The Night After
I watch the beautiful ceremony through the haze of my tears. Olivia is breathtaking, and she has a smile plastered on her face the entire time. She never looks nervous or unsure. The vows are beautiful and kind of resonate with the predicament we’re in.
After the pastor pronounces them man and wife, Olivia throws her arms around William and they share a passionate kiss.
I glance at Theo, who is looking at me with a loving smile. He silently mouths the words: I love you. We come together to walk behind the newlyweds out of the church.
William has a car waiting to take him and Olivia to a nice restaurant he’s rented out for the evening. Theo and I are to follow so we can celebrate together.
I watch William open the car door for his bride, then happily jogs to the driver’s side. Olivia opens the window and waves at us as the car speeds away.
Theo grabs my hand as we stare after them.
“You look beautiful,” Theo whispers. I smile at him and kiss his cheek.
“Thank you. You look pretty good too, in that uniform. I’m kind of partial to the white ones though,” I reply.
“Those are reserved for summer months. Blue is for winter even though it’s always summer in Hawaii,” Theo explains as he pulls me into a hug and kisses my forehead before hailing a cab.
We arrive at the restaurant a little after Olivia and William. The hostess leads us to the area William rented. It’s a lavish restaurant with a man playing the piano. It would probably usually be bustling with people, but right now it’s quiet except for the soft music.
Olivia and William sit at a table close together, drinking champagne. It reminds me of the first night we met William aboard the Titanic. Theo and I take our seats opposite them and order our drinks.
The night progresses with drinking and fun conversation. When we’re all thoroughly buzzed, the speeches begin. I lift my glass for them and Olivia smiles at me.
“Olivia, my baby sister, my best friend, I am so ridiculously happy for you, you have no idea. I only wish I had my phone so we could take selfies and document this wonderful night. The night we met William was the weirdest day of our lives. Time-traveling isn’t supposed to be possible and yet there we were one hundred and seven years in the past and William was so gentlemanly and kind to help us out the way he did. The whole situation could have gone a lot worse if it wasn’t William we had met, but I think Fate had a hand in it.
“While in high school, there was an old Chinese myth about the Red String of Fate. Obviously, at the time, we treated it as any other myth. It was just a story to teach us something, but now I know that it’s not just a myth. It goes like this: An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, and circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle. But it will never break.
“That sounds too much like our situation to be a coincidence. I truly believe that Fate with a capital F brought us there because William is Olivia’s soulmate and something destined them to meet. We had to travel through time to find our soulmates, but it says regardless of time.
“When we were traveling through time, there were red strings attached to us as the myth said, and we found the other halves connected to you guys. I can’t tell you if everything in our lives is fated to happen a predestined way or if we have some choice in the matter, but what I do know is that a powerful entity brought you two together and we can’t ignore Fate.
“I don’t suppose we will ever know for sure what brought us on this journey through time, but I wish you guys all the happiness in the world and for you to live your lives like today is the last because such is true with anyone. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I think it’s especially true for us. Forgive quickly because you don’t want to be holding a grudge against the one you love, love deeply because it really is the greatest feeling, and find reasons to laugh because every day should be filled with happiness, especially on days where it might be difficult. Those are the days you’ll need it the most. I love you both and want nothing but the absolute best for you and your lives,” I finish, finding myself close to tears.
Olivia is already crying and Theo grabs my leg and squeezes. I look at him with such love and appreciation.
We drink to my speech, and then the couple has their first dance. The piano man plays a nice slow song, and I watch as William and Olivia sway together. They both look as if they are in heaven.
“What’s a selfie?” Theo asks. It’s been quiet for a minute and his question catches me off guard.
“What?” I ask.
“You said you wish you had your phone so you could take selfies. I didn’t understand what you meant,” Theo replies. I laugh.
“Oh. When we’re from, phones evolved. They’re cordless and shaped like little rectangles. You can take them anywhere you go. They can do everything, though. They have cameras built into them. A selfie is a picture you take yourself with your phone when you don’t have someone else to take it for you. Selfies are pretty popular,” I explain.
“I think I only understood half of that,” Theo sighs.
“If we come across a camera. I’ll show you how to take a selfie. Then at least we’ll have a picture together,” I say as the song changes into another.
“May I have this dance?” Theo asks me. I smile and put my hand in his. He leads me to the dance floor and spins me once before he grabs me close to him and we sway too.
I play my cello periodically throughout the evening. Sometimes I play alone, but mostly I play with the piano, easily matching the tune the pianist is playing.
It’s still early in the night when Olivia and William decide it’s time to go back to the hotel. He changed his room for the next week to the honeymoon suite. All I can imagine is a heart-shaped bed with flower petals strewn across the room and a bottle of champagne with chocolate on the pillows. I’m sure it’s nothing like that in reality.
When we all get back to the hotel, William gives us a key.
“I got you two a room for the night. Thank you both for being with us on this special day,” William says. I take the key with a smile.
“Thank you,” I reply, hugging him. I’m so happy to call him my brother. William returns the hug warmly.
