The torrential rain pounded down heavy and masking, the whole landscape concealed by it. To my despair, there weren’t any lights visible, not a friendly face, any buildings, a telephone box or a single sound just complete desolation. The deathly silence continued to intrude on my already troubled mind. I continued to trudge along the concrete, soaked from head to toe, hopelessly lost and confused by the rain. Was I walking straight? Where was I?
The bag Mr Porter had given us was clutched tightly to my chest and luckily the heat pill hadn’t quite worn off yet, due to the Goosebumps formed on my skin, yet I seemed to have no concept of cold. I found this foreboding as I felt when the pill did wear off it would hit me and I wouldn’t be able to say otherwise. I can’t believe I’d lost everyone, they’d all let go and now we were separated.
I didn’t even know where to begin; I didn’t know where I was. Had I even time travelled? The lack of light and civilisation didn’t help, perhaps I was lost in some time limbo and I was trapped. I felt a deep weight in my stomach, so I chose not to dwell on it too much. If I panicked I wouldn’t be getting anywhere, I wouldn’t find the other girls and I wouldn’t survive wherever I was.
The rain around continued to bombard me, without a question it was getting heavier and darker as were my spirits. I felt pang of ineptness when I felt myself thump and fall into a wall, instead of getting back up and carrying on I simply lay down and cried, letting the rain continue to seep through my clothes and my hair matt on my face. This was hopeless, I didn’t know where I was, it was raining, I had no one. I was no good in these situations; I wasn’t brave, daring or capable. I wasn’t like River had been when we were all panicking; I couldn’t think rationally.
The only thought I could muster: how quickly was I going to die?
Surely soon, I could feel the heat pill wearing off, cold penetrating my bones my body making futile attempts to shake off my harasser. Shuddering, sobbing, scared and slowly decimating. Was there no end?
“Hello?” A quivering voice, a trigger of hope and elation. I grumbled in reply as my voice couldn’t decide on a suitable response. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder, quaking under its warmth - it let out a gasp. The hand then looped under my arms and attempted to help me up, I scrambled up, failing knees flimsy under my weight. “It’s okay I’ll help you, just stay with me okay.” A feminine voice, ringing like a wine glass; sliding off at a tip like a graceful “q”
I was pulled into a warmth and light penetrating my closed lids.
“Betsy I need you to… What an earth? Who is that?” Another voice gasped, male this time.
“I don’t know I thought the raccoons had been at the bins again so I took a look and found this girl laid there; I thought she was dead.” The honey like voice, quivering.
“And is she dead?” There was a silence, although I felt there was a secret communication going on; I was sat on a chair my eyelids attempting to heave open. “I’ll boil the kettle, stay with her. Talk to her and try and keep with her; here are some blankets.” He continued and I felt the warm fluffy material surrounding me.
“Do you have a name?” The feminine voiced asked.
“A-A-Abigail” I manage to splurge out.
“Well Abigail, we’re going to look after you here. I’m Betsy.” She continued, I still couldn’t gather the strength to open my eyes, having to rely on these strangers was terrible. What was I going to do? I started crying again. “Why are you crying?”
“I don’t know where I am, I’m so far away from home, I didn’t even mean to get here; we were just playing around Betsy. Now I’ve lost Fallon, River and Anne. I don’t know where they are, they could be dead for all I know… how am I going to get home?” I sobbed; it was shameful how much I was sobbing. This was all too much. I had no clue where to even start.
“I don’t understand… I think you need to rest.” Betsy pointed out; I felt her stroking the top of my head.
“Betsy, what if I never see my friends again?” I mumbled, trying to focus on my friends to downplay harsher realities that could be lurking. They were barely even my friends, but they were the closest things I had.
“You will, I’m not sure what’s happened to you. But God has a funny way of working, everything he throws at us is to make us better, suffering inspires strength. Now you sleep,” Betsy lulled me to sleep but I still felt far from at ease.
The light filtered through the window, dim and dull but light all the same. The room was airy and slightly cold but I couldn’t complain after last night. I hoped I could have woken up and it all have been a terrible dream but it wasn’t, I was alone again.
I hugged my knees to my chest and glanced in despair at my bare feet, it seems Betsy had changed my clothes as I was no longer in my wet black leggings, converse and t-shirt. I had definitely time travelled… but where. I stumbled out of bed, noticing a calendar out of the corner of my eye; June 12th…. 1942. 1942? World War Two?
This wasn’t real.
How could I come from 2013 to 1942? Where were other girls? Were they in 1942 as well? Were they closer to our time… or further? At least I was AD, what if one of us ended up in early BC?
This was all too much.
