As the bus rumbled north along the winding streets of Massachusetts, one young woman sat alone in the front seat reading a book. Behind her, the other girls and boys from her school were laughing, talking, playing cards, and singing along with the radio. They were enjoying the bus ride more than they were looking forward to their final destination. After all, in high school, field trips were all about the getting there, not the educational tours that would follow, no matter how exciting the place might be. In fact, on this field trip the bus ride was even more important because it had been three weeks since school had ended. Some of these students hadnt seen each other since, so they were anxious to catch up. Having a field trip during the summer was unusual, but this was an advanced placement class and an additional amount of work, even if it was in the form of a field trip, was the norm.
The bus was headed for Salem, Massachusetts, home of the infamous witch trials. Their class was going to be able to see the actual site where the unfortunate innocents had been put to death over 300 years ago. They would also tour the Salem Witch Museum, and get a tour of the Nathaniel Hawthornes famous House of Seven Gables.
The young woman sitting by herself at the front of the bus had been looking forward to the trip ever since her family had moved to Boston two months ago. Her father had finally retired from the Marine Corps and accepted a position with a private security firm. Having been raised in the military, she was used to moving a lot. What she wasnt quite as used to was the amount of time it was taking her to make new friends. When she had been moving from military base to military base, making new friends had been easy. In those schools the other students had been used to being the new kid so they were much quicker to accept other new kids. Things hadnt been as easy here. These kids werent used to having new people show up, especially with only a month left in the school year. This field trip was probably her last chance to find someone to hang out with for the rest of the summer.
Samantha Rogers had known from the first day in her new school that she wasnt likely to have anyone to spend her summer with. She had resigned herself to long, lazy days on the beach, or in a hammock in the backyard, with her favorite companion, a book. With the occasional day spent helping out her father. He didnt think that she should have a part-time job, but he wasnt against her working with him occasionally. Her father had very specific ideas about how Sam should spend her time, and what her future held. That was one of the reasons Sam was on this field trip, or rather, why she had taken the advanced placement history course. Sam was extremely intelligent. She didnt go out of her way to show her intelligence but it was there. Even though she had entered the school with only one month left, Sam had been able to not only catch up to the other students, but surpass most of them as well. It was another mark against her in the making friends department, but it meant that she would be entering her senior year as one of the top students in her class. Next year she would be able to take a few college courses in addition to her high school courses. Sam hoped that by getting a few of those college courses out of the way early her father would allow her to go to college before she enlisted in the Marines. Sam knew that the Marines were a part of her future, her father expected it. She was his only child, and girl or not, she would be a Marine. Luckily for her, she didnt really mind. She had been born and raised a Marine after all. She enjoyed the discipline required, both physically and mentally, and it showed. Her grades were a testament to the mental discipline, and her body to the physical.
Sam wasnt someone you would normally associate with physical power. Mainly because she was short. Her blonde hair, green eyes, and quick smile were also deceptive. No one ever noticed her strength until, and unless, she wanted them to. Sams father had raised her as the son he didnt have, and that included physical training. Her mother had been able to instill some femininity in her, but for the most part Sam would rather be like her father.
As she matured, Sam was realizing that there was another area in which she was more like her father than her mother. Unfortunately, it was also an area that could keep her out of the military if it were known. Boys were of no interest to her, except as competition, but she was beginning to have a real eye for (and way with) the ladies. Sam was more and more certain that when she fell in love, the head over heels kind that people write about in books and sing about in songs, it was going to be with a woman. Of course, she wasnt completely against stereotypes; the woman of her dreams was tall, dark, and handsome. Wonder Woman for the 21st century, in fact, Xena: Warrior Princess would do nicely. People were always telling her she looked like Gabrielle anyway. Might as well make fiction a reality.
Their teacher, Mrs. DeMarco, had been content to let Sam be alone for awhile. She was hoping that another student would make some attempt to break through Sams defenses, but no one had. Finally, she leaned over from the other front seat and said,
Sam didnt seem to hear her so she tried again, "Sam?"
Sam heard her this time, "Yes."
"What are you reading?"
"Its just a book about Salem. I wanted to learn a little bit more about the people involved in the witch trials."
"Nah, mostly just more of the same stuff you already told us about in class."
"Would you like to hear a story that isnt in any of the books?"
"Sure, weve got time to kill before we get there."
