• Mallory Porter

The Queen Anne


Photo by: Mallory Jordan

The Queen Anne

There’s nothing that brings more joy to my holiday break than scraping some extra cash together at my dad’s home foreclosure and antiques auction house. If staring at the oblivion wall of the knick-knacks in his office doesn’t amuse me, there are loads of carbon copy signed forms for me to scan through to his computer and digitalize.

Pros: I get to sit in his $3,000 antique leather chair like a mob boss all day. And, I recently found my dad’s childhood red rubber ball in the pit of his desk drawers to throw against the brick walls so I don’t slip slowly into madness.

Cons: Between the “thump, thump, thump,” of that 1960’s hunk of rubber, I can constantly here the yodeling scream of our auctioneer. Not exactly the most soothing white noise. And, I’m only getting paid $5 an hour (below minimum wage) because I should be, “thrilled to spend some quality time with my dad, who pays to get me through school and a little help at the family business on my breaks is the least I can do.”

I get the family part; I’m not that selfish. But, it’d still be nice if my parents would pay me more than my previous allowance as a 12-year-old mommy’s chore helper. Especially if they won’t allow me to work anywhere else until I graduate.

“Coop,” I hear my dad’s raspy voice calling. I can tell he’s old man jogging, which almost looks like a guy with a bad leg trying to skip, over to me, so I stay put.

“Cooper,” he said slightly out of breath from the 30-foot race, “Coop, how would you like to get out of this office and go look at a property with me?”

“I dunno dad,” I said, “I’m pretty swamped over here.”

“Ha ha, very funny. Stop being such a smart ass.”

I silently mouthed, “moi?” Putting my hand to my chest in shock.

“Alright, Mr. Jokester. How about it? See why your old man’s stuck to this career his whole life.”

What my dad forgot to mention was that the property was more than an hour away. I had to listen to him “sing” his country music the entire way there.

I almost regretted my decision to go with him until we pulled up to the house, and the strand in my genetics that must love antique architecture kicked in. I literally gasped.

The house was in extreme disarray, of course, with dead leaves from past autumns still covering the porch. But, the pieces that were still in tact told a multitude of stories. My eyes fit in the missing wood, paint and shingles like holding up a transparent historical photograph in front of it.

The gingerbread detail on the porch and carvings around the windows sent me back in time.

“Yupp, another work of architectural art abandoned and left to rot by imbeciles,” my dad said, obviously reading my mind.

I understand keeping an old house up-to-date or restoring it is hard, expensive work. But, the fact that so many remarkable homes like this one are torn down from anyone’s lack of effort, or rich people building cookie cutter homes instead of appreciating the skilled craftsmanship flourished at the turn of the century, is a shame.

We stepped inside a mass expanse of home littered with dust, falling wallpaper, plaster chunks and splintered wood floorboards. The chill air whistled through the cracks, echoing in the hallowness. I could still see my breath and feel the winter sting through my Carhartt coat.

A lot of blood, sweat and tears would have to go into this home to restore it to its former glory, but the potential was a pleasure to imagine.

“If I takeover this foreclosure,” my dad said, “I’ll have to sell this one for less than I would like because of all of the hurt that’s been done to it. Especially the top floor; fire damage.

My dad slipped his hands in his pocket while we both gazed in awe from the doorway. It was too dangerous to wander around the place just yet until an inspector found all of the rotting floorboards.

“But, it would be worth it to see this place get the time and respect it deserves instead of watching it get bulldozed like a worthless pile of Legos.”

We stood for a few minutes longer, silently soaking in the lost memories behind the musty scent of the molding wood.

“Welp, I think we both agree this is one for the auction,” my father said shifting back in his heels.

I smiled and nodded and we headed back to the blue Chevy.

Despite my bonding moment with dad the day before, the next day at the auction house dragged on as per usual.

My dad was swamped with business deals and people coming in trying to sell their dead grandmother’s useless junk that they hoped they could squeeze one more pretty penny out of their circumstance.

I couldn’t get that house out of my head. My dad had only ever shown me pictures of the foreclosed homes he invested in and auctioned off. He was right; actually seeing a home stirred his passions within me as well.

I tried to do some research on the place, but there wasn’t much to find. Newspaper clippings each time it was sold to a new owner, and of the fire when the place was a hotel back in the ‘90s, but that’s all. I got frustrated and moved on to a more informative site that the Internet had to offer.

