Chapter 9: GIOVANNI ROMANO
22 OCTOBER, 2020
Paige went into labor on a Thursday morning. It was long before dawn; the sun was still absent from the eastern sky. A light drizzle tapped against the windows, and provided soothing ambient noise. I had coaxed Paige into the bathtub, and kept the lights off in my apartment. We sat together, enduring every second of her agony.
She whimpered against my body and suffered an endless amount of pain; I refused to take her to a hospital. She didn’t receive any medical care in the past nine months—I wouldn’t permit it. I kept a low profile for decades; my name would not be on another birth certificate.
According to my present I.D., Giovanni Romano was born in August of 1935. It would be absurd, though not impossible, for an eighty five year-old man to parent a new born child. My present alias was near expiration; Giovanni was growing too old for me. I was fortunate that the University didn’t question it.
I was certain that a pit to hell had opened in the last year, and not because of the quarantine. Paige was a mess. She was disorganized, immature, and reeked of sloth. Our personalities conflicted with one another on a daily basis; our differences were too great. Yet, I still found a way to bond with her through our common interests. Paige was studying anthropology, and ancient history.
She had exceptional tastes in admiral men. We spent many hours discussing Alexander the Great and Leonidas I. I also pushed her to complete statistics during quarantine, though she was no longer officially enrolled. Paige was smart and fascinating despite her despicable qualities as an adolescent.
“Please take me to the hospital!” She began to shriek as another contraction began. They were happening within minutes of each other now, indicating that she was preparing to foal. “Please, please! Gio—vanni!” Paige screamed, her voice echoed throughout my bathroom and bounced off the subway tile lining its walls. Her hollering was deafening.
“Quiet Paige, its two a-m you’re going to wake the neighbors!” I shook her naked, pregnant body. She rubbed her arms beneath the blanket I had wrapped her in. Paige rocked herself in my lap; we sat in about twenty centimeters of warm water, I changed it as needed.
“I need a doctor Giovanni! I need a doctor!” Her volume escalated, she wasn’t listening.
“Absolutely not, you do not need a doctor; women have been delivering at home for centuries! You’ve got this Paige!” My words caused her to become more frantic; since I was denying her pleas.
“No! No, no! Giovanni, I need a doctor!” Paige screeched while kicking her legs, her thrashing sent water outside the tub. I leaned forward and slipped my moist shirt over my head.
“Stop it Paige! I am your doctor!” I rolled up the fabric into a tube and gripped her mandible, encouraging her to open her mouth.
“You’re not a doctor Giovanni! You’re a freaking demigod, can’t you do anything? Oh God!” She tipped her head back as another rush of pain consumed her. I took the opportunity to slip the cotton in-between her teeth.
“Bite down…bite down!” Paige took my advice and desperately clenched the fabric with her jaw. “That’s it… easy.” I lightly rubbed my thumb on Paige’s round face. The rate of her breathing accelerated as her contractions inched closer together. She groaned loudly into the rag of my shirt, it was my only way to control her volume.
Paige birthed a petite baby girl that she affectionately named Amelia. I washed, dried and delivered her fatigued body to my bed; grateful that the past twenty-four hours were over. Her infant wailed as she continued to breathe the stuffy air of my apartment. I cradled the child’s tiny body against my chest as I paced around my apartment. Amelia’s wrinkled, hairless scalp peeked beyond a blanket I had wrapped her in.
She was so fresh that she was helpless; I almost pitied her. Paige was indisposed after reaching my mattress. She was exhausted—but she did it, as I expected her to.
Amelia began to settle from my movements; she ousted a nearly inaudible squeak and looked up at me. Her innocence encouraged a grin to spread across my face, and I took her out onto my patio. The sun was still absent from the sky; soon to make its entrance near the top of the hour. A breeze slipped across our exposed skin; it was a bit chilly, but warm enough to exist outside without a jacket.
Amelia produced another animal-like sound, as she studied the big word through her underdeveloped eyesight.
“You are privileged, my child—for today is your first day. From now on, you will experience many firsts. You are blessed with a new life, and this is your life, so make each first a grand one.” I spoke in the early morning air. Paige’s infant whimpered, she was growing cold and I soon would be required to take her inside.
The glow of the sun began to fill the eastern horizon; its presence connected me with home; with France, and with my people in Europe. I sighed as my eyes became interlocked with the horizon; fate consumed it; I could only blame myself for my predicament.
“When lost, look to the sun Amelia… and beneath its rays you will feel whole again. It is the only body that is capable of truly connecting people. That is why I greet it with an open soul, every day, of every year for two hundred years.”
My flashback ended and my conscious returned as I stood before Arthur, deep in contemplation. I thought back on Paige, and my now six month daughter. The task before me was enormous, and would require my absence for years to come. Paige would be abandoned; Amelia would be without a father. I prohibited her access to my bank account; I had accumulated millions, and I was not to permit her destruction of my fortune.
Every day that passed, was a day passed in another dimension; the same rules would apply if I were to time travel. I was forced to make a decision that would either destroy my present life or unravel the past in order to secure a future for the universe. I wondered what Gaea would think—she was the conscious, soul, creator, and face of the universe, and we were her councilmen.
“Time does not stop for you, Napoleon. Have you made up your mind?” Arthur snapped.
“Yes, I will go,” I decided—open to returning to the third dimension, and to a time I was acquainted with.
“Good, you should arrive right before Adreian matures into his abilities as an Inventor,” the Lion scowled in my direction as he contemplated his next words, “Since I cannot go with you, I will keep a watch on your family. I promise they will be in good hands. I will ensure their protection” I stiffened at his words, both gracious and triggered by them.
“How do I know I can trust you? You once took everything away from me,” I hissed with a solid frown carved in my face. Arthur slipped his hand inside his maroon cashmere suit and removed his medallion. His blue eyes settled on its shape for a moment—it was identical to the one I possessed. Its ownership once signified a place on the council. Arthur then tossed it to me.
“There, take that as my collateral. Now we both have something precious of one another.”
I held Arthur’s promise dear; there was no guarantee of what would happen upon my return to the past. I was eager to walk amongst my people again, and hear their voices and the sound of my maiden languages in the breeze. Adreian was a young boy in the year 1804; his execution would be a difficult task to accomplish. One, returning to the past would grant me a chance to get close to him—since I never did initially. And two—Adreian bore my beating heart, killing him would mean ending my own life; including me in the past.