A girl and her Grandfather fly thru the ages of time
Rennie ran her fingers down the fine mahogany banister. She looked up and smiled when the echo of her own laughter reached her mind. There she was sliding down the banister right into Grandpa's arms.
"Grandpa! I wanna go to where the pretty ladies with long dresses are...." Little Rennie demanded.
"Darlin, we have been there a lot. Let's go to western town today." He cradled Rennie in his arms as they walked into the living room.
"Alright, but let's go see the pretty ladies tomorrow!" She said clapping her hands.
Randall Murphy giggled and rubbed noses with Rennie as he set her down.
Since Rennie's parents died in a car accident when she was two years old he had cared for her. His son and his wife had followed his own dear wife, who had died the year before of cancer. All that was left was himself and Rennie. Although still a relatively young man himself, he retired early as an astrophysicist and devoted his life to Rennie and his experiments.
Until his journeys with Rennie, Randall had used his time machine once. He knew it worked. He had walked through the portal and he was in a different time. He walked around for a moment, and then stepped back through the portal. He changed settings and stuck his head out of the portal seeing he was
in yet another time. When it was just himself and Rennie, they went together and explored
Rennie turned toward the living room. She took a few paces and leaned against the door jamb. She closed her eyes, remembering.
Randall opened the door and seeing Rennie standing there wide-eyed, he picked her up in his arms. "Lookie what Grandpa has, Rennie." he quietly cooed to her.
"Pretty!" she grinned at him scrunching her nose.
It was at that moment Randall formed the plan in his head to home school her. This world was moving too fast and what better way to teach her old values by showing them to her first hand. He thought he would never regret it.
The first few years they traveled they returned to their home each day. They traveled through the ages watching battles, listening to speeches, sitting in courts of lords. It was a wonderful game of dress up for Rennie. Randall had gathered clothing and money from various time periods for them.
Rennie knew nothing of the era they were actually from. She was never allowed to leave the house when they came home. All the food and supplies they needed, they purchased in another time period. As she grew up it seemed natural to her. As if everyone traveled in this way. After a close call when she had almost caused them to be discovered as time travelers, Randall had to explain in simple terms that she had to keep the secret. She accepted the situation, never putting them in danger again.
Rennie learned math and science from the masters. She sat at the feet of literary scholars. The education she received was second to none. She never regarded it as learning; it was all fun for her.
Randall's favorite time was the Wild West. As she grew up she too became fond of the western town they stayed near. Randall had actually purchased land; they had a cattle ranch in the town of Driftwood.
Rennie and her grandfather stayed on the ranch for months at a time by the time she was in her teens. No one questioned when they had to leave to travel back east to visit relatives. They had settled in comfortably, it was hard to return home to make the sure the house remained in order, paying bills and performing routine maintenance on the time machine.
Rennie and Randall were making trip into town from the ranch. Her cheeks were burning, not so much from the hot sun, more from the thoughts of the boy, Joshua, at the supply store. She had a crush on him.
Rennie jumped down from the seat of the wagon; "I'll get Josh to carry the heavy stuff" she called back to him, heading for the doorway of the store.
Randall smiled, "I bet you will." He said softly to himself.
Sheriff Jefferson picked up his pace so he could help Randall down from the wagon. "How ya doin' ol' fella?"
Randall laughed, "I'll ol' fella you, ya dang stinker!" The men shook hands and walked into the supply store together.
Joshua was intently listening to Rennie read the list of things they needed. He had to look down at the floor because as soon as he looked up he grinned from ear to ear.
"Would you be so kind as to load the wagon with some of the heavier things? My grandpa shouldn't be lifting things." Rennie said with worry in her voice.
"It would be my pleasure, ma'am." He grinned. Why did I say ma'am? I sound like a fool!
Rennie smiled back at him. She hoped that before she left town he would ask her to the Scarecrow Dance next week. She picked up some of the smaller items and went outside to load them into the wagon. Joshua picked up two heavy bags of feed and followed her.
Sheriff Jefferson watched Randall as he slowly took a seat, his breathing irregular. "Are you okay, Randall, want me to call the doc?"
Randall looked up, "I'm alright. I'm just a little tired. I don't want to worry Rennie."
Sheriff Jefferson wasn't convinced, "Are you sure?"
Rennie and Joshua re-entered the store for another load and Randall shook his head at the Sheriff. "Please..."
Sheriff Jefferson dropped the subject and spoke about the weather.
As Joshua slung the bag into the wagon she turned to Rennie, looking at the ground, "Rennie, I'd be real happy if you'd go to the Scarecrow Dance with me." He looked up and saw her smiling, "Would ya?"
Rennie's heart was beating fast as Joshua started to speak. He was asking her to the dance! She was smiling so wide it hurt. "It would be my pleasure to be escorted by you Josh." She reached out, taking his hand.
Rennie and Josh were still grinning at each other as the Sheriff and Randall emerged from the store. "Up in the wagon, Rennie, we have to go" Randall called to her.
Over the next few years Rennie and Joshua became inseparable. She didn't know how to tell him she was a time traveler. When they had to make the inevitable trips back to their own time; it broke her heart to lie to him.
Randall's illness worsened as well. Rennie began to notice he was getting weaker. She
could see the knowledge that the town doctor had, would be no match for what the doctor's of their own time would know. Rennie tried to get him to see a doctor on one of their trips home. He flatly refused.
"I won't live forever, Rennie. You are a strong, intelligent woman. You will go on to live a wonderful life after I am gone." He smiled and hugged her, kissing her cheek.
