“He can’t find out!” Kate hissed in my ear.
“He will not. You can trust me,” I whispered back, my heart beating at a quickened pace.
“You know what’s at stake!”
“I am aware.”
“Good. If he is even the slightest bit suspicious, we are all dead. Rose, you cannot even make one mistake! Understand?”
She sighed and turned back from the frosty window to face me.
“I'm sorry. I'm just worried about what could happen to you.”
“I know. It’s okay,” I soothed.
I gave her a quick hug and stood up. We had been crouching near the icy window, peering out into the starry night. Snow was steadily falling down, coating the ground like a soft blanket of white. The sun slowly creeped up and left its home from under the sea to greet us. Inside the old house that Kate’s parents had turned into an inn, it was warm and cozy. I almost wished I had grown up here, watching the sun rise and fall through that same window in her family's personal living room.
I opened the door to the lobby and gave Kate one last look before greeting whoever was waiting there.
“Bonjour, monsieur!” I said, trying my best to paste a warm smile onto my face.
“Bonjour, mademoiselle,” the man responded with a genuine smile. He was tall with curly, dark hair and chocolate brown eyes. He wore a green sweater under his thick coat. His face seemed sweet, and I relaxed slightly when I saw it, but I quickly caught myself. Appearances, after all, can be deceiving.
“George will show you to your room,” I said, gesturing behind me to George.
“Welcome!” George called enthusiastically.
“Thank you,” the stranger replied, stepping into the room.
“Your name is Elliot, yes?” I asked, grabbing the guest log that had been placed on the small table next to the door.
“It is. Elliot James,” he confirmed, turning back towards me.
“I will take your things up to your room. Third floor, four doors down,” George said, taking the two battered suitcases that Elliot had been holding and began to climb the steep wooden stairs.
“How long do you intend to stay here?” I asked, trying not to sound too desperate for his answer. The sooner he left, the better.
“I should think about a week.”
“Very well,” I said, marking it in the log. He looked up at me for a moment and then spoke again.
“May I ask what your name is miss?”
“Rose Mea-Jones,” I said, catching myself.
“You have such a beautiful name, Rose Mea-Jones,” he said, smiling.
“It is just Jones, but thank you monsieur,” I felt a feeling of relief. He didn’t seem to be too concerned with my, possibly fatal, mistake.
“You should go find your room, I’m guessing you are tired after your journey here,” Kate said without the slightest hint of concern in her voice, face, nor posture. She had stepped into the room and was now eyeing me with a stern gaze.
“Yes, that might be best,” I said, sighing and turned my head towards Kate, who nodded.
When I looked back towards the stranger, his eyes still lingered on me.
“It was nice meeting you, Rose.”
“And you,” I responded.
He reached down and kissed the top of my hand. I was not able to contain the pink that lit up my cheeks.
“Au revoir, pour le moment,” I said as he began to ascend the stairs.
“Rose!” Kate exclaimed, walking towards me.
“Whatever is that look for?” I asked, seeing her grim and annoyed face.
“You almost said your real name to him!”
“This is exactly what I was afraid would happen!”
“Je suis désolé,” I apologized.
“And stop with the French!”
I looked down and realized that I was becoming more of a burden to the family that had taken me in and helped me to acclimate to the modern world. But, I also knew that I could protect myself.
“I know you are just trying to help me but-”
“But what? Look, I know this is hard for you and you’re trying your best...just try harder.”
“I am going to retire to my room for a while,” I said, turning to the staircase.
My name is Rose Meadows and I am out of place in this world. I came all the way from Paris, France 1802 to a mountainy corner of America, 2004. My story is not a difficult one to understand. I am lost in a complicated and ever evolving era. For the last two months, the generous Jones family has helped me to acclimate to this new world. Though I am still confused about some of the latest human inventions and ideas, I believe I have mastered a few of the basics. Never before had they let me near the interesting guests that came and went. Today, Mr. and Mrs. Jones decided it was time to let me help them run the inn. I woke up this morning greeted by warm rays of sunshine that illuminated the snowy world outside. It was mornings like these that gave me hope. I have tried to move on with my life, but that has proved difficult when I realized all that I have lost. For, I have lost everything. I am trapped here in the future with no hope of escape to my century nor family. But that sunshine had brought fear as well. If someone were to find out about me, there is no telling what they might do. So, I have lived in secret away from all those who understand me. Until now.
The next day I woke up and breathed in the fresh air that smelled of pine. I took another deep breath and got ready to start the day. After twenty minutes, I walked through the cold hallway towards the stairs. But just as I reached the stairs, a clattering of a heavy object on the floor upstairs reached my ears. I sighed and climbed the stairs to the third floor instead of the first.
I crept slowly through the hallway, listening closely in an attempt to find the source of the noise. There was only silence from each of the rooms except for the sound of my own breath and footsteps. Just as I reached the last room I heard another sound. It was less of a noise and more of hushed whispers of two persons in deep conversation. But the more I listened, the more I came to the realization that there was only a single voice. I edged closer to the door, trying to identify who was speaking and what they were saying. I do not pride myself on eavesdropping but in this situation I simply could not contain my curiosity.
“A tenebris ad lucem. Et flamma de cera,” the voice whispered again in an unrecognizable language.
I almost gasped as I recognized the voice as none other than Elliot James.
An hour later, the group had assembled in the living room. Kate, Mr. Jones, Elliot, and a few other guests sat on the couches and cushioned chairs around the fire. While I sat at the dining room table on the opposite side of the room reading. Mrs. Jones appeared in the doorway carrying a few plates of good smelling food.
“How did you sleep?” Mrs. Jones asked, handing Elliot a plate of steaming hot pancakes, eggs, and bacon.