I remembered my bag and changed into the clothes that were supposed to adapt to my time period, and they had. I changed into a navy blue dress with a lighter blue cardigan and brown oxfords. I then tied my hair up in a simple bun, just so I could be general. I had no idea how to all these 1940’s rolls, I could barely plait; maybe I could ask Betsy too teach me.
I glanced in the small mirror on the bedside table; my face looked sullen, ill and paler than usual. If I was like this after one day, what of a few weeks? A month? Forever? That would be no good. I wasn’t even going to count forever, there was no forever; I didn’t have a forever here, I didn’t even have an ever. I’d have to be stronger from now on, buck up and conquer my introverted self. If I was going to survive until a plan could be made on how to get back; I’d have to hearten and learn to adapt.
Hopefully, I wouldn’t have a forever.
“Abigail you’re awake! How brilliant!” Betsy chimed, dancing through the doorway warm brown eyes alight in euphoria, matching her thin pink lips, framing smiling teeth; her mousy brown curls bouncing around her petite face. I hesitated a small pathetic smile, paling in comparison to her radiance. Her honey-dew voice proved not to be false and matched her demure, feminine air. “You look jolly better this morning.” She complimented, although I knew it wasn’t all that true; I had a naturally plump rounded face and it seemed so weak and lifeless.
“I’d just like to thank you for your kindness and hospitality, without you I would probably be dead. I shall be out of your way as soon as I gather my things.” I explained, I didn’t know where I’d go, perhaps I could find lodgings somewhere? I had some money in my bag and I might be able to get a temporary job perhaps? I wasn’t sure, I’d work something out.
“Do you have a place to go?” She asked me and I think she knew as she glanced at me expectantly, I felt it pointless to lie. I simply shrugged at her and she shook her head, disapprovingly. “You can stay here then; I’m not having you wandering the streets, it’s not hospitable. The pub has plenty of rooms here… perhaps you could even have Bernie’s room.” She continued signalling to the room we were currently stood in. “She’s currently away being a war nurse; it gets dreadfully lonely without her, this is a small village and not much goes on.” Betsy sighed.
I wanted to accept as she seemed happy with the idea and it would do me some good, however she might be putting it on a bit to make me feel better about staying. I wasn’t so sure, so I simply smiled weakly hunching my shoulders slightly.
“I couldn’t put you out Betsy; you’ve already been kind enough. Things will be tight for you already with the war going on.”
“Then earn your keep, we’ve been a bit busy without Bernie to lend a hand.”
“Well I’ll try and get a day job as well, so I can pay lodgings. But only if you’re sure; I can just manage alone.”
“You’re welcome to stay as long as it takes, we’ll forever need a hand around.” Betsy assured me, so I thanked her again; I was lucky to have met such kind people. What I would have done without them I’d never know. “Come I’ll show you how to pull pints, my father will be okay with it. He’s been complaining that the house has felt empty, so it’ll do him some good.” Betsy chatted as we descended the stairs. I didn’t realise we were in a pub, although I hadn’t really had time to stop and admire the scenery.
Betsy gave me small instruction on things behind the bar and some of the regulars that came. She told me who were trouble makers, who were nice happy go lucky customers and who were a bit snooty so I should try hard to be extra polite to them. Then she told me a bit about the village.
“We’re not a big village, we have a small church, post office and obviously the pub; there isn’t even a shop. You have to get a train into town if you want to do any shopping, but the fares are decent and it’s very rare we go without; there’s the farmers market on a Wednesday in the next village so we just get most things from there, we have some chickens and some vegetable plants in the yard so we can always get eggs and vegetables. We have a short supply of ales, spirits and any alcoholic drinks unfortunately. ” She joked, it was a bit obvious since we were stood behind a bar pulling pints.
The pub was quiet, with only a few people sat in nursing a pint; they looked miserable and didn’t even mutter a word. One old man simply sat in the corner reading the paper and holding a cigarette, looking entirely aloof and grumpy; he didn’t seem at all approachable. “It looks quiet now, but it gets a bit busier in the evenings especially on a Friday. You work the bar and have a go pulling a few pints for customers and I’ll go speak to my father.” Betsy instructed, I simply nodded. I had no reason to protest; I was a very loyal person and never had to be asked twice. I liked being told what to do and having a task; I didn’t like the idea of twiddling my thumbs whilst others worked.
I’d always been like this, I was so obedient I rarely would ever argue and would carry out a task without even a simple groan or response. Doing what people told you was a quiet and hassle free life and it suited me well; I couldn’t do what Fallon did and instruct others. Although she was a different character entirely, a rather shameful character. She was very hard on herself as her father had been strict. Yes, she had once had an internship at NASA but that was it, she knew it wasn’t going to go any further but she made sure others didn’t.
