Portal in Time

Portal in Time

by Gail Rae-Garwood


Publisher Gail Rae-Garwood

Published in Romance/Paranormal, Romance/Time Travel, Romance, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description


Jesse has always dreamed of living in 1885. Colin wants Jesse to marry their time: 2010. You see, Jesse's children have discovered a time travel portal in their Victorian home. Her neighbors know nothing of this time travel, only Colin does. But he figures out he may be the descendant of their 1885 neighbors. Now Jesse must choose. Does she stay in 1885 even if it means no Colin? Or does she give up her dream of living in 1885? Love, time travel, family life, independence, intermarriage, intergenerational conflicts - Jesse faces it all and makes it work.

Sample Chapter


Even squinting I can’t see the skyscrapers that should be across the bay. Dumbfounded, I realize my downhill neighbor’s house is not there either. I get goose bumps and feel myself start to shake, but just a little.

I look down the hill again only to see telephone poles with a single wire. I am in my yard, and yet, it isn’t the same. Am I hallucinating? Dreaming? My yard is different, incomplete. I whirl around trying to see what else is different when I see them.

I gasp. They’re different, old fashioned. It’s their clothing. I’ve seen it before, but only in books and museums. Two strangers stand on the other side of where my non-existent chain link fence should be. And where is that fence? I slam my eyes shut tight.

I am Jesse Reiman. I have two little girls. I just bought this house. It is 2010. We live in Staten Island. I am Jesse Reiman. I have two little girls. I just bought this house. It is 2010. We live in Staten Island.

I open my eyes. They’re still there. I blink several times checking to make sure this all won’t go away. It doesn’t. That’s when I come to a realization that I can’t quite accept.

Oh, my God, this isn’t a dream… or an hallucination. Look at their clothes! It must be close to 1885, my year, the one I research, wish upon, long for. But, that’s – well – crazy.

The demure little woman, obviously younger than I, and much slimmer I can’t help noticing,hurries toward me, taking little steps and holding her plaid shawl tightly against the chill. I don’t know her.

“It’s been months since we removed here. We heard your children playing in the yard and decided to introduce ourselves. I hope this is not an imposition.”

I watch transfixed as she stops abruptly and stands smiling just feet away from me in her own yard, not mine. The man takes only a dozen strides to stand right behind her.

The woman encourages me with little nods of her head as I attempt to walk up the grassy slope to them. It isn’t easy with the extra pounds I carry and how slippery the slope is.

Slope? There shouldn’t be a slope here. Where are the stairs I’d been meaning to have repaired? Where is the loose railing I keep warning the kids about?

I feel as if I’m walking underwater, and so, make slow progress. I assume I’m still in shock at having walked through a wall. The wall! That’s how we got here. That’s not possible, is it? Things like this don’t happen, do they? But the kids are here, too, I acknowledge. I hear them chattering to each other.

My foot catches on my long skirt and I stumble. I attempt to right myself on the little heeled shoes I wear. Wait, where did these come from? What happened to my clogs? And my easy fit jeans?

I know I should be frightened, but I’m fascinated. No, I’m more than fascinated. It’s my obsession with 1885 paying off, sort of like one of my Victorian books come to life. I take a deep breath and raise my chin just a little. Crazy or not, I like this – a lot.

“I’m Jesse.” I force myself to smile back, hoping I don’t look as perplexed as I feel. I gesture toward my children as if it were the most natural thing in the world to address two people I don’t know dressed in 19th century clothes standing in my neighbor’s yard while I’m wearing the same kind of clothes and my yard is different.

“Those are my daughters, Beckie and Serena.” I do a double take as I see they’re dressed as miniatures of me, but cover my surprise nicely. Does this mean we’re all crazy? How can they be part of my insanity? Is this a group hallucination?

“How do you do, Mrs. Jesse? We were eagerly awaiting your arrival. I was so eager to have a woman close by. We live so very far from the city. I was beginning to despair at how lonely I would be living on Staten Island, even this close to the ferry. I’m Mrs. Gramus and this – of course – is my husband, Mr. Gramus.”

From the corner of my eye, I see little flashes of brown in the grass, but quickly decide I can deal with whatever they are later. Now I want to know who these people are. And why my kids and I are here, even if it means lots of therapy for me.

