Bright light burns Amelia’s eyes as she slowly opens them, blinking them multiple times to adjust to sunlight. How long have I been here? She thinks, running a hand over her face as she carefully sits up, clutching a bruise from her head where she had probably fallen. I must of tripped, she thinks ignorantly. That has to be it. The one thing, is that human beings tend to ignore the extraordinary and dismiss it for a reasonable explanation. It is their first instinct and Amelia is no different.
Brushing the dirt off the skirt of her blue dress, she picks the small twigs from her hair, wincing as she pulls a knot. Did my mom seriously just leave me out here all night? Could she not find me? Amelia grasps her small bag and the parasol and begins to walk out of the tree line back to where the party would have been taking place. Surely it is still there.
Though when she arrives, it nothing but an empty field. The tents being as though they had never existed and the wooden platform having disappeared. The most stunning part though, was the barn standing there as though it were brand new and still being. Startled, Amelia takes a step back. It’s probably some sort of trick, she thinks, trying to find a reasonable explanation.
She walks down the dirt road towards town, her head swarming with questions and complaints. The heat is no longer there, leaving it a nice temperature. It feels almost like early spring, not the like the unbearable southern summer that she had felt easily the night before. It was still warm but not to the point that it was unbearable. The skies were a crystal blue, but being covered quickly by storm clouds that were a dark and terrifying grey.
“Do you need a ride to town Miss?” Comes a southern accented voice.
Amelia looks behind her and sees a man in a wooden cart with a nice suit and hat. He has a dark mustache and looks to be in his mid fifties with styled, greying hair that appears to be slicked back.
“Yes sir, that would be most convenient,” says Amelia, feeling more and more confused. When she climbs in, she thanks him and places her things next to her.
“What are you doing out here?” He asks, curiosity in his voice. “You never see a fine young lady wandering alone in the middle of nowhere.”
“Do you know what happened to the stage?” She asks.
“The wooden one,” she says. “The one they set up for the party.”
“Party? Are you okay Miss?”
“Amelia, Davis and well I-” She hesitates and then shuts up. Whatever is happening, she must not looked alarmed. “I do believe I hit my head on the way here, My driver crashed my carriage into the river a couple miles out,” she lies, making it up as she goes while rubbing an imaginary bruise on her head.
“Well, that’s no good!” He exclaims. “I am Harold Banning now where is this driver of yours?” The man asks.
“He drowned in the river,” Cringes Amelia, hating having to lie.
“Such a shame.”
“May I ask what year it is?” Asks Amelia. “My head is still a little foggy.” She pretends to sway for a moment then straightens herself up slightly as though trying to gather her bearings.
“Ah, it’s September of 1861.”
“1861?” She asks in disbelief.
“Yes mam, and we’re going to have a war on our hands!” He says merrily.
What shocks Amelia is the joy in his voice, how he seems so excited for the future death and destruction. It surprises her and makes her sad at the thought. Did this man know what is to come?
“Why would you be so thrilled for death?” She asks.
“Oh don’t worry Miss, This will all be over in no time! We’ll have them where we want them!”
Amelia nods her head and stares at the passing trees as they enter the town and her eyes widen when she recognizes nothing within the city. The building are old fashioned and maybe two to three floors. The roads are stone and carriages move about and are being pulled by various horses.
“Do you have anywhere to stay young lady?” He asks, rubbing sweat from his brow as her stops the cart and begins to tie up the horses.
“No sir and all of my funds were washed away when the carriage crashed,” she lies once again.
“Well, I have a daughter about your age and we have an extra room in our home. Are you good with kids?” He asks.
“Well, we can take you in as the new nanny for the little ones. We have a little girl of seven and a boy of eleven you can watch over and you can always borrow clothing from my daughter.” He says kindly as they walk towards what looks like the local Inn.
“That would be amazing,” she says, overwhelmed by the man’s generosity. “How can I ever repay you?” She asks.
“No need,” he states as he straightens his hat. “We were looking to hire anyways. It would be better than having an old slave do it.”
“What?” Amelia asks.
“A slave, I’d rather not have one taking care of my children.”
“I’m sure they would do a wonderful-”
“Are you trying to refuse the job?”
