This story was based on a moment in my life. It was a few years ago, and my friend Hayli and I were at a vegan, gluten-free bakery in Portland, because that’s what Portland does. And Hayli got a somewhat disappointing scone and made a remark that has stuck with me. I wrote it down at the time, and I just spent quite a while going through my old notebooks to look for the exact quote: “So many things get away with being called scones, that just aren’t. And it’s just not really helping me have faith in life.”
“I’ve never been a big fan of scones,” remarked Tracy, as she and Elizabeth exited the bakery.
“I like them if they’re done right,” Elizabeth mused, tucking her raven-colored hair behind her ear. “But I feel like there are a lot of baked goods these days that are being passed off as scones, even though they’re clearly something else entirely.”
“Oh, sometimes they’re obviously biscuits, particularly the savory ones. Often, they’re just muffins, but dry and shaped like a triangle. But usually they are . . . I don’t know . . . something else, and I can’t quite figure it out, but they’re definitely not scones. So, it’s gotten to the point where, anytime I go to a new place that sells scones, I get one, just to see if they’re on the level.”
“And?” Tracy raised a quizzical eyebrow.
“Well, I haven’t tried this one yet,” said Elizabeth. “I’m not quite hungry. It’ll be my afternoon snack. Anyway, this is me.” She gestured to her blue Subaru Outback. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
Later that day, Elizabeth sat down at her olive-green metal desk with a sigh. She pulled the brown waxed paper parcel from her drawer, removed the scone, and eyed it skeptically. Then she closed her eyes and took a big bite of crumbly, blackberry-studded pastry.
“Oooooh, holy crap,” she uttered. Now that was a scone.
Then she opened her eyes and found herself in completely unfamiliar surroundings.
“What the-?” Elizabeth dropped the scone onto a suddenly-wooden desk. Her computer had been replaced by a typewriter. The photos scattered around the desk were in a completely new configuration, and they were all black-and-white. She squinted at one, confirming that it was no one she knew.
Just when she thought things couldn’t get any stranger, a severe-looking woman walked into her office, dressed in some kind of early-20th-century costume. They stared at each other for a shocked moment.
“Who are you?” The newcomer recovered her wits first. “What are you doing at my desk?”
“I’m- I’m sorry, I thought this was my desk,” Elizabeth stammered. “This is the Van Winckle Building, isn’t it?”
“It certainly is,” the woman narrowed her eyes, pursed her lips, crossed her arms over her ample bosom, and looked Elizabeth up and down.
“And what is more, I know every single person who works in this building, and you, madam, do not. If you are going to try to pass yourself off as a professional, I suggest next time you do it in a less outlandish outfit, and you try it with someone other than the CEO’s secretary.”
Elizabeth looked down at her drab business casual togs. Outlandish? She began to have a suspicion about that scone.
“What year would you say this is?” she asked.
“What year? What year? What kind of a joke is this?” the other woman snapped. “It is 1922, and you know it. What year, indeed. Now, you better blouse, or I’m calling security!”
“I better what?”
The secretary put her hands on the front of the desk and leaned over the typewriter. “You heard me. Scram! March your fanny back to whatever flapper cult you rolled out of!”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. Flapper cult, indeed. “With pleasure.”
Picking the scone back up, she closed her eyes again and took another bite. She paused to pray that this would work.
She opened her eyes.
Everything was back to normal. Breathing a sigh of relief, Elizabeth wrapped up the rest of the scone and dropped it in the trash.
“Just my luck,” she said. “The first good scone I’ve had in weeks, and it turns out to be a trigger for time travel.”