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An Answer In Time
Sixteen year old Emma Langdon sat placidly among the flowers in her back garden as the afternoon sun illuminated the bright green grass around her. Immersed in her own imaginary haven, she sighed as wind whistled through the boughs of the maple branches overhead and daisies danced in happiness. To Emma, words could not begin to describe this place so entirely different from what she knew, but she still wished she could try…
“Miss Emma!” called Patsy the cheery nurse from inside the kitchen. “Your parents wish to see you for tea at quarter after the hour.”
Emma awakened from her trance and leapt immediately out of the garden. She ran quickly across the back lawn sprinkled with springtime dandelions and nearly tripped over the threshold of the kitchen door.
“Patsy!” Emma cried in desperation. “Why is it that they need to see me?”
Patsy looked up from her dusting to the beautiful young woman standing in front of her. The nurse had always found a substantial amount of respect for Emma, but also an unfortunate pity. She’ll never be strong enough to resist their expectations, she had often thought sadly to herself.
“I’m afraid I couldn’t tell, Miss Emma, for Mr. and Mrs. Langdon share very little with me. I have been informed, however, that your father is home from a business outing for several days.”
Emma sighed. She had always found it most unfortunate that she and her father had a very awkward relationship and that the tone their conversations carried were usually unemotional and serious. However, he was her father, and Emma continued to try and soften their relationship.
Looking quickly at her pocket watch, Emma’s mind came into focus. She had only five minutes until tea with her parents, and she knew the grass stains on her skirt wouldn’t please her mother.
The large elegant house Emma lived in with her parents was overwhelmed with fancy ornaments and decorations. Chandeliers adorning the ceiling of most rooms did nothing but add to the formality of Emma’s life. Fresh flower arrangements from the garden lit up quiet corners and empty alcoves, which were continuously replaced by the fortnight. Long graceful curtains swept from high ceilings to the floor, and the cabinets in the parlor contained a collection of precious china cups and dishes from exotic locations. The house was fashionably perfect, but Emma had never remembered it being any other way.
Emma thanked Patsy and dashed through the sunlit kitchen to the pantry, which contained a back staircase that led to her bedroom. She had learned to avoid the main foyer as often as she could, especially since there was a potential chance of passing her mother.
After hurriedly washing her face and putting on a clean white lace dress, Emma walked briskly to the parlor where she found Charles and Victoria Langdon waiting patiently.
“I apologize for my tardiness,” Emma uttered quietly.
“Yes Emma, I’m afraid your promptness is sorely lacking,” Victoria Langdon emphasized. “I saw you sitting in the back garden not so long ago. Proper young women do not lie, or even sit among flowers, Emma. I thought that perhaps after all that I’ve taught you, you would know more respectable ways to spend your time.”
“I’m sorry,” Emma breathed. “It won’t happen again.”
“I should sure hope not! And in the meantime…”
“Victoria,” Emma’s father interrupted strongly, “We are not here to discuss useful ways for our daughter to spend her time.”
Charles Langdon stood from the stiff armchair with such dignity that Emma’s heart instantly filled with respect and admiration. The awe of his presence had always seemed so astonishing, strictly due to his handsome features and strong captivating gaze. Emma couldn’t help but to feel sadness that this man who was meant to mean so much was so out of touch and unapproachable.
“Your mother and I have been contemplating a party for your approaching seventeenth birthday. We hope to introduce you to society in a way that allows others to view you in a respectable manner.”
Emma’s thoughts about her father came to a halt and her heart skipped a beat. Her father’s words about being introduced to society kept ringing through her head, effectively penetrating every piece of her mind. She made eye contact with her father as he carried on.
“We do expect you to give a speech during the ceremony. Not to worry, your mother and I will help you in certain areas that we find necessary. Young women of your age are expected to go through such processes.”
“Especially young women who are meant to find wealthy husbands,” added Victoria sharply.
Emma blushed as she tucked a piece of gold hair behind her ear. She had read numerous fairytales, poems and novels of men and women who had fallen in love and lived â€˜happily ever after’. According to her mother, such stories were nonsense and Emma was expected to marry a wealthy and well known man. Emma felt a single tear blur her vision, but she took a deep breath and forced a small smile.
“Well, it sounds lovely.”
“Very well then. Victoria, go on now with the preparations. This party will take place a week from Saturday.”
Emma’s father left the room, leaving Emma sitting in an awkward silence with her mother. Too anxious to express her feelings, she stood from her seat and turned to leave the room.
Emma turned slowly and looked back at her mother.
“Practice piano, and complete your studies before dinner. There will be plenty of preparations you will be obligated to help with before long.”
Resisting the temptation to roll her eyes, Emma quietly replied, “Yes Mother.”
As Emma left the parlor, she desperately wished for the next two weeks to last as long as possible.
