Agnes Breckinridge, a 23 year old from Worcester, Massachusetts, relaxed in a field, patiently awaiting the arrival of her fiance, Hamilton Berkshire, from Boston. They were betrothed to be married within the next week.
It was a lovely early Spring morning as she sat there on the grass on a warm blanket, patiently waiting for Hamilton to arrive. She had on her prettiest dress and was covered with her cloak and wool shawl.
She was also wearing a straw bonnet which had a matching green ribbon which was tied loosely under her chin.
Her wicker basket containing her embroidery, tatting, knitting, crocheting, and supplies, and her purse sat next to her.
She started getting drowsy and more than abit lightheaded. Agnes assumed it was because she hadn't very slept well the night before due to being excited about his arrival.
She decided she was just over-tired, so she closed her eyes for just a little bit, or at least until he arrived, she told herself. She drifted off to a nice relaxing sleep.
Agnes started dreaming of him, and what she hoped life would be like with him. Soon it seemed to her, in her dream at least, that everything was moving farther and farther away.
In her dream, Agnes saw herself slowly moving far away from everything and everybody she knew. Everything around her seemed to be in the distance, moving farther and farther away from her.
Tara Steele put the pot roast and vegetables in the oven, then turned to walk back into the Gathering Room. She saw someone on her couch. No-one had been there mere seconds before.
As she walked to the couch, she saw a young woman half-sitting, napping.
The woman wore a green floral print dress with a forest green petticoat, and a muslin cap decorated with a ribbon that very closely matched the green in her dress.
The dress went to her ankles. She also wore long woolen socks and black shoes with a buckle on top.
The dress had sleeves that ended just above her elbows, with lace on the bottoms that extended the sleeves to just below her elbows.
She was also wearing a straw bonnet which had a matching green ribbon which was tied loosely under her chin.
She was covered with both a short cloak and a wool shawl.
Under her was a blanket and next to her, on the floor, was a large wicker basket and a small bag-like object with a corded handle.
The woman had curly chestnut hair, and pearl drop earrings in her ears. She wore a matching pearl necklace as well. Her hair appeared to be in a bun.
Tara gently touched the woman's shoulder and said, “Hello? Miss, Miss? May I help you, Miss?”
The young woman slowly woke up and looked around.
Tara said, “Hello Miss! May I help you? Who are you, and what are you doing here in my Gathering Room?”
The woman looked around the room, sat up straight, and politely said,
“Pray forgive me, Ma'am! I am Miss Agnes Breckinridge. I do believe I am lost!”
Tara said, “What are you doing here? How did you get in my house?”
She said, “Indeed I am not sure, Ma'am. I am merely awaiting Hamilton, my fiance. We are betrothed to be married next week. He is to be arriving from Boston today. He shall either be riding his horse, or arrive by stage.
”Have you seen Hamilton, Ma'am? I was sitting in a field. Indeed, I must have fallen asleep while awaiting his arrival.”, she said as she slowly started to stand up.
Tara noticed that Agnes spoke with a very thick, very ancient Bostonian accent, an accent not heard on Earth for over 450 years.
“No, I haven't seen him. I'm Tara Steele. It's nice to meet you Agnes.”, Tara said as Agnes curtsied deeply to her.
“Tis exceeding pleasant to meet you as well, Miss Steele.”, she said as she stood up from the curtsy. “Pray, may I look out your window to ascertain as to whether or not Hamilton is arriving yet?”
“Of course!”, Tara replied, smiling. Agnes walked over to the window.
“Tis so odd, Miss Steele! It does not look like Worcester out there. Indeed, 'tis true. Pray, did I perchance walk here while I was sleeping? This looks so different!”
“Oh are you from Worcester?”, Tara asked.
“Yes I am, Ma'am. Indeed I am, born and raised.
”Hamilton is from Boston. We are meeting for the first time today, in person that is. Indeed, we have been corresponding for two months, and have fallen in love.
“We are betrothed to be married next week, although we might do a spousal instead of a ceremony, or maybe go in front of the smithy.
“I am sure we shall decide what we will be doing once he is here.”
