Excerpted from For All Time by Caroline B. Cooney Copyright © 2001 by Caroline B. Cooney. Excerpted by permission of Laurel Leaf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
When her parents finally got married again and left for their honeymoon, nobody was happier than Annie Lockwood.
She now had four days--precisely ninety-six hours--in which she would be unsupervised. Annie had convinced her parents that while they were gone, she would be responsible, trustworthy and dependable.
None of this was true. Every single promise to her mother and father she had no intention of keeping.
She was alone at last. The wedding guests were gone and her parents en route to Florida. Her brother was on a bus with his team, headed to basketball camp. The house was utterly quiet. Annie stood in the center of her bedroom, unaware of the clutter around her, and gathered her courage.
Opening her top desk drawer, Annie removed a small envelope and shook it until a scrap of newspaper fell out. It landed between a mug of pencils and a stack of CDs.
Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids September 16, 1999--January 9, 2000 Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, New York
Annie despised museums. Whenever there was a class trip to a museum, she tried to be sick and stay home for the day. If this failed, she slouched in the teacher's wake, wishing she could get pushed around in a wheelchair, because nothing was more tiring than standing in front of a painting.
But today was different. In a few hours, Annie would be standing in front of a photograph which had merited one brief mention in the newspaper article about the special exhibition. Taken one hundred years ago, this portrait showed every member of the original archaeology expedition.
And would the person she cared about most, the person she had known one hundred years ago, be in that photograph? How vividly Annie remembered Strat's moppy hair and broad shoulders, his casual grin and easy slouch. Every time she touched the newsprint, she felt Strat through the ink.
Strat was in Egypt, waiting for her.
She could feel him. She would cross Time and be with him again.
Four days lay ahead of her. Surely Time understood the urgency and would bring her to Strat.
Annie unzipped her bridesmaid dress. It was a fashion disaster in emergency room green, which indeed made Annie look as if she needed to be hospitalized. Why had Mom's college roommate agreed to put this dress on her body twenty years ago, when she was maid of honor? Why had this roommate saved the dress, so that Annie would have to wear it in public?
But in the end, wearing such a dress was a small sacrifice to celebrate that her mother and father were not getting divorced after all.
Dad's hobby for the last few years had been another woman. Annie and her brother hadn't expected their parents to have another anniversary, let alone another wedding. But not only did Mom and Dad seem truly back together, Mom had talked Dad into getting married a second time for their twentieth anniversary.
When Mom came down the aisle, as lovely as ever in her original white satin wedding gown, even Annie's cynical brother, Tod, was dabbing at tears. Annie chose to believe that Dad repeated his vows--broken once--with every intention of keeping them this time around.
The word time had swirled throughout every conversation of the second wedding day.
My parents loved and lost, thought Annie. Today, they swore to love again. I loved and lost. Today, I, too, will have a second chance.
She let the ghastly dress fall onto the carpet and stepped out of it. Annie was fond of floors, which were the best storage space. She kicked off her dyed-to-match satin shoes, peeled away her stockings and stood barefoot and happy in front of her closet. She had even bought clothing from an adventure catalog to wear for this museum trip.
She put on the long swirling skirt of khaki twill; the full-sleeved silky white blouse; the jacket with bright buttons and many pockets. She tied a scarlet scarf loosely at her throat and pulled on footgear that was half army boot, half sneaker, and fully cool.
In the full-length mirror, with her pale complexion and sleek dark hair falling to her waist, she had a dated look, like a young schoolmarm from another time.
She drew some deep breaths, preparing herself, trying to still her racing heart and hopes. She had never gone into New York City alone. The kick of the city was going with friends. But if Annie was right about this, she would meet the friend she cared about most in the museum. He would be in the photograph, waiting.
She would climb through.
From the Hardcover edition.