first multi-chapter fic - let me know what you think! And yes, I'm aware that Amanda does not have a sister in the series. creative license.
Disclaimer: I do not own Lost in Austen or any of the characters. If I did, I wouldn't be here. I only own Sara
1. The Shower Dilemma
"Amanda!" I called, letting myself into her flat by the spare key under the fire extinguisher. I had continuously told her to move it, because I was fairly certain that everyone in the whole building was aware of its location. "It's been ten days. I know you said you were going to be out of town for work, but let's face it - you hate work." I closed the door behind me. "Mum's been going mental because every time she tries to call you, it says the number is out of service, so you might want to get that fixed."
The flat was pretty much just as it had always been, the bright yellow foyer leading into the kitchen. I opened her fridge, looking for one of the bottles of water she usually kept on the top shelf. Instead, I encountered a repulsive smell that made me gag and cringe away from the appliance. Holding my breath, I searched around and pulled out a half empty carton of milk, almost two weeks expired and revoltingly sour.
I feared the worst - moping and ignoring personal hygiene. "I know you just broke up with Michael, so if you're doing one of those sad and alone things where you eat chocolates all day and watch sappy romances and wait for your bum to get big, consider me your intervention." I tossed the carton in the garbage and continued to the living room where the big, obnoxious red sofa sat. True, it went with the rest of the red and dark brown colors of the room, but it was a bit bold for my taste. "I have four days off work, which I was actually saving up to use for a long weekend somewhere nice, but I have the pleasure of spending them with you. We'll take all the time we need."
I stopped between the kitchen and the living room, looking down the hallway to her empty bedroom, where the bed was neatly made. In all the time I could remember, Amanda had never made her bed willingly. "Are you here?" I asked, my former certainty diminishing. I had purposely come at eight in the morning on a Saturday, ruining my own slumber, to catch her early. If she wasn't on a work trip - which she wasn't because she sat at a bloody desk all day long - and she didn't work on Saturdays - which she didn't - she should be here.
I heard a noise, coming from the bathroom, that sounded like a muffled yell. My feet took me down the hall, and a young woman with a pixie cut appeared in the doorway. My mouth parted and my eyebrows knit together. This was most definitely not Amanda.
"My apologies," she said, her voice so heavily accented that even I noticed. "I was just cleaning up."
My mouth opened and closed a few times. "And you are?" I managed to say when I found my voice.
"I'm Elizabeth Bennet," she answered politely, making a little curtsy motion that looked completely out of place, as it was the twenty-first century and she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
"Right," I said, eyeing her suspiciously. "And I'm Cleopatra."
The woman suddenly adopted a confused expression, tilting her head to the side and furrowing her eyebrows, as if she was actually considering my sarcastic comment to be true. "You do not look like the pictures I have seen. Cleopatra is deeply tanned, and she had black hair, did she not? Your skin is much paler, and your hair is golden. Is it simply a common name nowadays?"
A thousand sarcastic comments could have come tumbling out of my mouth had I let them, but I stifled them instead; I didn't need her taking another one seriously, because that could go on for hours. What I needed was to know why this delusional woman, claiming to be a fictional character, was cleaning my sister's bathroom. "No," I said, saving the trouble. Her face cleared and she waited for me to elaborate on my identity. "I'm Sara, Amanda's sister."
"A pleasure," she said, curtsying again. Then she added, "I can see the resemblance now."
"Yeah," I agreed, hoping we were coming to the conclusion of the pleasantries. I looked around her into the bathroom. She followed my gaze, eyebrows raised in innocent curiosity. "Where's my sister?"
"She's in my world."
"Your world," I repeated doubtfully, but she nodded as if I had asked if it was sunny outside. "And that means, what, exactly?" I asked, attempting to scrape together some logic while collecting all the totally illogical details being thrown at me.
She turned and retreated into the bathroom, pulling the string to turn on the light.
"Oh, this is extraordinary!" she said before I had steeled my nerves to walk into the room. When I did, there was an open door in the wall of my sister's shower. Extraordinary just so happened to not be the first word that came to my mind. She looked to me, beaming. "I was just going to show you its location, but it appears to have opened for you."
I blinked. "For me?" She nodded emphatically. "Are you sure it's not for you?"
Again, she nodded. "Yes, quite sure, indeed." To prove her point, she approached the door, which then slammed itself shut. "Your sister and I switched places, you may say. She is better suited to my world, and I to yours." She backed up towards me, and the door reopened on its own accord. "It is most interesting," she added, "that it has opened for you as well. Do you share your sister's affection for the novel?"
"I was never as obsessed with it as Amanda, but, yeah, I liked it," I replied, too busy comprehending that a portal to a fictional world was in my sister's bathroom to put up my sarcastic defenses. Then they returned. "Wait. You know you're part of a book?"
"Yes, your sister explained it to me well when she returned once."
I seized this flicker of hope. "Will she come back again?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "I assume she plans on staying there."
