The Pocket Watch(9)

By: Ceci Giltenan



She had never been the brunt of such intense anger. “I-I’m sorry.” Her voice sounded strange to her. Well of course it does Maggie, it’s not your voice.

“Ye’re sorry?” he growled through clenched teeth. “Ye have no idea how close ye came to killing yerself and the horse, do ye? That wee rise ye were charging up there drops sharply into the river on the other side. If ye had topped it going at that speed ye both would have been killed. While I’m not sure ye would have been any great loss, this is a fine horse who doesn’t deserve to die by the actions of a foolish, defiant woman.”

He stood over her like an avenging angel. She tried to speak. “I-I…”

“I don’t want to hear yer selfish excuses. Are ye hurt?”

Stupid question. Does anyone fall off a horse without getting hurt? Ah, well, perhaps huge men who appeared to be hewn from granite did. “I don’t think so.”

“Get up then. We’ll have to walk back to the keep. Yer beast is winded and terrified.”

Maggie was terrified too. Who was this man? Cellphone, cellphone, just say it. The old woman wasn’t delusional. Maggie had no idea where, or perhaps more importantly, when she was. Things were happening too fast for her to process much, and yet she had registered the fact that he had said keep. That was part of a castle. She could stay long enough to see a real castle before she went home. How could she miss that? And walking was good. She wouldn’t care if she never rode a horse again.

“I said get up. Is something the matter with ye?”

“N-nay.”

“Then do it.” As irritated as he sounded, he offered her a hand.

Accepting his help, she stood and was nearly overcome by dizziness. She put her head in her hands and groaned.

“Ye said ye weren’t injured.” He said.

As furious as he was, and it sounded as if he had every right to be furious with her, she was touched that he showed her any concern at all. “I must have hit my head. It doesn’t hurt,” much, “I just got a bit dizzy standing. I’ll be fine.” Because as soon as I see the castle, I will cellphone-home.

His brows drew together.

“Really. I’ll be fine.”

He gave a single nod. “Then we’ll go.” Without another word, he turned and walked away, leading both horses and leaving her to follow.

As she walked, she tried to process her surroundings. He wasn’t actually wearing a dress, it was a full-sleeved, dark brown linen tunic, which was belted at the waist. It stopped at his knees, exposing his muscular calves. His shoes were leather but were open over the top of his foot and held on with laces.

She wore a similar garment but hers was white and reached the ground. She had another sleeveless garment over it that fit snugly to her waist before flaring out. It was a rosy color with elaborate embroidery at the neck and hem. The undergarment next to her skin felt like silk. She lifted her skirts to see her shoes. They were a buttery soft leather with pointy toes, held on with a lace at the ankles. She smiled, remembering how her mother hated wearing “pointy toes” because she believed life was too short to wear uncomfortable shoes. These shoes however were soft and didn’t hurt her feet.

She had the sense of weight pulling on her aching head. Rubbing the spot that hurt, she realized she had an exceeding long braid down her back. She’d always wanted long hair like this but she had no idea how heavy it would feel.

Back to the problem at hand, based on their clothing she guessed she was somewhere in Europe in the middle ages. Her clothes suggested that she was from the upper classes. Gertrude had said she would go back at least a hundred years but Maggie was fairly sure she was five hundred years or more in the past.

The sky was a mass of gray clouds. Not the kind that signaled a coming storm, just a dull day. They walked up a long, gently sloping hill, the land around them lushly green between the rocky areas. The topography told her she was probably in northern or Western Europe as opposed to the Mediterranean region.

Very soon Maggie found herself breathless and struggling to keep up. She was reasonably fit and normally this wouldn’t have been a difficult walk for her. Again she had to remind herself that this wasn’t her body. Perhaps the person she had become was not used to exercise. Then again, she had been thrown from a horse minutes ago. It didn’t help that the man’s strides were long while Maggie herself was at least five inches shorter than she had been in the twenty-first century. Whatever the reason was, she couldn’t maintain this pace. She had a stitch in her side and breathing deeply hurt—definitely a cracked rib. She stopped to catch her breath. Her companion, whoever he was, didn’t seem to notice immediately.

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