Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A Chapter by Hadsen
"

Here's Chapter 1. If you like it and would like me to post more chapters, let me know! Please review (the good, the bad, the ugly; it's all welcome ;) ). Without further ado, let's kick this pig!

"

Chapter 1

May 15, 1904

Andrew McGregor descended the ladder as the first few drops of rain began to fall.  He had, luckily, just finished installing the final window in his new home.  He turned to tell his hired hand to head home before the weather worsened, when his attention was arrested by the sound of a deafening roar.  Andrew turned his gaze skyward and watched in horror as a monstrous funnel cloud dropped down a half of a mile north of where he stood.  Terror clutched his heart in an icy grasp.  “Oh, my God! Missy!”  Andrew shouted.  His fiancé had left a half an hour earlier to walk her favorite path on the prairies north of town. 

Andrew bolted to the stable and mounted his horse, not bothering to saddle it.  He raced through the now pelting rain toward Missy’s father’s home, hoping against hope that she was safely there, taking shelter.  The quarter mile ride seemed to him to be interminable.  Finally arriving in front of the house, he quickly dismounted his horse, knowing that the well-trained animal would stand and wait for him or seek shelter if there were any danger.  He pounded on the door, and upon receiving no answer pushed it open and ran inside.  “Mr. Leighton!”  Andrew’s deep voice called.

“Andrew!” Mr. Leighton answered. The wiry, panicked-looking, gray-haired man appeared at the top of the cellar stairs. “Is Missy with you, Andrew?” the older man asked, frantically.

 The wave of panic caused by Mr. Leighton’s reply hit Andrew like a punch. “No,” he said hoarsely, “no she is not.” Guilt and fear washed over him, and he briefly closed his eyes against the onslaught of emotion and raised a hand to his forehead in disbelief. For a moment, it felt as if the room were collapsing around him, but upon opening his eyes, he saw that the four walls of the house were still standing and that complete silence had taken the place of the ferocious roar of the storm outside.  He couldn’t help but feel dread at the thought that the collapsing he had obviously imagined may very well have been the once-sturdy walls of the life he had planned, collapsing around him in ruin.  Andrew quickly strode toward the door, “Missy went for a walk; she wanted to watch the storm and see if there would be a rainbow afterward.  I was too busy with the house and couldn’t go with her. I asked her not to go far, to keep an eye on the weather and to be careful.  It’s my fault she went alone!  We have to search for her! She could be injured or worse,” he nearly shouted.  When he didn’t immediately hear a response, Andrew turned to see Missy’s father still standing at the top of the stairs, stunned.

The older man swallowed visibly as he nodded his head and spoke slowly, “I’ll round up some help to form a search party.” 

Andrew nodded, and hurriedly left the house, mounting his horse and riding off to search for Missy. 

 

May 15, 1905, one year later…

Andrew sat down heavily on the cool, stone bench beneath the enormous cottonwood tree and leaned, exhausted against the massive trunk.  He ran his hand through his short, dark hair, letting the incessant wind of the Nebraska prairies cool him.  It was unseasonably warm for May, near one hundred degrees.  He had walked the mile and a half from his home near the town center in the afternoon heat to the prairie cemetery on the outskirts of town, choosing to forgo the use of his horse or carriage for the therapeutic effect of a long, solitary walk. He stared at the smooth, gray marble of the rounded stone in front of him, and focused his eyes on the carved letters that formed the name of the only woman he had ever loved, shaded under the cottonwood trees she had adored.

 As owner and president of a bank, Andrew normally kept strict hours at work, but on this day, the one-year anniversary of the unimaginable tragedy that had changed his life, he had found it impossible to keep his attention focused on the work before him. He had left at noon and gone home to quickly change clothes, informing his housekeeper, Mrs. Hansen that he would return before dinner.  Andrew’s goal today, was to attempt to put to rest the events of the past four years, and hopefully, if possible, move on with his life.  Impossible as that felt, it was what Melissa would have wanted. In fact, he was fairly certain that she would be extremely angry with him right now if she could see the way he had been living this past year. Only voluntarily leaving the house to go to work, foregoing any social invitations, and going for long, solitary walks, dwelling, miserably, on what could have been, what should have been for them.  Andrew slumped forward, resting his elbows on his knees and cradled his forehead in his hands.

He would never forget the day, four years ago, when he had approached his father about moving west, and starting a new life.  He was bored with life in Boston; he loathed the social obligations which plagued him there and wished for a life of more substance.  He dreaded the thought of being shackled to a social climber who would not truly love or want him; only his money and looks. Aside from being the second born son of an old and prominent Beacon Hill family, he was independently wealthy in his own right. Upon his mother’s death, two years earlier, she had left Andrew the entirety of her inheritance to do with as he saw fit, and when in the care of Andrew’s careful and brilliant financial mind, the inheritance had increased threefold in that time, and promised to continue to do so. 

