The huge black snowmobile roared around the corner before Jayne could duck back into the trees. The tall driver saw her and flinched away, skidding over onto one track. The snowmobile teetered. The man shouted and flung himself into the snow as the machine crashed onto its side. Jayne stood frozen, her mouth open in unformed apology. The man growled and kicked snow into the air, where it caught in the wind and rushed away. He brushed his tangled black hair out of his face and sat up.

“What the deuce were you doing in the middle of the road?”

Jayne couldn’t speak. He gestured her toward him. She took a small step forward.

“Are you all right?” His voice reflected no concern as he looked her up and down. He took in her thin black coat and plain boots.

“I’m fine,” she managed after a moment.

“You shouldn’t be. I could have killed you.”

“Sir, there was no time for me to get—” She halted because his glare was so intense.

Finally he nodded. “I like to drive fast.” He peered under the machine’s track, and Jayne realized his right foot was trapped beneath. “You’re going to have to help me lift it.”

She gaped at him, then the machine. “But sir—”

“I’m fine,” she managed after a moment.

“You shouldn’t be. I could have killed you.”

“Just try, all right?”

She stepped cautiously to his far side. He sat up as far as his leg would allow and placed his hand at the edge of the track. At his count they strained to budge the machine. The only sound was their labored breath. The snowmobile didn’t move. The man cursed again.

“Can’t get any leverage.”

“Should I run and get help from the research center?”

“No, you should be heading home soon.”

“But that is my home.”

He jerked his head up. “Thornfield Center? When did they hire a female scientist?”

“I’m not a scientist.”

He raised his eyebrows, looked her over again. “This isn’t a friendly place for a social visit. And you’re not a relative of Mr. Rochester’s.”

Jayne’s cheeks felt warm. “No. I’m the nurse. I’m here to assist Dr. Fairfax.”

“Ah, yes. Now I remember. And do you enjoy your job?”

“Yes, I do.”

“You might enjoy it less now.”

Jayne raised an eyebrow. “Why is that?”

“Because I’m Mr. Rochester. I’ll be here to poke my nose in your business now.” His mouth curved down at the edges.

“You’re Mr. Rochester?” Jayne stepped back. “A pleasure to meet you, sir.”

“Not hardly. Now, I should free my leg quickly so you can return home.” He sucked a breath as tried to reach under the snow to his foot.

“Are you in pain?”

“It’s nothing. Could you get your fingers beneath my foot?”

Jayne knelt and dug away the packed snow around his leg. Mr. Rochester tried to help but his legs were long and kept his hands at bay. He clenched his teeth and wiggled his foot toward him. The snowmobile shifted half an inch and the man shouted and jerked his foot free. He grabbed Jayne’s arm and pulled her away as the machine sank further into the snow.

“Are you all right, Mr. Rochester?”

He let go of her arm and touched his ankle. “It’s only sprained.” He braced his hands on the snowmobile’s back and pulled himself to his feet.

“Because I’m Mr. Rochester. I’ll be here to poke my nose in your business now.”

“Let me get help from Hay Station. I was going there to deliver a message anyway.”

He ignored her and waved at her to come around to the right side of the machine. “You can help me as well as anyone. Come, help me push.” He began to rock the snowmobile. Jayne joined him, though she doubted her slight weight made much difference. The machine rocked farther each time until with a mighty shove, Jayne and the Mr. Rochester pushed it over onto its tracks.

Mr. Rochester limped closer and swung himself up onto the snowmobile, biting his lower lip at the jarring in his ankle.

“Now, hand me my hat.” He pointed several yards behind her. She fetched his black fur lined hat and handed it to him. “Run along and deliver that message. It’s getting colder.” He twisted the key and the machine snarled and lurched forward. In a moment he was gone around the bend.

Jayne tucked her hands in her pockets and walked on, her eyes on the tracks the snowmobile made. The incident meant nothing more to her than a moment of diversion, a break in her previously monotonous life. Later she would see how this meeting had been like a pebble dropped into a still pool, and the ripples changed her life forever.



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Splickety Magazine - March 2017: Literary Time Warp by [Cross, Katie, Howell, Victoria G.]

Meet the Author

 Sheri is a storyteller who believes that words hold unimaginable power. She is passionate about writing life-changing literature for young people. She writes and edits for Daughters of Promise, an Anabaptist women’s magazine, and is working to get her first two YA fantasy novels published. In the meantime, she writes short stories and articles for Splickety and anyone else who will take them.