“You've never met your fiance?”
“No, indeed I have not. But we have written letters, and have sent each other tokens of our affection.
”He has described himself to me, and I have seen a pencil drawing that his sister did of him. Hamilton has such a pleasing countenance, and is so very kind and affable, a true gentleman. I have the pencil drawing, and his last letter to me, in my purse.
”Are you betrothed Miss Steele?“
“No I'm not. I'm married.”
“Oh pray forgive me, Mrs. Steele! I thought you were unmarried. Pray forgive me please!”
“It's ok. It's just a misunderstanding. My husband and our oldest son should be home very shortly from work. Our son went with him. It's 'Take Your Children To Work' day.
”Today is my day off and my Mother's day off as well. We all work in the Federation Directorate facility in New Boston. What kind of work do you do?”, she asked.
“I am a scullery maid.“, Agnes replied.
”What's a scullery maid?“, Tara asked.
”I am a maid in the kitchen. I scrub the floors, pots and pans, and report directly to the cook. 'Tis difficult but honest work, and I have been told that I am good at it.
“Hamilton is a barrister and drives a berouche. I did not know if he would want to marry a lowly scullery maid, but he told me he loves me, and wants to marry me as soon as possible. I am moving with him to Boston after our nuptials.“
She looked all around, politely trying to make sense of everything she was seeing. Everything seemed strange to her. She was extremely confused about where she was and what was happening.
Tara's clothing was quite different from hers. There were only a couple candles, but there were strange candles on the small tables by the couch and chairs.
”Agnes, I'd like my mother to meet you. She's a historian, and might be able to figure out what's going on here. I have lots of questions, and I'm sure you do as well.“, Tara said as she messaged her mother.
Tara was sure her mother would be able to know what to do in order to help her. Agnes most definitely was not from their century. Tara was absolutely positive about that.
Agnes' clothes, the way she spoke, her formal manners, everything about her was from the past. How far in the past, Tara didn't know. Most likely her mother would be the one to know, hopefully along with an idea on how Agnes got there in the first place.
”I'm going to have a glass of caramel iced coffee. Would you like one as well, Agnes?“, she asked, trying to put her at ease.
”I am not sure what that is but, yes, please, Mrs. Steele. Thank you ever so much!“, Agnes replied.
Agnes watched as she opened a tall metallic door. A light came on as the door opened. She couldn't figure out what type of candle was in there. When asked what the metallic object was, Tara told her it was a refrigerator, and that it kept food cold.
Tara got some type of cubes from the metallic object, then put what looked like ground coffee in a small container before putting it in a red object.
She put a tall glass in front of the red object. She pressed something and it started making noise.
Agnes asked what the object was, and Tara told her it was a coffeemaker.
Within seconds, coffee came out of it into the glass. Tara then poured milk and something that looked abit like thin syrup into the glass, put a lid on it and stirred it up.
Tara then handed her the glass of iced coffee. Agnes wasn't sure how to drink it since she didn't know how to drink from a straw, but Tara showed her, then repeated the process for the second glass.
Agnes declared it delicious.
”Indeed, I have never had such a thing before. Such an interesting drink! Thank you ever so kindly for this! 'Tis very refreshing!“
Tara's mother arrived home soon afterwards. Agnes stood up to greet her.
After Tara introduced the ladies to each other, Agnes curtsied deeply and said,
”Tis an exceeding pleasure to meet you, Mrs.Tepesch. Mrs. Steele has been very kind and oh so affable since my arrival!”
Mrs. Tepesch was a lady of about 65. Like Tara, she wore a plain gold ear cuff and a drop earring with a diamond and ruby in her right ear. A dainty gold chain connected the two. In her left ear lobe was a single drop earring with a diamond and ruby in it.
She smiled, took a good look at her, took Agnes' hands in hers, then asked sweetly, "Agnes, what year is it, Dear?"
"Oh 'tis 1755, Ma'am.", she replied.
"And who is the President of the United States?", she asked.
"Indeed I am not sure, Mrs.Tepesch. Pray, what is the United States?", Agnes asked.
