One Last Day
Upon waking, I feel sick. I sprint to the bathroom as a wave of nausea wracks my body. What little I have in my stomach is now in the toilet.
For a quick moment, I fear it’s morning sickness, but then I remember I have the arm implant birth control. Nothing to worry about there.
It’s like a slap to the face when I realize it’s Saturday. We have one last day of peace before a day of misery.
After that, Paige and I will either stay to see life as America knows it, end, or we go back to 2019. Our lives will end as we know them once again. We lose something, either way.
“Are you all right?” William asks as he stands by the door, concern masking his face. I nod, still queasy. I brush my teeth and return to bed, exhausted.
I only sleep a few more hours before waking up again. William and I walk to the house to see Paige. She tells me what Evelyn and Betty said about the wedding and I feel horrible for not trusting them.
As much as I thought I changed on my journey, I’m still not particularly attentive to how my actions affect others. Caring about how those actions affect others is an improvement so at least I’ve changed a little.
I need to let the ladies know how appreciative I am of them and to apologize. It’s the last day to do or say anything meaningful.
Tomorrow will be filled with so much… awfulness. I won’t have time for anything else.
William and I reach the house which is already humming with activity. I stroll in with one purpose: to get everybody I love in the same place for one last night.
I want… no; I need to let each and everyone know how blessed I am to have met them and how much they mean to me.
Betty, Evelyn, Ethel, and Mary sit at the round kitchen table picking at toast as they chat and laugh with each other. I beam at the sight of them so lively and carefree. I struggle not to think about that ending.
Paige stumbles out of the room we once shared. Her hair is a wild nest of contrasting shades of brown. I notice Paige’s hair has lightened significantly from being in the sun.
Paige rubs her eyes before focusing her gaze on us.
“Morning, Liv, William,” Paige says, her voice still thick with sleep. I smile at her, but it doesn’t reach my eyes.
As much as I want to enjoy the day, I can’t help feeling saddened by it.
“Good morning, Paige. I wanted to have a “going away party” tonight to have everybody we care about in one place… so we can say goodbye,” I reply air quoting going away party.
Paige’s expression changes from a lazy one to one filled with absolute sorrow. She nods solemnly before bringing our idea to the girls.
“Morning, guys. I want to be the first to tell you we’re probably going home tomorrow and I think it would be fun to get everyone together to say goodbye,” I say, my voice cracking on goodbye.
“Do you have to go? Isn’t this your home now?” Mary asks. Tears threaten.
“This has been more of a home to us than anywhere we’ve ever lived, thanks to you all, but we don’t have a choice,” Paige explains when I can’t bear to.
Paige and I are met with sad looks that break my heart over and over again.
“And you, William?” Betty asks. William, who has been hanging back until now, walks up behind me, putting his hands on my shoulders.
“Olivia is my wife. I go where she does.” William looks down at me sadly. He knows he cannot follow where Paige and I are going.
It’s still so uncertain what Fate might do, but we have to follow the patterns. The patterns say we’ll travel again after the event we are here for here ends.
I still can’t say whether we were only brought here for our soulmates or if the historical events we land in have something to do with it too. I might never know for sure. It doesn’t really matter now.
“It’s settled then. We’ll have a going away party today. Invite who you’d like. We’ll take care of everything,” Betty says, standing.
The other girls nod their agreements and I feel such love for each and every one.
“Thank you. You have no idea how much you all mean to us,” Paige says, her voice thick with emotion.
I grab Paige’s hand and squeeze. She is not alone and she never will be. Whatever else we go through together or apart, we will always have this amazing journey to connect us.
My room is bright with the morning sun reminding me of all I’m leaving behind. I wipe stray tears away from my eyes. The encounter in the kitchen was so heartfelt and genuine; I can’t help the stupid tears. I’m so sick of crying. It’s never been something I do a lot of and especially not in front of people.
This whole journey has been me crying like I’m not in control of my emotions. I usually just swallow all the unpleasantness in my life and take it in stride.
People call me cold and unfeeling, but I’m just not that into ridiculous emotional displays of my sadness. I’ll deal with it in my own way and in my own time.