"Ok, then. This story has been told in my family for generations. You know all about the 19 people convicted and hanged as witches during the trials, and the one unfortunate man who was pressed to death because he would not confess. There were over 100 people put in prison, and 4 more people died there. There have been accounts of the girls who accused others of being witches, but this is a story of a girl who dared to stand up for the innocent. Her name was Salem, but everyone called her Sal. Salem had, of course, been named for the township she was born in. Her parents had been trying to have children for many years without success before moving to Salem. Within three months Salems mother was pregnant. Her parents took their blessing as a sign and named their little girl Salem. Salems mother and father worked for one of the richest families in Salem, the Turners. Her mother was the upstairs maid and her father was the gardener. Sals mother died when she was only 8. After that, Salem started working as her fathers assistant. Her position at the house allowed her to go to school until she was 10, and it was there that she first ran into the group of girls who ended up accusing so many of being witches. By the time Sal was your age, her father had died and Salem had taken over as the gardener. When the town fell into the grips of "witch fever", Sal knew that what was happening was wrong. You see, she had heard the girls plotting about whom they would accuse next. The first attacks were real enough, but later the girls started using the hysteria to get back at people in the community that they didnt like.
"So, how did she protect the innocent?" Sam interrupted.
"Im getting to that. Whenever Sal heard the girls plotting to accuse someone, she would go to them and warn them. Then she would sneak them into the house and hide them until they were able to leave town."
"Where did she hide them?"
"Remember, Sal had been living in the house all her life. She knew where all the good hiding places were. There were even rumors about secret passageways and hidden rooms in the house. In fact, during the civil war there are stories about the house being a stop on the Underground Railroad."
"Wow! Wait a minute Turner? I recognize that name." Sam thought for a moment. "Thats the name of the man who built the House of Seven Gables."
"Were going to get to see the house where Sal grew up?"
"Yep, maybe youll even find one of those secret passages." Mrs. DeMarco replied with a smile and a wink.
Just then the bus pulled into a parking lot. Mrs. DeMarco stood up and waited until she had everyones attention. "All right everyone. We will be here at the Witch Museum for an hour. There is a short presentation first and then you will have plenty of time to wander around the rest of the museum. I will make an announcement 5 minutes before its time to leave. Make sure that you are on the bus in time so we can get to our next stop."
Everyone got off the bus and went into the museum. Sam was the last to leave. She was still thinking about the story that Mrs. DeMarco had told her.
"What did Salem look like?"
"Well, thats another interesting story. She was very tall and strong. She had midnight black hair and the most startling blue eyes. Even though she didnt get to go to school for very long, she was very smart. She read constantly, whenever she wasnt helping her father in the gardens."
"How do you know so much about her?"
"Salem has always been an interesting character in my family. Stories of her short life are passed down from generation to generation. You see; her father knew that they would probably die while she was still a young woman. They had been older than most when she was born. So the moment he realized that Salem was a girl, he made a strange decision. He paid the midwife to tell everyone that they had had a baby boy instead of a girl. He knew that as a man, Salem would have a much better chance at a good life. As a girl she would have had few options. From the day she was born Salem was known as Sal, the gardeners son."
"Are there any stories about how Salem felt about this deception?" Sam asked, knowing a little bit about what living like a boy was like.
"Not that I know of, but since her parents were both dead by the time she was 16, it turned out to be a wise decision."
"Did she ever tell anyone that she was really a woman?"
"No, and thats another interesting tale. There are many stories about Salem, and the good deeds she did during the witch trials, but in the summer before the trials ended she disappeared. No one ever saw her again. Some people said that she went into one of the secret passages of the house and died."
"Is that what you think?"
"No, I think that she just didnt want to live in a town that held so many painful memories. With her parents gone, there was no family to hold her here. I think that she moved to another town, and lived out a happy, long life."
"I hope youre right."
"Hey! Wed better get moving or well miss the show."
"Yeah." Sam said absently as she followed Mrs. DeMarco into the theater.
The show at the museum was ok. They had little scenes set up with puppet-like figures depicting different aspects of the history of the trials. A light would come up on each scene while a recorded voice told the story. Most of the information was stuff that was already known by the students, so it was a good thing it didnt last long. After the show, Sam wandered around the museum for a bit. There were other scenes displayed here, talking about the history of witches and witchcraft. Soon Sam was back on the bus, thinking about the story Mrs. DeMarco had told her. Half an hour later, the rest of the students were back on the bus, and they were on their way to the House of Seven Gables.
The house was located just a few blocks from the museum so they were there shortly and pulling into another parking lot.