May 8, 1906
With less than a week until my coming out party, I’ve realized that I’m going to have to accept the fact that my life is headed down a path undesirable to my hopes and dreams. It is becoming more and more apparent that I will eventually marry a wealthy man, and probably one that I won’t even love. My feelings about this party are mainly that it will do only to encourage these intentions, and to put me in the uncomfortable position of a young woman hoping to impress and draw attention to herself. I am not that kind of person at all. I have learned that everything I’ve always wanted are those things that seem so unreachable…things that I can feel or sense, but never touch or see. Unfortunately, I never can seem to find the confidence to actually touch those things, or to bring the unreachable into a closer view. Who knows if I’ll ever be able to.
Emma sighed as a brilliant orange sun began to set among colossal pink clouds. Her writing light was dimming, and a cool spring breeze raised goose bumps on the revealed parts of her arms. She was about to get off the tree swing when she heard her name being called by the front gate.
“Miss Emma! Oh do I have a story for you!”
Emma turned and saw Mr. Parks, a local scientist and a dear friend of her family’s. Mr. Parks went on many long journeys, often discovering new plant life or interesting rock to add to his collection. Travel had always been a main interest of Emma’s, but she had never been far outside her home in New York City. She loved hearing about the many foreign locations that Mr. Parks had visited around the world, and often dreamed of visiting them herself one day.
The thought of another story from Mr. Parks drew a smile on Emma’s face. She ran over to the old man and shook his hand enthusiastically, a professional acquaintance that they had always made a tease about.
“Oh, Mr. Parks! Where have you been this time? It’s been almost seven months since I’ve last seen you! Believe me, I’ve been counting.”
Mr. Parks smiled at the young woman who had grown up so considerately. She was the granddaughter that he’d never had, despite hardly seeing her.
“It has been a very long time! Oh I’ve been many places recently…I’ve studied a rare monkey species in Guatemala, saw the Eiffel Tower while visiting France, examined much of the Amazon rainforest…but Emma, it’s my most recent voyage that is a secret. The amazement and wonder of where I’ve been cannot be found on a map, but rather in a state of mind. I’ve decided to not tell anyone but you, because I trust and put my full confidence in you to believe me. If something ever was to happen to me, I need to be certain that my secret isn’t forgotten. Most importantly, however, that it is in the right hands.”
Emma shivered as the sun dipped lower under the horizon. She wondered if perhaps Mr. Parks was exaggerating his experience. He always had seemed to do so whenever he told a story. Emma had to admit that his exaggerations satisfied her infinitive imagination to an immeasurable extreme, but as she grew older she realized that imagination was “unimportant, useless, and frankly a waste of time.” At least that was how her mother had stated it.
Smiling and deciding to play along with Mr. Parks’ secret, Emma replied, “I’m honored to have your trust and confidence Mr. Parks and I promise to keep your secret. Now please, just tell me where you’ve been!”
Her attentive sky blue eyes were focused on his, ready to absorb anything he threw her way. Mr. Parks took a deep breath and began.
“Well then. Like I’ve said before, you need to believe me when I tell you that the place I’ve been is not necessarily located on a map. At least not on a map that you’d find today.”
Emma heard a rustle in the rose bushes down the lane and jumped as she felt a hand lower onto her shoulder.
“Richard! My, what a pleasant surprise!”
Emma exhaled, realizing her mother’s presence. She looked past the while picket fence across to the rose bushes that had rustled…she thought that perhaps an animal had run across the lane, but such a thing was rare on the outskirts of Manhattan. Her instincts had also told her otherwise.
“I was just speaking to Emma of my recent journeys. Well it surely has been a long time since I’ve seen you, Victoria! How is Charles doing? Busy with the business, I suppose. And I’ve received an invitation to your coming out party for Emma. That is quite some news…”
Victoria Langdon waited for Mr. Parks to take a breath and quickly replied, “Why yes, it truly is. I’m sorry to cut this visit so short, but Emma has a very busy day tomorrow and needs her rest. We’d love for you to stop by sometime in the next week for tea. Thank you for stopping by Richard!”
Victoria’s almost forced friendliness bothered Emma greatly. She smiled at Mr. Parks while he winked in reply. She was sure Mr. Parks would tell her his story later.
“Yes, it was lovely to see the both of you. I’ll come by sometime later, I’ve brought gifts for everyone. Good night!”
As Mr. Parks walked down the lane, Emma couldn’t help to feel the same suspicious feeling about the rustle in the rosebush earlier.
Despite her wishes, the time until Emma’s coming out party went by quickly. She often thought about the speech she would have to give and the dancing she would have to do, but what worried her most was the attention she would inevitably receive.