Upon this unexpected request, Andrew’s father had looked at him thoughtfully for several moments before telling Andrew that he would have his decision by the next morning.  Andrew had inclined his head respectfully, turned and left his father’s study.  His father’s approval notwithstanding, he fully intended to go west.  From what he had read and heard tell from those who had traveled there, it was a land, rich with opportunity, beauty and promise.

 Upon graduating from Harvard University, Andrew had begun to work at the bank where he then held the position of vice president.  He loved his work, and he was good at it.  It had only taken him five years to move from loan officer to the more prominent position in the bank.  His plan was to open his own financial institution, far away from the busy streets and scheming socialites of the city he hated, and to settle under the vast skies and endless, beautiful prairies of the Midwest. 

The next morning, Andrew had been surprised by his father’s decision.  Although he was sorry to see his youngest son move so far away, his father had been proud of the courage and independence of spirit it must have taken to even consider such an endeavor.  His father, therefore, agreed to not only give Andrew’s plans his blessing, but to provide the funds for his son to establish a bank at the location of Andrew’s choice. 

After arriving in Omaha, Nebraska, Andrew had taken the short line rail to Norfolk, and settled and built his bank in the quintessential, small Midwestern town of Brighton, ten miles away.  It was also during his first year in Brighton that he met the beautiful Miss Melissa Leighton.  Her beautiful, softly curved figure, sparkling blue eyes and golden blonde hair had caught his attention, but it was her beautiful mind, brilliant intellect and loving heart that had held it.  Within a month of knowing her, he had, for the first time in his life, fallen in love.  A year later, she had made him happier than he ever could have imagined by agreeing to become his wife.  That year and the two years that followed, had been blissful in their perfection.  Every moment not spent at the bank had been spent either with Missy (as he called her) or, when not with her, working on building a home for her.

They had loved walking, hand in hand­ through the tall, golden grasses of the beautiful, windblown prairies, talking of their future or finding shade beneath the giant cottonwood trees; those giants of the prairies which thrived along creeks and rivers, standing as symbols of fortitude and defiance of circumstance, which Missy had held a certain fascination and love for.  When not with her, he worked diligently on their future home.  They had planned to marry after he had completed building their home �" a beautiful, sprawling, three-story Victorian house.  He built it facing the east, not only so that they could wake together each morning to the sight of the beautiful Nebraska sunrise, but also so that the multitude of beveled, leaded glass windows would catch the morning sunlight and cast dozens of tiny rainbows over the walls and floors.  He remembered picturing how delighted Missy would be to see the rainbows she loved when she awoke to her first morning as his wife in the home he had built for her with his own hands.  And love them she did; when storms rolled across the prairies, Missy would excitedly watch the sky for a glimpse of the beautiful and frequent rainbows.  Having been born and raised back east, Andrew was slightly wary of Missy’s love for the violent weather which seemed to plague the prairies during the months of April through September.  However, he quickly learned that a person could get used to anything.  Even agony.

 It was during one of those storms, one year ago, that his life had turned into a dark void, resembling the bleak and scarred landscape that the twisters were known to leave in their wake.  Missy and Andrew had planned to meet that Sunday at the house construction site for a walk.  He however, along with a hired man who was assisting with the heavier aspects of building the house, had been in the middle of installing the final window, a large, oval one on the north staircase landing.  It was proving to be particularly difficult to finish. When Andrew saw Missy’s figure walking toward the building site, he made sure that the worker assisting him had a firm grip on it before he quickly descended the ladder to regretfully inform Missy that he would be unable to join her for their planned walk that afternoon.  He wanted to finish his work with the window before rain in the overcast skies began to fall. 

Missy, smilingly, had looked into his eyes, and with a teasing half-smile, stood on her tip-toes to lightly kiss the deeply-etched frown on his lips.  Breaking into a wide grin, Andrew had held her there, close to him for a moment, before she pulled away slightly to look up at the house, their future home, her arms still around his waist.  “It is beautiful, Andrew, nearly finished,” Missy said with a bright smile. “It’s perfect…just like you.” She looked back up at him and placed her right hand over his heart and moved her left up to trace the line of his jaw in a soft caress. “And I can’t wait to begin our life together.  I love you, with all my heart and I promise that I will, always, no matter what difficulties may come.”  Andrew had looked deeply into Missy’s eyes at those words as a strange and unfamiliar feeling of fear crept into his heart, a feeling which he had quickly brushed away as ridiculous. 

