"Past or Present" Chapter 11
Stephanie returned to her room, pulled off the ruined shoes and placed them by the fireplace. A
plan had begun to form as she walked back to the house and she was confident it would stop the plot to kill
She walked to the desk, opened a drawer and took out a paper. She sat down and dipped the
fountain pen into the ink, and began to write.
Once the letter was safely on its way she would tell
Thinking of him made her heart thud painfully. She couldn’t erase the sound of the gunshot. “It's not going to end that way,” she swore silently. The timeline was about to bend and
She could almost feel the winds of change howl around her, or was it just the winter wind
rattling the windows? She looked out at the deep, dark night and shivered.
Reflected in the window she could almost see the cold eyes and menacing weapon of the
stranger and both appeared to be pointed directly at her.
It was Saturday morning and
Last night she had found a magazine next to Stephanie’s bed and read it completely, making
notes of the fashions and hairstyles but also the dramatic effect of colors used on the faces. Their eyelids were a startling effect of color and she very much wanted to try this new appealing beauty trick. When she found Stephanie’s many pots of color tucked in one of the dresser drawers she happily played for hours with their different effects on her own eye lids.
Dressed and ready to be on her way all she needed were the directions to the Library, which
was her destination this morning. She flipped open Stephanie’s laptop as Mel called these and when she pressed the start button that looked like the one on the work computer the screen lit up. Stephanie’s password was the same as teh one for her computer at work and
Yesterday, Mel had taught her to ‘google’ information; ‘google’ is what Mel told her it was called
to look up any information needed on the computer’s search engine.
gave her information on any subject she’d typed in to its little box.
Today, she needed to find the local Library. After a few search requests she found it and she was even able to enter Stephanie's address into something called map quest and it gave her walking directions.
“Amazing invention,” she declared with a smile as she hit the print button and watched the directions print out on a small printer next to the laptop on Stephanie’s desk.
She’d found Stephanie’s library card tucked in a small leather case inside her reticule that also held other cards with Stephanie’s name etched in raised lettering along with names she didn’t understand, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. She had never heard of those establishments so she tucked those cards back into the small leather case, keeping the
library card separated in a small pouch in the lining.
Now with the directions in her hand she was ready to go. She just had to get out of the house with out Stephanie’s mother, Anna or her sister, Jennifer seeing her, because one of them would insist on going with her. Yesterday, Jennifer insisted on taking
They were staying through the New Year Holiday and that was still two weeks away. Christmas
was in one week and last night they had asked her to go with them shopping for a Christmas tree today. She had agreed to join them on the outing this afternoon but first, she had to get to the library.
“Where are you going?” her eyes were clearly worried.
“I’m just going to walk to the library. I have some research I need to do for an article that has to be
done for Monday.”
“I’ll walk with you.”
“No, that isn’t necessary Jennifer, I’ll be just fine and I’ll be back in time to go for a Christmas tree with you and mom.”
“But Mom will worry if you go alone.”
“I’m fine. And I’ll be home later. Please tell her not to worry,” she softened her tone
wanting to sound confident.
“Okay, I’ll cover for you just like I have before…but promise to keep your cell phone on and
answer if I call you.”
Jen shook her head, “I know you and you won’t, so give it here.”
She held out her hand but when her sister didn’t react she sighed and took the tan leather bag
from her hands.
odd image of a blue world appeared and played a short tune. Then Jennifer ran a
finger over the smooth glass and several rows of dots appeared she touched her
finger to each corner dot and the screen changed to an image of a beach.
Apparently, Stephanie liked the beach very much, thought
“Ok, now keep it on.” Jen said and handed the phone back to her.
“I will, “Victoria promised not sure what she was keeping it on for, but knew she could
easily connect those four corners to bring out the picture.
Jennifer hugged her and as she hugged her back an unexpected pang of guilt shot through her.
The black thin box in her hand suddenly began to play a tune.
“Aren’t you going to answer it?” Jennifer asked her.
“Oh, yes of course.” She put the screen up to her face and said, “Hello Mel. How are you?”
Jennifer stared at her a second before she burst out laughing. ‘Okay, you made your point. The
phone is on but you really don’t want to be bothered with phone calls. Just hurry back from the library.”