Victoria and Richard’s sole importance in the whole matter was determining who would be eligible to receive an invite to Miss Emma Langdon’s coming out party. Mr. Langdon knew of many appropriate young men who could serve as escorts for Emma from recruiting young men into his business. He certainly did not fail to give each and every one of them an invitation. Victoria also had many friends who had suitable sons near Emma’s age, and encouraged these friends to spread the word about her party. Men and women of various other significances also received invitations, including the headmistress from the Young Women’s Finishing School in Albany. Emma was completely overwhelmed, but that seemed beyond her parents’ perspectives.
Emma spent most of her time helping her mother with the many preparations, such as dress fittings, errands, appointments, and much of ordering the servants around to clean and cook. Victoria Langdon looked over her duties as a ravenous hawk would its’ prey, which did only to encourage Emma’s feelings of anxiety. She was sure that she may possibly never be ready for the party.
On the Wednesday afternoon three days before the dreaded event, Emma took a trip to the city with her mother to select the place settings for the dinner table. Errands such as these Emma found most unnecessary and over exaggerated, but she had learned to keep her opinions to herself. It was more of her mother’s and father’s party anyways, and Emma was simply viewed as a masterpiece of art in a museum, meaning that she would be receiving all of the attention and admiration, but none of the credit.
When the long and tedious process of selecting the place settings was complete, Emma walked out of the shop with her mother onto the cloudy New York City street. Wagons sped by with an air of importance and the sun attempted to reach through deafening gray clouds. The tall buildings stood with great intimidation against the dark sky, and tourists squealed in outrage as a crack of lightning followed quickly by a growl of thunder threatened the day furthermore.
Emma shivered and was about to follow her mother into their carriage when a man on the sidewalk caught her eye. He was dressed in a rather unique fashion, wearing a pair of blue wrinkled pants and a dark leather coat fastened with a long trail of zigzags that went straight up the center of the leather and managed to stay connected. She noticed that the man was selling newspapers, and as if by instinct she ran from the carriage onto the rainy street while ignoring cries from her mother. As Emma approached the man, she felt confused by the look in his eyes; it was as if he had already seen her before. I definitely would have noticed someone dressed so obviously, she reassured to herself. She bought the newspaper with a nickel, and almost sensed a hint of reluctance in the man’s gaze as he handed it over.
The uncomfortable feeling Emma felt as she walked away from the man hardly could compare to the complete and utter surprise she felt after reading the headline and short article on the front page of the newspaper.
May 11, 1906
SENIOR LOCAL SCIENTIST TELLS OF TIME TRAVEL
Rumors have been spreading like wildfire about scientist Dr. Richard Parks’ (age 78) leap of the century. It has been heard that Parks’ regular absences from the city were due to his discovery of a crack in time that can transport one exactly 100 years into the future. Further details are unknown, except for his residing secrets in the young Miss Emma Langdon.
Emma’s overwhelmed mind didn’t know where to begin. How could the anonymous writer have mentioned her name? The article itself was an immense surprise to her, and she had no clue how her name could have been involved…
And then it struck her. The rustles in the bushes on the night she had spoken with Mr. Parks and the suspicious feeling that had grown over her came into her mind. She could clearly hear Mr. Parks’ voice, I’ve decided to tell no one but you, because I trust and put my full confidence in you to believe me. If something ever was to happen to me, I need to be certain that my secret isn’t forgotten and that it’s in the right hands. Though at the time Emma couldn’t seem to have taken him seriously, she realized that he really did have a secret to tell her, and obviously one that was too important for others to discover.
Emma saddened as she thought of poor Mr. Parks. He would certainly be perceived as eccentric and out of his mind. Time travel seemed impossible and almost ridiculous, and she concluded that nosey Mr. Anonymous came up with the idea out of jealousy, or that he was just an idiot. Nevertheless, Emma’s mind soared over the endless lists of questions she’d have for Mr. Parks if he really had traveled 100 years into the future.
Talk spread like a raging forest fire through all of New York City about the newspaper article. Emma’s parents continuously questioned her on whether Mr. Parks had told her of anything regarding his trips, and she honestly denied that she had. Mr. Parks hadn’t been heard from for a couple of days, and many wondered whether he had left the city to go on another expedition or in complete embarrassment. As a result, the rumors eventually lessened, causing Emma’s party to again become the main importance in her parents’ lives.
Emma was awakened by the calming sound of raindrops lightly tapping on the roof overhead on the morning of her coming out party. She contently listened for some time until the realization of the day’s events overcame her. If she was going to get through the day she needed to be optimistic and confident; especially since confidence was one trait she had always lacked.