After hours of Reddit surfing and drowning out the auctioneer with my own finger drumming on the desk, I couldn’t stand the boredom one more second.

I stood up, grabbed my jacket and the key’s to my dad’s truck on the hook by the door and set off for the house. My dad would be stuck handling things at the office all day anyway, so he wouldn’t need the truck. And, if we bought the home, it wouldn’t be long before a lock was on it and all exploring would be off limits. I had no choice but to seize the opportunity.

When I walked back in, I took each slow step with caution. Not for fear of getting my foot stuck in a broken floorboard, but to examine each detail of the house and submerge myself into its history.

Stories revealed where the wallpaper peeled, like a rock’s layers formed by the generations who fashioned the place. The damage of heat, moisture and time on the pasted paper appeared no different to me than a pack of werewolves clawing the walls to shreds that fell to cornflakes on the dusty floorboards.

Room after room, the house swallowed me deeper. I grabbed the chipped glass doorknobs like chunks of dead stars no longer gleaming with reflective magic. Most of the doors were completely unhinged and left the rooms welcoming me inside, but I still felt the compulsion to touch the unfamiliar hardware.

Broken ceramic and plaster walls with bowling ball sized holes decorated the cavernous space in place of vases and pictures.

I realized I couldn’t muse around the place all day; I had to get the truck back before my dad noticed I left. I stared over at the looming stairs. One of the darkest corners of the house, the wooden half spiral hugged the wall with a dangerous temptation. I had to risk it.

One slow, creaky step at a time I pressed the ball of my foot first, flattening my arch like a dancer coming down from releve. One wrong step, and I could be knee deep in splinter teeth, stuck and maybe even facing a broken leg.

Was this the smartest decision of the day? No, but I accepted my childish idiocracy and need to explore, and trudged on. I emerged at the top of the stairs, walking as if I was expecting someone to jump out at me.

The upper levels of these homes are never as grand, because in the turn of the century when they were built, guests never went upstairs. The wood was darker and unpainted, unlike the decorated white flaking doors on the ground level.

The hallway to my left loomed in almost complete blackness. I wasn’t afraid of any ghosts, but damaged flooring, you bet. I didn’t have time to Money Pit this place.

I chose the open room in front of me. Part of the wall and insulation was missing, probably stolen and scrounged, so I shimmed between the wood frame right on in.

A brick fireplace missing hunks of plaster lit up the room metaphorically with its antique luster. It didn’t match the rest of the plain, tattered room.

I peered out of the smeared bay windows, and then to the cherry wood door on it’s opposite. The door hung uneven to the frame from years of changing temperature and moisture that swelled and warped it.

The carved detailing and style suggested the door was an original part of the house. I had only ever seen doors like these open to dining rooms on first floors.

I didn’t dare to open it further for fear of it sticking or cracking the wood. Instead I traced the carved crevices and wood beading with my index finger.

Out of my peripheral vision, I noticed colors beginning to change. I turned back around to the room to find it completely transformed. The walls were a deep green, and a Victorian sitting and dressing room lay before me.

I stood staring, finger still on the door, mouth open and eyes wide for a few seconds. I scowled, with no other choice but to run out of whatever was happening in this house, and bolted. I gazelled over the frame, back to the hallway stairs.

“Well I have to disagree with you, Misses,” said an unfamiliar voice, “I find this new naturalism ideal intriguing and in fact, I welcome it.”

I retreated from the stairs and ran down the hallway against my previous better judgment. Except, now it didn’t look so eerie. The walls were a warm honey and miniature chandeliers lit the way.

I noticed a door at the end cracked slightly and slid inside. I closed the door noiselessly and took a short breath against its undamaged stain. I turned to find a child’s eyes, sitting in bed with the blankets pulled up to her nose, staring at me.

The pastel pink and mint green room before me belonged to the girliest girl I’d ever seen. Lace frills and dolls covered almost every inch. Senseless sounds tumbled out of my mouth as I tried to figure out what the hell to do or what to say to this girl. She might have a strange teenage boy in her bedroom, but I was equally as freaked.

I heard that first voice and another’s coming towards the room.

“One minute, John, let me check on Ellie,” the second voice, a woman’s, said. “She’s still in bed even thought its almost...”

I saw what must have been the girl’s father’s jacket draped across her dainty, floral vanity chair and threw it on right as the woman opened the door.

