She tucked her purse under her arm and stepped out of the car, ready to make a run for it. The rain was pouring down as she dashed toward the front door. As she turned the key in the lock, she heard a horn beep twice and looked over her shoulder to see a white delivery van pulling into the driveway.
The driver jumped out and walked briskly up the driveway. “Good afternoon. Package for Miss Jessica Miller?” he said, stepping under the overhang.
“Thank you,” she answered as a plastic envelope was placed into her hand. Curious, she stepped inside the house, setting her bag on the kitchen table and tossing her jacket over the back of a chair. Jessica stood at the counter, envelope in hand, and flicked on the kettle; a nice cup of tea would take the chill out of her. She tore open the top of the plastic envelope and then the plain cardboard envelope within it. What she pulled out next was a manila envelope, labelled with her name and address. This contained yet another envelope. What the? She blew a loose bit of hair off her face.
This last envelope was slightly yellowed with faded but still legible handwriting. On the front in pale black ink was her name, Jessica Miller, and the address of this house, Charlotte’s house, followed by the line, Please deliver after April 1st, 2012. Turning the envelope over she saw a red wax seal and a somewhat faded black stamp, that read “Bank of New York.”
She wondered what this could be. It certainly looked old. As far as Jessica knew, she had no business with anyone in New York. She set the envelope on the table and returned to making her tea. Her impulse was to call Charlotte and tell her about this. Had Charlotte been there, she probably would have waited for her to open and read it, but she wasn’t. It was now the second week of May; Charlotte had been gone for seven weeks. It had been a long seven weeks without her best friend to talk to, to laugh with. Jessica missed her so much.
While her tea steeped, she ran upstairs to change out of her office scrubs and into some sweats, slinging her hair up into a ponytail. Now she was ready.
Tea in one hand, envelope in the other, Jessica went to the family room and sat by the window in her favourite chair. Gingerly, she lifted the wax seal and carefully pulled out and unfolded a delicate letter.
You do not know me, so please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ben Williams. I know of you because when your friend Charlotte left you, she came to live with us, and she told us [JP1] about her dearest and oldest friend. This letter will surely seem strange, but please read on and I will do my best to explain.
Charlotte came to us last March, a stranger to our town and our time. She left you without telling you where she was going or why, for fear that you would think her “crazy.” We will try to help you understand the where, the why, and the result.
There was a side to Charlotte that she shared with no one, not even you. She told us that one of her courses in school was called The History of Witchcraft. Her curiosity led her to delve deeper into the subject and she found herself interested in Wicca. Her interest led her to practice certain rituals and celebrate certain days of the year, as she found her own beliefs to be very much represented in Wicca.
During this time, she learned of a woman she thought might be an ancestor. Her name was Elizabeth Gray Bruce. She was charged with murder by witchcraft and hunted as she tried to escape the country, eventually being found in our town in February of 1819. She was hanged one month later. Our Charlotte, thinking this woman an ancestor and obviously not guilty, decided to use her knowledge and belief in Wicca and try to come to our town, to our time, with the hope of saving Elizabeth.
Feeling a chill run down her spine, Jessica set the letter on the table beside her and stood, hand to forehead. Charlotte, is all this true? She paced once around the room, stopping to look out the front window and watch the rain fall as her mind tried to understand this information. With a deep breath, she returned to the chair, picking up the letter once again.
Your best friend, Charlotte Gray Harper, left you in March 2012 and came to us on the same date at Owasco Lake, New York, in March 1818. When you receive this letter, Charlotte will have been gone from here a matter of weeks; but at the time that this note is written, we will have known her for just over ten months. I understand that this will come as a shock to you; it did to us as well.
Jessica sat for a few moments before realizing she’d zoned out. What the hell? She went back in time? Back in time?! What the hell made her think that would even be possible?
I say “us” and “we” because, though this letter is written in my hand, four friends are helping me compose these words, friends who have grown to love Charlotte. It is our hope that by telling you what happened here, you can try to help us from there. Again, I know that this will sound odd, but please bear with me and I will do my best to explain.