I don’t think she fancied the idea of being a rocket scientist anyway, it didn’t suit her; she was just doing it to be impressive, especially to that of her father’s high expectations. From what I had heard her and River had a lot more in common then they realised. Both pressured by overbearing parents, both burdened and defensive on the topic.
That was another thing about being withdrawn and reclusive it gave you the chance to learn things, learn things that other people were too bold to listen to. Observant and quiet; I liked knowing things about people, just because I was a curious person when it came to people. Not that I was one to use it against them or gossip, I just liked knowing things about people. I found people fascinating.
“Hi Bet- oh… you’re new?” A voice said, I turned to see a man sat on the barstool he had to be in his late fifties. Although he was different to the others who sat in the bar his face was pleasant and his eyes welcoming and kind; I smiled.
“Yes I started today, I’m Abigail; what can I get you?” I responded, remembering to smile.
“Oh I see I’m Tony nice to meet you, I’ll have my usual then, just a pint of ale.” He smiled attempting to make me feel comfortable, as I reckoned he could sense I was nervous. But I managed to pull the pint without injuring anyone; he placed the money on the bar. “I’m not usually a daytime drinker, but I was out shoeing a bugger of a horse.”
“So you’re a farrier?” I asked.
“I’m a farrier, my dad was a farrier and so was my granddad.” He told me taking a sip of his drink.
“My dad is a maintenance man; he goes around work places checking the machines are in order.” I shared, carrying on the conversation.
“I don’t believe I know him, where does he live?”
“I’m far away from home at the moment; my friends and I… well we went out and we got separated…so – it’s a long story.”
“I won’t force it out of you, I hope you get back to your friends. In the meantime it seems you have quite a nice set up here, are you taking residence here?” He questioned, I’d never had such a long conversation before and especially not with a stranger, but for some reason I felt comfortable here. All the people were so genuine and there wasn’t such a thing a malice or ill intent.
“Yes, temporarily.” I made sure to emphasise the word “temporarily”
“Well if ever you need a helping hand, I’ll be happy to try and be at your aid.”
“Well actually could I ask you something small?”
“I’d just ask for you to keep you ears open, you know the village better than I do. I need some work, as working here is only temporary until I find my feet.” I explained, he nodded and smiled again, polishing off his drink.
“I’ll keep an ear out, well I better be off. God bless you Abigail.”
“And to you.” I replied, wiping the bar down where the drink had been, taking the empty glass and cleaning it. I didn’t know how they worked it here but if I cleaned as I went it would save a big job at the end of the day, especially if it was going to be busy this evening. I hoped customers would be as nice as Tony and as easy to talk to.
“Are you okay Abigail?” Betsy asked coming out from the back.
“Yes, there isn’t much happening but I managed to serve one customer.”
“Everyone will be working, who did you serve?” Betsy asked, beginning to serve another customer.
“Tony the Farrier.”
“Ah, he’s a nice man Tony. Although I feel sorry for him, he’s a lonely old soul; his wife died in childbirth and his son is away at war, he manages to write every so often, says he might get to come home later in the year he’s not sure yet.” Betsy told me, I listened intently as she began to prattle on about Tony’s wife Alexandra and how happy they’d been, Alexandra would always come to the pub and have a gin and tonic while Tony drank ale.
Then the day when Alexandra announced she was pregnant Betsy was only very young, her older sister Bernie knew more of it than she did. She remembers dancing with Alexandra and Alexandra asking her what she’d name her little girl, Tony however was adamant for a boy. They discussed names Betsy said she should call her Poppy, Rosie or Georgia. When it turned out to be a boy, Alexandra only got one look at him before she was taken into an emergency ward; she died a few days later. Tony named the son Alexandar in her honour. “It was a sad day for the whole village when we found out about Alexandra; everyone loved her so much; no one had a bad word to say about her. Tony managed to get on with everything, for his sons sake.”
“I’ve never lost a parent or anyone close to me yet so I wouldn’t understand, although I can think about what it must be a like. It must have been dreadful for him, especially when they should be celebrating their son.” I replied, the village people all seemed to know each other so well. Everyone seemed to know each other and each other’s stories and families; it was nice and close knit. I grew up on an estate in the centre of the city so I’d never quite experienced it before.
“It was different for our Mother we knew she was ill so we could kind of expect it and have time to heal with each other, having our complete family. Poor Tony didn’t have the chance.” Betsy continued. “Well let’s not dwell so much on the negatives, how do you think you’ll find it here?”
“I think I might grow to love it, however I will still be seeking other working opportunities alongside. I can’t just sponge off you, it’s not fair.”
“Nonsense, my father is more than happy to have you here. You’ll be welcome as long as you need to be Abbie, can I call you Abbie? Or would you prefer Gale? Or your full name if I’ve offended you.”
“I like Abbie, call me it if you wish it doesn’t bother me at all.”