Untitled Rough Draft | Chapter Excerpt:
"Likewise." Arthur leans in to light a cigarette. "Whole place gives me the creeps."
You've heard that line before. And you're uncomfortable in the silence that follows – because it then dawns on you that this is the same Arthur who wrote in that old journal you read back at your world.
Arthur is – not at all what you had pictured him. You thought he would be this boyish and lanky sort – a tortured artist who used self-deprecating humor to deter an awareness of his own charm and good looks. But instead he's more of a jock than a Hemingway. He has a writer's intuition to pour his heart and soul out on page but in person he's so damn reserved, it's a wonder that he says no more than he needs to. And despite how much you've grown to like the charming poet from that old journal, you're timid in your approach to connect with the stoic, rugged man who's here with you now.
"Didn't get a chance to thank you for what you did back there," you say. "I owe you one."
"Don't mention it." There's a pause when he drags another smoke. The color in his eyes pick up from the lamplight when he meets your gaze. "How you liking the camp so far?"
"It's..." you search for the words, "it's an adjustment."
"Sure." Arthur sees right through that lie. You can tell by the way his smile reaches his eyes. "Give it some time," he says, "once we get a couple of things sorted out I'll take you back to your family. You got my word on that."
"Right, well, see – that's the problem..." Undaunted, you take a step closer. "As much as I'd love to go back, I'm no longer sure if that's possible."
"What you mean?"
"Would you think I was crazy if I told you?"
"Crazier than this lot?" He laughs. "Highly doubt that –"
"I don't belong here."
Arthur looks about as if you're merely stating the obvious. "Okay?"
"And I don't just mean hypothetically speaking." The tone in your voice drops, your expression serious. "I've already made peace with what's happened, I just don't know where else to go from here."
Arthur takes a long drag of smoke before putting it out. When he looks back at you, arms crossed – ready and waiting – you're unsure of what to do with his undivided attention. And your heart skips a beat as you rub your elbows out of nerves, hoping and praying that he's got an open mind.
"I'm a history buff," you tell him. You look into the distance as you think back on your life. "I host a popular miniseries about world history and the general public loves my show. I even got a Funko Pop doll modeled after me last year. And despite what my publicist says, I am sort of but not really involved with some guy who happens to be a really good boost to my career."
Arthur narrows his eyes. "I don't follow..."
"I'm from the future."
Arthur doesn't say a word but he appears bewildered – as if concerned about your great sense of imagination. And you kind of feel sorry for the guy, really. What could he possibility say to something like that?
So you continue to do all the talking.
You pace back and forth as you retrace your steps, nodding in agreement with the sequence of events that occurred in the last 24 hours: you had been filming at the Shady Belle mansion, where you were then knocked unconscious by what had felt like an earthquake and winded up here – one hundred and thirty years back in time.
"That's..." Arthur appears uneasy but he remains cordial. "Miss, that's quite a story."
You can't make him believe you. Not while you don't even know the first thing there is to know about time travel and worm holes and ancient alien magic or whatever.
What you need is proof. So you change your approach.
"I'm guessing by this time you've already seen Mary?"
Arthur is stricken by the mention of her name. You then recall what he had written in his journal.
"She's going to write you again," you say. "And when she does, she'll ask another favor of you. It'll be about her father."
You tighten your hold on your shawl as you solidify your bargaining chip.
"If I'm wrong about that Mr. Morgan, then you can call me crazy."
It could use some polishing, haha. Despite how little time I have to contribute I've enjoyed the spur of inspiration. It's been a much needed break from the dry material in academia and I can't wait to share this when it's ready.