“Yes, I will.”
Joyful abandon pulsed through her veins as she walked down the quiet streets of Stephanie’s neighborhood. The freedom of being on her own was a heady elixir making her smile happily at complete strangers as she past them.
Never had she felt so independent, on her own with no chaperone, brothers or husband to over see
her safety and yet she had positively no worries.
This new world was not so fearsome; after all it was just people living their lives in new fashions and with new inventions and she would learn how to live among them because she never wanted to go back to that dreary life she had left behind with Harrison.
Her plan for today was to gather as much information as she could to help her become not just a writer but to become Stephanie.
* * *
Stephanie saw the mail coach from her bedroom window and knew she had to hurry to catch him
and mail the letter. Not having time to wait on Madeline, she pulled a day dress from the armoire and quickly stepped into it. She couldn’t bother with petticoats she had to hurry. She twisted the dress around backwards so she could button as many of the ridiculous amount of buttons on the back as she could before turning it back around. She put her arms through the sleeves and then, like a contortionist, buttoned the ones from the top down but she couldn’t reach a few of the middle
buttons. “The heck with it,” she grumbled with annoyance.
She tied her hair back with a ribbon and stepped into her shoes, but her shoes were still soggy from last night, even though she’d placed them near the fire, so she kicked them off and, having no time to look for another pair, ran from the room and raced down the stairs barefoot.
She flew from the last step and nearly collided with
“Has the postman left already?” she asked while taking in deep breaths and staring at the
letters he held in his hand.
“I believe so.” He took note of her disheveled appearance and his eyes narrowed in thought, “Were you expecting something?”
"No, I needed to mail a letter.” She held it up and showed it to him and saw the moment he noticed the address but instead of the happy acknowledgement she expected to see, he frowned at her. Why wasn’t he ecstatic? She was writing her family just like he’d told her to do last night? Of course, he didn’t know what she’d written.
“Anyway, I do have to mail this,” She said as she tried to step around him but he moved to block her. She tilted her head in question at his odd behavior.
“So now you are anxious to leave our home, no more playing at wanting this marriage to start over?
No more worry of a murderer's plot against me? ”
His cynical tone was annoying but the sound of that lone gunshot had not left her ears. She was
saving his damn life and she wouldn’t let him bait her into a fight, not now anyway.
She shook her head.“You made your point very clear last night and now I really do need to mail this, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to try to catch the postman,” she walked purposely around him and opened the front door.
Stephanie stared dejectedly at the empty road; the mail coach was nowhere in sight.
shook his head; apparently, she really couldn’t wait to leave him.
He walked up behind her as she stood staring out at the empty road and took the letter from her hand. She spun quickly around.
“I’m going to town today for supplies. I can take it directly to the post office for you.”
Stephanie’s eyes followed as he put the letter into his pocket. Her heart sank. Now she couldn’t tell him her new plan, not while he held the success of it in his pocket. He might forget to mail it or worse, decide to read it, and then for sure he wouldn’t mail it.
Her mind screamed for her to think of a way to get it back. It had to be mailed today or she couldn't guarantee his safety or his compliance to start phase two of her plan. She had to make sure that letter got mailed today, she had to.
She looked from his pocket to his eyes and gave him the sweetest smile of innocence she could as she asked, “
His brow rose, the last time she’d been with him in town they’d been newly married, and very
much in love. That memory, now sharply painful, was one he did not want to remember and it was not a trip he wished to make with her now.
He shook his head, “I can pick up whatever you need, write a list.”
“It’s rather personal these items I need.” her eyes slanted innocently at him.
He was more than a little suspicion as to why she wanted to accompany him but as much as he wanted to tell her no, he could not, “Then you had better go back upstairs and finish dressing.” he stared pointedly at her bare feet and refused to think about her bare back.
“Oh, of course…” her reply drifted off when he turned abruptly away and walked off towards the dining room.
“And I suggest you hurry if you want breakfast before we go,” he said without turning back to
Stephanie didn’t bother to answer. She ran back up the stairs knowing she had to dress quickly because he had her letter in his pocket and he could still decide to leave without her.
* * *