"Ok, ladies and gentlemen. We will be taking the tour here into groups of two and then you will have some time to look around the gardens and in the store. We will need to be back on the bus by 11:45 so we can go get lunch. After lunch well head out to the site of the hangings. I hope you all have strong stomachs."
The students laughed as they got off the bus and ran towards the visitors center. Once they were all gathered, Mrs. DeMarco separated them into two groups of 15 students each. Sam was in the group with Mrs. DeMarco. They started their tour in the kitchen of the House of Seven Gables, while the other group went to tour Hawthornes birthplace, which was also located on the site.
The tour guide explained that all of the items in the house were authentic for the time period, even if they werent originally with the house. It was interesting to see the tools used to do things that we take for granted today. For instance, making toast. Toast had to be made over an open flame. After the kitchen, they moved onto the family room. This room was were the family would spend the evening together. There were comfortable chairs positioned near the fireplace, as well as a few tables to play board games on. Next to the fireplace, the tour guide showed them a small closet used to keep firewood. Behind the wall of this closet was a secret staircase that led to the third floor. He opened the wall so they could all see the staircase beyond.
As they moved on to the next room, Sam heard Mrs. DeMarco whisper to the tour guide, "I thought the students would be able to walk up the staircase?"
"That isnt part of the tour right now, the staircase needs to be repaired and fortified before it can handle a lot of people walking on it. I will show them where the door opens into the upstairs room though, so they can see the stairs better."
"Thats too bad. I remember how neat it was climbing those hidden stairs when I was young."
"Yeah, it is one of the most requested parts of the tour."
The rest of the tour was interesting, especially the explanation of why the house was considered to have seven gables, even though there are actually eight peaks. One of those peaks doesnt go to the original roofline, so it cant be considered a gable.
When they got to the upstairs room where the secret staircase was located, the guide showed them how a latch hidden in the fireplace opened the door. The tour then moved on to the servants quarters in another part of the top floor. Sam, unable to curb her innate curiosity, had to try opening the door to the staircase. She reached into the fireplace and flipped the hidden latch. The door opened easily, and the staircase beckoned.
The rest of the group was still listening to the tour guide explain how servants were required to climb out on the roof in the event of a chimney fire. Sam peeked through the open door at the top of the staircase. She had to step through the doorway. Sam stepped through the door and onto the top step. The staircase was spiral shaped and ran along the side of the family room chimney. Sam took two more steps down. Suddenly, the door at the top of the stairs swung shut, plunging the closet into complete darkness.
"Ok, this is not good." The darkness engulfed her.Sam started to take a few more cautious steps down, but realized that without a light of some kind she could really hurt herself. She sat down carefully. Soon, the darkness started to overwhelm her. Then she remembered that she had a small flashlight on her keychain. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out the keychain and turned on the small light. She could see the rest of the stairs leading down to the main floor. The staircase was extremely narrow so she decided to continue down, rather than trying to turn around. Sam slowly made her way down to the floor. About halfway down the staircase, Sam felt a cold draft and a shiver raced down her spine.
"What was that?"
Finally, she reached the bottom of the staircase. At the wall, Sam used her flashlight to locate the latch used to open the back of the closet. Thankfully, the door opened easily and Sam was able to step out into the family room. She stood in the middle of the room for a moment catching her breath, then walked to the door leading outside.
"Seems awfully quiet in here," Sam mused. "I wonder if the tour is over already." On her way to the door Sam stumbled over a footstool. "Thats strange. I dont remember that footstool being there before. Oh well, I must have missed it." Sam shrugged her shoulders and opened the door.
Outside the door, the gardens stretched out to the water. Sam stopped to look at the incredible view. "These gardens are absolutely gorgeous."
"Thank you." A low voice sounded from behind a tree to Sams left.
Sam spun toward the voice, and stopped in her tracks. Standing in front of her was a vision. Six feet tall, midnight black hair, incredibly blue eyes; the person standing next to the tree was a stereotype come to life!
"Who are you?" Sam hesitantly asked.
"My name is Sal. Im the gardener."
Sam fell to the ground in a dead faint.
Sal looked down at the young woman who had fallen, literally, at her feet. She was dressed very strangely. Her clothes looked like the ones Sal herself wore in order to disguise herself as a young man. But these clothes were made of some strange looking material. Sal's gaze continued down to Sam's sneakers.
"Are those moccasins? They sure don't look like any shoes I've ever seen before. Then again, nothing she is wearing is familiar. I wonder where she came from, and why was she in the house?" Sal went over to the well in the center of the garden and drew up a bucket and took out a dipperful. Taking it over to where the strange girl was still sprawled out on the lawn, Sal dipped her fingers in the water and splashed it on the girl's face.
