The Road Less Traveled

Synopsis: Julia Daughton finds an old pocket watch in her grandfather's desk and it happens to be enchanted. The watch delivers her to the Middle Ages where she discovers the Daughtons are distant relatives of Charlemagne.

Chapter 1--Exploring

Julia Daughton had always been inquisitive, but sometimes her curiosity could land her in situations that would get her into trouble. One time she had been playing around in her grandfather's woodshed and fell when she wanted to take a closer look at one of the old shotguns her grandpa used to hunt with. He never kept the gun loaded, but the gun itself was on a hook quite a few feet above the ground of the shed. Julia was only seven when the incident happened, but she lost footing and had a nasty fall that resulted in numerous bumps, bruises, scrapes and worst yet, splinters. She was much older now and had better balance when it came to looking at relics such as that. Nowadays, her trouble was asking questions about her heredity, which always seemed to be out of line, even with her grandpa Joe. She didn't understand why mom, dad and everyone else in the immediate family was so against her questioning. Were they afraid that some abominable secret would arise and destroy the family integrity forever ? Julia wondered if that was the case and it only bolstered her insatiable appetite for knowledge. Despite the fact that she knew it was against Grandpa Joe's rules to snoop around his study, she knew that was where she would find her answers.

It was an usually rainy July day when Julia decided to sneak around her grandpa's study. Her dad, Pete, was reading the paper quietly in his recliner. Her mom, Coquette was resting peacefully on the couch while the family Yorkie, Caramel was snoozing in her bed. Carefully, cautiously and stealthily as she could, Julia crept out of the family room and slowly past the library that led into Joe's study. Joe had gone out for the day to catch fish for tonight's dinner so she wouldn't have to contend with his lecturing and hawk's gaze.

Grandpa Joe's desk was cluttered with many interesting relics including newspaper clippings still in tact from the first world war to medals he had won during that time, old knives, carvings he was working on and some ideas for Christmas presents he had stashed away in the doors of the desk. Next to an old favorite book of his was a splendid pocket watch that seemed to bear markings from the 18th century, maybe earlier than that. She was astonished by the meticulous nature of the golden watch so much that she reached out to touch it.

"Why wouldn't Grandpa have taken this with him ? I never see him without it.", she thought as she continued to study the ancient treasure. She traced its gorgeously etched lines and pressed the top button to open the watch, but as soon as she did so, something incredible and uncanny occurred.

Chapter 2--Not in America Anymore

Julia wasn't expecting the brilliant light from the face of the pocket watch, so momentarily she had been blinded. Rubbing her eyes and gaining her bearings, she noticed that she wasn't in her grandfather's study any longer. Instead, she was right smack dab in the medieval ages in France, watching people go about their normal duties. There were blacksmiths honing metal of all kinds, fletchers making arrows, and people carting vegetables back to their homes from the fields. Immediately, Julia knew where she was and cringed at the thought of possibly damaging the space-time continuum. Therefore, she knew she had to be intensely cautious and blend into the scenery as much as she could.

Julia was only eleven, so she could pass as a boy in this day and age. She had become an apprentice to one of the local blacksmiths to eke out a living. It wasn't the easiest job but she was able to work with different types of metal. She soon developed a respect and awe for the art of sword making. One day while she was running errands for her master, the king, Charlemagne had returned from battle and his sword was in need of repair. He knelt down to meet the gaze of Julia and ruffled her hair. Julia was afraid that small interaction would ruin time as she knew it but nothing occurred so she was relieved.

"Where is your master, young servant ?", the king questioned.

"He was in need of better materials. The hammer is a bit rusty and needs to be repaired.", Julia began before the king asked her a challenging question.

"Do you feel that you have the capability to hone my blade, young man ?", he asked. Julia nearly gasped at the request. She had sharpened small throwing knives and other small weapons so she was a bit reluctant to hone a sword's blade, but it was the king and she didn't want to upset him. She had read much of Charlemagne when she was in history class but seeing him in person was unbelievable. She straightened her back and took a proud and confident pose.

