I slept solidly for four days, without ever once waking up or dreaming. I suppose I must not have eaten either, for I certainly didn't eat anything of my own accord--how could I, when I was completely unconscious? Later, Maria told me of how she had helped Grace feed me with watery porridge on a spoon, and how she had thought I was going to die.
"You were so pale," she told me. "So white and so pale and you didn't move. It looked like you were dead already." So I had lain there--at least, this is what I was told when eventually I awoke--and Grace had attended to me each and every day, kneeling at my bedside. William, upon hearing of this, was heard to remark that that was why ballet was a stupid idea.
When I woke it was for about three hours, during which I was filled in on everything that had happened. Maria was the first to see my eyes flicker open. "Mother! Mother! She's awake!" Grace had come running and together they spoke of the long hours wondering whether I was going to make it through. But soon I was asleep again, and that was the sleep that changed everything.
I still missed my home, but after very nearly a year in the Victorian home I was now used to my new life, and I had resigned myself to staying there. Every now and again I would find myself overcome, and sometimes it was too much to bear, but by and by I usually managed well enough. This was my life now, and I knew that. I told myself that if ever I returned home I would find a way to carry on with ballet.
When I woke up, the bed in which I lay was not the bed I had been sleeping on, and I was confused. It was too soft, and the quilt was too light; there were no curtains surrounding me, so the light from the gap in the curtains shone straight into my eyes. The gap in the curtains? Grace never left gaps in the curtains, and nor did Annie.
"Maria? Grace?" I whispered hoarsely, before realising that unlike when I went to sleep, I was now completely and utterly alone. "Where are you?" No one answered. "Hello?" I put out a hand and touched the wall: it was paper, not the fabric-like coverings I was used to. Hardly daring to believe it, I sat up, and found that my exhaustion had almost completely gone. Then I looked around.
The bed was pushed up against a wall, painted green and adorned with various bookshelves, a whiteboard that was also magnetic and some photographs of me at various Irish Dancing competitions. The bed itself was low and made of pine, with yellow sheets and a yellow quilt cover that matched the pillow; it stood on a rug that was brightly coloured in blue, brown, green and yellow, and on that also stood a pine desk, a laptop resting on its surface.
"No..." I whispered. Not because I didn't want it to be true, but because I didn't believe that it could be. "No." Everything was exactly as I remembered it, and it was with disbelief that I picked up my mobile phone and slid it open, checking for messages. None. I looked at the date--no time had passed, and yet I was older. I had the body of somebody who was almost sixteen, a muscular ballet dancer with long hair and bright eyes, but I was by law only fourteen, just weeks from my fifteenth birthday.
"I'm home." Was it a dream? But I still wore the nightshirt that in my illness Annie had clothed me in, and my body was evidence. "Home." Finally, after eleven and a half months in the wrong era, I was home.