The day passed quickly, just as the past two weeks had. Emma felt immersed in a whirlpool, a desperate place where she quickly spun and longed for something to grasp onto. One would say that Emma was the most beautiful woman in all of New York after the preparations were complete. Her gold curly hair was piled elegantly on top of her head orbited by a small tiara, and her radiant fitting dress with a full skirt dragged across the floor in a graceful motion as she walked. Emma could scarcely breathe due to the corset tied tightly around her waist, but her constant reminder of optimism kept creeping into her mind.
With the final preparations ending an hour before the party, Emma decided to sneak up the pantry staircase to her bedroom to read. Despite knowing that her mother would certainly not approve, Emma felt that she needed to relax.
She tiptoed up the creaky staircase into the corridors near her bedroom and slowly opened the door. As the door slowly creaked, Emma nearly gasped out loud when she heard her mother’s voice.
“I think she’s ready, Robert. We’ll certainly find a wealthy decent young man tonight. I should have made the wedding preparations months ago.”
“Please don’t take the failure of my business out on our daughter, Victoria,” Emma heard the deep voice of her father declare. “She is too young, and I need to take my faults into my own hands.”
“We’d have to sell the house, Richard. Is this not why we decided to have this party for Emma? She needs to be married to someone rich in order for us to continue living this way.”
“Well, I wasn’t aware that that was the reason we were having Emma’s coming out party.”
“Oh please, you must have had some idea! However, that is not an important matter. Emma will find a husband tonight, and that’s final.”
Anger overcame Emma’s mind as the dreadful thought of being married was becoming a reality. How could her parents have done this to her? She had no idea her father’s business was in jeopardy, let alone that she needed to marry wealthy in order to support her parents. It wasn’t fair, and for once in her life she needed to stand up for herself. She waited until a raging determination was supposed to spring upon her, but finding nothing she became incredibly disappointed in herself. With tears flooding her eyes, she began to run.
Though she tried to run quickly and quietly, she could clearly hear the cries of name echoing through the large house. She ran down the pantry staircase and through the kitchen as she heard Patsy sympathetically cry, “Miss Emma!”
The sun set among the largest forest in the outskirts of Manhattan as the dark rain clouds parted. Emma ran through the back garden towards the forest, hearing nothing but the cry of her name echoing around her. Reaching the woods, she hastily took off the uncomfortable shoes, and continued on. She didn’t hesitate against turning back or facing those who had deceived or disappointed her, including herself.
The woods became darker as the sun set further, and tears glistened like raindrops inhabiting Emma’s smooth face. She continued to run for a time that seemed like hours, and though no one was around she continued to hear nothing but the obnoxious sound of her name…
Emma … Miss Emma! EMMA!!!
When the woods became totally dark Emma slowed her run down to a walk. Her feet hurt terribly, and her dress was becoming dirty and small tears were appearing in the fabric. Though she was most certainly lost, she could never under any circumstances consider going home. Guests had probably arrived for her party, and Emma was sure her parents would be wrathfully hurt and embarrassed. She felt completely forgotten, that is until she saw a beam of light shining through a gap in the trees.
“She must be somewhere around here, she can’t have gone much further.”
Emma screamed as a dozen men with lanterns and colorful New York City Police uniforms stepped into the clearing.
“Emma Langdon! Oh, what a relief it is to find you,” said a young gentleman, his lantern enlightening his face. “You’re parents are so worried!”
Trusting her immediate instinct, Emma turned and ran. She could take care of herself, and there was no way that she would ever return home.
“Miss Emma! Please stop! I say, in the name of New York City Police, STOP!”
As Emma turned to catch a glimpse of her soon-to-be captors, she tripped over a branch on the forest floor. Preparing to fall, Emma stuck her hands out in front of her.
Astoundingly enough, Emma didn’t hit the ground. She continued falling into an immediate blackness, a never-ending suppressor of happiness. She screamed, but she failed to hear her own voice due to the loud and echoing ring in her ears.
As quickly as the odd experience had started it ceased. Trembling, Emma opened her eyes. Completely incredulous by what she saw, Emma found herself blinking her eyes to confirm the reality.
It was dark outside, and stars lit up the sky with the strength of a billion shining fireflies. The soft ground underneath her was scattered with daisies and she could tell by a nearby lantern that there was a small fountain in the surrounding square. Emma heard a bewildering roar in the distance, one that sounded angry and most unwelcome to the nippy spring night.
Emma nervously rose from the flower bed and looked around her. There seemed to be no one in sight. She was most definitely not in the forest anymore. The seemingly endless tunnel she had traveled through after her fall could clarify that. Despite the unexplainable growl in the distance, Emma may have thought that she was in the country, which was the direction the forest would have led her if she had ever gotten out. That still doesn’t explain my fall though…Emma thought, worried by her many unanswered questions. The one thing Emma Langdon felt sure of did nothing to improve her view on the current situation. She knew she was a very long way from home.