“Then keep your mouth shut,” he snaps. “Slaves are not like us and don’t go treating them that way.”
Amelia stares with her mouth gaping open. Oh right, this is the civil war, in the confederacy. How stupid am I? She nods her head quickly and follows him inside the building.
The walls are of panelled wood and the floors are lined with planks of wood, creaking slightly underneath their feet as they walk forwards.
Amelia steps back when they walk into a room with little furniture and the flag hanging on the wall. The same one from her dream that hung in the hospital. That when she notices how it is the same wood paneled walls and the same flag that hung in the morgue. This was going to become the hospital, but when?
“We can have you start right when we return to the home. Your room will be on the second floor, near Rosalie’s. You can dress the children then tutor them in the library every morning at ten. Understood?”
“Very good. A son of a friend is staying with us as well, William Darrons. He’s planning on joining the army soon to fight the Yankees, but is waiting. That’ll be all. You can go wait in the parlor for the morning and then we can head to the home.”
Amelia’s head had been swirling with questions during the whole ride to the home. Having sat in the parlor for hours reading an old book, she was more than ready to head to her new place of employment and have a good rest or meet the children. Ever since she was young she enjoyed babysitting the kids next door, but never had she been a nanny before.
When they started to approach the large home, she stared in wonder at the wooden pillars and the large amount of land the plantation had and how it seemed to go so far out as the eye can see as farm land for cotton. The driveway was lined with large, overbearing trees that created a tunnel of green vegetation that made her entranced as the cart finally came to a stop
In front of the home and Mister Banning carefully climbs out and offers his hand to Amelia which she takes and hops out of the vehicle.
“Welcome to Grave’s hill plantation Miss Davis.”
“It’s beautiful!” She exclaims, still convinced this is all some sort of dream.
“Let’s go meet the family, ready?” He asks.
When they walk through the door, he leads her through multiple hallways into a living room with a grand fireplace and multiple people sitting in the sofas scattered about the room. In a small armchair sits an older woman with silver hair pulled into a tight bun and judgemental gaze as she stares at Amelia, her aging face pulled into a slight frown. In her hands is sewing things and a pin cushion sits on the table beside her.
Next to her is a woman with dark hair pulled into a bun as well, her brown eyes scan Amelia and she stands up to greet her, smoothing out her dress as well. Behind her, Rosalie carefully watches the scene, curiosity lighting up her blue eyes. Who was this girl?
“And who might this be Harold?” Says Miss Banning, placing down her book.
“Annabelle, this is Miss Amelia Davis. She will be the new tutor and caretaker of the children.”
“Without my consent?” She almost snarls. “I’d like to speak with her in your office if that will be alright,” she says as more of a statement.
“Of course,” he says calmly, leading Miss Banning and Amelia into a wood paneled room where Miss Banning slowly sits in the wooden chair at the desk as the door is closed in front of Mister Banning.Right when the door snaps shut, Amelia tenses, staring into the eyes of the woman before her, willing herself not to look away.
“Where are you from?” She asks. “Here? South Carolina? Mississippi?”
“I am actually from Ohio,” says Amelia nervously.
“Well, well, a Yankee. What brings you here?” She asks, alarmed at the fact she is in fact a Yankee, the current enemy of the confederacy. Miss Banning nervously clasps her hands on her lap, hoping she will not have to turn this girl in.
“I moved here,” Amelia says, stating partial truth. “My father had passed last year and my mother, whom was from this area, had died during childbirth,” she lies. She takes a deep breath and looks back at the woman. “I’m here because I believe in your principles and hate president Lincoln and think you were all very wise to break away from the Union.”
“I see,” says Miss Banning. “Your wage will be about ten dollars a week, I hope that will suffice.”
“It will mam,” says Amelia, hanging her head submission.
“You may go then, the children are upstairs and we will all meet for dinner in about an hour or two. Feel free to get to know them first.”
“Thank you mam,” replies Amelia as she gets up from the chair. When she finally closes the door on her way out and presses her back against the wall, she lets out a grin. Whether she is really stuck back in time or not, she found a place to stay and a job. Nothing could have elated her more at that very moment.