“...Hello,” she said startled, but obviously not fearful due to my awkward, terrified demeanor.

“Hi,” I choked out sounding like I just hit puberty, “I...I...Doctor...”

“Doctor, yes! Hello doctor, so glad you could make it,” she blurted. “You must have snuck right past us.”

“Uh, uh yes,” I said trying to follow this woman’s social cues. “Sorry to frighten you, I’m just checking on Ellie here.”

I pointed to the little girl who was still in her bed, staring at me. But only now she looked as lost as I was. She looked back at the woman and I followed her gaze.

“Yes, well, Doctor, this is my brother, John,” the woman, who I was gathering to be the girl’s mother, said.

“Good day, sir,” he said tipping his head.”

“Ellie’s been feeling a bit warm to me, you see, and I wanted to be safe to her health,” she said.

“John, let me show you out so I can have a word with the doctor.”

Ellie’s mother eyed me to stay put and she led her brother out of the room and presumably out of the house.

I spun around to apologize to the little girl for frightening her, but she started pointing and laughing at me.

“Why are you wearing daddy’s coat over your silly clothes,” she giggled.

“Sir,” the woman’s face reappeared in the doorway with a stern look, “would you please follow me to the downstairs study.”

We sat in a burgundy room, which I remembered as white, grey, and faded. The woman wearing a grey striped corseted dress sat across from me in a mirrored antique armchair. She handed me a cup of tea from the silver teacart between us.

“Now, I didn’t want to concern my brother as he gets quite a temper,” she said, “ But, as I’m sure you’ve gathered, no one in this house is sick. Anyhow, I do all of the hiring around here, and I have sought no additional help recently, so you must be a stranger. Tell me what are you doing in my home.”

She finished with an accusing look on her face, awaiting my answer. I couldn’t help but notice how young she was, especially compared to the painting of the rich old maid in the gold ornate frame behind her.

“I’m so so sorry,” I started, “I honestly can’t tell you how I got here. Except to say that I was already here, but it was different, and then everything changed in one second and I was somewhere else. No, I mean, I was in the same place, but it changed to a different... a different time period or something. This makes no sense.”

I sat back in my chair and put my hand to my head, exasperated.

“I have half a mind to say you’re a loony and have a policemen throw you out,” she said. “However, I will not.”

“Thank you, I could really use your help. I really don’t want to bother...”

“Enough,” she interrupted.

“You can stay here until you are out of your state of shock and find your bearings. I will tell my husband you are a long lost cousin when he returns home. I don’t begin to understand your babblings on about change and time or how you got here, but I can tell you I have always found something strange about this home since we built it. You may take the guest room upstairs, but keep to it. I wouldn’t wander too much if I were you.”

She took me back upstairs and quickly dressed me in some clothes from an old trunk of her husband’s that no one would recognize. The tan suit with a slight coattail, matching vest with many buttons, a high colored white shirt with brown ascot dated me anywhere between 1880 and 1910.

She led me to the guest room next to the girl’s and brought me a candle and some extra blankets. It was fairly plain compared to the rest of the heavy Victorian décor in the house. I was furnished with only an iron-framed bed, a large wooden armoire, and a wooden chair with a patterned navy cushion to rest day clothes.

“Normally, I would politely invite you to dinner,” she said, “ but as this is an odd circumstance, you are indeed an uninvited stranger, and I don’t enjoy charades or lying to my husband, I shall tell him you are ill from your travels and need rest tonight. The maid will bring you your meal at half past the sixth hour.”

“Thank you, I appreciate it.”

“And don’t go wandering these halls. You might be startled by its shadows, especially since you don’t seem to be from around here,” she warned, as she was about to leave.

“Wait, what is your name?”

“Caroline,” she said kindly before closing the door.

On my priority list was firstly, get back to I guess my own time period, second to get the hell out of this house, and thirdly to completely ignore Caroline.

I lit the candle Caroline had given me, grabbed it by the curved handle of its holder, and snuck out of my room.

The shadows did not frighten me, because there were no shadows; only pitch black and the light of my candle. This time period started to seem a lot less glorious at night.

Somehow, I made it all the way downstairs without a sound or tripping. I reached the foyer, only a few feet from the door when I thought I saw a small flicker in the corner of the study to my left. Already distracted from my goal, I crept over to it.

