A Step Through Time

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Sam kept her head down as she weaved through the crowds. The Smithsonian was a crowded place, and filled with historical information, but she only cared about one thing- the World War II exhibit. She moved with determination through the crowds and hallways until at last she found the exhibit. There were war scenes and black-and-white photographs and weaponry leftover from the war, far outdated by now.
Just like she did every other day, Sam found her way to her favorite bench in front of the mural of a battlefield. She would stay there for hours just sitting there, thinking and remembering. After all, she had been there. The war, that is. Of course, she was only 17, but she had lived through the first two years of the war, and fought alongside the rest of the United States army.
These were the benefits of being a tempomancer, she supposed. Historians would have killed to go back in time to study each and every event, knowing what would be historically important in the future. Others would go back in time to change the past, to prevent the Holocaust and save hundreds of lives. Unfortunately, nothing in the past could be altered from its course- anything too major could cause a paradox, and could potentially rip apart the universe if not set back in place.
The war had been brutal, and terrifying. She hadn’t meant to go back in time, but that’s when she accidentally stumbled upon her powers to magically manipulate time. Sam had fallen through a portal she had created and into the midst of a U.S. military base on January 3, 1940, hardly a month since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Sam had been terrified, and panicked at first. It had been a complete accident- she had gotten frustrated and wasn’t looking where she was going, and walked into a wall, or, rather, through it. She fell right into the middle of a training field, where soldiers in old uniforms were running and calling out cadence, doing push-ups, and doing overall war training, it appeared. A few stopped to stare at the young girl with the odd clothing- she was clearly out of her time- and she had started to panic. What had happened? Where was she, and more importantly, Sam started to realize, when was she? How was she going to figure out what to do, and more importantly, get back? Sam was on the verge of tears when she was approached by a young soldier by the name of Sergeant William Dean.
Sam had been 15 at the time of the incident, and he was 17, only two years older than her. He, too, was a tempomancer, and when he was 12 fell through his own portal from his own time of 1994 to 1935, right in the midst of the Great Depression. He had lived through the past ever since. Will told her that when she fell through the portal, he could feel the essence of the time magic and came rushing to find her.
As she sat on her favorite bench, looking at the same mural she had for the past six months, Sam recalled each memory with startling clarity- The wind on her face, the sound of boots hitting the dirt, the color of Will’s eyes. He was about 5’9,” with short brown hair and silvery blue-green eyes. His smile meant trouble, and his laugh meant joy, and he was the greatest thing that had ever happened to Sam.
He had wanted to come back to the future so badly, even if it was from beyond his time, to the year 2014 Sam had come from. Unfortunately, neither of them knew how to get back, so they swore to stay by each others’ sides until they did.
It didn’t take long for Sam to realize that she had fallen in love with Will. They had fought and survived the war for two years, and they had grown incredibly close. One day, before Will went off to battle, he had dared to kiss her goodbye. It was one of the happiest memories Sam had, and when she thought about it on that bench, a ghost of a smile would cross her lips.They had both started to accept the fact that maybe they couldn’t get back to the future, but they were there together, with someone to share their secret of tempomancy, and that that was enough.
This didn’t stop them from trying, though. They would constantly try to get back to the future, either to Sam’s time or to Will’s, each taking turns trying to create a portal. Two years since they first met, in one of their many attempts, Sam succeeded in making a portal. They had looked to each other and rejoiced- they had finally succeeded! Not for the first time, Sam had thrown her arms around Will’s neck and kissed him, and he kissed her back.
The portal sat there, rippling like liquid silver in the dirt floor of the medical tent that Sam worked in. One step, and they could be back home. They were hesitant, though- they had lived long enough in the 1940’s that this had become their home, too. Finally the thought of escape from the war and finding their families had won them over. Sam offered to go first- she wanted to meet him on the other side, and to see his expression when he finally- after seven years of being trapped in the past- came back to the future. Will had helped her step through the portal, and when she was finally waist-deep into the portal, he released her hand to let her fall through. Sam was confident that she wouldn’t fall from too high, so Will released her hand.
That was their mistake.
Sam had slipped through the portal and almost instantly it had closed behind her. She had turned around to see Will follow her through the portal, and ended up facing a blank wall in the backstage of a theatre.
