Chapter Five

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"End of the line!"

I startled as the voice called again, though I could find no person to go with it; not at first. "Wishing Cross Station! All passengers must disembark!"

The conductor opened the door and poked his head into the car. "This is your stop, son."

"Yeah...I guess it is." I quickly stuffed the book into my backpack, not taking time to wrap it up first. "Thank you, sir."

He seemed to take no note of how strange my clothing was compared to his: jeans and a black turtleneck, brown bomber jacket, and beat up boots to match.

"Did you bring any bags?" the conductor asked.

"Just what I'm carrying."

"Very good." He watched as I slowly descended the stairs to the platform.

My eyes widened as I saw the station, just as I had imagined it might really be back in 1880.

"Welcome to Wishing Cross," he added, saluting me casually. "Nowhere else out there quite like it. I hope you enjoy your stay."

"Thank you." I wandered away from him, casting a glance back at the Aurelia Belle. Steam rose in tendrils from the engine yet, and it still smelled like heaven to me.

Snow was falling fast, flying in all directions at once upon a fierce wind. I zipped up my jacket and stuck my hands in my pockets to try to fight the cold.

There were people moving about the station, but no one seemed to take much notice of me. Their clothing seemed to be historically accurate, at least if Professor Mann's lectures on the era from last semester's American History class were to be believed. Women wore elaborate walking suits with bustles and skirts to the ground; children were attired for everyday as if they were dressed up for Easter Sunday back home.

Back home, I thought. How far away was home, and would I ever get back now if I really had just traveled through time?

I looked around, searching for something to help me wrap my mind around the place I seemed to be in, but I couldn't find it. Finally I spied a slate board nearby. I blinked several times to be certain I was reading it right. It indicated the date was December 1, 1880.

This can't be...

"Marigold!" A voice called from the distance, as a woman raised the curtain on the window of the ticket booth and began pounding on the glass. She leaned down and stuck her mouth up to the small opening in the bottom, shouting louder. "Marigold!"

A young woman, rushing past with a large basket in her hands, paused upon hearing the voice. "Yes, Helen?"

"Hurry up with the Christmas decorations. Once they're all out of storage, I promised Jeremiah and Joseph they could help decorate the big tree."

"I'm almost done, one more trip," the girl said, and as I approached the booth to try to see if there were any way to 'purchase' a ticket to get back, she turned and headed straight at me.

We were about to collide when I held out my arms and just barely touched hers, just enough to stop her from plowing into me with what looked like an extremely fragile basket of ornaments and tree trimmings.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," she said, not looking up at me right away. "Clumsy, stupid of me, as usual. My apologies, sir."

"It's all right, no harm done," I assured her, and something in my tone caused her to look up at me now from beneath the brim of her simple, charming hat.

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