(This is my latest revision of the porch story from Ashland. I would appreciate ANY feedback and critique. It's my first long story, so I know there is work to be done on it.)
Sonia's Regret - Part 1
The happiest day of her life was finally here. Sonia studied her reflection in the mirror as she slowly twirled, marveling at the beauty of the simple pale ivory wedding dress. It had taken six months of saving to buy the material and beads, and another three to complete the dress.
She clasped the pendant around her neck. Its sapphire stone glowed in the filtered light of the room. It was a family heirloom. Just not hers.
Her red lips pursed in concern. She had borrowed the necklace from her employer to wear at her wedding today. Sonia worked as Mrs. Mendez’ housekeeper and had meant to ask her permission, but she had not returned home before Sonia left yesterday.
Marco had objected and told her to return it immediately. But just this once she would do what she wanted. It was so beautiful around her neck. She would return the pendant to its special place in the jewelry box as soon as she and Marco got back from their honeymoon. It would only be for the weekend, she assured herself. Certainly Mrs. Mendez wouldn’t mind if she borrowed it for such a special day.
A flash of brilliant color flooded the room as her sister entered. She was stunning in her vibrant jeweled-tone green dress. Her sister was her best friend, and would stand proudly with her at the altar today.
As the music began they moved together to the chapel entrance. Inside, a small group had gathered to witness and celebrate their union.
Marco smiled at her from the altar as she slowly walked to meet him, his eyes never leaving her face. He clasped her hand, and as they turned to face the priest, his attention was caught by the blue sparkle at her throat. His eyes widened as he stared at it, then he looked back into her eyes. They had agreed she would return it immediately when she admitted to him that she had borrowed it without permission. Stolen it, he said.
As his smile faded, Sonia felt his censure and disapproval. She knew she had spoiled this special day by wearing the pendant and not honoring their agreement. Her voice trembled as she repeated her vows. When the minister asked Marco if he would take her as his wife, he hesitated, then withdrew his hand from hers and whispered “No, I cannot.”
Tears clouded her vision as she turned and ran down the aisle to the outside. She pulled off the pendant and flung it away. It glittered in the sunlight as it tumbled in the air and disappeared into the opening of a sewer grate in front of the church.
Filled with remorse and regret, she ran blindly into the street, not knowing what direction to go. Hearing a shout and the squeal of brakes, she looked up just as the bus knocked her to the ground, its momentum and weight crushing her beneath. Her last thoughts were of Marco. Her foolishness had cost her the love and trust of her soul mate and in turn, her life.
If only she could turn the clock hands backward a day. She would do the right thing. “I’ll love you forever through time,” she whispered with her last breath.
Sonia’s Regret - Part 2
Elisa watched herself in the mirror as she twirled in her pale ivory wedding dress. This should be the happiest day of her life. In less than an hour she was to marry Miguel, the man of her dreams, the friend of her childhood. But something wasn’t quite right. She couldn’t explain the feeling, and it was distracting her from the celebration that would define her future.
A soft knock sounded on the door to her dressing room. She did not recognize the anxious silver-haired lady standing before her. Her eyes spoke of sorrow and despair.
"May I help you?” she asked.
The elderly lady unclasped the sapphire pendant necklace she was wearing and gently clasped it around Elisa’s neck, whispering, “I am Sonia. Please right the wrong.”
As Elisa took hold of the pendant to admire it, she was suddenly enveloped in a swirling black whorl, falling and falling. She looked up at the mysterious lady only to see her disappear like smoke in the air. “Miguel,” she called. “Oh, Miguel.”
As if awakening from a dream, Elisa found herself in a parlor of a beautiful home. Nothing looked familiar, neither the place nor the housekeeping dress she was wearing. She looked down at the dust rag in her hand. What is going on? Where am I?
She was startled by a loud knocking at the door. She opened it to a young man, who looked remarkably like Miguel.
"Come on, Sonia. Your workday is over. I’ll walk you home,” he said. “We still have some wedding plans to finish.”
He seemed not to question who she was. Her heart was beating double time, and her mind was racing to figure out what was happening.
“Just a minute,” she said as she ducked down a different hallway, giving herself some time and space. She passed a large pewter framed mirror and stopped to stare. The vision reflected looked remarkably like her, but not exactly. She touched her face, then rubbed her eyes and looked back at her image. It was real. This can’t be happening.
She pushed through a set of swinging doors and found herself in a kitchen. She clutched the counter and leaned forward. The cool tile under her hands helped her focus. She thought back to her wedding day and remembered the silver-haired lady placing the blue pendant around her neck. She had said her name was Sonia and she pleaded with her to right the wrong. Is that why I am here? What is “the wrong”?
“This can’t be happening to me,” she said out loud. “It’s my wedding day.”
