Annie Lockwood exists; everyone admits it. Everyone has seen her. But only Strat insists that Miss Lockwood traveled one hundred years back in time to be with them in 1895. Now Strat is paying an enormous price: His father has declared him insane and had him locked away in an asylum. When Time calls Annie back to save Strat, she does not hesitate, even though her family is falling apart and desperately needs her. Can Annie save the boy she loves, or will her choice keep her a trespasser out of time?
About the Author
Caroline B. Cooney is the author of Goddess of Yesterday (an ALA Notable Children’s Book); The Ransom of Mercy Carter; and The Face on the Milk Carton (an IRA–CBC Children’s Choice). She lives in Westbrook, CT.
Read an Excerpt
Annie Lockwood had not forgotten about Strat, of course. But she had forgotten about him this morning. She woke up fast, and was out of bed in seconds, standing in front of her closet and changing every fashion decision she had made yesterday.
Her American history class was off to New York City today. Forty minutes by train. Since they were going to the United Nations first, the teacher wanted them to look decent, by which he meant that the girls were not to follow the current fad of wearing men's boxer shorts on the outside of their ripped jeans and the boys were not to follow the current fad of wearing T-shirts so obscene that strangers would ask what town the class was from, so as to be sure they never accidentally went and lived there.
Actually, it was nice to have an excuse to look good. Grunge had hit the school system hard, and those who preferred pretty, or even clean, were out of the loop.
Annie had a long, dark blue dress, a clinging knit bought for a special occasion. It didn't stand out from the crowd, but Annie did when she wore it. She put on the hat she'd found at the secondhand store. It was a flattened bulb of blue velvet. How jauntily it perched over her straight dark hair. Perfect. (Unless she lost her courage and decided the hat, any hat, especially this hat, was pathetic.)
She whipped downstairs to get her brother's opinion. Tod generally did not bother with words. If he despised her clothes, he would gag or pretend to pass out, or maybe even threaten her with butter throwing. (Butter left out on the counter made a wonderful weapon, especially if it got in your sister's hair.) If Tod liked her outfit, though, he would shrug with his eyebrows. This was a great accolade, and meant she looked okay, even if she was his sister.
She was kind of fond of Tod, which was a good thing, since they were the only people left in their family.
Annie and Tod hadn't bothered with breakfast since Mom had left. Breakfast was only worth having if somebody else made it for you.
The house was literally colder without Mom, because Mom had always gotten up way earlier and turned up the thermostat, so when Annie and Tod came down to the kitchen, it was toasty and welcoming. Even though Mom's commute to New York meant she'd caught her train before Annie and Tod came down, they always used to feel Mom in the house. They could smell coffee she had perked and hot perfumed moisture from her shower. Orange juice was always poured, cereal and milk out, toast sitting in the slots waiting to be lowered. On the fridge was always a Post-it to each child:
annieace that history test, love you, Mom.
toddon't forget your permission slip, love you, Mom.
But "always" was over.
In the kitchen (where the front of the refrigerator was bare) her brother was drinking orange juice straight from the carton. Since she was doing the same thing these days, Annie could hardly yell at him. She just waited her turn. He smiled, orange juice pouring into his mouth, which caused some to dribble onto the linoleum.
"Nice manners," said Annie, and the word manners triggered a rush of memories. There were too many, she didn't want this
Her head split open. Time came in, with its black and shrieking wind.
There were others in the black wind with her. Half people. Bodies and souls flying through Time. But not me! cried Annie, without sound. I learned my lessonyou taught me! Just because you can go through Time doesn't mean you should.
Time let go.
She was just a panting girl in a cold room.
"Wow," said her brother, folding the carton tips together before handing over the orange juice, as if this were a germ protection device. "That was so weird, Annie."
"What was?" She did not know how she could talk. Oxygen had been ripped from her lungs.
"Your hair," he said nervously. "It curled by itself."
For a moment their eyes met, his full of questions and hers full of secrets. "Do you like my hat?" she said, because hair curled by Time was a tough subject.
"Yeah. Makes you look like a deranged fashion model."
Deranged. What if Tod was right? What if she was on some grim and teetery edge, and she was going to fall off her own sanity? What if she landed, not in another century like the last time, but in some other, hideously confused, mind?
Annie ran back upstairs, to get away from the collapse of Time and the sharp eyes of her brother. To get closer to Strat.
The image of Strat had faded over the months. When she thought of him now, it was loosely, like silver bracelets sliding on her arms.
Sometimes she went to Stratton Point, alone with the wind, but even Strat's mansion was only memory. Torn down. Nothing now but a scar on a hill. Annie would make sure there was no living person aroundno footprints in the snowno ski tracksno cars parked below with the windows rolled downand she'd shout out loud, "Strat! Strat! I love you!"
But of course nobody answered, and Time did not open. There was just a teenage girl shrieking for a non-existent teenage boy.
This morning, in her bedroom, there was nothing wrong, nothing out of place. No clues to Time or any other secret. Piles of clothing, paperbacks, and CDs were right where she had left them, her drawers half open and her closet doors half shut. But today must be the day! thought Annie. That falling was Time's warning.
"Hi, Strat," she whispered to the mirror, as if he and his century were right behind the glass, and the opening of Time was ready.
The Strattons, she thought suddenly, had a Manhattan town house. I've been going to their beach mansiontheir Connecticut summer place. But what if the passage back through Time is in New York City?
Old New York rose as vividly in her mind as if she really had visited there: romantic and dark, full of velvet gowns and stamping horses and fine carriages.
She stared at herself in her full-length mirror. If Time takes me, I'll be ready. I'll be elegant and ladylike.
Of course, not in front of her history class. They must not ask questions. She stuffed the hat into her old L.L. Bean bookbag.
It was midwinter. February, to be exact, and the snowiest winter on record. Annie could wear her best boots (best in fashion, not in staying dry), which were high black leather with chevrons of velvet. She dashed into Mom's room to filch Mom's black kid gloves and her winter coat pin: a snowflake of silver, intricate as lace. Mom had ordered it from a museum catalog, which triggered such a flow of catalogs they threatened to snap the mailbox. (Tod loved this; he was always hoping for another, more explicit, Victoria's Secret.)
Annie had other secrets in mind. The secrets that the Strattons had carried through Time.