It’s my great pleasure to offer Part 10 in ‘His Way Home’, a round-robin short story being written by Harper Impulse authors. One by one we have been adding a few hundred words to a story sparked by the picture below, and now here we are, the penultimate part! If you’re new to the story, use the links below to catch up, and I hope you enjoy as Walter’s story comes towards its close… and head on over to Mandy Baggot‘s this time next week for the concluding part!
Part 1 : Lori Connelly Part 2 : Sarah Lefebve Part 3 : Zara Stoneley Part 4 : Lynn Marie Hulsman Part 5 : Romy Sommer Part 6 : Jane Lark Park 7 : Teresa Morgan Part 8 : Carmel Harrington Part 9 : Sue Fortin
Matthew turned to look at his apparent ancestor. “And how do you do that?” he demanded, still uncomfortable with the sheer strangeness of it all. “How does it work? Is there a portal, or some place we need to take you to? Through this weather?” He gestured at the window pane, through which the darkness of the stormy evening outside was only broken by the white of snow flurries thrown by the wind against the old glass.
Walter smiled a soft, old smile. “You and Beth have already taken me to where I need to be, Matthew. To my daughter. Home.”
“You must leave us,” Alice added quietly. “Leave and don’t look back. But we will see you again, now that you know. I will come to see your beautiful daughter.”
“Leave?” Beth balked, looking again at the tempest lashing outside, feeling the strength of the wind pressing against the cabin walls.
“Don’t be afraid,” Walter assured her, moving to stand next to Alice. They were all-of-a-sudden growing indistinct, their edges blurring into the firelight behind them. “You have to go. It’s not time for you to come home yet.”
And suddenly Beth felt a new power thrumming through the air, through the wood of the cabin, pressing at the very heart of her, and knew that it had nothing to do with the storm front.
“Matthew,” she urged, plucking at his arm. “We need to leave. Now.”
Matthew looked down at her impatiently, but the argument on his face disappeared when he saw the fear on hers.
“Don’t be afraid,” Alice repeated her father’s words. The easy chair behind her was now starting to grow indistinct, the darkness of the wood bleeding into the paleness of her long skirt. Alice turned her face away and suddenly Beth couldn’t even be sure if she was still there or not.
Walter gave one final smile. As he faded into the cabin he looked younger and younger, and ever more like Matthew.
“This is your heritage,” he told his great-grandson, his face already melted away out of space and time before he’d finished speaking. “Protect it.” Beth wasn’t sure if it was Walter or the cabin itself speaking those final words, or maybe it was both, along with all the Dolvins that had ever been, somehow reaching through to that moment, and the Dolvin that was yet to come, the daughter she now felt sure she would have before the snows came again.