As if in a daze, I walk forward off the platform and into the brick building which houses the ticketing counters and benches for waiting. I fall onto one of the many benches as I reflect on the events of the past couple months, specifically the last few days, while also coming to terms with the realization that I have absolutely no clue how to explain all this to my parents, when I do finally arrive at home.
I look down at my hands to the white box Agnes had handed me, curious as to what item they might think I should have to remember them, and to be able to remind myself that it wasn’t all some sort of dream.
Cautiously, I open the box, finding the inside filled with some sort of soft white cloth. I carefully lift the cloth out of the box, to find it is cushioning something inside it.
My locket, complete with the unmarked purple price sticker. The same one I got in New York. I press the button on top to find the clock still ticking, apparently refreshed and waiting to be used. I smile as I put the chain over my head and rest the sphere against my chest.
I suddenly begin to question how they even knew I would find the sphere, much less pick it as something I’d want thrown into the pot on my Fiddle Game.
The more I think about it, the more questions that pop up regarding how everything played out, how everything came to be. Maybe I should use the sphere now and take myself back to that day in New York when Griff told me I was being given my final test, force him to give me all the answers.
Of course, that might not have even been the real Griff. That could have been a robot too, right?
I look off at the far wall as I consider all the things which happened since I met Griff in this very station long ago and am greeted with a familiar face. She doesn’t see me, but there she is. Chelle, the much more innocent, naïve, and inexperienced Chelle of a few months ago, sitting at the bench in the far corner of this very room, looking scared and confused.
And then a man appears at her side, with that same sickly sweet smile on his face which brought me into his world in the first place. The same smile I find appears on my face as I think about the adventures that little lost girl is about to have.
I look back down at the sphere in my hands and consider going back again.
But then I remember the most important thing I learned during my travels through time. You can’t change the past, only live through it. You can only move forward hoping to better the world from where you found it.
I look up again at that girl who used to be me as she stands and walks off with the man who would become her son, and wish her safe journeys, knowing all will turn out just fine for her.
They have for me.
“Gwendolyn Rochelle!” a voice yells over the crowd. I look up to find the angry, yet worried, face of my mother, running in my direction.
I stand slowly, cringing for the yelling which is about to come.
“Gwen!” she says, pulling me into her arms and holding me tightly. My father is right behind her. A look of relief crosses his face as we make eye contact.
My mom finally lessens her hold on me, but keeps her hands on my shoulders, as if us losing physical contact could cause me to disappear from her again.
“Where have you been?” she asks breathlessly. “And what are these clothes? And look what’s happened to your hair! And the smell, have you been rolling around in—“
“Sweetheart,” my dad says, pulling my mom off me to give me a hug as well. “I’m sorry I yelled at you earlier. That doesn’t make running away okay or anything, but I should have realized you’re grown up now and have—“
“Dad,” I say, interrupting him. “Don’t worry about it. I was wrong. I don’t even remember what got me so mad, but I know I was wrong.”
My dad beams at me before wrapping me up into another hug.
“Are those handcuffs?” my mom says as she lifts up my right hand to get a closer look.
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