Not knowing what else to do, Emma stood to walk away from the flower bed. She was instantly reminded of her appearance as the tight corset around the middle of her body had caused cramps in her sides, and the spectacular gold dress seemed nothing now but an annoyance. Amongst all things a tiara hardly seemed practical, so Emma disposed of it under a bench in the square.
As Emma left the square, the strange sounds became louder. She walked on a well-worn path surrounded by a towering city of oak and maple trees. After a short distance, she soon approached a very different kind of city, one so different than anything she had ever seen before.
Huge buildings towered high accentuating the upper boundaries of a colorfully lit city. The strange and unwelcome noises were accounted for by the long metal boxes on wheels that zoomed by in a flash of color. As Emma looked more closely, she observed that these boxes seemed to be controlled by people inside. Emma was surrounded by more people in a small amount of space than she had ever been before, and she almost felt claustrophobic. The people were all dressed strangely too…both men and women were wearing parts, and some looking practical in a sense that Emma had never seen before. Many were staring and pointing at her, and she had absolutely no idea why.
“Frightened my fair lady?” a filthy man on the side of the street said loudly to Emma. He had a patch over one eye and an unhealthy number of teeth in his mouth, and Emma quickly walked away. She overheard the man cackle noisily as he said, “New York City at night is no place for you, Princess!”
Emma gasped. New York City? An absurd thought ran through her mind and an automatic realization overcame her. It couldn’t be…
Her bare feet felt paper on the pavement. As she moved backwards she saw a copy of the New York Times on the sidewalk. Inhaling cautiously, she reached down and picked it up.
The colorful front page showed two men in suits shaking hands, but Emma’s eyes were quickly scanning along the top of the paper until she found the date.
May 14, 2006
Her heart pounded. Somehow, suddenly, everything seemed to make sense. She had fallen through the crack in time mentioned in the newspaper article from earlier that week, and she was exactly 100 years into the future. It explained everything that was so oddly unfamiliar about the surroundings and people…she was in the future. Emma was so scared and unsure of what to do, and could only soothe herself by knowing that everything was a pure coincidence. It had to have been.
Jackson Triggs twirled a tiara in his hand as he stood in a dark corner of Central Park looking onto New York City’s raging 5th Avenue. How that beautiful young woman had fallen directly into his trap was pure luck on his part. His newspaper article must have affected her, for he had just seen her pick up today’s copy of the New York Times and read the stunned look on her face. Emma Langdon was not the first person he had followed in time travel, and she certainly wasn’t going to be the last. I’ll need you later, Emma Langdon…you certainly can’t go far. Putting Emma’s tiara in his coat pocket, he walked onto the busy street with a downward glare.
It took a few seconds for a small glimpse of hope to cast over her. Mr. Parks. Was he in the future too? Where could he be? Emma thought of all of the places in New York City that he loved, and dismissed one after the other reminding herself that she was currently in the twenty first century. Gazing across the skyline she smiled when she saw a familiar building with two comparably small towers on either end.
Looking around, she found a cue of carriages outside an entrance to the park. She put on the high heeled shoes that she had been carrying around and ran over to a driver.
“Excuse me sir, could it be possible for you to take me to the Plaza Hotel?”
The driver smiled. It had been a long day, but he sensed this friendly young woman would be no trouble at all compared to the pestering tourists he had serviced all day.
Emma smiled. “Thank you!”
Logan Mitchell had been helping his father at the Plaza Hotel since he had started Kindergarden. Being the owner and manager, his father wanted nothing more than for his son to carry on his position and the tradition that had passed on through the Mitchell family for decades. Logan, on the other hand, dreamed of becoming a doctor since his childhood. He was currently working part time at the Plaza while studying pre-med at NYU. The news had greatly affected his father, but Logan had realized through time that what he wanted to do with his life had nothing to do with pleasing his father.
As 18 year old Logan was about to return back to school for the night, his eye was caught by a beautiful young woman walking through the circulating doors at the entrance of the hotel. She was wearing an old fashioned gold dress, slightly torn and dirty, and looked as though she easily could have stepped out of Disney’s Cinderella movie. Where is she from? Logan wondered to himself. He was instantly drawn to her panicked face and walked immediately to her side to help her.
Emma had a strong feeling that Mr. Parks would be spending his time in the future at the Plaza Hotel, the place where he had held many conventions of his scientific discoveries. It was a very fancy and expensive place to dine, and Mr. and Mrs. Langdon thought it very important to be seen often at the Plaza Hotel as if to raise their status in society. The relief Emma felt as she recognized the hotel was the most positive occurrence she had experienced since her arrival in 2006.
She graciously thanked the pleasant carriage driver and ran quickly into the hotel. Emma glanced around the lobby, searching for any sign of Mr. Parks. The number of people in the lobby accompanied by the many outrageous inventions she had never seen before overwhelmed her completely.