My flicker puttered out and I mumbled, "Oh, this is going to be fun to explain to Mum."
She put a hand on my shoulder. "You seem distressed."
"Well, yes, that's because I am," I said, resisting the desire to call her Sherlock. Did fictional characters know each other? "You see, she left and probably won't be back, but she neglected to tell anyone."
"That's why I'm here," she said proudly, eyes bright. "I'm to tell anyone that needs to know where she is, though I highly doubt that door will open for any of them."
I stared at the door, determined not to take a step closer. "I understand that, but I meant work. Amanda has a job. What is she doing for money in...your world?"
Elizabeth laughed aloud, utterly amused. "Money? Your sister has no financial worries, considering whom she married."
"Whom she what?" I demanded, losing my calmness, if it had been there in the first place. Finally, she seemed to take my 'distress' seriously.
"She wed, quite recently. To Mr. Darcy." I felt my jaw go slack. "They're currently on honeymoon, I believe."
"On honeymoon?" I started by saying. I wasn't sure if I had said the words correctly; they were too foreign and just sounded wrong. I continued my clarification that was only, I was sure, going to further confuse me. "My sister and Mr. Darcy are on honeymoon. My sister and Mr. Darcy are married."
She nodded like it was a well known fact. Yeah, well known to everyone but me. Why wasn't I invited? Amidst my bewilderment and wonder if I needed psycho-evaluation, I was genuinely hurt that I hadn't been included in my sister's wedding, even if it was in another "world". We'd always talked about getting married, back when we liked to act out weddings with our dolls.
Elizabeth started speaking again. "That was why the door opened for her, I believe."
"You think she was meant to marry Mr. Darcy, so the universe plunked her into fantasy land?" I couldn't help it as the sarcasm spilled into my voice. She nodded honestly anyway. "Of course it did," I muttered under my breath, still eyeing the door.
Apparently, she hadn't heard me. "Your sister truly loves Mr. Darcy, and now he shares the same feelings for her. I saw them together." I was happy for Amanda, really, but still ticked off that she'd run off with a fictional character without at least giving me a phone call. I stiffened, realizing that I should probably check myself into the nearest asylum when I woke from this dream. "And she tried to put me and Mr. Darcy together," Elizabeth continued, "but it was just not meant to be, despite the plot of the novel."
"You're settling here while Amanda gets Mr. Darcy?" I asked. "Is that fair?"
"Mr. Darcy and I are not suited for one another, not as he and your sister are. Besides, if the door allowed us to trade our places, it must have been meant to be. For a long time, it refused to let her back here. There was something she'd needed to accomplish."
Unfortunately, that was starting to make sense to me. "And why is it open for me?"
"You have business to attend to in my world," she replied simply. "I suggest you enter. Perhaps you will find your sister." I weighed the proposal in my mind. "It leads to my house," she added.
I took a step towards the door, but at the same time said, "How can I just abandon work?"
"Your sister quit her job," Elizabeth offered.
I shook my head. "You don't understand. I'm a paramedic."
"Oh," she said, realization dawning. "That does seem very important. But you are not dressed. Surely you do not attend your work in that."
She gestured to my blue skinny jeans, brown, knee-high riding boots, and dark green tank top. "No," I admitted, "this is not my uniform -"
"Then it's your day off work?"
"Oh, Sara, you must go!"
I stepped away from her and held up my hand, meaning for her to stop talking. "Hang on." I turned and strode out of the bathroom, down the hallway, past the living room - grabbing my jacket that I'd tossed on the red couch - through the kitchen, into the foyer, and out the door, closing it shut.
I leaned back against the wall for support, my eyes closed. I had never been forced to do this before, but I pinched my arm with my index finger and thumb, my nails digging into the skin. When I finally struck a nerve and blinked back tears, I had deep, red marks that were almost at the point of drawing blood. I let out a breath of air.
Satisfied, I re-entered the flat and made my way to the bathroom -
- where Elizabeth Bennet still stood, looking at me curiously. "Are you all right?" she asked.
Now what was I supposed to do? My eyes fixed, once more, for some unexplainable reason, on the open door. "Fine," I lied, taking a step towards it. "I just needed to grab my jacket."
She saw my intentions as I stepped into the shower. The door still hadn't closed, and she beamed. "Oh, Sara, you will have a most wonderful time, I guarantee it!"
"Yay," I mumbled, not even halfheartedly. Once more, she was ignorant of my true meaning. Still, I stepped from everything I knew into the world of a book I had read twice. I turned around, wondering if this had been a good idea, when I saw the door close behind me. "No, wait!" I whimpered as it shut. I jiggled and twisted the knob, pushing and pulling with all my might, and only discovered that it wouldn't budge.
A/N: YAY! First chapter of my first story - submitted story, that is. I have a few others (check out my profile) but I decided through the intricate process of eeny-meeny-miney-mo to start posting this one first.
Reviews are much appreciated!