"But Grandpa, you have science on your side. We can even travel into the future and find a cure for what's making you sick." She pleaded with tears in her eyes.
"Darlin, we have never traveled to the future, and besides there is no cure for old age, things just cease to work." He took her hand and placed it on his heart.
"No NO, we could try. Maybe in the future they have a way!" she felt him slipping away.
"Rennie, I would be pleased if you would keep the ranch." he breathed heavily, "You may make the choice where you live but just be sure you live."
Rennie understood what he meant. He wanted her to be happy, not letting life pass her by. He seemed to sag against her. "Grandpa?" She felt his neck for a pulse, finding one she leaned him down on the couch they were sitting on. She stood for a moment paralyzed with fear.
She took a breath and picked up the phone. This would be the first time she would contact someone in her own time. He had taught her well and she knew what to do. Dialing 911 she waited, a voice on the other end spoke to her, 'What is the nature of your emergency?"
"My...My Grandfather is ill, he passed out, can you help me?" Rennie spoke into the foreign device.
"An ambulance is on its way, is your grandpa breathing?" the voice asked.
Rennie checked quickly. "Yes, he's alive."
"The paramedics will be there soon, keep talking to me until they get there. What's your name?" the voice inquired.
"My name is Rennie. Will he be alright?" Rennie voice wavered.
"We will do all we can. They should be there soon can you hear sirens?"
Rennie listened, she did hear sirens. She was afraid. She was always told as long as she could remember never to leave this house and let no one in. Now she would have to.
"Yes I hear them." Rennie answered the voice.
"Okay, you need to let them in, hang up the phone and go to the door. Everything will be fine they will take care of you." The voice was gone.
She dropped the phone and edged toward the door. She felt as if she were opening Pandora's Box. She was cold with fear. She turned the knob and opened the door as the paramedics bounded up the stairs.
"Where's the person in need, ma'am?' asked a young paramedic, first in the door.
She wasn't sure what she expected but he looked and sounded a lot like Josh, she was relieved. She pointed into the library where her grandfather lay prone on the couch. She followed after them. One took her aside out sight of the library and opened a notebook. She relayed to him what had happened.
The next few moments blurred as they moved Randall out to the ambulance. They asked if she would
drive her own car or if she would ride in the ambulance. She could ride a horse, she could drive a wagon, but she had no knowledge of cars. "I don't know how to drive."
They helped her into the back of the ambulance and they sped to the hospital. Once there they showed her to a waiting room. She watched as they took her grandfather down a long hall; she was left feeling quite alone.
This was her first real contact with this world. It felt odd knowing it was her real-time. Everything seemed cold to her. Back in Driftwood the people would have gathered to help her, support her. They would bring food and make sure she would eat something. Thinking of that, she realized she was hungry. Her next thought was she had no money for her own time period.
No one spoke to her and the time passed slowly. Leaving her home and coming here was one thing, leaving here was another. She became worried about how they would get home. Grandpa would know.
She dozed from pure exhaustion. She heard someone close to her, "Miss, your grandfather would like to see you."
Rennie leap from her seat and followed the nurse. After leading her through a maze of hallways the nurse stopped and opened a door, motioning her in. Before her she saw a pale tiny man in what appeared to be a huge bed. Surely this wasn't her grandpa! He had so many tubes surrounding him, she was even more frightened. She could tell he was trying to speak and she leaned in close to hear him.
"I'm sorry Rennie, I showed you so many things, taught you things, but I never prepared you for this. There is a box in my bureau at home that has all my financial information in it." Randall stopped to catch his breath, "There are phone numbers of people who will help you sort it all out. I love you very much Rennie, thank you for being my travel companion..."
Rennie stayed bent over him waiting for him to catch his breath again but it never came. She collapsed beside him and cried until someone came and picked her up.
The nurses explained to her that he left a contact number with them. That person had all the necessary arrangements taken care should he pass away. They suggested she return home.
Rennie walked without purpose. She didn't know where to go, she was lost. She found herself back in the waiting room after several minutes. She went to the woman at the counter and announced, "I don't know how to get home. I have no money."
The nurse looked at her for a moment and said, "Is there anybody we can call for you. Where do you live?"
Rennie didn't know how to tell this woman this was the first time she ever left the house and she didn't know, "I'm not sure. And... no I have anyone."
The nurse looked at the admittance records and found Randall's name and address. 'If you want to wait for me I will take you home I get off in a half an hour." The nurse felt sorry for her, perhaps she was 'slow'.
"Thank you." She turned to find a seat, the room was full. She went to the window and leaned against the glass. She looked with dull eyes at a world she didn't know. The cars moved so quickly, went they didn't move quickly enough, people yelled, load noises rang out. She could still hear it inside behind the glass.
The nurse touched her shoulder and asked if she was ready to go. Rennie was glad to be going back home. It was a quick quiet ride to Rennie's house. As the nurse dropped her off she asked if Rennie would be okay.
"Yes, I'll be fine; Grandpa made me a strong and intelligent woman." Rennie answered.
The nurse nodded and drove away.
Rennie ran up the stairs and burst in the front door, anxious to be inside. She walked to the stairs leading up to Grandpa's room where his papers were. She stopped; running her hands along the banister. She looked up, smiled and walked to the living room. She leaned against the door jamb. She stood there only a moment. She walked to the time machine adjusted some settings and started it up. The familiar light washed over the room and she entered the portal never looking back.