“This looks incredible, thank you,” he said graciously before answering her inquiry.
“I slept very well. My room is extraordinarily comfortable. This morning I could have sworn I heard a shuffling outside my door,” I suddenly looked up, a feeling of panic spreading through me.
“But then it was probably just my imagination. I have very vivid dreams.”
I almost sighed with relief, but was surprised to find Elliot’s gaze fall upon me. It was only for a moment but I could have sworn there was something suspicious in his eyes. It was not a mean gaze, but strangely a kind and somewhat amused look.
“Do you need any help Mrs. Jones?” Elliot asked after a second, standing up. Mrs. Jones was attempting to carry over four plates full of food at once.
“I’m fine- well, actually a little help might be nice. Thank you, Elliot. That’s very kind of you,” she handed him two of the plates.
I turned back to my book but was not able to read for long before a voice came from behind me.
“Here,” Elliot said, handing me a plate of food.
“Merci. Oh, I mean thank you,” I stumbled. He only smiled as he held his own plate.
“Mind if I join you?”
“Not at all.”
He set down his food and sat down in the seat next to me.
“How much longer are you planning on staying?” I asked, trying to break the ice.
“A few more days. I’m waiting for a friend to arrive.”
“If I may ask, what is their name?”
He leaned over and whispered, “Rose Meadows,” into my ear.
“How do you know that name?” I demanded in a hushed voice.
“Witches talk, Rose.”
“You're a witch?”
“Yep,” he said nonchalantly, taking a bite of pancake.
I stood up suddenly and addressed the room, “I’m going to get some fresh air.”
I grabbed my plate and as I bent down I whispered, “Meet me by the lake in ten minutes.”
I paced back and forth along the bank. My breath spread out in front of me like a cloud as I rubbed my hands together to warm up. The snow crunched underneath me and a few flakes slowly fell from the sky. I heard a noise behind me and spun around to see Elliott approaching me.
“Who the hell are you?” I demanded.
“I expected a little more of a warmer greeting from a legend, but then I supposed I did ambush you.”
“What do you mean ‘legend’?”
“You are The Time Empress.”
“You have got to be joking.”
“A witch named Rose Meadows disappeared in 1802. She vanished in thin air never to be seen again. It is rumored that it was a time jump spell cast by coven elders gone wrong. But I don’t believe that.”
“What do you believe?”
“I believe you cast that spell whether purposefully or not. I also believe in something else.”
He walked towards the lake and then lifted up a hand. A second later a blast of cyan light came barreling towards me. Instinctively, I reached towards the blue light. I grabbed it and then pushed it towards Elliot. As soon as the light had hit my hand it turned to red. Elliot swerved away just in time and the red hit the lake. In a blink of an eye the lake lit up in scarlet flames. I gasped. Never before had I used magic, not like this.
“Why are you laughing?” I yelled at Elliot upon seeing his laughing face.
“Look down!” he yelled back.
“Oh, mon Dieu!” I exclaimed and half laughed half cried.
As I peered downward I saw that I was levitating almost 8 feet above the ground.
“Oh, my God,” Elliot echoed in English, covering his mouth with his hands as I slowly flew down.
At about two feet from the ground I fell into the snow and Elliot rushed over to help me up.
“That's why you're called an empress. Rose, you’re the most powerful witch of the century.”
I could only smile as a few tears of happiness filled my eyes.
“Did I just do that?” I exclaimed.
He nodded, smiling.
“I can fly! Oh my God,” I said, turning around.
“What?” he asked, a small hint of concern in his voice.
“I can fly!” I exclaimed again, beaming.
“And light things on fire,” he said, turning to the lake. Flames still coated the ice.
“What do I do?” I asked, having no idea how I started the fire in the first place.
“I got this,” he said reassuringly.
He whispered a few words and with a wave of his hands the fire cleared away.
“How did you know it was me anyway?” I asked.
We had started walking through the vast yard a few minutes later.
“The first name for starters. The French and just the way you look. I’m a visionary witch. My power is in the name. I received a vision of you about a decade ago and have been searching for you ever since. Though I must say you look even more beautiful than it gives you credit for,” I couldn’t stop myself from blushing.
“I just put two and two together. How long have you been here anyways?”
“A few months at least.”
“Closer to century and era sick.”
“So am I.”
“What?” I said, stopping.
“Let me start over. Hello, I’m Elliot James, and I am a witch from 1860’s London.”
“What are you talking about?”
“There were all these stories about you. The powerful witch that disappeared into the future. So, being a time jumper as well, I went looking for you. I have spent the last ten years trying to find the Time Empress.”
“And now that you have?”
“I want to help you get home, Rose.”
“Are you serious?”
Without thinking, I sprang forward and hugged him tightly.
“You need help mastering your powers. I think I can help.”
I took a step back and looked at him, unable to stop smiling.
“I would like that very much. In that case let me introduce myself. Hello, I am Rose Meadows, and I am The Time Empress from 1802 France.”
Four months later
“What if you came back to France with me?” I asked.
Elliot had spent the last four months training me to be able to time jump back to the past. Now, we walked hand in hand towards the lake which I had set on fire on a day that seemed like forever ago.
“Really?” he asked.
“Really,” I said, beaming.
“Ready?” I asked as we approached the lake.
“Rember, don’t let go no matter what,” I added, tightening my grip on his hand.
“I wasn’t planning on it.”
I gazed over at the, now melted, lake. The moon shone on it, making the water shimmer beautifully. It was as if the stars were saying goodbye to me as I left one life and moved back to another.
“One, two, three, jump!”
And just like that the world I had left behind lay as silent as the winter snow. The stars twinkled in my future and in the past, celebrating my return.