Emma’s hope began to decline as quickly as an avalanche until she was approached by a handsome young man with soft blonde hair and caring blue eyes. Even before she talked to him, Emma felt as though she could completely trust him, and a certain sense of bravery that counteracted the most hope and confidence she had ever felt drastically overcame her.
“May I help you?” the concerned young man interrogated Emma in a gentle voice.
Emma read his name tag, located on the left side of his clean cut hotel uniform. Logan.
“Yes. I was wondering if you could tell me if a Mr. Richard Parks was currently residing here.”
Logan Mitchell smiled to himself regarding the young woman’s appearance and the air of formality in her voice.
“I’m sorry, but we have a code of confidentiality here, and I’m afraid that unless you are immediate family…”
“I’m not,” Emma interrupted calmly. “My name is Emma Langdon and it is so important that I see Mr. Parks right away. If he is indeed staying here, do you think it is possible to set up a quick appointment as soon as he’d be available?”
Logan understood the rules, but something forced him to make an exception. He led Emma over to the front desk to the computer, and saw her stare in awe at the monitor as he typed Richard Parks into the hotel’s directory search engine. It was such a stare that may have indicated that she had never seen a computer before. Logan shook off the thought.
“Yeah, we do have a Mr. Parks staying here, but it looks as if he should be checking out tonight.”
Not quite understanding where the thought was coming from, Logan burst it out before he could stop himself.
“Would you like me to take you to his room?”
Emma grinned. “Oh, yes! That would be lovely, thank you!”
“Lovely? Okay then.” Logan chuckled.
What are you doing? You can’t take a complete stranger to a guest’s room! Logan sighed. They made their way across the lobby to the huge brass elevators and Logan pushed the up button. As the elevator doors slid open, Logan walked inside and pressed a large black button with the gold number 14.
Emma stood outside the peculiar room that had just appeared behind the gold doors in front of her, and was unsure of what to do. As she watched the door close by the aid of an invisible hand, she gasped and Logan quickly put his arm in the door’s way to stop it.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m afraid I’ve never seen one of these rooms before,” said Emma uncertainly.
“You mean you’ve never been in an elevator before?” Logan’s eyebrows were raised.
“This is an elevator? I surely have never been in an elevator like this before!” Emma blushed. The elevators in the past were much less complicated and very scarce; she had only been in a couple in her life.
Logan tried to hide his utter astonishment.
“Okay then. Would you rather take the stairs?”
Emma laughed and stepped into the elevator. “No, I think I’ll be fine.”
As the elevator slowed to a stop at the 14th floor, Logan walked out of the elevator and led Emma to a room with a gold door handle and the number 1406 in a little plating on the middle of the door. She took a deep breath, knocked three times and stepped back.
Mr. Parks looked weary and older than usual as he opened the door. His clothes were tattered and he looked tremendously tired. The look of shock on his face was not one of excitement, and his greeting to Emma was not the ceremonial hand shaking and warm welcoming feel.
“Emma. Why, what on Earth are you doing here?” exclaimed Mr. Parks, with a slightly stern tone in his voice.
Emma sighed. “I fell in, Mr. Parks. It was a complete coincidence, I’m so sorry. I’m just pleased that I found you.”
“You fell in? Oh Emma, we have to go back immediately. It’s not safe here, especially for you. I’ve tried to do what I was here for, and I highly doubt that there will be any outcome. The crack will close at midnight, which means we have to leave now.” Mr. Parks glanced at his pocket watch. He sighed again, this time more dramatically but with a slight sense of practicality. “There is less than an hour to spare.”
Emma was anxious by Mr. Parks’ demanding tone that was so uncharacteristically the Mr. Parks she had known throughout her entire life. All the while, Mr. Parks had not seemed to notice Logan hanging on to every word without trying to seem too nosey.
“Mr. Parks, this is Logan,” said Emma casually, as if she and Logan had known each other for quite some time.
Mr. Parks glared at Logan and instantaneously jumped on him. “Well Logan, can you be trusted?”
“Yes, sir,” replied a slightly intimidated Logan, not exactly sure what he was getting himself into.
“Then please come with us, I feel that we’ll need your help. Emma, you can explain as much as necessary to him on our way to Central Park. For now, I think I need a taxi. Yes, one of those public transport yellow automobiles.” Mr. Parks said, all very quickly while he was moving down the hallway towards the elevators.
Logan took the hint and went off to call for a taxi as soon as they reached the hotel lobby, and Mr. Parks took Emma aside.
“Can we trust this young man, Emma? I have a feeling that we may need his help tonight.”
“Yes. I can trust him,” Emma said softly. “But will everything be alright Mr. Parks? You don’t seem yourself. Well, even in spite of us being here.”
