”
Lottie went to the bedroom and retrieved the paper from the robe where she’d put it.”
“Here.” She held it out to Caroline.
“That’s your—it’s Lottie’s writing. “I don’t understand any of this.”
“I don’t understand it myself. That’s what I’ve been trying to do for months.”
“Tell me about the dream.”
Lottie related the familiar happenings of the dream and its usual ending.
"The last time I had it was the same night that Paul left for Boston. A storm came up. It was so severe the lights went out. I heard this banging coming from the upstairs bedroom. I went up to see what it was. A window had blown open. I felt cold and suddenly weak in the knees. Something urged me to sleep in Lottie’s bed.”
“Isn’t that where you generally sleep—in your own room?”
“No. Paul prefers the downstairs bedroom for some reason. I’d never slept in that bed before.”
“And you say the dream ended differently.”
“Yes. I felt a blessed peace and that I’d come home. I woke up this morning to a completely different world. The first thing I noticed was the absence of noise. Then you showed up. I only know who you are because I’d seen your picture. I didn’t know what I could say to you, so I just went along with it. I thought I was still dreaming.”
“Wait—you have a picture of me?”
“Where did you get it?”
“At an antique store. There was something about it—I felt that I knew you, yet I realized that was impossible. Then I found the album in the attic with a picture of you and Lottie. It was marked with the date and your names.”
Caroline sat quietly, trying to absorb what she heard. Finally she spoke.
“I’ve read stories about time machines and voyages to the future, but I always believed that was just someone's wild imaginings. Now you stand here telling me that you, my life-long friend, are not my friend, but someone else from some future year.”
“It’s the truth.”
Caroline paced the kitchen several times, a frown on her face and her hands behind her back. Lottie stood by, waiting. It was silent but for the footfalls of Caroline’s pacing. Finally, she stopped, turned and faced Lottie.
“Well, Miss Slocum—Winslow, did you say?”
“That’s odd. My aunt Helen is a Winslow. By marriage, that is. Her husband’s name is Paul, too.
“That is odd.”
“What year do you come from?”
“When I went to sleep, it was October 25th, 2006. It was thundering and lightning. When I woke up, it was 1886 and there's snow on the ground. It's as strange for me as it is for you."
Lottie watched as Caroline’s face registered incredulity, doubt. Was there fear?
“You swear this is true?”
“Every word. This house was built by my great-great-great grandfather, Elihu Slocum. My father inherited it after the death of his parents. I was born here.”
“Here? You were born here in this house? Exactly when were you born?”
“Yes. In this house. My parents had come up on a weekend and mother went into premature labor. I was born October 28, 1975, why do you ask? Is something wrong? You look suddenly pale.”
Caroline plunked herself down on a chair and stared at Lottie with wide eyes and whispered, “Lottie Slocum was born on October 28, 1855. She is thirty-one years old.”
“I’m thirty-one too.”
The two women stared at each other.
“No one ever told me when she was born, but maybe that’s why they named me after her. I always wondered.”
“Maybe you are… ” Caroline started, but Lottie interrupted her.
“Oh, no. I’m not—don’t even think it!” A chill ran through Lottie at the very thought—No, it can’t be.
“Hmm. Are you saying that your parents didn’t live here all the time?”
“No. They used it more for time away from the daily grind, er uh, as a vacation home—you know. After they died, I went to live with my aunt and uncle. I was seven-years-old and my life changed forever. They never brought me here until I came of age and the house was deeded over to me.”
“I suffered from chronic nightmares after the accident. Aunt Betty was afraid it would do more harm. Maybe it would have, I don’t know. Anyway, when Paul and I married, he offered to restore the house. It had been vacant for twenty years and was in pretty bad shape by that time. We've been coming here for weekends whenever we can ever since we married." She was silent for a moment.
"I know Paul isn't as happy coming here as I am. He's been trying to talk me into going to Jamaica, or Europe, but—”
“Hold on a minute, Missy. Your husband wants to take you away on vacation? And you won’t go? Do you love your husband—is he a good man?"
"Of course I love him. He's a very good man."
"Then why won't you do something that will make him happy? Aren’t you being a trifle selfish? Have you no conception how fortunate you are to have him?" Her voice had taken on an accusatory tone.
Lottie was briefly without words. Had she completely overlooked Paul’s feelings in favor of her own? Is that the way he feels?
"I never thought about it that way. He used to enjoy it as much as I did.”
“Are you sure? Or was he placing your wants above his own? That is what love means, you know.”
“Of course I know. But try to understand—I’ve been feeling so alone with all that’s happened. Paul thinks I’m losing my mind. I tried to tell him about the visions and his answer was to tell me we should talk to a doctor. I was very hurt.”
“Well, now—just think on it a minute. What would you say if the shoe was on the other foot?”
“I’d try to be understanding.”
“I would. It’s just– I love this place. I feel close to my family here." She was close to tears.