"What?" Sam murmured as she regained consciousness. "Where am I?"
"You're at the Turner home, in Salem." Sal replied.
Sam looked up into those crystal blue eyes and almost fainted again.
"How did I get here?"
"I was just about to ask you the same thing. Are the Turner's expecting you? They have gone to a neighbor's for a dinner party, I'm afraid. They won't be back for a few hours."
"No. The Turners aren't expecting me. Mrs. DeMarco will be wondering where I've gotten off to though. Have you seen her?"
"I'm afraid I don't know the name. Who is she?"
"She's my teacher. My class was here for a tour."
"A tour of what?"
"The House of Seven Gables."
"What do you mean? This is the House of Seven Gables."
"Well, yes. The house does have seven gables, but why do you say it as if it was the title of something?"
"Because it is. It's the title of Nathaniel Hawthorne's famous novel."
"Nathaniel Hathorne? Is he related to Judge Hathorne?"
"Yes, he is actually. His family changed their name though because of the witch trials."
"Bah! Those simpering young girls and their vengeful accusations. I know that a lot of unfortunate people are being plagued by the trials, but the Hathorne family hasn't changed their name."
"What do you mean, they haven't changed their name. The name has been Hawthorne for hundreds of years." Sam stopped as another part of what Sal had said penetrated her reality. "You said being."
"You said that people are being plagued by the trials."
"Yes, and so they are. Those darn girls and judges won't be happy until they have run all the respectful people out of town and taken all their land away from them."
"But the Salem Witch Trials took place almost 400 years ago."
"What are you talking about? The trials are going on now."
Sam took another long look at her surroundings. In the harbor there were many schooners, Sam had presumed that they were just there to add a sense of history to the scene. Now she realized that those schooners were the only boats. There were no motorboats, yachts, or modern fishing trawlers. She looked across the garden and realized that Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthplace was no longer sitting next to the old counting house. In fact, the counting house was gone too. In the side street next to the house was a row of buggies. A few of them even had horses hitched to them.
"Oh my God." Sam whispered, feeling faint again.
Sal reached out to steady her, "Are you ok?"
"I know this is going to sound incredibly strange, but, what year is it?"
"The year of our Lord 1693."
"Oh my God. How did this happen? I was going down the staircase, felt a chill, opened the door, and stepped out into 1693. This isn't possible. There's no way this is happening." Sam started pacing back and forth, muttering.
"You aren't making any sense girl. What are you talking about?" Sal wasn't quite sure why this woman kept calling for God, or what she was babbling about.
"You aren't going to believe me when I tell you this, but what the heck. When I woke up this morning it was the year 2002. I'm supposed to be on a field trip with my high school history class. We came to Salem to visit the witch museum, the House of Seven Gables, and the site where the witches were hung. My group was touring the house and our guide told us about the secret staircase behind the closet."
"How do you know about that staircase!" Sal was truly alarmed, no one was supposed to know about the staircase.
"I told you, the tour guide showed us where it was and how to open it."
"What is a tour guide?"
"You know, someone who shows you around someplace interesting, points out all the interesting facts about the place. The history, who built it, important events that happened there things like that."
"I have no idea what you are talking about, but I'll take your word for it. You must promise me that you won't tell anyone about the staircase."
"Who would I tell? I'm stuck almost 400 years in the past."
"You must promise." Sal insisted.
"Ok, ok. I promise."
"Thank you. Now what do you mean you are stuck in the past?"
"I mean, I was born in 1986. Somehow I was transported back in time to now."
"Maybe I should take you home. I'm sure your parents are wondering about you." Sal was secretly wondering whether the girl actually was crazy.
"They're not worried yet, we weren't supposed to be back for a few hours yet. You don't believe me do you?"
"Of course I do. You were born in 1986 and transported back in time. I understand completely. It happens all the time around here, this is the place of witches you know." Sal scoffed.
"I can prove it to you. Look at my clothes. I know that women in this time don't wear clothes like these. Some of these fabrics haven't even been invented yet."
"Well, I will admit that they are a mite strange."
"See. That proves I'm telling the truth."
"Strange clothes do not prove that you are from the future. I'm not that current on a young lady's fashions. Just because they haven't reached Salem yet doesn't mean they are from another time." Sal turned as the door to the house opened.
"Sal?" An older, woman called out from the house.
"Who are you talking to out there?"
"Just a stranger looking for directions ma'am."