“Sonia, are you ready yet?” came the voice from the front room.
Looking around the kitchen, she spotted a small desk in the corner. She moved towards it to see if there was anything to explain where she was. A newspaper was carelessly tossed on top of the other papers on the desk. The date was June 20, 1960. That can’t be. She pushed aside the paper and a handwritten wedding announcement sat on top of a calendar. The wedding date was June 22, 1960 for Sonia and Marco. The calendar echoed June 1960. Sonia and Marco! No, this can’t be happening.
The bottom dropped out of her stomach. Had she gone back in time to1960 as Sonia, the silver-haired lady with the pendant? What was she supposed to do here? Would she ever be able to return to 2010 and her wedding day? She thought of Miguel waiting for her at the altar, and his reaction when she could not be found. She felt despair welling up inside her. She slammed both fists down on the counter. This can't be happening to me.
Fear had her hyperventilating. She had to calm down. Her panic wasn’t helping. She was usually good in tense situations, but this was over the top. She evened her breathing and looked around hoping for a way out.
“Sonia,” he called, his voice impatient now.
Should she leave out the back door and run away? No, she had no idea where she was. Her best bet would be to stay with Marco and give herself some time. She was sent here for a reason and she had to figure out what it was, and fast.
Since I must look enough like Sonia to pass his inspection, I’ll see where he takes me.
She seemed to know where to put the housekeeping supplies away in the pantry. She grabbed the purse sitting there and left the room. She wasn’t sure how she knew it was hers, but she felt a sense of urgency to pick it up and take it with her.
As she walked from the hallway into the foyer, the front door opened and a middle aged gentleman entered the room.
"Hello Marco! Hello Sonia! The wonderful day is almost here,” he said.
“Yes, Mr. Mendez. In two days time we will be man and wife,” Marco replied. “Thank you for giving Sonia the next few days off. After the wedding we will be going away for the weekend.”
She bent as if to tie her shoe to hide her face as best she could.
"Goodbye and thank you, Mr. Mendez,” she said speaking down to the floor, repeating the name Marco used. Did I sound like Sonia? What am I going to do? What will he do when he figures out I’m not Sonia?
Marco grabbed her arm to help her up and ushered her out the door, starting off down the long driveway.
“You’re awfully quiet, Sonia love. Are you worried about the wedding?”
“I haven’t finished my dress yet,” she said. Where did that come from? How did I know that I hadn’t finished sewing the beads on the wedding dress? Things were familiar, yet they weren’t.
"I will make us dinner tonight so you can finish sewing,” Marco said.
They walked to a small house not too far from the Mendez home, and she followed him through the front door. The room was decorated not unlike her own home. The natural light from the windows showed off the brightly colored furniture positioned comfortably around the room and the pleasing art work dotting the walls.
She walked down the hallway towards the back of the house. One of the doors was open to a bedroom and she saw a skirt and blouse lying on the bed. Sonia must have left them there when she changed into her housekeeping uniform earlier. Elisa took off the uniform and put them on. They fit perfectly. Well, of course they would.
The wedding dress was hanging in the closet. It was beautiful and looked very much like the one she would be wearing to marry Miguel. A dish of beads was sitting by the makeshift sewing table. Thread and needles were anchored in the round velvet covered pincushion nestled inside a wooden cup.
She remembered the silver-haired lady’s voice saying, “I am Sonia. You must right the wrong.” Is that why I am here? This will never work. How can I right a wrong when I have no idea what it is? It all looks so perfect. What did Sonia do wrong?
Her attention was caught by the purse sitting on the chair. She was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. What secrets did it hold? She grabbed it and dumped its contents out on the bed. The sparkle of the blue sapphire pendant lit up the room with its brilliance. Oh my God! She knew in an instant it belonged to Mrs. Mendez.
She was so stunned that she didn’t hear Marco come up behind her. “Where did you get that? I have never seen it before,” he said.
She thought furiously of something to explain the pendant in her possession. That had to be it. When she had touched it last she remembered feeling as if she was being lifted up and swirled away through a black tunnel. She knew she had been sent back 50 years to right the wrong.
“I borrowed it from Mrs. Mendez’s jewelry box today. She didn’t return home for me to ask her, but I was sure she wouldn’t mind if I borrowed it to wear at our wedding,” she said uncertainly.
“You didn’t ask her? She doesn’t know you took it today?” Marco said loudly with an astonished look on his face. “Sonia-Elisa, what you did is stealing. You must return it immediately. How can a bauble be that important to you to risk so much. I thought I knew you. Now I am not so sure,” he said as he left the room, then the house.
You are right Marco. I have to figure out how to return the sapphire pendant and right the wrong for your Sonia. Then I hope I can get back to my world and my wedding day. Wait, did he call me Sonia-Elisa? Are Miguel and I the reincarnation of Sonia and Marco? Does making this right somehow change our future?
