Forging Forever

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Chapter 30

Nissequogue, NY

September 6, 2015

Catherine crawled out of the hidey-hole and into the familiar territory of the attic. Despite the darkness, Catherine could tell that she had arrived home, to her time. The racks of period clothing had been replaced by old furniture. The mysterious chest was back in its place. She pulled her phone from her pocket and pushed the power button, praying that it had enough juice left for her to call her parents, to tell them she was okay. The phone turned on. There was less than ten percent remaining on the battery. It was just enough for her to call her parents. She dialed, only to be informed that there was no signal. Frustrated, she stormed out of the attic and into the hall, where she finally got a signal. Once again she dialed her mom’s cell number. The phone connected then started ringing. Seconds later she heard a Jake Owen song filtering from the guest bedroom her parents usually used. Her mom answered immediately, calling out her name repeatedly.

“Catherine! Catherine! Is that you? Honey, where are you?”

“Mom,” was all she could muster. Her parents were here. Were they waiting for her?

“Catherine? Oh thank God. Tell me where you are honey and I’ll come get you.”

Catherine heard her mom shake her dad awake. His sleepy voice immediately changed when Alex declared that Catherine was on the phone. Catherine could not force herself to answer. Of their own volition, her feet started walking down the hall until she reached her parents’ room. Slowly she turned the doorknob and pushed the door open. Both her parents sat up in bed, staring at the door in shock. Her parents’ stared at her for what seemed like an eternity but in reality was just a few seconds. The next thing she knew she had been engulfed in the arms of both her parents. Her mom cried in between broken words of relief and love. Her dad patted her hair and asked her if she was okay. Catherine merely nodded and accepted the attention. A long while later Alex reluctantly released her daughter.

“Are you okay sweetheart,” Alex asked.

“I’m home, that’s all that matters,” Catherine replied. She was working through her thoughts, trying to find the best way to tell her story; deciding what events she could include, what events she should omit.

“We’re so glad you’re back. We’ve missed you so much,” George declared.

“I’m glad to be back.” The statement wasn’t entirely false. She was glad to be back among her modern conveniences. She had missed showers and TV. She only wished she could have finished her task in the past. She allowed herself an internal smile as she thought of the misinformation she had fed Cameron. Annie did indeed get captured by British forces and die, but so did Cameron. She allowed herself an internal smile, they would be punished for their treatment of her. She only wished she could be there to see it. A part of her wondered if he’d even believe the lie. She fervently hope so.

“How did you get home? Did you see your sister,” Alex asked.

“I have so much to tell you and I promise to answer all of your questions. But mom, dad, I’m exhausted. Right now I crave a shower, normal clothes, and my bed. Can we talk in the morning?”

“Yes, of course. You need your rest. Here, I’ll walk you down to your room. Do you have clothes in there?”

“I think so. If not I can just borrow some of Annie’s.” Alex and Catherine walked down the hall to Catherine’s room. She turned on the light and opened her chest of drawers where she found some boxers and a t-shirt. It was all she would need for tonight. “Mom, I need a phone charger. My phone is pretty much dead.”

“Of course. You go take a shower. I’ll grab my extra one and put it on your nightstand.” Alex hugged Catherine tightly then left the room. Catherine went into her bathroom and turned on the water, stripped out of her clothes and tossed them aside, then stepped into the steaming hot shower. She stayed in there for a long time, just enjoying the feel of the hot water massaging her back. She took extra time washing her hair and nearly shouted with joy when she started to shave. Half an hour later she stepped out of the shower, dried off, then pulled on her pajamas. She brushed her teeth thoroughly then combed her long hair.

Alex was sitting in the desk chair when she finally went back into her room. Catherine’s phone sat atop the nightstand, plugged in and charging on her mom’s spare charger. “Is there anything else you need dear,” Alex asked.

“No thanks mom.” Catherine climbed onto her soft mattress.

“All right dear. If you change your mind come and get me, I don’t care what time it is.” Alex rubbed her hand across Catherine’s head. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too mom. Tell dad the same.”

