I knew her, but she didn’t know me.
It was the spring of 1960. Thirty years since I’d seen Charlotte Caisson, or at least since I saw a version of her.
The last vestiges of snow had melted, and mud was creeping up along North Road. I kept to the edge of the road and saw her when I peered into the Hollow.
Her hair was different, and she wore a rough uniform of sorts. A medal hung ‘round her neck, and I wondered, for a moment, what she did to win it.
On her hips, she wore a pair of pistols I recognized.
Colt .44s, the butts worn smooth from decades of use.
They were my guns.
When she saw me, her eyes narrowed, and her hands dropped to the revolvers with a speed I admired. Her gaze flicked from my face to the pistols and back again.
But there was no recognition there.
I took a chance and kept my hands away from my Colts. I folded my arms across my chest and nodded to her.
“Charlotte.” Her name rolled across the Hollow, and she stiffened when she heard it.
“Who are you?” She spoke in high German, and it was flawless.
She took a step back, and even from my place by the wall, I saw her knuckles tighten on the pistols.
I smiled at her. “You’re not the Charlotte I knew.”
Some of the tension eased from her shoulders, but she kept her hands tight upon the guns. “Nor are you the Duncan I knew. You’re older.”
“Did you take the guns from him?”
She let out a snort of laughter. “From Duncan Blood? No. He left them in my care. He said he wouldn’t need them. Not where he was going.”
A note of sadness slipped into her words, and pain tinged her eyes.
“Where was he going?”
“To Hell,” she answered.
I raised an eyebrow.
“His cousin. Your cousin, too, I suppose. She called to him.”
“You know of another who could get you to travel willingly to Hell?”
I shook my head.
“Neither do I,” she sighed. Charlotte let go of her guns, ran her fingers through her hair and asked, “Do you still live alone?”
“Let’s just say there’s no human company. None living at least.” I hesitated, then smiled. “Would you care for dinner?”
“I would,” she said. “If there’s breakfast to follow.”
I promised her there would be.