Trying to be sensitive to her feelings, Casey took his time before going back to the painting. He had all he could do to contain his eagerness to get started making the corrections. Before he picked up the palette and brushes, he said, “Would you mind making us some tea?”
Jeannette knew he was only asking for the tea to spare her the anxiety she was feeling inside but she agreed and went into the kitchen believing it was probably best she didn’t witness what could possibly happen. By the time the water boiled and she had the tea made, Casey had nearly completed all the changes. “You want it in there?” she called to him.
“No, I’ll have it in the kitchen,” he replied, needing a break from the mental stress of getting everything perfect.
For the first few minutes, neither of them spoke. Jeannette was the first to break the silence. “How’s the painting coming along?”
He smiled. “It’s almost finished.”
She took a sip of tea. “Maybe you should have finished it before coming in so you wouldn’t lose your concentration.”
Casey set his cup down. “I wanted to talk to you first.”
She wrinkled her brow. “About what?”
Casey cleared his throat. “I’ve been thinking. It might be best if you leave the house before I finish the painting.”
She didn’t understand. “Why? What difference would it make?”
“I honestly don’t know,” he shrugged, “but something tells me that if you’re here when I do, and if I hit it right and go back to my time and place, you’ll be trapped there with me.”
Jeannette sat back in the chair. It hadn’t occurred to her that she could be transported to a different time if Casey were to be successful. She would be the trapped soul in that case and, most likely, with no way of ever getting back. She sighed heavily.
“You’re right, it might be best if I wait in the yard,” she finally managed to say.
Casey reached out and touched her arm. “I don’t believe you can be on the property at all. I think it best you go home. It’s the only way I believe you’ll be safe.”
Jeannette stared into his eyes and knew with all her heart that he was trying to protect her from the pain and agony he was suffering from having been torn away from everything familiar and dear to him. She lowered her eyes. He was right, of course, yet something inside her was frightened. She was frightened that she wouldn’t get her own Casey back.
She straightened her shoulders. “I guess I should be going then. I can only imagine how eager you are to get back home.” She stood up.
Casey got up and walked her out to the gate. “It’s probably best you go home so that you don’t have any residual effects touching you.”
She stood on tiptoes and kissed his cheek, choking back the tears that threatened to spill down her cheeks. “I wish you the best and hope you find the happiness you deserve.” She turned and walked away.
Casey watched her until she disappeared around some bushes. Glancing at the house, he could see the new changes already in place and his hopes were once again accelerated. He hurried into the house and resumed putting in all the final details. When he finished, he made his way outside and looked everything over. The changes had definitely been made but beyond his yard, everything else had remained the same.
His mind and heart in turmoil, Casey shuffled back into the house where he picked up the photograph and carried it into the kitchen. After hours of studying the picture, he resigned himself to the couch and fell asleep.
It was daylight when Casey woke up. Still somber from his failure, he forced himself up and made a cup of coffee. The photograph was where he had left it and his first reaction was to tear it to shreds, but common sense told him that the photo was the only thing he had to link him to his own time.
While drinking his coffee, he moved outside and squinted from the bright morning sun.
“Looks like you tied on a good one last night. Hope it was worth it.”
Casey opened his eyes wider in time to see the mailman closing the mailbox. He rushed to the fence and was thrilled to see the traffic and people and knew he had succeeded. Closing his eyes from the sun, he tilted his head back and whispered, “Thank you. Thank you for bringing me home.”
April 9, 2015