“Oh, now. I don’t mean to make you cry.” Caroline reached out to her. In a voice barely a whisper she asked, “Is it possible? Can this really happen?”
“It must be possible because I’m here,” she sniffed. “What’s upsetting is I don’t know how to go back. I don’t have a time machine like Michael J. Fox.”
“It doesn’t matter. I don’t know how it happened, why it happened or what happens next.”
“Oh, I know what happens next,” Caroline said picking up the copper kettle, “We’re going to have a good strong cup of tea and you’re going to tell me what life is like in the 20th century.”
“You believe me then?” Lottie asked.
“I’m not sure what I believe, but there are a lot of questions—”
“Why did you stop?”
“I just thought of something. What do we do if Lottie and Pete return while you’re still here?”
“Maybe I’ll disappear in a puff of smoke. I don’t know. I can’t think about that now. I’ll think about it tomorrow.” Just call me Scarlett.
For a moment neither spoke, each assessing the other. Lottie wondered, does she think I’m crazy? Am I? Is it real, or another dream? “Linny—”
“What is it?”
“When we first met, I mean you and me, not you and Lottie Slocum. You said, ‘You’re acting very odd, even for you.’ What did you mean?”
“Oh, that. Well you, I mean my Lottie, is unpredictable. She does whatever she takes into her head. And sometimes,” Caroline hesitated, “sometimes she knows about things before they happen.”
Lottie felt her hair rise from her scalp. Oh Jeez. What next?
“Does that surprise you?”
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at anything.”
“Well tell me about the 20th century. What kind of world is it? Is it much different?”
“It’s wonderful in many ways.” Lottie went on to tell her about breakthroughs in the medical world, air and space travel, women’s lib.”
“Do you mean it’s really possible for a woman to become president?”
“I believe I’ll see it in my lifetime.” If I ever get back to my century, that is.
“But women don’t even have the right to vote. They’ve tried for so many years. Susan B. Anthony tried to get into a polling place in Rochester and she was arrested.”
“I know. It took many years of crusading for our rights, but in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. We’ve been able to vote ever since.”
“Tell me more.”
Lottie launched into a dissertation on the advances in medicine playing to a rapt Caroline.
“We can do organ transplants—for instance, take a healthy kidney from a donor and transplant it into someone with kidney disease; we have vaccines, inoculations against many contagious diseases. You've heard of diabetes?"
"Yes, old man Crocker had it. His toes turned black and fell off. He died soon after, poor man."
Lottie choked down a laugh. "We have treatment for it now that allows the person who has it to live a relatively full life. Scientists discovered insulin in 1921 and we’re learning more all the time."
"How does that work?” She listened intently as Lottie explained the daily procedures a diabetic faces, making a face when she heard the words needle and injection.
What the hey, I’ll tell her.
"Caroline, I have diabetes."
Caroline gasped, "Oh Lord no, Lottie, not you!"
"I was diagnosed with it several months ago. I was taught how to manage it and I give myself two injections of insulin a day."
"Will your toes fall off?"
She couldn’t help it. The laughter bubbled up and out of her throat. "I hope not. I just have to take care of myself.”
“This is unbelievable.”
“Surgical techniques have become high tech.”
“I don’t understand.”
Lottie smiled. “It means the latest in technology. Medicine is divided up into specialties in my century. There are still family practitioners, but doctors generally choose a special field. My husband, Paul, is an orthopaedic surgeon.”
“I wonder how Dr. Blake would like that. Actually, we’re fortunate to have even one doctor; we went for years without one after old Doc Talbot died. Everybody had to go to Gloversville and some just didn’t make it.”
“We have planes that fly up to 600 miles per hour. In 1969 we put a man on the moon.”
“How can he survive there?”
Lottie laughed. “Oh, we brought him back. We have space stations in the universe and men, they’re called astronauts, have walked in space.”
“This is too much, too much."
“There’s infinitely more. I wish I could show you.” Lottie thought for a moment. “I have an idea. The radio doesn’t work because there’s no transmission, and I used the newspaper for the fire, but there is something here I can show you, my tape recorder.”
“What is a tape recorder?” asked Caroline.
“You’ll see.” She went to her bedroom and brought the small recorder to Caroline. “It’s battery operated so I can take it with me and play it anywhere.” She turned on the power and said to Caroline, “Now, when I say go, I want you to say something.” She pointed to the microphone area, “Just talk into this part, here.” She pressed play/record. “Okay, go.”
Caroline wasn’t sure what to say, stammered a little and then recited,
“Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are, up above the sky so blue--have they put a man on you too?” She laughed merrily.
Lottie rewound the tape and played it back for Caroline to hear her own voice.
Caroline squealed with delight. “Is this what’s to become of Edison’s phonograph? Tell me, with all these wonderful discoveries and inventions, why would you want to come back to the past?”