"I would be honored to hone your blade, m'Lord.", she said. The other hammer that her master had left behind in such cases still had a lot of use left in it and she quickly began to work as the king and his men watched her work. The king was so impressed and inspired in Julia's hard work that he invited her back to the palace.

"I will leave a message here and you will be back at the guild before nightfall.", the king said, courteously. The scribe quickly scrawled the message and left it at the forger and took Julia by the hand to hoist her up onto his horse. Despite his size, he was astonishingly strong and had no trouble helping her mount his horse. Before she knew it, she was holding the king of France's midsection as he galloped back to his palace.

Chapter 3--Family Resemblance

The king and Julia spoke for hours at the dinner table, but he was curious as to why Julia (or has she called herself, Jude) had so much information on the him.

"You're not a mystic or seer ? Perhaps you are a spy !", the king joked, enjoying his fine wine and beef along with potatoes, peas and other fantastic foods that seemed to cover the table from head to foot. Everything was sumptuous. It reminded Julia of Thanksgiving only ten-times better.

"No, m'Lord. But I was wondering why everyone in the portraits seem to look so much like me.", Julia said. Charlemagne chuckled.

"You do have the family resemblance. Allow me to introduce you to my children.", the king said as he presented each child to Julia. They were all handsome like he was and contained the beauty and charm that the Queen did as well. Julia was almost overwhelmed that she had any ties to this great king who had done so much for the kingdom of France and even for the growth of Christianity. After spending quite a bit of time with the king, she realized she had to return to the guild or the sword master would be worried. Without tarrying, the king had her transported back to the sword-smith guild and bid her goodnight, hoping that they would meet again. Somehow, she knew that it wouldn't be long before she would be seeing him in some form or another.

The sword master was delighted with Julia's tale about the king.

"I owe you so much, Jude. Thanks to you my business will be getting more customers due to the blessings we have received from the king.", the master said, hugging the girl tightly. Julia didn't mind because her Aunt Matilda always hugged her tightly enough to squeeze the air out of her lungs. This brought to mind how much she missed everyone back home. As far as she could see the 'secret' that had just been uncovered wasn't bad at all, which left her with more questions than answers.

Chapter 4--Not Confined to Three Dimensional Living

That night when her master was asleep, Julia opened the pocket watch and a bright light enveloped her. Momentarily, her violet eyes adjusted to the new surroundings she was located in. She felt she had seen herself drifting through a portal, but she didn't catch a glimpse of it. She had moved so quickly she hadn't had the privilege of doing so, but she knew what had happened; the pocket watch had transported her home.

Grandpa Joe grabbed Julia by the wrist, noticing the pocket watch was in her hand.

"Where did you get this ?", he demanded, a bit fiercely. Julia was afraid, thinking maybe Joe would punish her.

"I found it on your desktop. I didn't know it was enchanted.", Julia explained. Joe sat down and had Julia sit down too. Julia sighed heavily. She knew she was going to be in for a lengthy lecture.

"I found the pocket watch on my travels throughout Europe. A very eclectic man whom I assumed to be a gypsy of some sort knew I had my eye on it but cautioned me that the watch was 'bewitched'. I thought he was being superstitious and without heeding his advice, opened it.", Joe began.

"What happened then ?" , Julia asked, entranced.

"The watch chose to take me back to the time of Jesus and I saw the disciples with Him. I had the ultimate pleasure of speaking with them and seeing miracles first hand, but tell no one else.", Joe said. Julia promised that only she would be privy to the knowledge she had been given. Apparently, Joe had been to just about every era imaginable and had seen our future. Julia began to speak about her trip into the past and it brought up a painful truth to the present moment.

"That is why no one really speaks about our heritage. I did a little tampering with time in Charlemagne's epoch. I fell in love with one of the princesses and your many times great grandmother came from that indecent act of lust.", Joe confessed. Julia's mouth dropped. It had been a dirty secret the family had kept locked for years and only Joe knew the true reason as to why that was. That explained why the family resemblance had been mirrored in Charlemagne's bloodline so seamlessly.