Elisa had to return the pendant before it was discovered missing. But how was she to do that without getting caught? She straightened her back, took the purse and headed toward the front door. A plate of cookies sat on the kitchen table. She took two and put them in her pocket. She wasn’t hungry now, but she might be later. She shook her head as she walked out the door. She didn’t have a clue how she was going to return the pendant, but she had to try.
Elisa walked the unfamiliar, yet somehow familiar road to the Mendez home, clutching the purse in her hand nervously. It was just dusk, but there was plenty of light to see her way. When she was almost to the Mendez home, a car pulled out of their driveway heading toward her. She ducked behind a hedge and watched as Mr. Mendez drove away with a lady his age beside him in the car.
She walked up the driveway and skirted around the detached garage to watch the house. She saw no activity for the half an hour she stood there. Just as she got ready to move towards the back door, an older lady dressed in a light coat walked out with something in her hand. She headed towards the shed behind the house. She heard barking in greeting. Oh no, they have a dog! Now what am I going to do?
Elisa could hear the lady speaking to the dog and it quieted down. She reappeared and slowly made her way down the driveway. Good she was leaving. Now if I can just get inside the house without attracting the dog’s attention.
She waited a few more minutes and quietly approached the back door. It looked like the kitchen entrance she had seen when she was in the house that afternoon. She heard the growl and looked up to see the dog standing at the edge of the shed watching her. He appeared to be tied up. Don’t bark, don’t bark. “Good dog,” she said quietly. He continued to watch her, and gave another low growl as she tried the door handle. Locked. Think, think! Window, is there an open window?
She skirted the back of the home keeping an eye on the dog and tried the window at the side of the porch. No luck. The dog barked once as she continued around the house to the front.
She tried the front door, already knowing it would be locked. Then, she remembered there was a key among the things she had seen in the purse. Digging around, she found it at the bottom. She tried it in the front door lock. It didn’t fit. Ok, now what?
She had to try the back door. That would be the housekeeper’s entrance. But that meant facing the dog once again. She had to replace the pendant! She was sure their futures depended on its successful return. She looked around the corner. The dog was still there watching her. She took the cookies out of her pocket and approached him. He didn’t look mean and his tail was wagging. She tossed the cookies on the ground in front of him and quickly backed toward the door.
Elisa slid the key into the lock and turned it. It opened! She was inside the house in a second, closing the door soundlessly. She breathed a sigh of relief, and rubbed her stomach. Her nerves were on the edge and her hands were shaking.
She had to find the master bedroom and the jewelry box. Walking upstairs she approached double doors at the end of the hallway. Once inside, she knew this was the room she needed. Elisa moved toward the huge dresser with the grand jewelry box sitting on top. She opened the box, pulled the pendant by its chain out of the purse, and placed it in an empty spot.
Then she heard car doors closing. Oh no, they were home already. She knew the Mendez’s would enter the house through the front door. If she left through the back door, it would cause the dog to start barking and she was out of cookies. Elisa was in a complete panic. She would be caught and would ruin Marco and Sonia’s day and she would not have righted the wrong she was sent to do.
The blue stone flashed and twinkled, as if talking to her. She reached out and touched it. I’m sorry Sonia. Once again she felt herself enveloped in a swirling back whorl. As she lost consciousness, she called Miguel’s name.
Sonia’s Regret – Part 3
Elisa slowly awoke with a sense of confusion. “Miguel?”
"She’s awake,” she heard her sister say excitedly.
Opening her eyes, she found herself lying on a cot in her wedding dress, with Miguel kneeling beside her, holding her hand. Tears of relief were evident in her sister’s eyes.
“What happened, Elisa,” she asked. “When I came into the room and found you unconscious on the floor, I ran to find Miguel and brought him here. We called for the Doctor when we couldn’t awaken you.”
“It’s been the longest 15 minutes of my life,” said Miguel.
Elisa slowly looked around the room. “Did you see a silver-haired lady when you were coming to the room,” she asked. “A guest named Sonia?”
“No one was in the hallway. I know of no guest on our list named Sonia, nor have I seen a lady with silver hair,” Miguel said. “Are you feeling all right? Do we need to take you to the hospital?”
“Let me sit up for a minute.” It had all seemed so real to her. “I had the most unusual experience. I’m not sure what happened.” She reached up to touch the pendant around her neck, but it was not there. Her look was one of confusion, then relief. It must have worked. She must have completed Sonia’s request. She smiled into Miguel's eyes.
“Do you feel well enough to continue with our wedding day, my love?” asked Miguel.
“But of course, I can’t miss the most wonderful day of my life,” she said, suddenly feeling very strong and sure of their future together. "I'll love you forever through time."