“No!” She had cried out, screaming. Sam clawed at the wall with her nails, as if she could rip through the wall and find Will. He was still there, in 1942. After several hours Sam accepted that the portal had closed, and standing there in a nurses’ uniform from World War II, crying, would not do anything to help the situation. Fortunately, she had ended up in the backstage of a theatre, surrounded by costumes. She stole a hoodie, a t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and a pair of sneakers which had (thankfully) fit, and slipped out the backdoor without being noticed.
Ever since that day, six months ago, she had been coming every other day to the Smithsonian to think. She did everything she could think of to remember what it was that had created the portal to 2017, but to no avail. So every other day, from when the massive museum opened until she was required to leave, Sam sat there thinking and remembering and praying for a way to get back to Will.
Hours passed without her noticing. Soon, the crowds had thinned out and disappeared, and the security guards, who had come to know her well, simply tapped her on the shoulder to let her know it was time to leave.
Sam nodded silently, and stood to leave when, like the breaking of a levee, the answer came screaming back to her. All the answers to open a portal were right there in front of her, as if the words were floating in front of her vision. She didn’t know what they meant, or even what language they were in, but she knew what was implied behind that old language- Will. It seemed to be a spell, older than time and something she had always known but had never known existed until that exact moment. 
The security guard had left, trusting she would find her way out like she did every night, but this time, she was leaving by other means.
Sam stood before her favorite mural for the last time, and pressed her hands against the wall, and slowly closed her eyes. Then, she began to speak:
“Tempus fluit angustiaretur in me iubes tibi flectere voluntatem meam, ut producat praeteriti, praesentis et futuri sunt in unum, et aperire ostium in mundo pereunt et mundum sed ut found.”
The dried paint and plaster beneath her fingertips seemed to melt into a cool, liquid surface. She opened her eyes, and pulled away her still-dry hands. Before her stood a portal. Sam wasn’t even entirely sure what the words meant, or if this portal would even lead her back to Will, but it was a portal nonetheless. Hope and adrenaline formed a boiling mixture in her veins, and without second thought, stepped through the portal.
She seemed to fall out of the sky. Sam hit the ground with a thud, and rolled to break her fall. Slowly, she rose to her feet, and found herself back at the military base that had been her home for two years. After brushing herself off, she warily slunk to where she remembered the medical tent being. She snuck in, found a spare dress, and switched out of her hoodie and jeans. Then she snuck out of the heavy canvas tent to one of the longer tents that served as a barracks. Everything was coming back to her- all the memories she had earned, all the places she and Will had been.
Carefully, Sam found her way to the tent that served as the mess hall. Noise and light and clamor floated out from the large tent, and judging by the time, they were most likely eating dinner. Sam lifted the flap and stepped inside, and just like she thought, all the soldiers were sitting around the rough, wood tables eating. Conversations slowed to a stop, and all turned to look at Sam. Murmurs rippled through the crowd, and then a soldier leapt from his place and barreled toward her. She didn’t get a look at the soldier’s face, but as soon as he kissed her, she knew.
“Will,” was all she said, and Will seemed to gather her up into his arms like laundry, running his fingers through her long dark brown hair, pressing her against his chest.
“Thank the Lord, Sam!” Will said into her hair. She hadn’t heard his voice in so long, that now that he was here it sounded more beautiful than a choir of angels singing.
“I thought I’d lost you,” he whispered.
“I wouldn’t leave you,” she replied just as softly.
“Thank God, You have no idea how scared I’ve been this past year.”
Sam pulled away. “Year?”
“Yeah,” Will nodded gently, “The year is now 1943.”
Sam nodded, and leaned her forehead back on his shoulder.
“How did you get back?” Will asked after a moment.
When Sam tried to recall the words, yet nothing came. It was as if the spell had disappeared from her memory just as fast as it had appeared. After a moment of thought, she replied, “I have no idea, it just- came to me. I don’t even remember what it was, exactly.”
Then they just stood there, holding each other. Finally Will said, “I don’t care about going back anymore. I don’t ever want to lose you like that again.”
Sam nodded silently. A life with Will was better than any life in the future. No matter what happened from then on, they were together, and that was all that mattered.






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