Chapter Twenty-Seven

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I made my way out of the historical park as soon as I could and began the long walk back to my car. On the way, I passed a bank with a flashing sign bearing the date. It said 4:55 AM, December 25, 2015.

I struggled to unlock the door, my hands shaking, and slid down into the seat.

I began pounding the steering wheel with my fists, so hard I thought I might break it.

I swore, I screamed, I cursed time and space itself for taking us away from each other.

Still, I did not cry.

I wondered what changes, if any, to current times would happen because I'd gone back. I wondered if she ever felt loved, truly, because I had loved her.

I feared the greatest proof of our outcome was memorialized forever in a statue that had not existed at Wishing Cross Heritage Railroad before I went back to 1880.

Just as Aurelia Belle's history had been written once and for all after her death, the last stroke of the pen had now also concluded Marigold's story, and I was the only one who knew, who really understood, what the book of her life had meant.

How I would face tomorrow was completely beyond my comprehension.

I only knew I would never love anyone in my life the way that I loved Marigold Belle, daughter of J. Howard Fox.

I rummaged through my backpack, seeking something that had sunk to the bottom: the little toy model of the locomotive. I focused on the faded initials on its side, and then closed my eyes and grasped it in my hand, willing it to have magical powers. Wishing it could somehow bring her back to me, or make it possible for me to go back to her.

I thought about throwing it away, but I couldn't do it. Keeping it would serve as a reminder of all that had been, things I never wanted to forget.

The statue at Wishing Cross Heritage Railroad may be a monument in death to the woman I knew, but my love will remain, as long as I draw breath, a testament to her life.

April 2, 2016

I went to Wishing Cross Heritage Railroad tonight...for the first time since the mighty Aurelia Belle brought me back.

I listened to her cries as she circled her track, and mourned, as she did, Time's lost daughters.

I hid in her pit after dark.

I held Marigold's necklace in my hands, and I waited.

Nothing happened.

I remained there until the first light of day shone through the windows of the roundhouse, and I knew I'd get caught if I stayed.

I secured the necklace around my throat again, and I left that place without stopping for a moment to stare at her statue, her image frozen so still, even though spring was starting to bloom on the land surrounding it.

It was lifeless. Flawless.

Devastating.

I left the Park certain of one thing. I would keep the promise Marigold once made me.

I will always wait.


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