"Only members of our family have been able to use that watch, Julia. We must keep it away from anyone else who might want to steal it and jump into different eras to tamper with our history. I was the only one who changed history as we know it today. The fabric of time can be a very tricky element. It seems that you can walk around in it without altering it.", Joe noted, obviously.

"But you must be cautious. You have to resist the temptation to look into the future. You may not like what you see. One time I did so and witnessed the death of my wife, Catharine. She died despite my best efforts to save her.", Joe said, with some sorrow in his tone and tears in his eyes. This had been the first time Julia had heard such heartbreaking words from her own grandfather. She now knew that she hadn't known him as well as she originally thought. She knew now that not a word of this could be spoken to anyone, not even her own parents. They were the keepers of the transporter and it was their duty to keep it safe and use it when the situation was right.

Chapter 5--The Urge to Peak

As Julia grew older she heeded her grandfather's words. Her noble disposition kept her from willing the watch to send her to her future, like her grandfather told her it could. She hadn't used the watch very much, but it had come in handy when she had misplaced items only to find that they were right where she had left them in the first place. But the watch was beginning to lose its magic, as all magical items do sooner or later.

One day, Julia was getting ready for college and saying goodbye to her mom and dad. Sadly, Joe had passed away a couple of years ago, but she had kept a hold of all of his memorabilia and had decided to write a memoir in his honor. She would soon publish it after she finished her work in college because she desperately wanted to be a journalist. After all, writing was what she excelled at and it was something that gave her inexplicable, ineffable joy.

While unpacking in her new apartment, Julia's new friend, Kristina was looking at all of the belongings she had brought from home and she noticed the pocket watch.

"That watch is spellbinding !", the young Latino girl said, clearly transfixed with how the golden watch seemed to twinkle and sparkle in the overhead lights. Julia had an inclination that Kristina was interested in the watch.

"Indubitably. But, take my advice. Don't open it.", Julia said. Kristina fell back onto her bed, bursting out in laughter.

"Can't I just have a peak under the lid of the watch ?", Kristina asked.

"No. You don't understand the power it wields.", Julia said, cradling the watch tenderly. Kristina felt that Julia was completely insane but decided to take Julia's words to heart. Somehow she intuited that the watch wasn't a normal watch and that it was something that shouldn't be messed around with. From that point on the timepiece was never mentioned again.

Epilogue

Long after Julia had graduated she opened the lid of her grandfather's pocket watch for one final time. The magic had expired from it and the item had become normal. She smiled gently and closed the watch since it had stopped working and nothing that she did could make the watch start again. Despite the fact the watch was useless now, she decided to return it to her parents for their silver anniversary. It was the least she could do after she had started a new life for herself after getting married to her high-school sweetheart, Paul. She knew that even her precious baby, Harold, who was only a year old now, couldn't know of the family secret until he was old enough to understand it. The power to travel time was now gone forever but that didn't matter. What was important is what she had learned from her experience and how her grandfather was still with her even in the present day. His knowledge had come in handy in many situations and his humble nature had allowed her to realize that even the best among us make mistakes from time to time. She had made so many strides in the past and the days of her awkward youth were finally behind her. As she snuggled next to Paul and felt his love and admiration through his cheerful hazel eyes she couldn't imagine a more perfect existence as she basked in his affection and held little Harold close to her breast. Before long, Harold had drifted into a deep sleep and she put him in his crib to sleep.

"He's a heavy sleeper, just like his mama.", Paul joked as he nudged his lovely wife in the ribcage. Julia giggled lightly and looped her arm around his waist as she rested her head against his heart.

"He's also a real looker, like his papa.", Julia said as they left Harold's crib quietly and back into the living room to watch the news together. As she was lulled to sleep by the steady beat of Paul's heart she grinned sweetly, thanking her good fortune that she had been so blessed and that her horizons had only become broader.

The End