"Well, when you're done, will you bring in some water for the kitchen stove?"
"Yes ma'am. I'll be there directly."
"Thank you Sal." Sal turned back to Sam. "You'd better be going back home now miss. Remember your promise about the staircase."
"Wait! I swear I can prove I'm telling the truth."
"Enough of your nonsense! I've got important work to do. Go home."
"I can't! I don't know how I got here, how on earth can I go home?"
"Just walk on out to the street and go." Sal turned and started to walk away.
"Please! Won't you help me?"
Sal just ignored her and continued on towards the well. She drew up a bucket of water and walked towards the door.
"I know your secret!" Sam cried in desperation.
"I have no secrets." Sal replied, still facing the door.
"I know who you hide in the secret staircase."
Sal opened the door, placed the bucket inside, closed the door again, and strode forcefully back to Sam.
"What did you say?" Sal growled grabbing Sams arm.
"I know that you hide accused witches until they can get out of town."
"How on earth could you know that?" Sal hissed.
"My teacher, Mrs. DeMarco, told me."
"And how would this Mrs. DeMarco know me?"
"She said that stories of your good deeds during the witch trials have been passed down for generations in her family."
"No one knows what I do here."
"Those you've saved do."
Sal didn't know what to say to that.
"Will you help me?" Sam asked quietly.
"How can I help you?"
"I don't know. But right now, you are the only person I know here. Until I can figure out how I got here and how to get back, I'm going to need help." Now that she felt that Sal believed her, Sam felt much more relaxed. Some of her natural easiness surfacing.
Sal took a good, long look at Sam, for the first time noticing the short, blonde hair and sparkling green eyes. "I don't even know your name." She finally said.
"Oh! I guess we never did get to introductions before I fainted did we? I'm Sam."
"Sam? Strange name for a girl."
"Not really, at least not where I come from. Although, it's actually short for Samantha."
"Well then Samantha, I guess we should find you some more suitable clothes to wear."
"Does that mean you're going to help me?"
"I guess it does. I don't quite know why but "
"Thank you Salem."
"You're welcome Samantha."
Sal took Sam towards the gardeners shed. "I hope you dont mind. My room is back here. Theres not much to it, Im afraid." She opened the door to a room at the back of the shed. "The good thing is, no one ever comes back here. Youll be safe from strangers."
"Im sure itll be fine." Sam said as she walked through the door. "Its very cozy."
Sam looked around the room. Sal was right. There wasnt much to it. The room held a small cook-stove, (which also provided the only source of heat) a bed, two chairs, a small wooden table, and a cedar chest that sat at the end of the bed.
"Take a seat, Ill see what I can find for you to wear." Sal motioned towards one of the chairs as she went to the cedar chest. "Im afraid all I have is young mens clothes."
"Thats ok. As you can tell from my own clothes, they would probably be the most comfortable anyway."
Sal had dug down to the bottom of the chest and came back out with clothes that she had worn a few years ago.
"I think these should fit you." She said, holding a pair of breeches and a linen shirt out to Sam.
"Thanks." Sam replied, taking the clothes. "Uhm, do you have someplace I can go to change into these?"
"Oh! Of course, you can stay in here. Ill just go outside." Sal quickly put words into action. As she closed the door behind her she heard Sams stomach growl and realized that it was past time for the noon meal. Sal ran to the main house and into the servants kitchen. As she burst through the door the older woman who had asked Sal for the water earlier jumped up, holding her hand to her chest.
"Salem Johnson! What do you mean burstin in here, a scarin me like that?" Wheres the fire?"
"Scuse me Mattie, I just was working so hard out in the garden that I almost missed dinner. I ran in to get it so I wouldnt put you behind."
"Well, ok, but no need to run so. What would you like?"
"I can get something, Mattie, dont you worry. You just go on. Im just going to grab something quick and get back out there."
"If youre sure? The Turners are expecting guests tonight and that makes extra work for everyone."
"Yes maam. Ill make sure the gardens are ready."
"Im sure you will. Now dont you forget to stop for supper?"
"I wont Mattie, thanks." Sal watched as Mattie bustled out of the kitchen. Sal grabbed a few pieces of meat, some cheese, and a half-loaf of bread. Somehow managing to grab a pitcher of water and open the door, she went back to her room and knocked on the door. "May I come in?"
"Yes, Im decent."
Sal managed once again to open the door and put the food down on the table. Then she turned to look at Sam sitting on the bed.
"I " She stopped.
"Do I look ok?" Sam asked?