“I’m worried to see you here. If you’ve accidentally found your way here, it doesn’t seem too difficult for others to do the same. I’ll just feel well again once we’re home. Losses in life must be accepted in the end, accepted in a sense that they may and perhaps are not supposed to be found, even if one has the ability to search through time.”
Emma wasn’t quite sure if she understood this last statement, but before she could try to analyze it she felt Logan touch her arm. “The taxi is here Mr. Parks. Would you still like me to come with you?”
“Yes, yes Logan. Please, take us to the taxi.”
Emma again stepped out into the foreign world of the twenty first century, realizing how little she would remember or understand from this illogical experience. She followed Logan as he opened a door to one of the peculiar boxes on wheels that seemed to motivate without any sort of force.
“Central Park. Make it quick, please!” said Logan as he sat down in the front seat.
The automobile ride to Central Park took only a few minutes, and Mr. Parks allowed time afterwards for Emma to explain everything to Logan. His reaction was typical of anyone who may have been confirmed that time travel was possible and had living proof of such right in front of them. Logan agreed that he would help Emma and Mr. Parks in getting home safely. His kind nature calmed Emma considerably, reassuring and taking her mind off of many things.
Mr. Parks led Emma and Logan back to the flower bed in the square Emma had seen less than an hour ago. She took her pocket watch out of her purse and realized that the time was quarter to twelve.
“Mr. Parks, should we be leaving soon?” she asked, only out of concern for Mr. Parks’ rising anxiety.
Emma was stopped by the look of rage on Mr. Parks’ face. She followed his gaze directly to a tall middle-aged man twirling her tiara between his fingers. His face was covered by a shadow, but his frosty white teeth were smiling with all of the coldness they could possibly muster. Emma sensed that all of Mr. Parks’ apprehension could have been caused precisely by this man in front of them.
Mr. Parks was about to say something when Emma heard Logan’s voice come from behind her quietly exclaim, “Dad? What are you doing here?”
“Funny you should mention it Logan, but I’m not here to see you. This may come as a shock to you, but not everyone’s life revolves around you or anything else that concerns you. I have to wonder, however, what the hell you’re doing here.”
The condescending tone Logan’s father used towards his son was one that tore at Emma’s heart. Even from knowing Logan an hour she could tell that he was not in any way conceited or self centered.
“I’m helping our guest and his friend, Dad. It’s really none of your business.”
“None of my business? NONE OF MY BUSINESS!” Logan’s father stepped from behind the shadow into clear view. “On the contrary, I fail to see how this could be any of your business.”
“Is it true, Jackson?” interrupted Mr. Parks, with great emotion in his wavering voice. “This young man is my grandson?”
“Yes it is, Richard,” Logan’s father screeched with an earsplitting laughter. “This is your grandson. This is my son, the one I brought along with me 17 years ago. My son, who I thought may be useful for me in this time, but proved to only want to become a doctor of some sort and follow these independent aspirations that young people have found in this day. He’s been no help at all.”
“So you left my daughter a note explaining that you took her only son to the future with you and that your plans of coming back were slim. It was by far the worst thing anyone could have ever done to her. You have no idea how long I’ve been looking for you,” said Mr. Parks as he turned to Logan, putting his hand on his shoulder. “Sarah would have been so happy to meet you.”
“My mother? Why are you calling him Jackson?” Logan interrogated as he looked at his father in disgust.
“I changed my, no, our name, when we came to the future to reassure myself that nothing like this would ever happen,” explained Jackson quickly, not taking his eyes off of Emma, who was watching fixedly from behind Logan.
“And Sarah is your mother,” added Jackson. “I left her when you were only one year old, and I guess I can say that she didn’t appreciate it.”
“Didn’t appreciate it? She was heartbroken!” cried Mr. Parks, becoming very emotional. “She died one year later, and I then vowed to myself that I’d find my grandson. I’ve traveled around the world, searching and hoping that I’d find him one day, but I could never have imagined that you would take him here. And then I found the crack, and I could hardly consider it until you came back and wrote that newspaper article. What exactly were you thinking there?”
The newspaper article! Emma instantly realized why she vaguely recognized this man. He was the suspicious middle aged man with the unusual clothing who sold her the newspaper. This was Anonymous.
“I needed help. I’m hoping to make a lot of money off of this time transporter. You have no idea how much I could charge someone to take off from a crack smack dab in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world and travel to the past. I knew you had been studying the crack for many years, and you discovered how to get to the future. It was by your notes that I had gotten here in the first place. I just needed a little boost to start my new money-making scheme. And then I saw you outside of the Langdons talking to this young lady here,” Jackson said as another phony smile came her way. “And I knew you were telling her where you had been, so I thought if I included her in the article, there was a chance that maybe she’d come with you too, out of embarrassment of course.”
