~Inverness: February 1968~
“Take me with you,” I begged.
“And where is it ye think I’m going, lass?” Gillian laughed condescendingly.
“Through the stones. I need to go back in time.”
“Ye sound stoned. Ye been smokin’ the reefer a wee bit before ye arrived?”
We were sitting in her living room, nursing a dram, and my patience was wearing thin. I came to meet Gillian Edgars for a purpose, and time was running out. Imbolc was only twelve hours away.
“I went to the Institute for the Study of Highland Folklore and Antiquities, Gillian. Your name is on every library book card that has anything to do with the stones.”
“My name is on every book card that the Institute has in its library. I enjoy studying all of Scottish culture.”
“You have a reputation. Everyone I’ve talked to at the Institute referred me to you.”
“It doesna mean I believe I can travel through a stone circle.”
I looked around her house and found evidence of Scottish Nationalism all over the place, reinforcing the stories I’d already heard: flags, pamphlets, books, and artwork. “You want to change history, don’t you? You want to fix the outcome of the Jacobite Rebellion from within the Rebellion itself.”
She narrowed her eyes and smirked at me. “Fix? No’ many sassenachs would use the word 'fix’ to describe changing the outcome of the Rebellion. D’ye have sympathies for my people?”
“More than you know.”
A wicked smile spread across Gillian’s face as she reassessed me. “The gold in yer eyes is glowing with passion. Is that why ye want to go through the stones? Ye want to help the Bonnie Prince take the throne for his father?”
“If I’m being honest, I have no interest in politics. My motivations are far more...personal.”
“Personal?” Her smile melted into a frown. “There is little more personal to my people than British oppression.”
She sipped her whisky with steam coming out of her ears.
“I meant personal to me. I don’t expect anyone else to have sympathy for my cause.”
By the time she looked at me again, she’d fixed her syrupy smile back on her face. “Why is it ye want to go then? To search for treasure? To find love? To escape yer miserable life?”
I put my hand over my chest to feel the pearl necklace I kept close to my heart. “I...I need to stop the murder of someone very important to me.”
I’d caught her off guard. Good.
“Please, Gillian. I need to make sure I arrive in the right place at the right time. I don’t know how to do that. I have to go back there and make sure he survives.”
“Back there?” Her eyes widened. “Are ye saying ye’ve been there before?”
She wanted to believe me; I saw it in the gleam of her eyes. I reached into my purse and pulled out an old and tattered journal, setting it on the coffee table between us.
“I’ll share my story with you if you tell me everything you know about time travel.”
She took the journal off the table, greedy for information. Before cracking it open, she raised a skeptical brow and asked, “And what if there’s nothing useful to me in this tale of yours?”
“I’m willing to take the chance you'll find it quite enlightening. I’ll let you read it in good faith, and if you find something useful—or at the very least entertaining—then perhaps you’ll reciprocate my candidness.”
Gillian smirked and nodded in agreement. Getting her to listen to me was half the battle.
She opened the journal to the first page and read the familiar words out loud. “People disappear all the time…”