Oh, How the Days Rolls On
I request to have the day of the wedding and the day after off from work so William and I stay in bed, naked, most of Tuesday.
When we get hungry, room service brings meals to our room. William and I put on the fancy hotel bathrobes to eat then we go back to whatever we were in the middle of before room service interrupted.
I don’t hear from Paige for the whole day. She’s most likely giving me space to be alone with my husband in the days left, but I feel conflicted about the whole thing.
Paige and I have been so sure we will leave on Sunday because that’s what happened last time. If Fate brought us here to find our soulmates, why would Fate make us leave now that we both found them? Are we only destined to meet, not live our lives together? If that’s the case, what a cruel trick.
I want to go home to my old life and my parents, but with everything being so perfect here, I’m not as eager to go. I weigh the pros and cons of staying and leaving as if there’s any choice in the matter.
The pros far outweigh the cons, but it’s pointless thinking about it. Whatever happens with us on Sunday will happen even if I analyze everything to death. I decide to shelf my thoughts and close my eyes to take a nap with William.
We spend the rest of the day much the same and our night too. Since my vacation from work ends Wednesday, William gets up with me and we eat breakfast together.
William walks me to the hospital, and we stop at the front steps. I watch as Paige walks from the house. When we catch her eye, she smiles looking upbeat.
“Mornin’ guys. How did your day go yesterday?” she asks.
“It went well. Thank you for asking. Have a good day, ladies. I’ll see you later,” William says, leaning down to kiss me before departing in the hotel’s direction.
“Bye!” Paige calls after him. She receives a wave in response and we walk up the steps together.
“This whole experience has been incredible. How about you?” I say, resuming our conversation.
“I worked and in the afternoon, Theo and Daniel taught me to surf,” Paige says.
“Who’s Daniel?” I ask, confused.
“Oh, Daniel is Theo’s best friend. Theo introduced us the night of your wedding. He and Daniel are both excellent surfers, so they taught me,” Paige replies.
“Fun times,” I respond. Paige and I walk into the ward to see the other girls shuffling around beginning their day.
“I hope you enjoyed your vacation, but now’s the time to change the linens,” Betty greets.
“The vacation was wonderful. Thanks for asking,” I reply, walking toward the closet with the fresh sheets and things.
Paige follows me, and we spend most of the morning changing sheets on every bed in the place. I treat a few minor burns, but it’s a slow day.
“I’m supposed to go surfing again today with Theo and Daniel. You and William should come,” Paige says to me as she fluffs a pillow a few beds down.
“Yeah, that sounds like fun,” I reply.
I want to be a recluse and just stay indoors with William all day every day, but that isn’t healthy. We have to continue with our lives. Besides, I’ve never gone more than a few days without seeing, or at least speaking, to Paige. It’s easy in 2019 because we could just text, but less easy here when you don’t know if anyone is by a phone or not.
The day goes by slowly, as it does when there’s something to look forward to. After an age though, the workday ends and Paige and I leave the hospital.
William, Theo, and Daniel are waiting at the front of the building for us. I look at William and think I’m the luckiest woman alive to call that man mine. He half-smiles at me as he takes my hand and we make our way to the beach.
It’s a wonderful day out, and the water has amazing waves. It’s all picture perfect for a day spent at the beach in the company of those closest to me.
Theo introduces me to Daniel immediately, and I don’t know how I feel about him. He’s kind of off-putting. He jokes around with Paige sarcastically.
Paige must like him for her to talk to him that way, but he’s abrupt and not very easygoing. Daniel seems to like Paige though, and that’s good enough. Theo isn’t the kind of guy to let anyone speak badly of Paige, anyway.
William rents us some surfboards while Paige and I change into our bathing suits. I took a few surfing lessons with Mom and Dad when I was in Hawaii last, but it’s been a while. I hardly remember anything. I think I could at least get up on the board without making too much of an ass out of myself.
“Don’t laugh at my pathetic attempts to surf,” I say as we approach the water.
All the men look at home, even William, who I don’t think has much surfing experience.
“Never, love,” William says with a smirk. I roll my eyes and we descend into the crystal water.
“Can’t promise anything, sister,” Theo says, smiling at me.
The boys take turns reminding me how to paddle out then how to stand when a wave comes. Paige seems like a natural and, man, does she look in the zone. She’s always wanted to learn to surf. I’m glad she’s doing something besides cello 24/7.
We all spend several hours surfing. Well, I won’t call what I did surfing exactly. I spend several hours doing a series of very graceful falls into the water. The four of them laugh at me every time, but I’m still having a blast. I’m glad to get out of my head.
Since we left home an eternity ago, it’s been nothing but awful choices to make and a shit ton of stress over said choices. It’s been loneliness and sadness, but it’s also been a lot of other great things too. It’s been a wild adventure I never thought possible with a lot of new experiences I never expected to have. It’s been full of unexpected love and a lot of fun.
After we change, we all have dinner and drinks at a beach bar. Those are plentiful on the island and have an amazing atmosphere. I love them.
We spend many more hours at a table talking about whatever. We have to be careful with Daniel here since he doesn’t know everything.
The night ends late with William and I retreating to our suite, Daniel and Theo going back to their boat or ship or whatever, and Paige heading back to the house.
I feel bad because I’m sure Paige is getting the third degree from the other girls wondering where I am every night, but she hasn’t said anything. I think she’s protecting me in a way and I appreciate her for it.
Paige has always been an amazing big sister and, looking back on my life, I realize I haven’t always been a good little sister.
I should never have let Brad talk about her or to her the way he did. His friends weren’t much better. I never stood up for her the way I should have. I don’t deserve a sister like Paige, but I am grateful I have her.
If anything good came from this trip, and a lot has, it’s my newfound appreciation for Paige and all the growing up I’ve done over the last few weeks.
I get home that night after an afternoon with William, Olivia, Theo, and Daniel to Betty waiting for me on the front porch. I sigh when I see her because I know I’m in for some grilling.
The girls have been casually asking me the last few days where Olivia is and I’ve been brushing off their questions, but it must be serious now.
Betty is not a woman to mess with. She’s strong-willed and sometimes harsh. I take a deep breath and prepare myself.
Betty smiles a small smile at me and pats the step next to where she is sitting. I sit obediently.
“How was your afternoon?” Betty asks politely. I smile a little.
“It was fun. We went surfing,” I reply hesitantly.
“I’d like you to tell me where Olivia has been. I figure she’s with William, but do you know how improper it is for an unmarried woman to be spending nights with a man.”
A flash of anger rips through me. What business is it of Betty’s anyway? The anger dissipates quickly though. I feel bad because she has been kind to us by lending us a room for free and getting us a job at the hospital even with zero experience beforehand.
“Olivia and William got married,” I say, defeated. Betty nods.
“I see. The age difference doesn’t bother any of you?” she asks.
“It’s complicated, but as long as she’s happy and William treats her well, I know my parents approve,” I say.
“You could have told me. I’m not your mother. If Olivia wants to stay with her husband, that’s none of my business. I would have liked to know so I don’t wait up for her.”
“I’m sorry. We should have told you,” I say feeling guilty.
“The girls and I would have supported her at the wedding if she would have invited us,” Betty says. I think it hurt her for us to exclude them.
“I’m sorry we didn’t invite you guys. Olivia was scared you wouldn’t understand. The age difference is significant,” I reply, trying to justify it.
“I hoped she would trust us enough. I know it hasn’t been long, but I didn’t think we’d given her reason to think we wouldn’t have supported her,” Betty says. I slump feeling horrible. Betty sees it.
“I’m not trying to make you feel bad. I just want you both to know that we are here for you. Love is love after all and you can’t help who you fall in love with,” Betty says smiling sadly as she gets up from the step and pats my shoulder before going into the house.
I have a realization about Betty and I’m sad for her. It must be hard to love someone of the same gender in this time. I wish it isn’t so condemned. At least people like her have hope for the future.
There’s still a lot of work to be done to get to where they deserve to be, but most people are accepting, as they should be.
I sit there for a while looking at the stars. I feel terrible for excluding the girls. They have been so kind to us. Still, it isn’t my place to invite people if the bride didn’t want them.
I finally go inside to go to bed. I’m walking to my room when I hear a voice.
“Is everything okay?” Evelyn whispers. I nearly jump out of my skin.
“Jeez, Evelyn. You scared me,” I reply, my heart beating fast. Evelyn giggles.
“Sorry, Paige. I didn’t mean to scare you.” I shake my head.
“It’s fine. I’m okay. Thank you for asking,” I reply. Evelyn smiles sympathetically.
“You’ve been gone a lot. I just wanted to make sure,” Evelyn says, smiling.
“Oh, it’s no big deal. It’s just… well, I kinda fell in love with Theo, so I’ve been spending all my time with him. He’s been taking me all over the island and he’s teaching me how to surf,” I say, thinking I can tell her that much.
Evelyn nearly squeals with excitement. Women in this time seem to be more into finding husbands than being successful at a job or anything else — at least in my experience — so any gossip about men is always welcome.
“Oh. That’s so romantic. Did Olivia and William take their relationship to the next level? They’ve been spending a lot more time together and act very couply in public,” Evelyn asks, sounding only excited and genuinely interested.
“It’s not my place to tell you… but yes, they got married yesterday,” I say, trying to sound diabolically gossipy too.
Evelyn squeals again, jumping up and clapping her hands. I laugh and shake my head at the ridiculousness of it.
I imagine this must be what it’s like to have a female best friend. I mean I have Jada; I guess. I wouldn’t classify her as my best friend though. Since I’m not interested in any of the boys I know back home, we didn’t gossip about anything.
Jada is a violinist, so most of our conversations were music-related or we played together. Olivia is the only one I ever talked to about anything deep or important and she isn’t like Evelyn.
“I’m pretty beat so I’m heading to bed,” I say, patting Evelyn on the arm.
Evelyn smiles at me and gives me a giant hug before going to her room. I shake my head, smiling as I head to mine.
I lay in bed for a long while staring at the ceiling in the darkness. I try not to let myself think about Sunday too much. It’s just too depressing. I’m loving my new life — however temporary it is — so much more than I ever expected. I don’t want to contemplate leaving.
No matter what I’m doing, I know in the back of my mind that the day is growing ever closer. Even if we stay in this time, December seventh will change everything. Theo will go off to war and I’d have to wait, worried he might not make it back to me.
I honestly don’t know what’s worse; leaving him forever to go back to 2019 or to stay in this time and have him fight in World War II in the Pacific theater, most likely. The Japanese aren’t afraid to die and that makes them more dangerous than the Germans.
I grunt and turn to my side, frustrated. Some days I wish we stayed in 2019, so I don’t have all these impossible situations to stress over when I can’t do anything about them, anyway. Most days though, I’m grateful. Theo has been the light in my life that I didn’t know I was missing.
I stare up at the ceiling. I can’t sleep and I spend a lot of time tossing and turning. William turns towards me and looks at me lazily.
“What’s wrong?” he asks sleepily. I feel bad I woke him up with my restlessness.
“Nothing. Why would you think something’s wrong?” I say not wanting to bother him with my useless stressing. William snorts and I turn my body so we’re facing each other.
“What?” I demand.
“You’re lying,” he says with a laugh. I glare at him.
“So, what’s wrong?” William asks again.
“Nothing. I was just thinking about Sunday. I’m scared,” I say, and I can feel the tears I don’t want to shed form on my eyes.
William smiles a little and wipes away several tears that are dive-bombing my cheeks.
“It’ll be a horrific day for everyone. Knowing you’ll be in the thick of it scares me more than those Japanese planes, but there’s nothing we can do about it. We have such limited time left if you’re right about leaving, so let’s not worry about the things we can’t control and make the most of the time we have left,” William says caressing my cheek. I grab his wrist as I sniffle.
“You’re right. We have three days left so let’s try to make them wonderful,” I say, sniffing again.
“I love you, Liv. No amount of time between us will ever change that, and I’m confident you’ll be amazing in that hospital,” William says, pulling me closer to him.
I happily move forward until our chests touch, and William’s fingers caress my back lightly.
“I love you too,” I whisper back and kiss him.
I fall asleep quickly after that, safe in William’s arms. I have dreams that night, but instead of the usual nightmares about the Titanic that I usually have, I dream of a beautiful large home and two young children.
There’s a girl and a younger boy. They are laughing at something when William comes in and grabs the boy. He spins the boy around before giving him a big hug. The boy squeals with delight and I can feel myself smiling widely.
I know in my heart these are our children. William is younger, closer to the age he had been when we met. I realize now that this is what our lives would have been like if I stayed in 1912.
I can’t help myself from being sad about that perfect life being dangled in front of me just for it to get ripped away.
William is right about the fact that we can’t control what’s happening to us. We just have to roll with the punches and be happy when we can. What’s the point in spending all this time being bitter over what I lost? I’ll only lose more time being angry.
The image of my perfect family shatters and I’m staring at the harbor, but instead of being the picture of paradise, it looks like a battlefield. It’s on fire and smoke fills the sky, turning it from a beautiful blue to a sinister gray.
I wake up some hours later with a start, breathing heavily. I imagine the last parts of the dream are of what’s coming.
I struggle to leave William long enough to go to work and that makes me feel anxious. I enjoy working at the hospital immensely, but knowing I have a time limit makes it even more difficult to get out of bed to go.
Once I’m at work, it’s okay as long as I’m busy. Most days aren’t busy though, so I end up missing William. I’m not sure what he does when I’m gone.
William brings Paige and me lunch today, and we eat on the front steps of the hospital. It’s Thursday already. I’ve been ticking off the days in my head as we get closer to the end; the end of our time in Hawaii, the end of my time with William.
William speaks animatedly with Paige and it makes my heart dance that they get along so well. We are all laughing one minute and the next; I see Paige staring up at the sky.
“This is it, guys,” she says not yet looking at us.
“What do you mean?” William asks, looking up at the sky after her.
“We only have a few days left until all this ends,” Paige replies still not looking at us. Neither William nor I say anything for a minute.
“Well, I want to say that I’m glad I met you both,” William says, squeezing my hand.
“Of course you’re glad you met your wife. You married her, you must like her a little,” Paige says sarcastically, rolling her eyes.
“I’m glad I met you too, Paige. You’re very special and I’m happy to call you sister,” William replies.
Paige looks so taken aback by the compliment, my heart sinks. She just isn’t used to being spoken to with such sincerity.
There’s no rhyme or reason why everyone in every school we went to was awful to Paige. Kids are just awful and your reputation in school really does follow you.
Maybe Paige doesn’t help herself by being antisocial, but no one, not even Jada, expresses happiness at being her friend.
I see Paige wipe a tear away from her eye and sniffles.
“I love you too, brother, damn,” she says.
“Who are you loving? It’s supposed to be just me,” a voice says from behind us. Paige turns around excitedly and gets up to greet Theo.
“Hey! I wasn’t expecting to see you today,” Paige says hugging him. Theo pecks her quickly and replies,
“Yeah, I won’t be able to get away later, but I just wanted to see you for a minute on lunch while I have the chance,” Theo says keeping hold of Paige around the waist.
“Oh, well, thank you for coming to see me. It always makes my day,” Paige replies.
William and I stand and start walking back up the steps to the hospital. We leave Paige and Theo alone. William grabs my hand as we walk.
“Thank you,” I say looking up at him. He glances down sideways at me.
“Whatever for?” he asks.
“For what you said to Paige,” I reply.
“It was nothing but the truth,” William says. I smile and look back at the ground.
“I know, but thanks for saying it out loud. Sometimes, I think she doesn’t know how awesome she is. It was probably nice for her to hear it from you,” I explain. William nods thoughtfully.
We stop at the front doors, and William pulls me into a hug. He kisses the top of my head.
“Love you, Liv. I’ll see you later,” William says, walking away.
I hold on to his hand until he’s too far away, then it slips and falls to my side.
“Love you, too,” I say. William smiles and turns to head home. I sigh and walk into the hospital. I see Paige running after me so I hold the door open for her. Her face is alight with happiness and I can’t help but smile at my amazing big sis.
I run into the hospital through the door Olivia’s holding for me. Lunch leaves me feeling giddy. Hearing William say those things to me means a lot more than I thought they would.
It overjoys me that Olivia’s soulmate is someone as amazing as William and not a dickwad like Brad.
When we get into the main ward, I catch Betty staring at Mary. I focus my full attention on Betty and see her expression is filled with longing as she watches Mary talking with Ethel happily.
I see the way Mary smiles and laughs and flips her hair and realize Betty’s in love with her. I smile and go over to Betty. She needs to know there’s someone in her corner.
I don’t know how Mary will feel about the whole thing, but Betty deserves to at least make her feelings known.
“Love is love, you know. You don’t get a say in who you fall in love with,” I say under my breath as we stand together. Betty looks over at me with an alarmed expression. I smile at her and shrug.
“There’s nothing wrong with you no matter how many people say there is. Maybe you should tell Mary how you feel. She might just feel the same way. If you want to be happy, someone’s got to take the first step towards it,” I say. Betty lets out of quick breath and nods.
“Thank you, Paige,” she says, smiling as she marches up to Mary and leads her to a secluded part of the hospital.
I smile after them, wishing Betty the best of luck.
“What’s all that about?” Olivia asks nodding in their direction.
“Betty’s taking her step towards happiness,” I reply and say no more. I walk away and I know Olivia’s expression is one of confusion.
The rest of the day goes on at a decent pace. Since Theo is working tonight, I have nothing to look forward to.
I realize though that I have a cello again and it has been so long since I sat down to practice or just to play.
I decide I’ll play when I get home and it has me feeling almost as happy as spending the night with Theo.
When it’s finally quitting time, I leave with the other girls to go home while Olivia goes back to the hotel with William, who has been waiting for her. They walk away hand in hand.
I glance over at Betty and Mary. They don’t look distressed. They walk side by side, but they seem content. I take it as a good sign. Mary doesn’t seem to have freaked out on Betty. I smile as I make small talk with Evelyn.
When I get home, I grab my cello from the bedroom, get a kitchen chair, and stick it under a tree in the shade.
I don’t have any sheet music, but that’s okay. I play a wide range of music so often; I have it memorized.
I sit and methodically lengthen the endpin then I tune the cello until it’s perfect. I play whatever song comes to my mind first. When one song finishes, I play another and another until I can feel the familiar ache in my arm muscles. I smile and play through the soreness.
I play a wide range of music. Some are happy and upbeat while others are more melancholy.
I always shut my eyes when I play, letting my muscle memory take over. When I finally open them, I see I have an audience. Betty, Mary, Ethel, and Evelyn are all seated on the porch watching me play along with some of our neighbors.
I finish out the song I’m playing and everyone erupts into applause. I smile at them shyly, self-conscious.
I wish someday I won’t feel so uncomfortable with the praise. In the back of my mind, I know I’m a talented cellist, but I’ve never been one to toot my own horn.
“Encore!” Mary shouts. I can’t help my smile. I laugh and begin playing some modern songs they’ll never hear again.
I feel the joy of playing melt any fear I have about the bombing or leaving or anything. Feeling the vibration of the strings as the bow slides across them relaxes my body and I’m on top of the world.
After my encore, I open my eyes and see the sun has slid below the horizon. Theo leans against a tree with a serene smile on his face. He looks angelic with the sunset behind him.
It would make a pretty amazing picture if I had a camera or my cell phone.
“Hey,” I say, smiling.
“You are amazing,” he says as he walks toward me. I sit my cello down on its side and get up to hug him. Theo kisses me quickly.
“I can’t stay. I just wanted to see you before bed. I heard you playing and stayed to listen to you. I love the way you look when you play. It’s like you’re in heaven,” Theo describes.
“I’m glad you stopped by. I hope I’ll see you tomorrow,” I say.
“I’ve got to work tomorrow all day, but I’ll pop in when I can. I have Saturday and Sunday off so we can hang out this weekend,” Theo replies.
Oh, you’ll be working on Sunday, I think to myself.
“Great, I’ll see you tomorrow then. Goodnight. I love you,” I say, trying to stay upbeat.
“I love you too. Night,” Theo replies, kissing me once and running off into the night.
I pack up my cello and head into the house. The girls and neighbors had gone inside when Theo arrived to give me some privacy, but they bombard me when I walk in the door.
“You’re so amazing, Paige,” Evelyn gushes.
“You sound heavenly when you play,” says Ethel.
“You look so wonderfully at home when you have a cello in your hand,” Betty says, then she drops her voice into a whisper.
“Thank you for today. It worked out well. Mary feels the same way. You’ll never know how much what you said means to me,” she finishes.
I smile up at her and Mary. Mary gives me a shy smile in return.
“Thank you guys for the kind words,” I reply, heading to my room. Before I shut the door, I shout,
I receive a chorus of goodnights back and shut the door with a smile. Those girls have been a kind of family I didn’t know I wanted.