"You look fine." In fact, Sal thought Sam looked adorable. Her short, blonde hair was slightly mussed, and though the clothes fit well, they were loose enough to disguise most of her feminine features. Sals gaze continued down to Sams feet, her decidedly bare feet.
"I didnt know what to put on my feet." Sam said, noticing where Sals gaze had landed. "I didnt think I should keep my tennies on though so?" Sam shrugged her shoulders.
"No, people would wonder about those. I may have an old pair of boots you could wear."
"That would be great." Sam spotted the food on the table behind Sal. "What do you have there?"
"I almost forgot!" Sam said as her stomach growled.
"Well, apparently your stomach didnt" Sal said laughing, then stopped when her own stomach growled.
"Apparently yours didnt either." Sam said giggling. They sat down to eat their lunch, still smiling.
After lunch, Sal had to get back to work.
"The Turners are having company tonight so I have to make sure the paths are clean and the flower beds are free of weeds." Sal explained.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Sam asked.
"I dont know. Its pretty tough work, you sure you can handle it?" Sal asked, only partly joking.
"Hey! Im stronger than I look. Bring it on."
"Ok, ok. I believe you. You can help by cleaning the paths while I do the weeding. Deal?"
They spent the afternoon preparing the gardens for company. The work went quickly with both of them doing it. By the time the guests started arriving, Sal and Sam were back in the room behind the gardeners shed.
"So what do you do for fun around here?" Sam asked.
"Most of the time there isnt much time to do anything fun. Work takes up most of my time. I do enjoy going horseback riding."
"Ive never done that. Could we go?"
"I suppose we could. Let me go and ask Mattie for some picnic food to take with us. We can eat supper under this tree I know of."
"Sounds great to me, Id love to see some of the area too."
It only took Sal a few minutes to get supper together and then she led Sam to the stables. When Sam saw the horses she became a bit leery.
"Are they all so tall?" Sam asked.
"Horses tend to be tall. Are you ok?" Sal asked Sam who seemed to be turning a bit green. "Youre not going to faint on me again are you?"
"No, Im not going to faint. I just dont know about getting up on one of those things."
"Its not a thing Sam, its a horse."
"But its so tall. I didnt tell you about my fear of heights did I?"
"No. I can find you a tame one."
"As opposed to...?"
"Definitely dont want one of those. Tame is good. Small would be even better."
Sal looked at the horses in the stable; none of them were small. Then she had an idea. She led her favorite horse out f her stall. She was a golden palomino, with a snow white mane and tail.
"Hey there girl. Howre you tonight? Ready to go for a short ride?" The horse nickered her response and Sal went to get her saddle.
"Sal? That isnt my horse is it?"
"Yes and no."
"What do you mean?"
"Youll see." Sal said as she finished saddling the mare. When she was finished, she mounted and settled her feet into the stirrups.
"Go stand on that hay bale." Sal said to Sam.
"Ok." Sam went over to the bale, while Sal rode the mare over to the bale.
"Now, take my hand and get up here behind me."
"Yeah, this way you can ride one of these tall beasts and feel safe at the same time by holding on to me."
"Sounds like a plan." Spend the next bit with my arms around you. Oh yeah, I think I can do that. Sam thought to herself with a grin.
As Sam got on the horse and put her arms around her, Sals heart started to pound in her chest. Whoa, what is this? Why am I feeling like this? After a few moments Sal decided that she didnt care what she was feeling, she just liked it.
"Comfortable?" Sal asked.
"Ok, here we go then." They started off at a slow walk through town. Sal pointed out the various sites in town and soon they were headed out of town. Sal kept the horse at a steady gait as they were in no real hurry. Sam just sat behind Sal enjoying the ride.
"You know, when we started out, I didn't think I would enjoy this nearly as much as I am." Sam said.
"I could tell that you were really worried."
"I guess when I thought about horseback riding I didn't take into account how tall they are. I haven't seen too many horses."
"Well, it's not like we need them much anymore. Most people just ride now for fun."
"You don't need horses to get around?"
"Ooops. I probably shouldn't be telling you things about the future should I?
"I don't know, it just always ends up being a bad thing on Star Trek."
"What is Star Trek?"
"Another thing I probably shouldn't be telling you about."
"Here we are."
"Sal," Sam breathed, "It's beautiful."
Off to their right there was a beautiful field and right in the middle of the field was a large shade tree. Sal dismounted, helped Sam off the mare, strapped on the feedbag, and tied the reins to the fence. They walked over to the tree and sat down to eat their supper.
