Summary: "Strat filled a small box with books of his memories, and wondered if words would be enough." This is a sequel to Nightly Demand, but could also stand-alone. The story is an attempt to further explain Lockwood Stratton's appearance in "For All Time", fourth book in Caroline B. Cooney's Time Quartet.
Disclaimer: The Time Travelers Quartet (my favorite book series), including Strat and Annie, belong to Caroline B. Cooney (my favorite author of all time).
Strat believed in reincarnation. If Anna Sophia, his Annie, could transcend time and space using the strength of their love, then his soul could do the same.
Strat also believed that forces existed in this universe outside of the traditional Christian deity. From the moment Annie entered his life, Strat knew in a way he still could not explain that God had not brought them together, at least not the god he had been taught existed.
In his travels through Europe, Asia and northern Africa, Strat had learned that there could be many different gods and goddesses, each with their own purpose and goals.
Strat met people who would have claimed that he and Annie were brought together when the god Chronos and the goddess Aphrodite had a great argument.
Strat knew others who would call he and Annie soul mates. They claimed that distance measured in miles or years meant nothing to soul mates. They told Strat that souls connected this deeply would always find each other again, whether in this life or the next.
If his story had been revealed to these people, Strat knew they would have said that Annie's mysterious appearance meant a terrible accident had occurred. Annie should have been alive and with him now, but something happened that inextricably changed things. And so the Fates made a bargain with Time. They were allowed to briefly join Annie to Strat, creating moments that would remain forever in their minds; but she could not remain with him.
This was to be a reminder for them both. The Fates wanted to guarantee their happiness in the future, in Annie's time. And so the Fates allowed them the chance to begin early. When they did meet in the future, Annie would recognize his soul from the start. Hopefully, she would be able to awaken their love within him.
Strat clung to this story as his only possible connection to Annie, and trusted that their bond would draw them together.
Strat did everything in his power to make sure that his soul would retain the memory of their love in his time.
After first learning about reincarnation, Strat began to imprint all of his memories with Annie onto his soul. Now he feared that this would not be enough.
Strat decided that Annie would need help reminding him of his past life and their time together. Creating a memento would meet two goals: the future-Strat would once again feel the all-encompassing love for Annie that never left his heart now; and there would be tangible evidence of his past life.
And so Strat began to write.
Strat filled small books of paper with everything he considered important about his life thus far. He covered his life before Annie. He discussed his mother, Devonny, and Harriet, while only mentioning his father and Walker Walkley when absolutely necessary. He wrote about being locked away in an asylum, and how that led him to Katie and Douglass. He included all of his travels, in this time and ancient Egypt.
Strat put aside past secrets and confessed to his future self and Annie that for a time he had forgotten the things that were most important in life: kindness, honor, and love for all friends. He revealed the reason for staying in his time and releasing Annie to her own: that he had a responsibility to give Katie and Douglass a happy life.
But most of all, Strat recorded in agonizing detail every wondrous, heart-stopping instant he had spent with Annie.
When she first appeared to him and he thought she was an apparition.
When they walked along the beach, and she filled his pockets with mermaids' tears.
When they danced together at the place that was once his home, and she smiled at him as though she was the one caught in a perfect dream.
Their first kiss, shy but still filled with an intensity that shook his core.
His confusion and listlessness when she disappeared, something that now made sense with his knowledge of soul mates and the dramatic affect separation can have.
The surge of renewed hope and vindication mixed with crushing love when she rescued him.
The indescribable pain of knowing that he must be the one to make the decision that time. That he must tell her to return to her own time, leaving them both sick with grief and only a lock of her silky black hair to comfort him.
The feeling of Time sweeping him beyond all measure of control and bringing them together in an ancient land.
His loss of her that last time, somehow knowing that this was their final chance.
His screamed proposals into the wind that she may have never heard.
His promise to never marry because no one could ever hope to replace his Annie.
He filled a small box with books of his memories, and wondered if words would be enough.
Before handing over his treasure to a New York City lawyer, Strat included a letter and a picture of himself with the pyramids.
My Dearest Annie,
We both know that mere words cannot express the feelings we have for each other, though as you will see from the many books here, I have used all the words I know.
And here is what matters most:
I love you. I have always loved you, from the moment you so mystically appeared before me. No one could ever hope to take your place in my heart, my Annie.
I miss you. I long for you and the life we could have had together. You are never far from my thoughts.
Do not pity me, for I have found a source of hope. In short, I now believe you and I share a love so intense and rare that the only explanation for our connection is a bond between our souls; we are soul mates. With this knowledge, I have faith that my soul will find you in my next life, in your time. We will have the life we deserve.
You once told me that you found nothing of me in history. I send you these books so that you might know more of my life. These small tomes may also help you remind my current incarnation of the time you and I have already spent together.
I want this box to be a gift for you, as you have always been to me.
I considered having this delivered at Christmas, but that did not seem special enough, everyone receives gifts at Christmas.
I next thought of your birthday. Of course, then I realized that I did not know when your birthday is. And I smiled. You see, I wish that I did know all those details of your life, but I love you with or without them.
And so I came upon the perfect solution, a date which means everything to both of us: our anniversary. I have asked that this package reach you on May 28th, 2000.
I love you, my Annie, and I will see you again soon.
May 28, 2000
Annie and Strat were sitting on the couch watching a movie when there was a loud knock on her parent's door.
Todd yelled to his sister, "There's some guy at the door for you!"
Annie Lockwood's eyebrows rose in curiosity. "Really?"
"Were you expecting anything?" her Strat asked.
"No. And it's not as though today is a holiday," she lied, remembering well the significance of this date.
Annie left Strat with a short kiss, an action that was now natural for them both. "I'll be right back."
She was greeted at the door by a man holding an old-fashioned, wooden box, dust gathered in the carving along the edges. Annie's stomach dropped.
From a distance, she heard the man ask, "Are you Miss Anna Sophia Lockwood?"
"Yes," she whispered, her eyes never leaving the box.
"Excellent. Please sign here." A pen was forced into her hands.
The man placed the box on the floor of their entryway. "Do you mind if I stay to watch you open it? This box has been sitting in my boss' office for a long time and there's a pool going back at the law firm about what's in it."
"A long time?" Annie asked.
The man laughed. "Longer than I've been alive."
Annie's breath left in her first non-Time related fainting spell in years. But Strat was at her side. For what Annie would call the second time, Strat caught her on his bended knee.
"Are you okay, Miss?" the lawyer asked.
Strat whispered in her ear, "Are you going to disappear on me again?"
His touch revived her senses. "I'm fine."
Annie's eyes connected with Todd, who was standing close by. While Strat knew that she had some strange connection to his ancestor, only Todd understood the implications of this package.
Her brother knelt beside her and opened the box.
"Books?" said the lawyer as he left. "I lost this pool."
"Journals," corrected Todd as the door slammed, "with a letter and a picture."
Tears blurred Annie's vision as she stroked the picture. She held onto Strat's hand tightly, affirming his presence.
Annie held the letter so they all could read the evidence of the previous Strat's love for Anna Sophia Lockwood.
Wiping her eyes, Annie turned to her present-Strat. "I'd like to tell you a story, one that explains why your name is Lockwood."
Author's Note: Wow. I had no idea where this story was taking me for the ending. I'm surprised, but I like it. And I'm glad that I got to see Annie's reaction, and that Annie had Todd there for some back-up.
Oh, and yes I took some liberty choosing the date that Annie and Strat first met. All it says in the book is the last day of school.