Jenn Baker’s Picture Choice:
Title: Changed Realities
Clara stood in front of the head stones, unsure what they meant. They had her parent’s names but with dates from the eighteen hundreds. She looked at Jack. He had been trying to help her find them and he brought here, to a cemetery in the middle of northern Scotland, about sixty miles from where they disappeared.
“Are you saying that my parents somehow ended up in the past?” She crossed her arms tight around her chest.
“It is a possibility. You know the history of this area.” Jack said quietly. He wanted to pull her in to his embrace, but he knew she would resist.
“Those are folk tales, Jack.” Clara turned to look at him. “I can’t believe that you would raise my hopes saying you found them and then lead me to this.”
“The names are exactly the same, including the middle names, and minus the year, the dates of birth are theirs.” Jack reached in to his back pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. “And there is this.” He held it out for her.
Her trembling fingers reached over and grasped the paper. She looked at Jack. He nodded toward the paper. She slowly opened it, unsure if she wanted to see what was on the document. After she had it open, she took a deep breath before she looked at it.
It was a copy of a photo dated eighteen-sixty. It was an image of her parents dressed in fashionable garb for the time. Her father wore a kilt and her mother wore a dress with a huge crinoline. Shaking her head, she handed the paper back to Jack.
“How can that be them, Jack?” Clara wrapped her arms around her middle. “I was fifteen when they disappeared while we were here on vacation. How did they end up in the past?”
“I don’t know, Clara, but there is something back at the house you need to see.” He folded the paper and put it back in to his pocket. He held a hand out to her and waited for her take it. She took his hand and allowed him to slowly lead them out of the cemetery. They walked hand in hand down the hill along the dirt lane back to his uncle’s estate. As they started up the entrance path, the massive front door opened.
“Did you have a nice outing, sir?” Fergus, the household butler, was tall broad shouldered man in his sixties. He was well dressed and took his position very seriously.
“It was good, Fergus.” Jack placed his hand on Clara’s lower back to encourage her to enter the house first. “We will be in the study. Please do not disturb us.”
“As you wish, sir.” Fergus closed the front door and went about his duties, leaving the two of them in the foyer.
Clara looked around. Every time she walked in to the house, she was always struck with amazement at foyer and the grand stair case leading to the second floor. When Jack told her his uncle had an estate, she never pictured this place. The beauty of it took her breath away.
“Clara, are you coming?”
She jumped a little at Jack’s voice, having been lost in her admiration of the house. She gave him a small smile and walked toward the open door on the left of the entry hall. She quickly took her normal spot on the overstuffed couch. It faced Jack’s desk. She would come to the study at night and read while he worked.
After closing the door to the study, he walked over to the desk and opened a drawer. His actions reminded her that he had something else to show her. Closing her eyes, she rested her head against the back of the couch. She didn’t know what else he could show her. It was shock enough to discover her parents had been sucked in to the past and lived a life there. She opened her eyes when she felt the cushions on the couch move with Jack’s weight. In his hand he held a leather bound book. It was a beautiful mahogany color with a black leather lacing wrapped around it. Held against the cover by the lacing was an envelope. The envelope was addressed to her, with a do not open until 2013 under her name. The handwriting was her mother’s. Tears sprang to her eyes, as she reached for the book.
“Where did you get this?” Clara whispered, swallowing hard to keep the tears at bay.
“I found it in my uncle’s safe.”
“How long have you known of this?” She shook the book at him.
“I found it two nights ago. I knew my uncle had a safe, but I didn’t find the codes to it until then.” Jack ran a hand through his short hair. “I didn’t tell you right away because I didn’t want it to be cruel hoax. So I opened the book and read the first page. After that, I did research to verify the information. Hence the trip to the cemetery and the photograph.”
She ran her fingers over the leather lacing as the book sat on her lap. Could this tell her what happened to her parents? For a long time she believed they just abandoned her, it wasn’t until she was in college that she began to think they were taken. Taking a deep breathe, she slipped the envelope from the lacing and slowly opened it to see her mother’s handwriting. The tears she had been fighting stung her eyes and slowly ran down her cheeks as she read the short letter.
I hope this book finds you. It will explain everything that happened to your father and I. We tried everything to get back to you, but couldn’t figure out how we even arrived in this time. Your father thinks it has something to do with the stone circle we were visiting. But we don’t know.
Please do not try to rescue us. Live your life and be happy.
Know that we love you dearly,
Clara laid the letter on the book, running her fingers over the lettering. She didn’t know how long she sat there. She lifted her head and look at Jack.
“You were right.” She slowly shook her head in disbelief as the tears continued to flow. “They did end up in the past.”
“I’m so sorry, Clara.” Jack reached over and cupped her cheek in his large hand. His thumb wiped away tears as he watched her. He dropped his hand as she pulled away. After placing the book and the letter on the coffee table she turned to him. He opened his arms and pulled her in to his lap.
With a deep sigh, Clara wrapped her arms around Jack and buried her face in his chest. She would look at the book later, but right now she just needed to be held. She needed time to absorb the new information about her parent’s disappearance.
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Jenn lives in central Florida with her best friend and husband, Andy. When not reviewing books on her book blog, PonyTails Book Reviews, she writes her own Contemporary Western Romance and Scottish Historicals. Jenn is hoping to have her first novel, The Prodigal Cowboy, published in the fall of 2013.