"So, what is Star Trek?"
"You won't understand when I tell you, but it is a television show that deals with outer space, the stars, and different dimensions."
"It's like a play that millions of people can all see at once."
"I don't really understand how it works myself. It uses electricity to send dots through the air that then make a picture on a little box."
"You're right, I don't understand, but it sounds fascinating."
"I don't know about fascinating, but it is entertaining." Sam thought about the episodes of Star Trek that she had seen and suddenly got an idea about how to get back to her own time. The only thing she could think of was that there was some kind of temporal portal in the staircase. Coming down the stairs had brought her to the past; maybe going back up the stairs would take her back.
"I think I may have figured out a way to get back to my own time."
"Thinking about that show I was telling you about gave me the idea. I thought that since walking down the stairs brought me to the past, maybe walking back up the stairs would take me back to the future."
"The only thing is that for the best chance of it working, I should probably try exactly one week after I went through the first time."
"That's good." Sal mumbled. A big part of her was happy that Sam would be able to go back to her family and time, but there was also a part of her that felt sad at the thought of this interesting young woman leaving her.
"Are you ok?" Sam asked.
"Fine. How's the supper?"
"Excellent. I don't think I could eat another bite though."
"We should probably be heading back to town. It will be getting dark soon."
"Ok." They cleaned up their picnic site and walked back to where the mare waited patiently.
When they made it back to the house, Sal put the mare into her stall. They walked back to the gardener's shed. The sun had set and it was rather dark in Sal's room. She walked in first and lit the oil lamp on the table.
"I suppose we'd better get ready for bed, tomorrow will be another busy day." Sal said.
"Uhm, Sal? Where am I going to sleep?"
"You can have the bed. I will bunk down on the floor."
"I couldn't ask you to do that, give up your bed."
"You aren't asking. I'm offering. I will just step outside so you can change. Do you need to use the bathroom?"
"Yes. Where is it?"
"Just down the path on your left."
"Of course it's outside."
"Of course, where else would it be?"
"We have bathrooms in the house."
"Unbelievable. You must live in amazing times Samantha."
"I don't know Salem, there is a lot to be said for simpler times too." They looked at each other.
"I can show you where the outhouse is."
"That would be nice, I don't want to get lost."
They both went to the outhouse and then came back to Sal's room. Sal waited outside while Sam changed. Once she was ready, Sam told Sal to come back in.
"I'll wait outside for you to change."
"Thanks." Sal was hoping that Sam would offer, she wasn't quite ready to tell Sam her other secret yet.
When they were both ready, Sal waited for Sam to settle into the bed and turned out the lamp.
"Sal, this bed is really pretty big. I'm sure we could share it if you wanted to."
"Are young women allowed to sleep with young men they aren't married to in your time too, Sam?"
"Actually, yes they are. But that doesn't matter in this case does it Sal. After all, you are a young woman, just like I am."
"You know that secret too?"
"Yes, your story is an inspiration for many women to come. I know that Mrs. DeMarco thinks so. Your father made a courageous decision. In my time, he wouldn't have had to. In my time women can do anything they set their minds to do. Take me for example, I am going to be a Marine."
"Like I said, amazing times."
"Can you explain something else to me then?" Sal asked.
"I can try."
"Why did my heart beat faster when you put your arms around me on the horse tonight? When I first saw you in my old clothes all I could think of was how adorable you looked. As we sat eating supper tonight I found myself watching the way the sun kissed your golden hair and wished that I could be the one to kiss it. What is happening to me?"
"I suppose that in this time, these feelings would be considered perverted, unnatural."
"In my time, most women fall in love with men, just as they do in your time. However, there are some women who fall in love with other women, just as there are men who fall in love with other men. For the most part love is love. There are people in my time who believe the same as people do now, that such love is unnatural. But slowly, that is changing. We are becoming more accepted. I think that what you are feeling is the beginnings of that love. If it makes you feel any better; I feel the same way about you. I knew from the first moment I saw you, that you were the woman I would like to spend the rest of my life with. If I am stuck in the past, I will be happy as long as I am with you. Now, will you come and sleep in this bed. I won't be able to sleep if you are on the floor."
"Ok." Sal brought her pillow from the floor and placed it on the bed next to Sam's. The bed was actually quite comfortable for the two of them as long as they didn't move too much. Soon Sal was lying on her back and Sam had her head on Sal's shoulder. It didn't take long before the long day caught up with them and they were asleep.
