The Author Part 2
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Where Am I Now?
Andy opens one eye, then the other. Overhead, the sky, once a bright blue, teems with low, rolling grey clouds. The air is crisp, tinged with the scent of brine. A restless sea of whitecaps and crashing waves replace the tranquil farmland. The cornfield is a busy harbour, and where a red barn once stood, there is now a large wooden ship tied to a dock. Sailors scamper to-and-fro as they prepare the vessel for departure. The Mistral family are nowhere in sight.
A man, dressed in black clerical garb, stands next to Andy. He places his hand on her shoulder and asks, ‘Is this not exciting, Alice? We two, about to embark for the New World.’ Despite the doleful surroundings, his light English baritone carries a note of optimism. Andy turns her head slowly to look at the hand on her shoulder. Her eyes follow it up to see a stranger’s face beaming at her. She stares blankly, saying nothing.
‘Tis a chance for us to rebuild our lives, daughter. To start anew.’ Andy still has no words.
‘I realise you’ve no wish to leave England, Alice. Our life in the parish was pleasant till that terrible day when…’ His smile fades as he closes his eyes and composes himself. After a moment, he opens them again.
‘When John White requested a clergyman for this voyage,’ the man continues, ‘I knew it was a sign. A sign from the Lord that the time had come to fulfil my destiny. I had joined the clergy in the hopes of becoming a missionary bringing the Word of God to ignorant savages. I offered my services and was accepted. Your mother would have wished me to. If only…,’ he sighs heavily.
‘You do understand why we must go, do you not, Alice?’ He joggles Andy’s shoulder as if to shake a response from her. ‘Do you not, daughter?’
Andy jerks her shoulder from his hand, glaring at him. ‘What do you think you’re doing,’ she demands. ‘Keep your bloody hands to yourself.’ She turns smartly from the stranger, but he grabs her arm and slaps her cheek.
‘What is the matter with you,’ he shouts. ‘No child of mine shall speak to me with such insolence!’
‘Child of yours,’ she cries indignantly, rubbing her cheek. ‘I am no child of yours! My father would never raise his hand to anyone much less his own children. And as for your ‘destiny’, which is racist, by the way, you can mount it.’
A New Face
Andy frees her arm from his grasp then scurries off to collect her thoughts. ‘My voice changed again. I have an English accent. It actually sounds pretty cool, I gotta admit. But that isn’t me. So, if my voice is different, does that mean the rest of me is too?’
She stops before a puddle of brackish water and peers at her reflection. Wisps of light hair peek out from yet another frumpy bonnet. Her eyes are light blue perhaps, maybe green, and her skin is fair again. Her attire consists of a white bodice, a long black skirt and a white apron.
‘Oh my God, what is happening to me? It’s like the farm all over again. I don’t know this place. Or that psycho in black. And my clothes are just as horrible. But let’s try and stay positive. At least, monochrome is never out of fashion.’
At first, the cleric, shocked by Andy’s behaviour, can only stare at her retreating form. Then he marches towards her, his face like thunder. Andy looks around and takes a step back as he advances towards her.
‘Look, Mister, let’s just calm down, okay? There’s been a mistake. You’ve got me confused with someone else. I’m not who you think I am.’
He stops before her, sizing her up. ‘There is no mistake. You are my daughter,’ he replies, the effort to control himself evident in his tone.
‘Okay, I’ll play along,’ Andy mutters to herself. ‘What’s your name,’ she asks the man.
Bewildered, he blinks. ‘I am Thomas Langley, as you well know.’
‘I see. Who is my mother? And the other children? Why aren’t they coming with us?
‘Your…your mother and your brother were Margaret and Thomas Jr. What are you playing at, girl?’
‘What do you mean ‘were’?’
‘They died in childbirth. Can you honestly not remember this?’
‘Oh,’ says Andy, feeling awkward. ‘I didn’t know. I’m sorry. That’s awful.’
