The buzzing in my ears grew louder . . . louder . . . then started to fade. I felt a powerful shock wave, like a strong current that shook my body and took my breath away.
And when I lowered the photograph from my face and blinked my eyes open in the yellow-white sunlight, I saw the men in their dark suits, lined up in front of the lodge entrance. Square black cars in the driveway, like cars from a silent movie.
And the chubby, dark-suited photographer leaning over his big square camera, adjusting the tripod, gazing into a round lens, his jacket open and flapping in a strong summer wind.
I squinted hard and recognized Mr. Himuro in the front row, and behind him, having a mock fistfight with the lodge worker next to him, Walter the valet, his red hair slicked back and glowing in the warm sunlight.
Yes. I had achieved it this time. I was in 1924. Thanks to the magic I had learned, thanks to the hours I’d spent practicing in that little attic room.
I was in 1924, where I wanted to be. And I went running toward the two men on the lodge staff that I knew. Perhaps one of them could help me.
Whoa. I stopped a few feet from them as the photographer counted down. “Three . . . two . . . one . . .” And he snapped his photograph with a powdery flash of bright light.
I suddenly realized I was no longer holding the photograph. It had vanished. Vanished into time, I guessed, since the photographer had just snapped it.
The workers were heading back to the lodge. I ran up to Mr. Himuro. I startled him by grabbing his arm. “Mr. Himuro, do you remember me? I need a favor.”
He squinted at me, studying me as if I were a species from another planet. I guessed my clothes were shocking to him, or perhaps my long hair. “So sorry,” he said. “I have no time. There is a big wedding here in a few hours.”
I turned and raised my eyes to the mesa. I could see rows of white chairs up near the top, and an altar covered in purple flowers.
“The Fear wedding?” I asked him.
He nodded and hurried away.
“The Fear wedding,” I repeated. Rebecca Fear’s wedding. I was in time. I knew what I had to do. It was simple. I had to break the curse.
The silky long dresses were so wonderful. Everyone so dressed up, the men in their dark suits and stiff-collared shirts and wide neckties. The women clanking with jewelry, heavy bracelets and jeweled beads, and such awesome old-fashioned hairstyles. I felt as if I were in an old movie, only in color and with sound.
I stayed in the back row. Even back here, I could sense the excitement. The buzz of voices . . . the crinkle of fabric as the wedding guests seated themselves . . . the heavy perfume that filled the air, so intoxicating.
Then the music started and a hush fell over the seats. And I tensed every muscle. I steeled myself for what I had to do. I forced my heartbeats to slow. Forced down the waves of nausea from the pit of my stomach. Leaned forward and prepared myself.
Doing his processional slow walk, the groom made his way past me toward the flower-covered altar. Peter Goodman. Peter Goode. Peter Goode here to keep the old family curse alive. Peter Goode, not Goodman. If he was allowed to triumph, the Fear girls—from now and the future—would be doomed.
Rebecca, lovely Rebecca and Ruth-Ann, and my sister, Marissa. Their names were in my mind and in my heart as I watched Peter Goode’s best man follow him along the aisle.
And I bit my bottom lip and clasped my hands tightly in my lap when Rebecca, the bride, made her journey down the aisle, smiling so broadly at her soon-to-be husband.
You didn’t know you were walking to your death, Rebecca.
Can I save you?
I waited. I don’t know how I found the strength to wait. I wanted to have it over with. I wanted to know if I could save the three Fear girls . . . stop the curse . . . save everyone.
The ceremony began. I could hear only a mumble of voices from here in the very back. The minister droned on for a while, something about “the sanctity of marriage.” Whatever that means.
A little boy in a black tux near the front kept repeating loudly, “I want ice cream.” His dad grabbed his arm, shook him a little, trying to quiet him.
A burst of wind sent Rebecca’s veil flying like a flag behind her head. Her hair was up like a golden crown.
And then I knew the words were coming. And I knew I had to act before I heard the words You may now kiss the bride.
Before the kiss could take place . . . before the fatal kiss . . . I began to whisper the words of the spell, the spell I’d so recently practiced.
I whispered the words rapidly, so eager now to end the curse . . . to prevent the murders.
I had nearly completed it . . . I knew I could do it. I knew I could send Peter Goode cartwheeling over the cliff edge. . . . Yes . . . Yes . . . Good-bye, Peter Goode.
I was on the final words—
—when someone grabbed my arm—and started to pull me off my chair.
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