Rest Stop Stories Episode Fourteen: Through Time
Jane knew it was sinful in many ways. Most importantly because she wasn’t paying attention to the words of Reverend Webster. He told of God, of damnation and salvation, and all she could do was try to keep her eyes forward and not look toward the blacksmith’s wife in the third pew.
But when Abigail glanced back at her with that crooked smile, it was all she could do not to let her heart burst into song right there on the Sabbath. Instead, she tucked away a stray strand of white-blonde hair that had escaped her bonnet, and focused intently on the preacher.
After service let out, she left the meeting house quietly as her husband discussed the sermon with the other men. She tried to think ahead to the chores awaiting her tomorrow, once they were through with a day of worship and contemplation. There was cooking to be done and cleaning and her sister would be needing help with the baby.
But first Jane would take a walk through the meadow and into the forest. And perhaps Abigail would be there. And there, alone among the whispering pines, they could contemplate salvation and perhaps disregard damnation.
At least for a moment’s time.
The city was at war and here she was, trying to run a tavern like life was normal. Every day the men came in with news of revolution, of finally breaking away from Britain and forming their own country. It was a ridiculous notion, but to be honest, Sarah was so busy that she barely had time to think about it.
Not so with Alice, however. While Sarah looked the other way, Alice would ply her trade with Bostonian and British alike. And in the beds upstairs, the men would whisper secrets into her ear.
Secrets that Alice would then pass on to Sarah as they lay in bed together, late at night. She’d whisper then with that crooked smile on her face, then run her fingers through Sarah’s white-blonde hair until Sarah drifted off, thinking only of how much she loved this woman.
She had secrets of her own to keep, she didn’t have time for those of loose-lipped soldiers.
This Spiritualism gripped the city and it was all Clara could do to keep her sanity intact. She was a woman of science and there was nothing scientific about this nonsense, no matter what these so-called experts said.
The living could not contact the dead. And even if they could, they had no business doing so anyway.
But here she was, in her sister’s parlor with her hands on this ridiculous Ouija contraption. The lights were out except for a few small candles that illuminated her sister’s smiling face and pale blonde hair.
She would do anything for her sister. But that didn’t mean Clara had to enjoy it.
“Has a spirit come to us tonight?” Margaret intoned over the board.
The planchet trembled, then moved under their hands toward the word YES. Clara’s heart didn’t even quicken. It was Margaret or one of her silly friends playing a prank.
“Do you have a message for anybody, spirit?” Margaret asked.
Again, a tremble, then the planchet stayed still on YES. There was an electricity to the air right now that Clara decidedly detested.
“Who is your message for?”
There was a pause, then the planchet began to slide toward the C. Margaret looked at Clara in shock as the board spelled out CLARA.
“Quit this,” Clara said sternly.
“I’m not doing anything!” Margaret exclaimed.
The others chimed in as well, claiming that they weren’t moving the planchet. Clara didn’t believe them, but she couldn’t help the chill that ran down her spine in that moment.
“What is your message?” Margaret asked, her voice trembling.
There was another pause, then the board started spelling out a message, the planchet darting between the letters. The table watched in growing fear as the message came clear.
There was silence as everyone looked at Clara. Clara knew someone was playing a joke and she was going to find out who. But right now, she couldn’t shake the image of a playful, crooked smile and a flash of loving eyes.
Patricia looked longingly out the window at the beautiful autumn day outside of her dorm room. The sun was shining and the air was just the right amount of crisp, but her homework was piled up already and she knew that if she didn’t do it now, she never would.
So with a long-suffering sigh, she sat down at her desk and pulled out her math textbook. This one was the most important. As the only female student in the class, she knew that if she failed it, the professor would take that as a sign that girls weren’t cut out to do math and refuse to let any others into the class after her.
She didn’t want the responsibility of being first, but here she was.
She pushed her white-blonde hair out of her eyes and tried to focus on the problems in front of her. But her concentration was quickly broken as the dorm room door flew open and her roommate Janine burst in.
“I got tickets!” she exclaimed. “The Beatles! I stood in line for two days straight, but I have them!”
Patricia hated the Beatles. They were loud and jangly and just plain weird. But Janine loved them and Patricia loved the way that happiness lit up Janine’s face, changing her usual crooked little smile into a broad grin that absolutely glowed.
So instead of thinking about the way that that record was never going to be turned off, she instead smiled as Patricia launched into the story of her ticket-buying adventures.
“Is this seat taken?”
Anna looked up from her computer to see a woman about her age standing beside the empty seat across from her. The cafe had filled up as she had been working and it was the only seat left in the whole place.
“No, go for it,” Anna said.
The woman smiled, a crooked grin that Anna instantly liked. “Thanks,” she said, pulling out the chair and sitting down. “I have so much work to do it’s unreal. And my roommate has a visitor, if you know what I mean.”
“Oh, I think I can guess,” Anna said with a laugh.
The other woman pulled out her laptop, which was covered in stickers. Anna recognized some of them as local bands, but others were unfamiliar. She wanted to ask about them, but it seemed rude to start a conversation when this woman had just told her how busy she was.
So instead, she pulled her white-blonde hair into a ponytail and got back to work.