“I’m so glad you were here today, Paige. I couldn’t have done it without you. I wish Mom and Dad had been here, but as long as I have you, I know I’ll be okay,” Olivia says hugging me tightly. I tear up… again. GAH!
“I love you,” I reply.
“I love you too,” Olivia whispers before letting me go to take her groom’s hand.
I watch as the doorman opens the door for them, and then they are out of sight.
“Can we go somewhere? There’s someone I want you to meet,” Theo says, taking my hand. I look over at him and nod.
The reception was small, but I still had an amazing time. We had our dance and cake. I threw my bouquet, but obviously, Paige caught it. It wasn’t my vision of a perfect wedding since my parents weren’t there, but it ended up being incredible, anyway.
William’s things had been moved up to the honeymoon suite and we hold hands all the way up. We don’t speak but keep glancing at each other, smiling nervously.
I know what comes next, and I’m ready for it. I know it was important for William to wait until we’re married, but there’s no holding back anymore.
Of course, I’m not a virgin. I’d had sex before with Brad and a few others, but I’m nervous about it this time.
William is my husband, and he means more to me than anyone ever has. It’ll be weird to call him my husband for a while. We’ve never really put a label on our relationship before because it’s just so bizarre. I never planned on getting married so young, but things are different now. Once you know, why wait?
We stop at our room door and William pauses, fumbling in his pockets for the key. His hand shakes as he puts the key into the keyhole. I can tell he’s more nervous than I am. I put my hand on his to steady it. He looks at me with an unfamiliar expression on his face and we turn the key together. The door swings open, and I’m about to walk in when William sweeps me off my feet into his arms. I give him a questioning look.
“The groom is supposed to carry his bride over the threshold,” William explains. I smile and kiss him as he walks into the room.
The room is luxurious. It has a parlor and in a different room, a giant bed with rose petals all over it. There’s more champagne in the bucket of ice. I take in everything in the room and when I stop; I see William staring at me.
“What?” I ask, feeling self-conscious. He gives me a small smile.
“You’re so beautiful. Thank you for doing me the honor of becoming my wife,” he replies. I smile back and walk toward him. I put my hands on his chest and I can feel his heart pounding. William is always so calm and put together. It’s nice to see him disarmed by me.
I lift my hand to undo his bow tie. William stands still as I throw the bow tie to the floor and make quick work of the buttons on his vest. He’s still wearing his dinner jacket, but when the vest is unbuttoned, I shove both off his shoulders until they fall limply to the floor.
William looks down at me. I can see the desire in his eyes. I give his chest light kisses as I unbutton his shirt. I feel William shudder and smile to myself.
When the shirt is on the floor, William grabs me and kisses me hungrily. I return the kiss.
“Undo my buttons,” I say in between breaths and turn around. I feel William’s hand caress my back lightly as he undoes each button on the back of my dress.
When all my buttons are undone, the dress falls to the floor in a crumpled heap. I step out of the dress and lead William to the bed to consummate our marriage.
I lay on William’s bare chest playing with his chest hair. I listen to his heartbeat contentedly. I moved my engagement ring over to my left hand during the reception, and I keep catching glimpses of it as I play with William’s chest hairs.
It is a gorgeous ring, and I’m in love with it. The wedding band is just a simple platinum one, but it sits comfortably with the engagement ring.
“That was amazing,” William breathes. I smile into his chest.
“Yes, that was something special,” I reply, giggling. That was the most incredible experience of my life. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m so ridiculously in love with William or if it’s just that he’s good in bed.
In any case, I wish I could do that with him for the rest of my life. It hits me in the stomach like I got punched that I don’t have the rest of my life with him. The chance that we’ll leave in less than a week is too great for me to hope I could live my life with William. If we were a normal couple, I’d have all the time in the world.
I’ve been given a gift by time-traveling. I would not have met William otherwise and having him, even for so brief a time, is better than not having met him at all. I will cherish every second I’ve been with him and be thankful. I can be thankful for the experience, if not entirely happy by its absence.
I don’t want to ruin our wedding night with my sad thoughts. William catches on to my mood though.
“Are you okay?” William asks. I let out a quick laugh.
“Yeah, I was just thinking too much,” I reply. William’s expression is serious. He turns to face me and I shift to the other side of the bed.
“This time we have now is a gift. I thought I’d never see you again, and I treasured the time I had with you, but here you are now. We missed a lot of time, but I married you. I can say now that I married the love of my life. Whatever happens on Sunday, I will never regret this extra time with you. It’s been the best of my life,” William says with so much passion.
“No matter where or when I go, you will always be my husband. There will not be another for me and I will always be faithful to you,” I reply and lean over to kiss him. That begins round two of our wedding night festivities.
Theo and I end up going to a beach bar we’ve been to a few times before. There’s a man about Theo’s age sitting at a table by himself. Theo walks up to him and claps him on the back. The man looks up and smiles when he sees who it is.
“Hey, man. Are you finally introducing me to your girlfriend?” the man asks once he sees me.