“I will. You sleep as late as you need. We’ll have plenty of time to talk when you wake up.” Alex kissed her daughter on the cheek then left the room, turning off the lights and closing the door in the process.

Catherine laid awake for a while, thinking about the story she would tell her parents later. It had to be believable. Ideas swam through her head. Eventually she decided on her tale. She would stick as close to the truth as possible, changing only a few key details. By the time she was done her parents would see a far uglier side of their beloved Annie. Catherine finally allowed herself to drift off to sleep, a smile spread across her face.

Alex was restless and could not sleep. George snored peacefully beside her. He had gone to check on Catherine an hour ago. Once he came back he promptly fell into a deep sleep. Alex wished she had been able do the same, but something was bugging her. She was thrilled to have Catherine home, thankful that one of her girls had been returned to them. Now all they needed was Annie then their family would be whole once again.

Catherine’s evasiveness when she had started to ask questions worried her. She had claimed she was tired, she certainly had enough reason to be. Still, when Alex had looked into her daughter’s eyes she had seen anything but exhaustion; she had seen a bit of anger and worry. Something was definitely up.

Quietly Alex opened her nightstand drawer and pulled out Annie’s journal. She tip-toed out of the bedroom and down the stairs to the library. She turned on a lamp and sat down in one of the armchairs then thumbed through the journal until she found an entry dated September 6, 1780. Without hesitation, Alex began to read.

September 6, 1780

Mom, dad, I am writing this in the early hours of the morning. Last night was incredibly long and eventful. By now Catherine has returned to you. I am writing the circumstances of our meeting and ultimately her return to you. It all began at a ball thrown in honor of the newly arrived British soldiers. I was escorted by Major Andre. During the course of the party I overheard a whispered conversation between Major Andre and someone who is unknown to me. It was short, specifying a time and place for a secret meeting. Shortly after that we left the party. Once Major Andre dropped me off I changed clothes then left so that I could spy on the meeting. On my way there I had a strange feeling of being followed, but every time I looked there was no one to be found.

The rest of the journal related the details of the meeting, the drop, the confrontation in the woods, and finally Catherine’s return to the house.

I killed a man mom. I am not proud of the fact. Sleep has been an impossibility for me. Every time I close my eyes I see the dead soldier’s face and the fear in Catherine’s eyes. The actions I took to get Catherine home were not what I had hoped they would be. I have no doubt that she is angry with me. But I was presented with the opportunity to restore her to you and I used whatever means necessary to do that. Please forgive my actions and give my heartfelt apology to Catherine.

I should not have to remain here much longer. Once I am sure that General Arnold’s betrayal is found out I will return home to you, dad, and Catherine. Until then remember the words I have written here. As much as I love Catherine, I have no idea what she will say about me when she gets the chance. Her hurt runs deep and while I cannot understand the root of it, I only know it is there and must be dealt with. Unfortunately I was not able to give her the words she needs to hear. You, however, can. I suspect she will call me a murderer, which in truth is not a lie. Know that I did it only out of a desire to protect me, Catherine, and the country. I know your view of me will have changed by the time I get home. My view of myself has changed dramatically over these past few months. I am reminded of a quote from Alice in Wonderland: “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” I have found these words to be truer than you would think. I can’t go back to yesterday, I cannot change what I have done, but please, do not shut me out from your future.

Alex closed the journal, tears flowing down her eyes. First her daughter is shot, then her heart is torn between duty to her country and the knowledge that she was playing a crucial part in one man’s death, and to top it all off she had to defend herself against her own sister as well as kill a man to keep them both safe. It all sounded unbelievable to her, and yet she believed it completely. The closing words of the entry broke her heart. How could she think that they would shove her away because she killed a man in self-defense, or because she scared her sister? Alex did not really care about the means of Catherine’s return. All that mattered was she was back. Now, with a firm grasp on the attention her daughter needed perhaps, just perhaps she could begin to heal Catherine’s wounds and make her realize how special she truly is.

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