She turns to face her husband, “Forgive me for speaking out of turn.” I am flabbergasted at her subservience, the reaction of a sane person, I’m sure.

Bunnies… the flashes must be bunnies hopping in the grass. My mind seems to be going in many different directions at once.

He directs a brusque nod in her general direction, ignoring the bunnies, my confusion, my children who are playing a short distance down the long yard, then turns to me again just as I decide to pipe up and establish my identity.

“No, Jesse is my given name. Our last name is Reiman.” In the midst of all this strangeness, I’m concerned that the Gramuses understand which is my last name? And just how do I think that’s going to inform them we’re not supposed to be here? We can’t really be here, can we?

Or do I mean in this time rather than here? My house is from 1885, but I’m not. I belong in 2010. They don’t. Their clothes, their speech. How can we be in 1885?

As she averts her face, I catch how bright red it’s become at my response. Mrs. Gramus keeps playing with that too-small-to-be-of-any-use embroidered handkerchief in her hand, twisting it this way, then that.

“Forgive me. It is rather odd to hear your given name when we’ve just met. I simply presumed you were offering your surname.”

Her husband throws her a barely perceptible frown while I stare at his handlebar moustache. What prompts that look? And how long did it take him to learn to make the ends of that moustache so perfect?

He continues for her, “We tend to be somewhat informal here in the country. We intend no offense.” Silence. Clearing of the throat. “Ahem, Reiman, is that a Jewish name?” He doesn’t look at me.

I gaze around me, taking in the lack of a fence at the end of the yard and between our yards, and more importantly, the lack of any other houses as far as I can see beyond my house and what I presume is theirs. Why is this man talking about my religion? I didn’t ask about his.

I ignore what I consider his rude question and ask one of my own mimicking their speech as best I can. “Uh, when did you come to reside in your home?” I try not to stare at their strangely familiar clothing, her ornately done hair, his curled moustache. I know I’m not crazy. Would a crazy person be annoyed by his question?

I barely hear, “In September,” so soft is Mrs. Gramus’s voice when she answers.

“Yes, but what year?” Damn! I can hear the pushiness in my voice.

I sneak a peek at the kids again. They’re still wearing those clothes. I bring my eyes right back to this couple. I’m afraid they’ll disappear if I turn away. Or maybe I’m afraid they won’t.

“Why, this year, of course.” There goes that poor little handkerchief again.

They seem at a loss and I gather they suppose me dimwitted. Not that I really care about that right now.

“But what year is this year?” I bark. Silence as they shift uncomfortably, she causing her blue and green taffeta skirt to rustle as they come just a teeny bit closer.

I notice the sun bouncing off the tortoise shell combs in her hair. I raise my hand to my own hair only to discover the cool smoothness that must be silver and understand I’m wearing silver combs in my usually untamable hair.

Her voice is soft, sympathetic, almost pitying. I can barely tolerate that she talks to me like that. “It is 1885, of course. Doesn’t your husband allow you to read the newspapers?”

This, of course, is senseless. That is my favorite year, but it is also a long, long time ago. Stalling, I smooth my velveteen skirt, tuck in my high collared blouse, push my tight sleeves up the little bit they’ll go and pull them down again as I think.

My house was built in 1885. We’re dressed in Victorian clothing. Their language is formal. Most of the trees and shrubs seem immature, except for those separating the house from the street.

My mind functions at lightning speed, logical and objective for the first time since this started. This is the year I dream about living in. The one I buy book after book about. The one I watch movies about. No, it can’t be. Oh, my God, this is not a dream or hallucination. I’m not crazy or dimwitted.

“Are you sure?” I find myself the one whispering now as I keep my eyes firmly on my sash.

They fidget, appearing not to know how to treat me. He twirls his moustache with both hands while she mimics my actions, maybe not realizing she does so. Maybe they think me worse than dimwitted. They look at each other, at me, at my family, but they don’t answer.

Then, his face softens. Surprisingly, he takes his wife’s hand and caresses it before responding, almost as if to silence this woman who isn’t speaking. When he does respond, it is in a slow and deliberate manner.

“Yes, I’m certain. Would you care to view this week’s Staten Island Gazette and Sentinel? I may easily have it retrieved from my drawing room for you.”

How can I inform them we’re from their future if they can’t even accept my questioning today’s date? I forage in my mind, coming up with nothing anywhere near appropriate to say in this bizarre circumstance.

