What the —?
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Below.
It was one of those moments when it felt like the air had been sucked out of the room. Talk about teleportation!
There’s a scene at the end of a Christopher Reeve/ Jane Seymour movie, Somewhere in Time, where he reaches into his pocket and finds a present-day penny, which yanks him out of his time travel romance. Last night, at two in the morning, something happened that felt like that. I’d fallen asleep on the sofa and realized rather suddenly that something was in the room that shouldn’t have been. A book.
I later, rather nervously, asked the girls if they knew anything about the book. Aislinn did. She’d discovered it in my extensive library of history, New Age, fantasy, esoterica, science, philosophy, and some fiction, currently residing in my guest room. It’s well-worn. It’s been read many times. Inside the cover is a store stamp for a bookstore in Lake Worth, Florida.
In 1991, a short fantasy novel called The Sleep of Stone, by Louise Cooper, was published. I found the book while at a writer’s conference. We were given a tour of different new/used bookstores and the cover and premise caught my attention. I’ve always liked shape-shifter stories, though this one was a bit of a downer in hindsight. I bought the book on a whim to see if I liked the author and discovered I liked most of her works, the latter of which I bought new. This copy was used, with a store stamp inside for a bookstore in Lake Worth, Florida.
I took the book with me on a business trip to the West Coast and read it on the plane. I’d left it in my purse and had it with me during our business meetings.
I remember the contractor we visited, the California town we were in, the hotel we stayed in, the fighter-pilot- engineer accompanying me as my program manager and whom I fixed up with a friend of mine who dated him for a long time, the YAG lasers, the company vice-president’s office. I remember, too, the man whose office/reception area we were in talking about not being able to find a good book to read and I started to hand him The Sleep of Stone from my purse but thought better of it. I didn’t want the “tough guys” in the room with us to make fun of him or kid me about the book. Instead, as I left, I quietly removed the book from my purse and slipped it between the cushions of the chair he offered me, where he usually sat. I knew he’d find it. As I left the room, I glanced over my shoulder and saw it there, peeking out just barely, and I smiled to myself that I’d passed along a good read. My program manager and I went directly to the airport and I never saw anyone at that contractor’s office again. And I never saw the book again.
Until last night.