At first, all I saw was the light from my own candle enter the room. I started to turn back when the flicker appeared again in the corner of the room. It was like that flickering grey box the eye doctor tells you to look for and respond to by pressing a button when its spotted.

I inched closer and saw it again, but clearer. It almost looked like a sink from the 1950s or 60s going in and out of the scene. But what would a broken sink be doing in a time period without common running water, and where does it keep flickering off to?

My thoughts went back to home. The sink was definitely not in a place where a sink should be even in its own time period. Maybe I was seeing a glimpse of the broken down house in my time. A scavenger must have taken a part the sink for copper plumbing to sell and thrown it in another room. This could be the trick to get me out of this strange place.

I cautiously reached for the sink. I felt the coolness of it. In my excitement – or terror – I clenched it, white knuckling the rim of the sink.

In a blink, I left the Victorian home.

My fist was still gripped tightly to the sink, but neither me nor the sink were in the study anymore, or in the same house for that matter.

Wait, no. That’s wrong. I was in the same house in the kitchen. But the kitchen wasn’t torn to pieces anymore with broken tiles scattered everywhere. And it was far too bright and modern to be a Victorian kitchen space. The yellow walls accented the pastel aqua cabinets and checkered curtains. The rectangular sink matched.

I released my grip on the sink like it was covered with an infectious disease. No time to look around the midcentury home. I wasn’t about to get caught in this strange house by god knows who again.

I ran out the kitchen door into the backyard. Realizing I still had on my previous attire from Caroline, I stripped down to the pants and white shirt, and rolled up my sleeves to my elbows. I jogged to the front of the house to see a long road of matching pastel boxes, each on its own perfectly square emerald patch. I was now convinced this was time travel.

Children’s pedal cars motorized by saddle shoe feet, cinched waists with poofed skirts, and Chevy convertibles moseyed past me. I didn’t have a single clue what to do. I probably looked like the town moron staring dumbfounded at everyone from my grassy knoll.

I figured one thing: the house brought me here. That had to be it. And I had to get back inside. Nothing out here in “Grease Land” was going to help me get back home.

A bright idea hit me. I could pretend to be a traveling salesman. People actually answered the door for those swindlers in this time period. But what was I selling? I had nothing.

“Okay, scrap that idea,” I thought to myself.

Then, luck hit me and a kid wrecked his bike right in front of the house. No, I’m not an asshole. But right when the kid’s mom came outside from the house across the street, took the crying kid inside to clean off, and left the bike where it was, I knew I could use this material.

I tore the shoulder of my shirt, and quickly scraped my hands and one knee against the sidewalk.

When I knocked on the door, luckily the mom of the house answered, ready to pity me.

“Hi ma’am,” I said, acting my part, “I’m sorry to bother you, but I just wrecked my bike trying to get to a friends house. I’m a little lost to be frank. Could I please use your telephone?

“Oh dear,” the red lips coddled, “you look a mess you poor thing! Come inside and I’ll clean you up.”

Manicured hands on my shoulders steered me to the flamingo pink tiled bathroom. The 1950s was such an ugly decade. I preferred Caroline’s classic white and black tile styling.

She sat me on the bathtub and got some rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs from the mirrored medicine cabinet. She positioned herself across from me on the toilet seat and dabbed my wounds.

“Now, I know you said you were trying to get to a friends house,” the housewife cooed, “but it’ll be dark soon, so you really should stay for dinner. We can call your folks and they can pick you and your bike up after.”

I nodded silently like a sad puppy.

Dinner was delicious and enjoyable in that stereotypical 1950s nuclear family way where the house felt comfy, but everyone seemed uptight and ready to snap.

I put on my fake persona and “called” my family. The wife put on her own façade and served a homemade dinner on a white lace tablecloth that had no stains whatsoever. And, the father put on his gentleman’s mask, pretending the stress of the office wasn’t killing him and that he loved the spoiled brats sitting beside him.

“So, sonny, what is your name,” the father asked.

“Bobby,” I said the first simplest name that came to my head.

“Well, Bobby, it’s nice to have you. My wife here makes the best chicken pot pie on the planet, so you’ve picked a lucky night to join us.”

Everyone smiled forcefully, including myself.

Dinner conversation went on politely and awkwardly as the talk of everyone’s day was sprinkled between berating questions of my life. If I didn’t know so much basic history of human lifestyles across decades from my dad’s auction house, I would’ve been screwed.