“Mom.” We jump just a bit at the sound of Beckie’s high, clear voice. The kids seem happy and safe so I paid no attention to them until now. Is that smart?

He drops his wife’s hand and she goes back to tormenting her handkerchief. Beckie’s voice carries so clearly this far uphill from the bay. Or is it that we hear no other neighbors, no other children, not even a car – or maybe I should say carriage.

“Serena won’t believe me. She’s crying because her doll is a little girl and not her Barbie. I told her that Barbie is safely inside, but she wants to see for herself. Can we go in now?”

I silently thank her for rescuing me from having to answer the Gramuses. It strikes me that she and her sister readily accept the situation. Maybe this isn’t something to fear, this appearing in a different time without warning.

I look at the couple. ”Excuse me. It’s a family matter. I’m certain we’ll meet again very soon. After all, we are neighbors.” I give them what I hope is a smile.

I speak lightly, not wanting to alert them to the strangeness of the situation, at least not until I figure out just what is happening here. They’ve already shown me they don’t think it strange at all. Somehow, the three of us, my daughters and I, fit in their world. They don’t have a clue how truly different we are.

I turn on my heel to gather the kids, noticing how tightly my corset is holding in my girth, and feel my neighbors’ eyes burn a hole in my back as I do. They stand there for just a moment, not even long enough for me to reach my daughters.

“Well, then, until next time,” Mr. Gramus calls after me as they make their obviously reluctant way into their own home, practically a duplicate of ours, at least from the outside.

Once I reach the girls, I stand there, not speaking, stroking their long hair, gazing at the blue of the sky, the blue of the bay and the blue of their dolls’ long dresses until I hear my neighbors’ door close. But my kids don’t have dolls with long dresses. Or they didn’t.

“Serena, it’s all right. You’ll see Barbie soon. Thanks for coming to get me, Beckie. You’re a good big sister. Have I told you lately that I love you?”

They giggle. I used the title of a popular contemporary song – to our time, that is - they usually mock since it’s about ‘love stuff.’ Ah, but Serena’s tears have stopped.

“Mom, I found candy in my pocket. I didn’t eat it because you told us not to take anything from strangers and I didn’t know who put it there. But, Mom, I put it in my doll’s mouth and it came out her foot. How did that happen? Do you think dolls should come with candy? This is so great! Can we take the dolls back with us?”

“Can I try? My doll doesn’t do that. It’s not fair! And she’s a little girl, not a Barbie!!”

They talk about these dolls the same way they talk about anything else that’s commonplace in their lives. For them, we’re here and this is just the way it is.

They bicker while I hang on to something Beckie said. She wants to take the doll back with her. So they know we are in a different place, no, time. And they don’t think they’re crazy. They know they’re here. And I admit it: I do, too.

I don’t talk about this or the differences they surely must notice in our yard. Why aren’t my inquisitive kids asking about those differences? I grasp my daughters’ shoulders, turning them toward our new home. At least it still looks like the old house I’ve just bought.

“Ready? Let’s go find Barbie.”

I lead the way to the back wall of the wine cellar, something I have no use for that was considered a necessity when the house was built. I lead the way back to the time where we belong. The century old brick looks new. How? And why hadn’t I noticed? I fervently hope we can walk through that wall back to the time we were born into. The kids tell me it’ll be cool to countdown from three like on a space mission, so we do.


Excerpted from "Portal in Time" by Gail Rae-Garwood. Copyright © 2016 by Gail Rae-Garwood. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Gail Rae-Garwood

Gail Rae-Garwood

Gail Rae-Garwood has been a non-fiction writer for over 30 years, specializing in living with Chronic Kidney Disease for the last nine. Portal in Time, her first novel, is a love child born from her love of all things Victorian and writing. The most outstanding of all the new information Ms. Rae-Garwood learned while writing this book is that fiction is not only stranger than fact, it’s harder to write. She lives with her husband of three years in Arizona where most of her children - all grown – also live. Gail is a former high school teacher in New York and college instructor in both New York and Arizona. Her favorite course to teach was Research Writing, which helped in researching 1885 Staten Island. Ms. Rae-Garwood is also a retired New York/Arizona actress. Her hobby is photography, a necessity for her SlowItDownCKD account on Instagram. You can learn more about Gail on her website at

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