DEBORAH C. WILDING 

                  Historical Fiction Author and Golden Heart Finalist

     November, 1941

     Honolulu


‚Äč     It was only a coincidence. A strange and curious coincidence.

   That was my first reaction when the grandfather clock in the hallway stopped. Just like that. I'd been winding it regularly. Yet, the hands were pointing to exactly the time I had been born.

     Later, I turned the whole thing over in my mind. Gave it more thought. But in the afternoon hush when the clock fell silent, when I fit a key into the cabinet to restart the pendulum, it honestly never occurred to me that events had been set in motion much earlier.

****

     "Perhaps you'll need a shooting range."

     Was the man mad? I glanced up to see him repressing a smile, but unable to hide the sparkle in his eyes. "Why, no. I was planning one for archery." He had an agreeably surprised expression that invited me to continue. "I was captain of the archery team in college, and I've hit my share of bulls-eyes."

     Touche, Mr. Sumida.

     "I'll remember to stay out of your way during target practice," he said laughing.

     "I'm a good shot with a rifle, too."

     We laughed together then, and I felt my mood lifting to match the good-natured teasing he'd started. Our awkward meeting seemed behind us as I relaxed into naturalness.

     The soft light of early evening filtered through the front door as we stood quietly in the vestibule for a few moments. The smell of rain was in the air--but coming from the next valley over. It was what I loved about Hawaii, the changes that flew across the landscape in a single day. Mother used to tell me, "If you don't like the weather now, just wait five minutes."

     "I'd like to come back in a couple of days to see how your renovations are going, if that's all right. I'll bring some drawings that show details for repairing the porch balusters and this doorframe. See how the designs have chipped away?" 

He ran his strong fingers across the mottled wood.

     My reverie was so encompassing I had almost forgotten who I was with. As if I'd known this stranger longer than just a few minutes and we had formed a comfortable familiarity between us. In my mind, he changed into someone from an earlier time--a likeness blurred by passing years but brimming with intensity. I'm sure we had been standing together at nightfall like this before, looking through the darkening trees. That other persona became so real I turned... to find him watching me.