“Yeah, yeah. Paige, this is Daniel. He’s my best friend. We came from New York together,” Theo says. I smile at Daniel and he holds his hand out to me. I shake it and take the seat he offers at the table. Theo sits down next to me.
“Your best friend? Why are you just now introducing us?” I ask, not quite sure what to feel, though I feel like I’ve seen him before. Theo blushes a little.
“Our relationship was new, and I wanted you to myself. Besides, he went home for the holidays and just got back,” Theo says. I smile.
“You’ve known Theo long then?” I ask.
“Oh, we were in diapers together. Our mommas are best friends. Theodore and I are more like brothers,” Daniel replies and I laugh.
“Laugh it up. I’ll get us some drinks,” Theo says, getting up from the table. When he’s gone, Daniel eyes me.
“You’re not going to hurt him, are you?” Daniel asks. I’m taken aback by his abruptness.
“I would never hurt him on purpose,” I reply truthfully, though I’m sure there are some red flags in that response.
“That’s good to know, but I’m more worried about the unintentional damage you might cause. I’ve never seen him like this with anyone. He’s in love with you,” Daniel says gruffly.
“I feel the same way,” I say.
“Good,” Daniel says as Theo walks up with three glasses in his hand. He passes the drinks out, and we clink them together and sip them as we make small talk.
Daniel eyes me through the whole conversation. I can’t tell if I like him. I know he only has Theo’s best interests at heart. He probably doesn’t know if he likes me either. I can respect the man for looking out for his brother. There is nothing I won’t do for my sister.
“I’ve been meaning to ask, what’s the occasion?” Daniel asks, motioning to my dress.
“My sister got married today,” I reply.
“Oh, congratulations. Was it an intimate thing?” he asks.
“Just the four of us. Were you wanting an invitation?” I say.
I don’t know what it is about him, but he brings out a weird side to me. I’ve always been sarcastic, but most people don’t know that because I hardly speak in most social situations. Daniel looks taken aback by my question, but when he realizes what I’m doing, he smiles slowly.
“It would have been nice to invite me, a complete stranger, to your sister’s big day,” Daniel replies. I smile despite myself.
“I’ll let her know to invite you to all future occasions,” I say.
“Good, it’s the least you could do for forgetting me today,” Daniel says. Theo smiles at our banter.
“I knew you guys would end up being friends,” Theo says.
“Friends is a strong word. Let’s settle at neutral acquaintances,” Daniel says, looking at me. I smile sweetly at him.
“Yes, let’s keep it there for now,” I reply.
Daniel smiles back at me and I think we find the kind of relationship we’ll have as the two most important people in Theo’s life.
It’s getting late when we finally make our way back to the hotel. We go straight to the third floor and Theo holds the door open for me. I walk in and look around the room. It’s nice and has a large bed.
Theo smiles at the bed and looks at me with a boyish grin. He rushes me and spins me in a circle. I laugh and when my feet return to the floor; I kiss him happily. He helps me out of my dress. I stand there in my underwear and bra as Theo stares at me. Last night when we made love, we were on a beach in the darkness, unable to see much.
I walk toward him and untie his tie and throw it to the ground. I kiss his neck lightly as I unbutton his dress shirt. Theo nibbles at my ears, causing me to spasm and break into giggles.
“Stop!” I try to yell through my giggles.
“You really want me to stop?” he asks as he picks me up and brings me to the bed.
Theo drops me there unceremoniously and I can’t stop laughing. He finishes off his buttons and throws the shirt somewhere behind him.
He jumps on the bed beside me and we laugh together for what seems like a long time. There are very few people I could feel comfortable enough with to laugh loudly at all, let alone when clad only in my undergarments.
When the laughing ceases, I look right into Theo’s eyes and, in them, I see my whole future. I see a lovely beach wedding with Olivia by my side the way I was by hers. I see kids and grandkids and a lifetime full of laughter and love. I see a wonderfully happy life that only ends in old age.
I stare into those sky-blue eyes and feel sadness. I’m pretty sure any future I have with Theo ends in six days.
“What’s wrong?” he asks when he sees my smile falter.
“I love you,” I reply. He looks confused.
“That makes you sad?” he asks.
“I saw a whole wonderful life for us, but I know it will never be. I have a feeling that I’ll be leaving here soon. I don’t know if we’ll go somewhere else or maybe we’ll finally go home, but I’m not even sure it’s home anymore. I feel at home when I’m with you,” I explain.
I don’t want to let on that I know something is coming. I decided not to tell Theo about the Japanese bombing. I don’t know if that’s the right choice, but it’s the choice I made.
Theo looks sad too at the prospect I might be leaving.
“Maybe you do go home soon. There’s nothing we can do about that. We can make the most of our lives in the days we have left, though. Let’s be happy and let’s be nauseatingly in love,” Theo replies.
I don’t know how he makes me feel better about the prospect of being separated from him by like seventy years, but he does. There’s no sense in moping around. We have six days left and I’ll make the most of them.
I lean forward and kiss him. He must have felt the urgency in my kiss because he pulls me closer to him and kisses me back.
We make love again and sleep together on the comfiest bed I’ve slept on since leaving 2019.