“I’m sorry, I can’t,” I whispered. What else could I say? How could I explain that we were separated not only by thousands of miles – if my memory of where Earhart was lost was correct – but nearly a hundred years? That what we were doing was scientifically impossible? That she’d been declared dead in absentia since my late grandmother was a girl?
“Are you there?” Amelia begged, and here the transmission began to grow fuzzy.
“I’m here,” I said, but now Fred was babbling again in the background.
“George,” he said, “get the suitcase in my closet…”
“…hear me? Can you hear me?” she shouted, trying to speak over him.
“Mary, hey, Mary!” Fred had the microphone now and he was screaming into it. He started to say more and broke down in tears. When someone spoke again, it was Amelia.
“Amelia Earhart,” she said again, stressing the name as if she hoped whoever heard it might try a little harder to find her, get there a little faster.
“You can’t be doing this,” I murmured. I touched the faux-vintage speakers of my radio. “This isn’t possible—“
“Fred, please—“ There was another scuffle before Amelia exhaled sharply. “I’m sorry, what did you tell me to do? What do I do?”
I didn’t say anything. I had pulled out my iPhone and was looking up ‘Amelia Earhart’, trying to find more information. I hadn’t even thought about her since I was a kid and we learned about her in the passing way you learn about everyone who was once important to America. I couldn’t even remember when she’d gone missing.
“SOS,” she cried as I pulled up her Wikipedia article.
1937. Gramma would’ve been 15.
“Will you help me?”