I change into one of the nicest dresses I have for the party and go back out to the living room. Theo is waiting for me. He comes over to me, smiling, and kisses me once.
“Hey, we’re having a going-away party tonight for Liv and me. You should invite Daniel and some others,” I say.
Theo’s expression is filled with sadness at the mention of me leaving. He grabs me tight and holds me for a long time. I can hear his heartbeat as my head rests on his chest.
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll invite some people. Would you like to come with me?” Theo says gruffly trying to suppress his emotions. I look up at him and smile.
Once Theo and I let everyone know where we’re going, we drive in his car to a hangar holding Navy planes in need of repairs. A few people are there trying their best to fix the simpler issues.
Theo and I walk in holding hands, and almost immediately, I hear the men whistle. I blush and try to hide it in Theo’s shoulder. I realize only Daniel, Roger, and Rodrigo are there.
“Ah, shut it! We came to invite you to a party tonight!” Theo shouts. They all come down from their perches.
“What kind of party?” Daniel asks, wiping greasy hands on a towel.
“It’s a going-away party, actually,” I reply.
“Uh… me and Olivia,” I say.
Daniel gives me a curious look and sends Theo a questioning one. I give him a small smile. Daniel just nods.
“Well, I’ll be there. I don’t know about you boys.”
Roger and Rodrigo give hoots and howls of assent.
“Hey, Theodore, your plane is ready,” Daniel says, pointing off to the right. A lone plane sits in front of the wide opening.
“She needs to be taken out and tested. I was going to do it, but since you’re here…” Daniel says, giving Theo a look.
Theo smiles at Daniel and takes my hand, pulling me to the plane. I’m standing in front of it remembering the last time my dad took me out on his plane.
I look at the nose and see a simple lettered name: Paige.
“You put my name on your plane?” I ask, stunned. Theo scratches the back of his head shyly.
“Well, yeah. The Navy prohibits nose art, but sometimes they let us put names. I put yours on here after you told me where you came from. I want to remember you tangibly in case you leave,” Theo replies.
I kiss him quickly, so touched by the gesture. When Theo pulls away, he looks at his plane.
“Do you want to go up with me?” Theo asks.
“Can I do that?” I ask.
“Eh, it’s not strictly allowed, but who cares?” I lift an eyebrow.
“Your commanding officers might,” I say.
Theo smiles a wicked smile. Daniel is pushing the stairs over so we can get in.
“Have a good flight,” Daniel says.
Theo goes up the stairs first and gets situated. I nervously walk up the stairs and sit on his lap. The top closes and Theo starts the engine. He waits for Daniel’s all clear, then we nudge out of the hangar.
I’m nervous that someone will catch us and Theo will get in trouble, but it’s Saturday, and no one is here.
The plane speeds down the runway and then I feel my stomach rise as the plane lifts off the ground. We lift higher into the sky until everything on the ground looks tiny.
I can see the whole island and the blue water. God, it’s gorgeous. This island really is paradise. Theo kisses my cheek when he sees me marveling.
“You see this every day?” I ask.
“Yeah, we’re training so we can go fight Nazis if they ever let us in the war,” Theo says like it’s no big deal.
My heart stops. He’ll be in the war sooner than he thinks, but it won’t be the Nazis he’s fighting.
I dispel the thoughts of the inevitable so I can just enjoy this ride. I nestle back into Theo. I can feel his smile on my ear.
“I love you,” he whispers into it.
“I love you too, more than anything,” I reply.
We fly for a while all around the island. I can see the Makapu’u Lighthouse where Theo and I had our first date.
The sky is clear blue with few clouds. We fly through them. Sometimes Theo does barrel rolls and I find myself looking down at the ocean. I can only just see a pod of dolphins jumping out of the water.
Before we’ve been gone too long to cause suspicion, Theo flies back to the hangar. No one is here but Daniel. When the plane turns off, Daniel brings the stairs to the side. Theo presses a button and the glass pops back. With Daniel’s help, I get out of the plane, Theo following behind.
“Thank you,” I say to both Theo and Daniel.
“No problem. See you guys at the party. I’ll miss you, Paige,” Daniel says, giving me an unexpected hug.