I was going to choke from all this nauseating falsity of table manners soon if I didn’t choke on one of the Misses’ peas first.

“Excuse me for a moment,” I said. “My apologies, but I need to use the restroom.”

“Oh, go ahead upstairs Bobby boy,” the father said. “I’m afraid our toilet downstairs is a bit on the fritz at the moment. Just go all the way down the hall when you get up the stairs.”

“Okay, thanks,” I smiled.

I rushed up the stairs, trying to not look so eager to get away from the table.

This bathroom was equally as gross as the pink one in the nicest sense of the word. It was covered in creepy smiling animals. It was obviously decorated for the children. But, the immaculate cleanliness of it all felt sterile and cold, unlike a usual kids’ messy bathroom.

I sat down on the toilet to think for a second. I rested my head in the palm of my hands and my elbows on my knees.

The lights flickered so fast, that I almost thought I imagined it. I looked up from my hands. Were those psychotic animals smiling even bigger? Then I saw it again.

Not the light flickering, but the scene flickering on and off in front of me. The shower curtain went from creepy zoo scene, to burnt up grey plastic, and back again.

I hadn’t seen the upstairs bathroom in my time before, but the melted shower curtain hinted that I was seeing the bathroom in my own time. I readied myself so when it flickered once more, I could grab the shower curtain and hopefully be home, and away from these sad, boring people.

I saw the grey and lunged, and then screamed at the naked, wet person suddenly standing before me, who screamed back.

I definitely wasn’t in the deserted, fire damaged bathroom of my time. The shower curtain was grey, but now it was fully in tact with a person occupying its use.

“Hey man, what gives,” the wet ginger yelled at me.

“I..I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to...”

“Dude didn’t you hear the shower running? And who are you anyway, get out!”

“Sorry,” I yelled back as I scurried out of the bathroom.

Making my exit, I nearly ran into a cute blonde.

“Oh, I’m so sorry!”

“Nah, don’t worry about it. Hey, you look new. Did you check in downstairs?”

Check in? I racked my brain. Right, this place was turned into a hotel in the ‘90s, I remembered my dad telling me.

“Uh, nope, but I was just about to. Had to pee really bad first,” I stupidly spat out.

Did I mention I have no game?

“Alright,” she said, laughing a little at least.

“I’m just this room right over,” she said tapping the door next to the bathroom. “You should pop in later if you’re bored. Some of us regulars rent a room here and hang out when we are trying to escape our parents.”

“Sounds great, thanks!”

She smiled and loudly knocked on the bathroom door.

“Hurry the fuck up, Rob, some of us gotta pee out here,” she screamed through the door at the indisposed man I had previously encountered.

He screamed something I couldn’t quite understand behind the water gargles. She smiled at me again and went back into her room.

The hallway didn’t’ look too different besides the generic hotel paintings on the walls and some ugly puke colored rug choices. Maybe that was intentional to mask any guest late night mishaps.

I went downstairs and the foyer had a giant office desk with temporary shelving behind it right against the staircase facing what in the 1990s was the study. The guy working it looked like he stepped out of a Backstreet Boys music video, frosted tips and all. This wouldn’t have been that crazy...if he wasn’t about 50 years old.

‘Um, hi. Could I have a room please?”

“Sure, $75 a night, but you can pay in the morning” he said in feminine voice that made me think he might be gay.

“Thanks,” I said as he handed me a key.

“Second room on the left, next to the young hot blonde. Well, if you like that short of thing,” he said winking at me.

“I do,” I said before I started back up the stairs.

“Well you won’t get any looking like that,” he said eyeing my torn up, way out of date clothing up and down.

A couple hours and some new threads from a 1990s gay man later, I was either going to have a little bit of fun with a cute girl during this miserable trip through time, or I was going to get severely laughed at and further humiliated.

I walked into the blonde girl’s room, who I learned from Roger, my front desk clothing savior, was named Heather.

Heather’s hotel room looked like her suitcase exploded in it. Dark makeup, scrunchies, and spagetti strap dresses were spread all over the place. And, I hadn’t seen this much body glitter on girls since I was in elementary school. Her, Rob, and a couple other teens around my age were in a circle on the floor.

“Hey! Come sit, uh... what’s your name again,” Heather asked.

“Cooper,” I said, finally retaining my identity.