“I love you, too my Missy”, Andrew replied, slowly tracing a line with the back of his fingers from her waist, over her ribs and shoulder to caress the soft skin of her cheek before tucking a wind-blown golden curl behind her ear. “I always will.  I’ll always be with you, no matter when or where.  I only regret that I can’t at this moment, but unfortunately, it looks like rain and I still have to finish the window.”  With one final, quick kiss, Missy pulled away with a smile.

“Don’t worry, Andrew.  I’ll go alone, and I’ll stay close to home.  After all, it looks like we could have a dandy of a storm this afternoon, and I wouldn’t want to miss that, now would I?” She asked, raising a teasing eyebrow.

“Missy!” Andrew called as she turned to walk away.  Missy turned to face him, one hand shading her beautiful, jewel blue eyes, “Be careful.  I love you”.

“Always”, she replied with a soft smile as she turned once again to walk away. 

That had been the last time that he had seen his beloved Missy alive. 

A half of an hour later, on that terrible afternoon, a powerful tornado hit without warning, missing the small town by a mere quarter of a mile, and destroying everything in its path.  It had later been discovered that the young Melissa Leighton, only 23 years old, had been out walking on the edge of the prairie, over she and Andrew’s favorite path when the storm had hit. Missy had attempted to take shelter in a dry creek bed, beneath a cottonwood tree, the lowest point she could find, but the giant tree had been no match for the tornado, and it had fallen and crushed the girl. 

 

Andrew jerked upright, pulling himself back into the present and out of the black abyss that had been the past year of his life.  He quickly wiped away the embarrassing tears that ran freely down his face and rose from the bench.  Walking slowly forward, he placed his hand on the cold marble of the grave stone, the only physical link remaining to the woman he loved, would ever truly love, and gazed with blurry eyes at the engraving found there. It read, ‘Melissa Anne Leighton, you will be loved forever across time, July 1, 1880 �" May 15, 1904’. “My Missy”, Andrew said, in a soft voice, “I promise that I will love you, for the rest of my life, forever across time, however much time is allotted to me.  I wish things had been different.  I feel that it is my fault; that if I had been with you, or had spent the afternoon with you as I promised, that you would still be alive, filling my world with your bright smile and love.  Please, please forgive me for failing you, Missy.  I wish, with all of my heart that I could somehow, still be with you as I promised, to share a life with you.  I love you, Missy… I promise you that I will do the best I can to live the life you would want me to live.  Until I am blessed to see you again, my Missy, goodbye.”  Andrew gripped the headstone one last time in a loving gesture, and quickly turned and walked away from the cemetery on top of the hill. 

When he reached home, Andrew pushed open the heavy oak and leaded glass door of the rear entrance.  He could smell the delicious aroma of Mrs. Hansen’s cooking as he walked through the kitchen hallway and into the parlor.  He leaned heavily against the mantle of the massive, ornate central fireplace, and gazed into it, thinking of the hopes and dreams he had had when he had laid the bricks for it.  He had imagined holding Missy, nestled securely in his arms on the hearth rug in front of it, talking, laughing, and staying warm together, while watching the winter snows fall. 

Andrew rested his forehead against his clenched fist, and with the agony of a broken heart in his voice, fervently whispered, “Dear Lord, if only I had a second chance.  I loved her so much and still do.  It has been a year and nothing is healing and no matter how hard I try to forget, my love for her will not fade.  The pain only grows stronger with each passing month.  I promised to love her across time, and I will fulfill that one promise remaining to me unconditionally, by living the full life Missy wanted for me and honoring our love for each other, even if it means living out the rest of my days alone.  Please, Lord, help me and give me the strength to do so.” 

As Andrew lifted his head and turned to walk toward the stairs, he was momentarily blinded by a flash of bright light, no doubt the refection of the late afternoon sun through one of the west-facing windows, he reasoned as he stumbled, catching himself with his hand on one of the massive wood pillars that separated the formal sitting room from the parlor.  The heat and emotional turmoil of the day must have been too much for him.  Feeling somewhat embarrassed and foolish, Andrew quickly regained his footing and shaking his head, opened his eyes to walk to the sitting room sofa.  The sight before him sent a shock through him, momentarily stopping his heart.



© 2016 Hadsen


Author's Note

Hadsen
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Added on October 23, 2016
Last Updated on October 23, 2016
Tags: romance, time travel, love, suspense, mystery, paranormal, science fiction


Author

Hadsen
Hadsen

NE



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