“The plane is good to go,” Theo says to Daniel, but his voice isn’t very animated.
Theo and I don’t stay any longer, but Theo wants to go walk the beach before going back to the house.
We walk hand in hand along the water. The waves break gently against my legs and the soothing temperature feels nice. Neither of us speaks for a long while.
“Were we stupid for continuing this relationship when we both knew you were probably going home soon?” Theo asks suddenly. Hearing him say it is a stab to my heart.
“It’s probably my fault. I knew it was a bad idea to get involved with anyone, but I think Fate sent me here to find you. How do you ignore that?”
Theo huffs. I know he’s just angry at the whole situation, but it still hurts.
“I don’t think you can ignore Fate. If we were supposed to meet and fall in love, that’s what would have happened regardless of anything we did. Maybe our choices would have changed some circumstances, but the endgame was already set in place,” Theo replies, sounding defeated. He brings my hand up to his mouth and kisses it lightly.
“Don’t think I don’t thank God every day that I met you and don’t think I love you any less. I love you more than I can ever describe. I’m just broken-hearted that you might be leaving tomorrow and I can’t go with you,” Theo says, softly now.
“I am too. If you could, would you really come to 2019 with me?” I ask, smirking.
“I would follow you to the ends of the Earth if it meant I got to be with you,” Theo replies. I smile.
“I love you more than you’ll ever know. This adventure has given me more than I can ever repay,” I say. Theo gives me a curious look.
“Besides me, what else has it given you?” he asks.
“Oh, friends. I’ve never had so many people care about me. It’s given me confidence and I no longer feel invisible. People are going to miss me when I’m gone. I never had that back home. The only people that would miss me is family, but also I never had so many people I would miss if I left either. I will miss everyone so much when I go, but no one more than you.”
Theo stops us and pulls me into a massive hug. He holds me as if he never wanted to let go. I’d be happy to stay here for the rest of my life. I lift my head towards him so I can kiss him. It’s weird to know I have a limited amount of kisses left.
Theo and I eventually wander back to the house. I can see the party arrangements are well underway. Olivia glances up at me from whatever she’s doing and gives me a small but sad smile. She feels what I’m feeling, and she’s losing what I’m losing: A family.
It’s nice that the girls, who we’ve known for only a few weeks, are throwing us a party. It hasn’t been long since they found Paige and me alone and shoeless on the street. They offered us a home, a job, and friendship. They’ve become some of the greatest friends I’ve ever had.
I didn’t see it at the time, but I realize the friends I had back home aren’t that great. They’re people I got into trouble with. People I talked shit with. People who aren’t nice.
I never really had one singular best friend, aside from Paige. It’s always been a large group of friends that are “popular”. The girls are spoiled brats and the boys are just jerks most of the time.
Betty, Evelyn, Ethel, and Mary are all genuine people. They never talk badly about others to their faces or behind their backs. If they have a problem with something you did, they’ll straight up let you know. I respect that.
I enjoy their presence and personalities. This has been the first time I feel like I can be myself around my friends. Before, everything was about appearances and you had to act a certain way, which is why I never defended Paige as I should have.
William and I are making decorations for the party. I don’t know why we need decorations, but Ethel insists we do. William and I sit in the living room on the floor doing as Ethel instructed. It’s nice to be able to spend time with William alone while still being in the presence of everyone else.
Theo and Paige have been gone a while. I figure they’re trying to spend some time alone. Theo had to work for the last few days, and they only have today left. No one knows that more than Paige. She’ll try to squeeze every second of time with him that she can.
I watch William as he works. His strong hands deftly tie little knots at the ends of a banner we’re putting together. Every movement he makes is as graceful as a ballet dancer. William, to me, is perfect. Of course, I know he’s far from that, but every day he works to be kind, compassionate and accepting of everyone. Especially me.
The decorations are finished and getting hung around the house when Paige and Theo walk in. I think they look—maybe sad isn’t the right word — desolate? I give Paige a small smile which she returns. A silent understanding passes between us.
A delicious smell emanates from the kitchen. Evelyn and Mary are in there cooking up some fantastic food for the party. I know it’s nearing time for people to arrive.