”How did you get from 1755 to here? How did you get from a field in 1755 to our Gathering Room here in 2559?", she asked.
"25...?", Agnes said, her voice trailing off. "Gathering...? 25, 59? Pray, what do you mean, Ma'am? Mrs. Steele, what does Mrs. Tepesch mean?“
Tara calmly said, "Agnes, you're no longer in the year 1755. You're in the year 2559, 804 years in the future. You're in our home outside of New Boston, one of the few cities in a safe radiation-free zone here on Earth. Earth is now governed and run by the Federation Directorate.
"After the Nuclear Holocaust on your planet 469 years ago that almost destroyed it, there are only a few places that are safe to be in. The New Boston area is one of them."
Agnes was completely confused and, at the same time, absolutely terrified.
"Pray, what is a nuclear holocaust? What is radiation? What is this thing you call Federation...Directorate? 804 years in the fu...?", she asked, her voice trailing off.
Agnes suddenly became extremely lightheaded, and turned white as a sheet.
”Are you alright, Agnes?“, Tara asked.
"Pray forgive me, I just want to go home. Mrs. Steele, please tell me the truth. 'Tis all a dream, is it not?", Agnes begged, a pleading look in her eyes.
"I'm sorry Agnes. It's not a dream.", she said. Tears started welling in Agnes' eyes as Mrs. Tepesch squeezed her hands.“
“How am I to survive here? Can I not go back? Please tell me I can go back! If I must stay here, wherever shall I live? What shall be my occupation?
"I know nothing at all of this...all this. I do not even know what the strange candles on those tables over there are.
"I am alone. If 'tis too true, that I am in the future, I have lost my family and friends, everybody I knew and loved. I do not fit in because I am not from this time. I do not...I do not belong.", Agnes said.
"True, you may feel you don't belong here now, but you are not alone, my dear.
"You've got us. There are others here who will be more than willing to help you adjust as you start your new life as well.
”Just let us help you. It's never easy starting over somewhere new, especially under difficult, painful circumstances.“, Mrs. Tepesch said.
”The facility we work in will be closing in 6 months. We'll get you a job there as my mom's assistant, and we'll arrange it so you'll receive a 3-month severance package, like everyone else there.
“You'll also be welcome to transfer anywhere you'd like when the facility closes, whether to one of Earth's surviving cities or off-Earth with us, if you'd like. How does that sound to you?", Tara explained.
”What do you mean by off-Earth?“, she asked.
”Off-Earth is, quite literally, exactly what it means, Agnes: off the Earth. You can transfer to the Moon, to Mars, any other planet in the galaxy or beyond, or even to a deep space station.
“That's most likely where we're all transferring to. We're going either to the station closest to our home, or to our home. We're still debating about all of that.", Tara explained.
"People go to the Moon and other planets?" Laughing slightly, Agnes said,
"Pray forgive me, Mrs. Steele, but people cannot fly. And even if we could, 'tis impossible to fly to the Moon, other planets, or even to whatever that deep space thing is that you mentioned.
”'Tis an absolute impossibility! Pray forgive me, 'tis all just too much for me to comprehend."
Tara replied, "It's ok. You'll get used to things here. We'll help you.”
“What did you mean, Mrs. Steele, when you said you might go to your home. 'Tis your home here, is it not?”, Agnes asked.
“Agnes, Dear, whereas your ancestors settled in the New World after traveling from England, our ancestors settled on other planets, including Seti Delta 2, where Tara and I were born, after traveling from Earth over 400 years ago.”, Tara's mother said.
"Pray, is there no way I can go back home to my century? Am I stranded here? If 'tis too true, that I somehow traveled through time, how did I get here? How did I travel through time?“
Tara replied, "I'm sorry Agnes. Since we don't know what caused you to travel through time, we can't help you get back to your century. So...yes, you're stranded here."
”Everything...everyone...is gone.", she said, the gravity of the situation finally hitting her.
"My poor parents! My siblings! My dear Hamilton! Oh they must have been sick with worry when they could not find me!“, she replied.
Merci pour la lecture!