“Cooper, this is the group, group Cooper,” she said playfully.

Everyone smiled and said, “Hi Cooper,” like an AA meeting. I guess that was still a new joke in this time.

“Hi Cooper,” Rob said after the chorus in a sarcastic tone.

“Good to see you dry and clothed, Rob,” I said back, surprising my own self with my smoothness and laughing with the group.

“Want a hit, Cooper,” Heather asked as we sat and joined the circle. She passed a joint to me and I happily accepted.

As the night went on and I got more relaxed, I completely forgot I wasn’t in my own time. I had come to feel safe in this old house, even though it was the whole reason I was trapped. Irony.

Heather and I were inching closer and closer and I was feeling pretty damn proud of myself. I was also trying to push away the thought in my mind that she probably still existed in my time, but much older.

"Don’t think about it, she’s hot right now," I told myself.

I thought I smelled something burning, but between the laughs and the Herbal Essence scent of Heather’s hair, I wasn’t too worried about it.

The next thing I knew, someone in the hallway was yelling, “Fire, Fire!”

And then it clicked. The reason this place was abandoned was because of the fire upstairs in the ‘90s. Nobody wanted to buy it after that to deal with all the damage and fix it up, so it was left to rot all these years. Was I seriously that unlucky that I landed on the date it caught fire?

Yes.

We all ran from the Heather’s hotel room to see the room at the back of the hallway already engulfed in flames. The burning orange and red arms reached for us, and were about to consume the bathroom and the room across it.

I had to get out of there. And not outside out of there like the rest of the high, screaming teenagers, but time out of there. I needed to get home. But I had no freaking idea how to get home or I wouldn’t be here in the first place. I thought of the next best thing.

While everyone ran down the stairs, I ran to the room across from the staircase where that beautiful sliding Victorian door was located. Flicker or no flicker, I knew that object was present in my time unmoved from it’s original place, so it must be in this time, too. The one item I knew transcended all the time periods.

I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, shut out the sound of sirens and screams, and grabbed the door.

I opened my eyes to the sound of Caroline letting out a small scream. It was her sitting and dressing room after all.

“I’m so so sorry again, Caroline,” I faced the door away from her and put my arm up to my closed eyes.

“It’s alright, I’m dressed, you merely startled me,” she said.

I turned to look at her.

“Caroline, I need your help.”

Caroline and I joined once again in the downstairs study. I explained my predicament, my story, as crazy at it sounded. And, between what seemed like doubting sips of tea, she actually believed me.

“Do you think that this is some bullshit coming of age gift or something,” I asked her.

“No, no I don’t think so,” she started cautiously, trying to gather her own thoughts and theories.

“No, I think you merely stumbled upon something you weren’t supposed to by chance. I told you this house had strange shadows. I told you not to roam.”

“I know, Caroline, but I was already in this mess when you told me. It didn’t even matter.”

We both sat in silence, pondering a solution for a good minute.

“It sounds like you must think of an object you know of that is in this house from your own time period.”

“But that’s the problem, Caroline. The house has been abandoned since the 1990s. My dad hasn’t bought it yet. There aren’t any objects from my time in the home yet to flicker here for me to grab and return.”

No objects I was aware of at least.

There was a stray button that broke off of a teenager’s coat when he was roaming the premises with his friends for ghosts. They heard a noise and ran. The button was ripped off when he slipped and hit the rail of the stairs in the dark and a splinter caught the thread. The button tumbled down the stairs and hid unseen in a dark corner at the bottom now.

There were also two young lovers who came to the house once to escape the cold and have sex without their parents knowing. They laid out a blanket in the study I was in now. One of the girl’s socks landed in the fireplace in the heat of the moment when they were tearing off each other’s clothes. It was covered with old wood, soot, and dust now, so it would never flicker for me to know of its presence.

“I am truly sorry, but I fear I must speak the obvious,” Caroline said.

“Unfortunately, until your father does buy the place, you will be stuck here until people come in to restore my old home and bring objects from your time into it to flicker here and transport you home.”

Caroline paused with a look of pitying fear on her face.

“That is, as long as your father does buy it, and it isn’t mistakenly bulldozed, as you called it.”

I almost started to cry.

“It looks as if you won’t be leaving here for a while, cousin. And I feel as if this time period is the best for you. I’ll prepare the guest room for you again,” she smiled and patted my knee.

“Have another cup of tea.”

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