Emily stands next to me. I can just make out the hem of her skirt in my glittering vision. “Rebecca?” she says, her voice concerned. She’s shifting back and forth on her feet; I can see her dress sway in the movement.
I want to yell at her, “Callie! My name is Callie!” But I can’t. What if I’m really stuck here? What if I have to be Rebecca forever? Of course, that won’t work. The real Rebecca will arrive. And then what?
God, when did everything turn upside down? I get invited to the greatest party of my life, and then I start running two hundred years behind schedule?
How does something like that even happen? It’s not like I jumped in a black hole or tried to invent a time machine or… anything. Just BAM, and I’m here. My throat aches and my arms and legs are now a thousand pounds. I don’t want to move. Ever.
“Um, Rebecca?” she says again.
I don’t want to be Rebecca. I want to curl in a ball and close my eyes, and I want to see cars and smog when I open them up again.
But if I keep acting like this, Emily’s going to be watching me. Closely. And I can’t let her do that, because she’ll start to think dear old Rebecca belongs in the loony bin. I’ve heard way too many horror stories about old asylums to allow that to happen. Which means she can’t know I’m really Callie Montgomery, twenty-first century high school girl. Telling everyone I’m a time traveling freak will only make things worse.
“Uh, yeah, sorry,” I say, my voice hoarse. “I’m just worn out, I think. I guess town… uh… changed more than I remember.”
“Oh! I’d not thought of that. Yes we’ve certainly grown, haven’t we?” There’s a note of pride in her voice, like she wants to brag about how large the town is when I’m pretty sure I can see all the way to the end of it from where I stand.
I nod but I don’t speak again because I can’t swallow the lump in my throat.
“Perhaps we shall return to Harksbury? Your journey must have tired you more than you expected. You need proper rest, yes?”
I just nod and follow her back to the carriage. My feet are heavy; I just shuffle them along the ground, letting the expensive heels scrape the cobbles. The servants are silent, but I know they’re staring at me when my back is turned. I have to pull it together. If I think clearly, maybe I’ll come up with a real plan.
But until then, my name is Rebecca. I am a prim and proper Regency girl. I wear dresses and I curtsy. I belong here. o