Emma soon felt a strong feeling of hate towards this man. He was the man who had taken Logan away from his mother, away from his home and where he belonged. Not only this, he had broken up a family, let his wife die alone, and led Mr. Parks to set aside his scientific discoveries to search world wide for his grandson. These feelings were so strong that Emma felt determined to get home. She glanced at the pocket watch in her tiny beaded purse. It was 11:58. This conversation was over, they had to go home.
“Let us leave.”
Jackson laughed, a wicked high pitched screech deafening the skies and roar of the New York City street.
“Leave? I’m standing over the crack in time and I’m not sure anyone wants to interfere with me right now. And if you go, you will never be able to come back, Logan. Think about that.”
Emma was about to say something when she was slightly distracted by Logan pulling out a small compact object with a short antenna. He flipped open the metal objects and pressed a series of buttons. Emma read the screen moments later and realized that he had pressed 911. She smiled. She knew what that meant.
“And as for you, Emma, I wouldn’t be afraid to come into the past and kidnap you. I’ve done it before, and it’s obviously not too hard. Why, then your dear old friend Mr. Parks could go on another wild goose chase to find you, which is the overall pleasure in kidnapping in the first place. We could play a childish game of hide-and-go-seek. How does that sound?”
It was only a matter of seconds until a loud siren pierced the threatening serenity of the large square in Central Park. Jackson’s expression quickly turned to terror as he looked portentously at his captors.
“You may get away this time, but I’ll find you. All of you.”
With that, he turned and ran in the other direction. Emma, Mr. Parks, and Logan didn’t fail to miss their chance as they headed straight for the crack. A clock had just begun to chime twelve as they became engulfed in the peculiar blackness Emma had so recently been acquainted with.
“Ow!” exclaimed Emma as the three landed face first into the forest floor.
“Oh, Miss Emma! Would you like some help?” a policeman questioned nicely. “Please don’t run off again. Well, Mr. Parks! Fancy seeing you here sir!”
Emma had completely forgotten where she had left off before she had gotten to the future. She was reminded quickly of the party back home, and the scene she had caused as she ran away earlier that evening.
She accepted the hand from the policeman, stood up, and turned to look at Logan and Mr. Parks.
“I have to go back to my party. I can understand perfectly if you would rather not come with me.”
“Party? I’m there!” said Logan enthusiastically, and Mr. Parks smiled. Overall, they both looked relieved to be where they were.
Emma laughed. She felt much better about being home as well. Tonight was a night that she knew would change her life forever.
“Take us home, please,” she said to the perplexed policeman.
Emma walked into her house with confidence and a complete lack of intimidation. With Mr. Parks and Logan following in her wake, she was hardly the spectacle of the party. Over a hundred well dressed ladies and gentlemen were socializing and dancing, completely unaware that their host was not present.
The expressions on Charles’ and Victoria’s faces were a mixture of anger and embarrassment as Emma walked by with her hair falling down and her once elegant dress now torn and dirty.
She walked straight up to the podium where it had been planned for her to give her coming into society speech. This time, however, she had entirely different motives.
“Good evening, everyone,” began Emma, as the string quartet slowed to a stop and the people suddenly and abruptly became aware of her. After a deep breath, she decided to begin her speech with the same opening sentence she had planned before. “My name is Emma Langdon, and I’m honored to be hosting you this evening.”
With the unwavering attention of the grand room now on her, Emma started with exactly what was in her heart.
“Though my whole life has been full of flattering experiences such as these, I have come to find that they are not for me. We are all here tonight because I am to be presented as a young and proper lady in society. The question is though, has anyone ever asked me if I wanted to have this party? I’ve done whatever I was told for as long as I can remember. But has anyone ever considered what I’ve wanted? Not by any means am I the definition of a perfect daughter, but I’ve always done what my parents have told of me while never complaining or showing restraint. They have never once offered respect or encouragement for anything that I’ve showed interest in. Tonight, I’m announcing that instead of becoming a young lady who will inevitably be married to a rich gentleman, I would like to be further educated to become a writer.”
The people in Emma’s audience gasped, and some began to whisper among themselves. She didn’t dare look at her parents, but found Mr. Parks’s gaze in the grand mess of bewildered conversation. He nodded at her and she carried on, ignoring the astonished crowd.
“I’ve learned that every choice I make has an effect on my future. Without those choices being based and driven on what I’d like to do with my life, how promising does my future look to me? I should not be forced to marry anyone tonight. That is a choice that I will need to make for myself when the appropriate time comes. For once, I would like to direct and have control over all that will be happening to me, and I now have the confidence to state so.”
Logan winked at Emma as she finished her speech from the podium high above. Emma blushed and smiled back at him, more happily fulfilled than she had ever felt in her entire life.