As if on cue, the doorbell rings. Betty answers the door finding Daniel and two other Navy guys standing on the porch. One has a box in his hand. Daniel has a bottle of wine. Another has a bouquet of flowers. It’s sweet of them to bring gifts.
“For you,” Daniel says, holding the bottle of wine out to Betty.
“Thank you. Please come in.” Betty opens the door wider as she takes the bottle of wine. The men come in one right after the other. Upon walking into the kitchen, Daniel greets Paige by kissing her cheek and hugging her. The other guys do the same, each giving Paige their gifts. I walk into the kitchen to see what she got besides the flowers.
Inside the brown box is a necklace. It has a simple silver chain, but the pendant is in the shape of a small hibiscus flower, which is common in Hawaii. It looks like it’s made of red glass and in the middle, there’s a piece of pink coral encapsulated in clear glass. Paige looks like she’s on the verge of tears.
“What’s this, guys?” Paige asks.
“Don’t forget your home or any of us, wherever you go,” Daniel says, a little sheepish. He tries hard to be a very sarcastic man on the outside, but inside, I can see he cares a lot about Paige. Paige smiles and puts it around her neck. Theo hooks the clasp quickly.
Paige touches the pendant gently and smiles at the men. She knows them better than I do. I recognize them from Thanksgiving and the few times we’ve hung out since.
“Thank you, guys. It’s an amazing gift. You didn’t have to do that,” Paige says.
“You’re Theo’s girl and that means your family,” a blonde man replies. His name is… Roger. That means the other is Rodrigo.
Paige beams at them, and I can tell she’s happy. It’ll only make leaving that much harder since she has so many people to say goodbye to.
After the gushing thanks, Theo reintroduces all his friends to William and me. It hasn’t been that long, but a lot has happened since then. The girls come into the kitchen to join us. Evelyn and Ethel quickly reacquaint themselves with Roger and Rodrigo.
Betty pops open the bottle of wine that Daniel brought. She fills enough glasses for the eleven of us.
“A toast to the women of the hour, Paige and Olivia,” Betty announces lifting her glass and continues, “It hasn’t been long since we met you, but it’s not the amount of time spent that matters, it the quality of time. You two are the kindest souls I’ve ever met. You were dealt some bad cards, but you didn’t let that make you bitter. I know Paige helped me in more ways than I can ever thank her for.”
Betty glances at Mary, who gives her a knowing smile. Paige told me what’s been going on between them and it makes me happy to see them together. Everyone deserves what I have with William.
Everyone clinks glasses with those nearest them and drinks a gulp. I can see the iffy look on Paige’s face and laugh. I think Daniel has chosen well. It’s a nice red wine.
William grabs my hand as he speaks next.
“When I met you it was like a fire was lit inside my heart. I knew then that I would never want to be with anyone else. Ours hasn’t been a normal relationship by any means, but Betty is right, it’s not the amount of time, but the quality, and I think we’ve made the most of the time we’ve had together.” William smiles down at me and it’s as if everyone else in the room disappeared.
“Paige, oh my dear sweet Paige. Theodore was so insufferable before you came along. He’s only a little less so, but at least you occupy most of his time so we don’t have to look at his sad little face,” Daniel starts, but he can’t help laughing. Theo throws a punch at Daniel’s arm.
“I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Seriously though, I’m glad Theo found you. You have a genuine heart and the people you’ve brought into our lives are just as amazing as you are. I’m glad to know all of you and thank you, Paige and Olivia, for making that possible.” Daniel lifts his glass again and guzzles the rest of his wine.
Everyone decides to do their own speech with varying degrees of humor and sadness. This is the perfect time to let everyone know what they mean to me.
“This… journey we’ve been on has been full of adventure, terror, happiness, and sadness, but the thing I’ve felt the most since the beginning is how much love there’s been. Obviously, Paige and I both fell in love, but I want every one of you to know that I love you so much. You’ve been a wonderful family to us when we didn’t have one to speak of. I know I can never begin to thank you enough for everything you’ve done and given us, but just know I will never forget you or your kindness.” I smile at every one of them.
The rest of the night is spent in easy conversation, a ridiculous amount of laughter, and playing games. The most important thing is that we spent it together.