‘Thank you,’ he says, bewilderment tempering his anger. ‘That is…most kind.’
‘Do you know anyone named Annie?’
‘There was a pretty, young lass from the village named Annie. She was in our employ as a maid for a time until she married.’ Thomas studies Andy’s face more closely. ‘How very odd. I hadn’t noticed before, but you bear a striking likeness to her.’ Doubt creeps into his voice.
‘Well, at least Annie’s a human here. Good for her.’
A New Place and Time
‘Where are we? What is this place?’
‘We are in the harbour town of Plymouth. That ship there,’ he points towards the dock, ‘is the Lion. She is being made ready to set sail to the New World. We are part of a large colony destined to settle there.’ Thomas looks as baffled as Andy feels. ‘Surely you must know this, child. Surely she would have informed you.'
‘Who? Who should have informed me? What are you talking about?’
‘I see. Then, you are truly not my daughter? You are not Alice?’
‘Mr. Langley, I already told you I’m not your daughter. I’m not Alice any more than I was Lizzie Mae. And I don’t belong here any more than I belong on a farm.’
‘Then, why are you here?’
’I don’t know,’ says Andy sadly. ‘All I remember is waking up in this…void, I guess you would call it, and I didn’t know who I was. Then, somehow, I did. I knew my name.’ She extends her hand to Thomas. ‘I’m Andrea Melinda Furness, by the way.’
‘A pleasure,’ says Thomas as they shake hands.
‘My parents are Richard and Marjorie Furness. I have a twin sister, Annie and a younger brother, Mark. Our home is in a luxury apartment building in a big city.
‘Anyway, there was a light. It was really faint at first, but it got brighter. It got so bright, I had to shut my eyes. Then I felt something…pulling me, I think, and when I opened my eyes, poof, I was on a farm. There was this farmer guy called Mistral who thought I was his daughter, Lizzie Mae. I told him I wasn’t and that I didn’t belong there. He said something about needing to speak to someone. He didn’t say who, though. Didn’t really get a chance. I closed my eyes again, just for a second, and there was that pulling thing again. And…well, here I am. In a place I don’t recognise getting assaulted by a stranger who says he’s my Dad.’ Andy massages her cheek again.
As Andy’s spins her tale, Thomas’ expression goes from perplexed to understanding.
‘My apologies, Miss. I should have realised you weren’t my Alice. She would never have used such profane language.’
‘It’s okay, I guess. I was kinda rough on you back there. I’m sorry too.’
‘There’s no need, Miss—’
‘Please, call me Andy.’
‘Very well, Miss Andy. It must have been terribly confusing for you. Your reaction was understandable under the circumstances.’
‘I just want out of this nightmare. I just want to get back home to my family. Please, can you help me? Please,’ Andy pleads.
Thomas shakes his head ruefully. ‘I’m sorry, Miss Andy. What you ask is beyond me. There’s nothing I can do for you, I’m afraid.’
‘Are you saying I’m stuck here? But that can’t be. This isn’t my time. I don’t belong here. There must be a way. There has to be.’ The implications of her situation break Andy’s tenuous hold on her composure. Her face crumples as her tears flow freely.
‘There, there, child,’ Thomas says consolingly, offering her his handkerchief. ‘There’s no need to take on so. I cannot help you, true. But if you have a quiet word with the creator, you may be able to set us all back on the right path.’
‘Thank you,’ she sniffs, accepting the handkerchief and dabbing at her tears. ‘No offence, but I don’t see how prayers are gonna help.’
Thomas chuckles. ‘Well, a few words to the Almighty could certainly do no harm. However, that is not who I speak of. No, no, I am referring to the Author.’
Andy looks askance at him, her discombobulation complete.
It appears Thomas Langley may have a solution to Andy's quandary. But who is this 'Author' he mentions and can they help? How is Andy supposed to make contact? The answer to these and other questions in the next instalment. Maybe.
© 2018 Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon