After some wonderful encouragement, I’m back at work on the sequel to New Yesterdays. The new book will be called Changed Tomorrows, and I thought I’d share a tiny excerpt with you. Enjoy!
The leaves on the massive oak trees hung motionless. Only the incessant buzz of the flies fractured the silence. Jim lay on the cool damp ground next to the spring, staring at the hard, blue patches of sky revealed between the rough, twisted branches of the ancient oak trees. His flushed face was moist and his eyelashes were sticky with drying tears.
He and Dustu had argued earlier about something inconsequential. As always, when he was feeling low, he went to the spring to remember how things used to be before he’d found that damned portal. He missed his brothers and sister. He wanted to feel the cool soft touch of his mother and hear her voice telling him everything would be alright.
But, the fact of the matter was that it wasn’t alright. It would never be alright again, and he had only himself to blame. Two years had passed since he found himself living with the Cherokee a hundred years in the past. Two years had passed since he looked into his mother’s clear blue eyes and felt safe and secure. He knew in his heart that he’d never see them again and on days like today it was nearly more than he could bear.
He listened to the sound of the water flowing over the smooth stones and imagined that he was home. Suddenly, the forest seemed to tremble and took on a shimmery appearance. Jim’s first thought was “earthquake!”. As quickly as it started, it stopped. Just as quickly, he realized that the earth wasn’t moving at all. His surroundings seemed subtly altered, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on what was different. He sensed that he wasn’t alone, and moved his head to listen more closely. Then he saw it.
Just behind him he could see the house, and his brothers playing in the yard. He could hear their voices calling to each other. A dump truck rumbled down the hill, loaded with the white chert used to build and repair the old country dirt roads. The propellers of an airplane chopped through the air as it passed overhead. Mother was in the house reading a magazine as she cooked their supper. Dad, not long home from his job at the foundry, was resting on his bed, reading a Louis L’Amour western paperback waiting for Mother to call out “Supper’s ready, y’all come on and eat!”. The soft, warm aroma of the biscuits, fresh from the oven tantalized his nose.
A smile crept across his face as he came to wakefulness. He leapt to his feet to run inside and realized, as everything came back into focus that he’d been sleeping; dreaming of home again. Unbidden, the tears began to flow afresh and he desperately tried to swallow the huge bitter lump in his throat as he slumped back to the ground.
Jim thought about the events of the past two years. The first time he came through the portal he’d been twelve years old. The destinies of three nations had changed in that time because of a few words spoken by a little boy. He remembered the first time he sat in front of the fire in Adahy’s house and recited his history lessons about the Great Removal and the Trail of Tears.
He remembered the men who didn’t come home after the war with the White settlers, especially Adahy, the chief who looked so much like his Pawpaw. He angrily brushed away the salty tears that stung his reddened, swollen eyes.
He wanted to sit next to his mother and hear her soft voice and tinkling laughter. He wanted to taste her biscuits. His brothers, Tony and Michael were sorely missed. Dustu was a wonderful brother; loving and patient, but he wasn’t Tony or Michael. He didn’t share the history with Dustu that he shared with his brothers.
He tried so many times to call their faces to mind and found it was becoming more and more difficult to remember exactly what they looked like. This distressed him even more. He was afraid he was forgetting them and wondered if they were forgetting him, too.
He didn’t regret telling the Cherokee about the future, indirectly helping them to avoid losing their ancestral homeland. In fact, he was rather proud because he knew that in helping them save themselves from the encroachment of the European settlers, he had helped his own ancestors, too. But he desperately wanted to be with his family again.