I live today like it’s my last day on Earth. I let myself feel everything from gratitude to despair. I’m not going to lie to myself even if it makes me feel better. Realizing how deeply I care about everyone here makes me more scared for tomorrow. I know I can’t bear it if any of them get hurt when I’ve said nothing to prevent it. I imagine the girls will be fine in the hospital. I’m more worried about Theo, Daniel, Roger, and Rodrigo.
I put the thoughts aside so I can enjoy tonight and I have. It’s coming to a close though and I know if I’m going to say something to protect my friends, I have to say it before everyone goes home. I pull Theo aside.
“They shouldn’t go back to the ship tonight,” I say loud enough for others to hear.
“Why? Do you know something?” he asks me. I don’t want to lie to him, but I made my mind up a long time ago. All I can do now is try to keep everyone safe without spilling the beans.
“No, it’s just William got us all rooms for the night at the hotel he’s staying at. I thought it would be a nice way to end our party,” I reply, trying to make my voice sound brighter than I feel.
Theo nods, but I can see some lingering suspicion. I haven’t said anything to anyone, but William and I think this will be the best way to keep those we care about safe. I don’t want anyone trapped inside a torpedoed ship. I know I can’t deal with the guilt. I’ll have enough to deal with without getting one of my friends killed.
Sometimes we only have hard choices to make, but we still have to make them… no matter how much we wish we didn’t.
“Yes, I did. I have all the keys here. They have a wonderful bar if we want to head there now,” William chimes in pulling the room keys out of his pocket. I’ll owe William big time for this. It probably wasn’t cheap to get all those rooms even for just one night.
Everyone whoops and grabs the keys William is holding out. Everyone’s pretty buzzed, but the hotel isn’t that far from the house so we walk as a group.
There are only a few people scattered around the large area. There’s a table big enough for the eleven of us and we sit down and order more drinks. William is kind enough to open a tab.
“Order whatever you’d like. This is all on me tonight,” William says, lifting his glass of… whiskey, maybe.
I know it’s out of the ordinary for me to be so weird about the alcohol I drink. Most people my age are out getting hammered every weekend on whatever cheap shit their older siblings buy for them. Not me. Alcohol leaves an awful taste in my mouth, so I drink it only occasionally.
Tonight, like many other nights on the island, is an occasion. Besides, Hawaii has some nice fruity drinks where the alcohol is barely discernible.
Together we drink into the late hours of the night. When midnight strikes, my stomach drops to my feet. It’s December seventh and the hours are melting away. I’m glad when everyone calls it a night so I can escape to be alone with Theo.
Theo and I walk hand in hand up to our room. As fun as tonight has been, it’s all drenched in a sadness we can’t ignore.
With the laughter gone and everyone headed to bed, we can no longer ignore the glaring reason for the party. I’m probably leaving, and Theo cannot follow. There’s no point living in the fantasy that we might stay. We’ll miss our important goodbyes if we do. Better to be a realist in this scenario and face the music.
Theo unlocks the door and holds it open for me to enter. My cello sits on its stand in the middle of the room, inviting me to play it. I smile like I do every time I see a cello. It never fails to unleash happiness inside me.
“Play for me?” Theo asks. I smile and walk over, gently caressing the strings. They rumble a little.
“Won’t we get in trouble for the noise? It’s nearly one in the morning,” I ask, but my body longs to play.
“Ah, who cares?” Theo replies. I smile wider and sit down at the desk chair.
I pull the cello to me and I check to see if she’s tuned. Theo sits on the enormous bed and waits patiently for the music to envelope him.
I feel the music flow through me, but I can only play sad music. I’m just not up to playing anything upbeat. It’s enough though to fill me with contentedness.
Theo sits and listens with a serene smile on his face. I play until we get a call from the front desk telling us to stop an hour later. I reluctantly set the cello back on its stand and undress for bed.
I lay beside Theo staring up at the ceiling for a long time before turning to look at him. We stare into each other’s eyes for an eternity.
“I love you. Please try not to forget that,” I say. My eyes struggle to stay open.
“I couldn’t forget. I love you too, Paige,” Theo replies. He sounds far away then my eyes close and I’m fast asleep.