Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

Wherefore Art Thou Emajean?

Celia awoke to that peculiar white noise sound of forced air common in institutional settings. She was lying on a bed that had railing sides. Uh oh. I think I’m in a hospital. The lights were low and she could hear the faint murmur of voices out in the corridor. She did a mental inventory of her senses and everything seemed to be working correctly. Next she started a physical inventory, tensing and relaxing muscles, starting with her wiggling her toes and working up.
She was just starting to lift her left arm when the door of the room pushed open and a young man came in. He had a white coat on and a stethoscope around his neck. She thought he looked vaguely familiar.
“Hi Celia,” he said. “How are you feeling?”
“I guess I’m all right. What happened?” she asked.
“You fainted at the party at Garm’s barn. When you fell you hit your head on a hoe that someone had left out. It cut your scalp. Like all head wounds, it bled pretty badly, but it’s not serious. I put a couple of stitches in, and your hair will grow back,” he said.
“You cut my hair?” she asked.
“Just a little bit. No one will even notice. It is fortunate you weren’t hurt more seriously,” he answered. “When was the last time you had eaten?” he inquired.
Now that was a tough question. In her time, she had been on the way to meet her friend for lunch and had felt hungry then. But she didn’t know how that time translated to now. “I don’t really remember exactly,” she offered.
“Well, that probably explains it. Everyone said you had been acting a little different all evening. I know I was surprised by your attitude when you argued with me,” he said.
In a flash the memory came back to Celia. This was the insufferable bigot from the party! She got ready to give him another piece of her mind when he broke in to her thoughts. His voice was somber. “I don’t know why you’ve suddenly developed these radical ideas, Celia. The races need to each keep to their own,” he said.
Celia couldn’t help but argue, “that’s wrong! It denies people a chance to love whoever they want to spend their lives with!”
Anthony flashed a sad smile at her, “I said last night you were naïve. Now I know you’re stubborn as well. I think this means we’re not as well suited as I had hoped.”
Celia had a sinking sensation. If I’ve traveled back in time somehow, what is this man’s relationship to me? His name is Anthony Harper. Could it be that he’s related to my husband Rob Harper? This is so wrong! He saw the look on her face and interpreted it correctly.
“I know you’re not interested in me romantically, but I hold you in the highest esteem. You’re a beautiful girl, a wonderful nurse, and will make someone a great wife,” he said. “I’m going to let you rest until the morning and then we’ll give you a day of rest in your dormitory. Then we’ll see how you feel about coming back on duty. Your patients miss you,” he said with a smile.
After he left Celia closed her eyes. I don’t understand this and I don’t know how I’m going to get back to my own time. I cannot fake being a nurse and having all this training!
A light tap on the door brought her eyes back open. A familiar face peeked into the room. “Oh good, you’re awake!” said her visitor.
“Emajean!” said Celia. “I’m so glad to see you. I have so much to ask you!”
Emajean looked at her curiously. “It isn’t as if we don’t talk every night. And why on earth are you still calling me Emajean? It’s because of the annual, isn’t it? I told them I didn’t want them to use my entire name but they insisted. But why you’re taking it up, I don’t know! So why are you?” she finished in a rush.
Celia laughed. “To me, you’ve never been anyone else. I guess I wasn’t clear about that before. I have something to explain to you. Come sit down.”
The other girl sat on the end of her bed and folded her long legs atop the covers. Emajean perched her chin in her hands and said, “So give. What do you need to tell me?”
“I’m not the Celia you know. I actually live in 2010 and I only know you through some photographs we found in your 1933 Loyolan,” Celia said.
Emajean didn’t bat an eye. “Where is the Celia who is my classmate then? You look just like her and you sound just like her.”
“I don’t know how it all works. But when I have to do something that involves nursing you’ll see that I’m not the Celia you know. I can’t stand the sight of blood,” Celia replied.
“That’s nothing new. You aren’t good at the blood stuff, but you get through it. You’re still not convincing me. Tell me something that is a surprise,” Emajean said.
“Let’s see. You have a little sister named Frances.”
Emajean rolled her eyes, “she’s been up to visit. You know her. Keep trying.”
“Okay, you have a step brother named Walter and your father was married to Walter’s mother before he married . . . “ Celia’s voice trailed off as she saw the horrified look on the other girl’s face.
“No one here knows about Walter,” said Emajean in an urgent, quiet voice. “He was sent away a long time ago. How do you know about him?”
“I told you. I’m from 2010. You see, I was trying to find out who the photos that fell out of a 1933 Loyolan belonged to. I started using the Census records to trace your family,” she said.
“But Walter hasn’t lived with us for many years. He wasn’t with us when the census taker came,” Emajean said.
“Not with your family, but nearby, and your family name is unique enough in Lincoln that he’s easy to find. I just used the internet,” Celia said.
“The what?” Emajean asked.
“The internet. I can’t explain how it works because the technology is still a long ways away. The point is, I’m in the wrong time, and somehow I’ve got to get back to my time but I don’t know how,” Celia said.
Caught up in the mystery, Emajean ventured, “maybe you’re on a quest and you need to accomplish something to . . . I don’t know, maybe save the world!”
Celia winced inside knowing that if she could change one thing about history it would be to eliminate Adolf Hitler who at this moment in this time was consolidating his power in Europe. “I think saving the world is a bit dramatic, but it is possible that I’m supposed to help someone.”
Emajean bounced up and down, “I know! You’re supposed to help László and me be together!”
Celia paled and clutched her head. Emajean immediately stopped bouncing. Celia said, “thanks,” and thought for a moment. “Yes, that could be right. Tell me more about him and what is going on.”

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