Morning came and Sal was up with the sun as was usual for her. She looked over at the young woman lying next to her. She couldn't believe that this incredible woman felt love for her, especially since they had known each other for such a short amount of time. Sal watched as the sun came slowly through the window and highlighted the beautiful face beside her. Soon, Sam stirred and opened her sparkling green eyes.
"Good morning. Just so you know, I think I love you." Sal said.
"Now it is a good morning. I love you too."
With those words began the most pleasurable week of Sam's life, and Sal's too. They spent their days working together in the gardens. The other servants were told that Sam was Sal's younger cousin visiting for a month. Their nights were spent getting to know each other better. Sam told Sal all about what her life was like in the 21st century, and Sal talked about what her life had been like. They had a lot of things in common considering they were literally from two different worlds.
All too soon though, the week was over. The next day it would be exactly one week after Sam had appeared in the past.
"Today could be our last day together." Sal said when they woke up in each other's arms that morning.
"Yes, it could." Sam said sadly.
"Then, we must spend it wisely."
"I just want to spend it with you."
"That can be arranged." Sal decided right then and there that she would spend the entire day with Sam. Not that that was all that hard for Sal, it was how she wanted to spend the day as well.
After a leisurely breakfast, they walked all over town, visiting spots that had become favorites in the past week. They talked about everything and nothing. When night came, neither of them wanted to go to sleep so they stayed up talking until they could no longer keep their eyes open. They fell asleep in each other's arms.
When morning came, Sam brought out her own clothes and made sure that everything she had brought with her she was taking back. They walked together towards the house. Luckily, the Turners were out visiting again so the house was deserted.
As the time for the attempt neared, Sal turned to Sam and said, "There's something I need to ask you."
"Sal, you should know by now that you can ask me anything."
"Can I kiss you?"
"I really wish you would."
Sal leaned her head down and gently pressed her lips to Sam's. As soon as their lips met, a rush of sensation traveled between them, and they knew that they were meant to be together. Moments passed that could have been years as their love solidified into an almost tangible connection between the two of them.
"I wish you could come with me?" Sam exclaimed gently when their lips finally parted.
"Do you mean that? How would you explain that."
"We'd think of something, besides, we're not even sure that this is actually going to work."
"Of course it will work. You are meant to live in your time."
"Well, I think that you are too." Sam said as the ending of Mrs. DeMarco's tale came to her.
"What do you mean?"
"Mrs. DeMarco told me that you disappeared. There were lots of stories about you during the trials, but then nothing. I think that the reason you disappeared is because you came home with me."
"Well, I guess we can't fight history can we."
"Do you mean it?"
"Absolutely. Let's go." Sal walked over to the hidden door by the fireplace and opened it. Holding out her hand to Sam she said, "Shall we?"
"Oh yeah, let's go." Sam took her hand and they started up the stairs. Halfway up they felt a chill, "I think it's working." Sam whispered.
At the top of the stairs Sam turned on her flashlight and found the latch. She flipped it and the door opened. Sam and Sal walked out into the upstairs room.
"Did it work?" Sal asked.
"I'm not sure. Does the room look different to you?" Sam walked over to the window. Down on the street below there were cars parked along the side street, and people walking around with cell phones! "Sal! It worked."
Just then Mrs. DeMarco came into the room. "Sam! Where have you been? We've been looking for you for almost an hour."
"I got stuck in the staircase."
"Stuck in the staircase. How did you get in there?"
"I'm really sorry, but I couldn't resist. Mrs. DeMarco, there's someone here I'd like you to meet." Sam drew Sal over to her. "This is my friend Salem."
"Nice to meet you " Mrs. DeMarco started to say when the name registered at the same time Sal's clothes did. "Salem?!" She ended with a squeak.
"Nice to meet you ma'am. You can call me Sal." Salem replied, holding out her hand as Mrs. DeMarco fainted.
"Why is this always happening around me?" Salem asked looking to Sam.
Sam just smiled and said, "I guess you just have that affect on women." Then knelt down to try and revive her history teacher by tapping her gently on the cheek.
"Wha? What happened?" Mrs. DeMarco said as she came to.
"You fainted." Sam told her.
"I had the strangest dream. You were lost and then when I found you, Salem was with you."
"That wasn't a dream. Salem is here. She came back from the past with me. I was stuck in 1693 for a week. It was amazing. I can't wait to tell you all about it. Right now though, shouldn't we be getting back to the rest of the class?"
"You're right, of course. I can't wait to hear the whole story." Salem, Sam, and Mrs. DeMarco went back down to the main floor, being sure to use the main stairs this time.
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