I sit up and rub my head, trying to dispel the vertigo I’m feeling. I look around, spotting Paige close to me still lying down. I scoot myself over to her, not yet trusting my legs enough to stand.
“Paige,” I say, shaking her shoulder. “Paige, wake up.”
Paige groans a little before opening her eyes. I let out the breath I was holding, relieved she isn’t hurt.
I look at our surroundings a little better. It’s nighttime, and I’ve never seen so many stars in my life.
I peer out further and see only blackness. We’re on a ship, I know that much. I can hear the rush of water breaking against the ship. The ground below us is the deck, and the stretch of blackness must be the ocean.
Now that I have time to think, it’s freezing. Since we live in Vegas, both of us are wearing shorts and tank tops.
“Where are we?” Paige asks, looking around. She has an uneasy expression on her face. I could guess what she’s thinking. I’m her little sister, and it’s her responsibility to look after me. She constantly says that when I get into trouble while she’s watching me and here we are, on a ship in the middle of God knows where.
“I don’t know, we’re on a ship though,” I reply, still sitting.
Paige is bracing herself against the side of the ship just to get to a standing position. She’s looking over the side when I notice the color on her face shift from pale ivory to ivory with a greenish tinge. Wherever we are, on a ship is the last place Paige would choose to be. She always gets super seasick. I chuckle at her under my breath when I hear a male voice.
“Can I be of service to you?” The voice is deep, thick with an Irish accent.
I look up to see the same handsome man that flitted through my mind before we traveled here, wherever here is. The young man offers me his hand. I accept it and he gently hoists me to a standing position. He holds my elbow until he’s confident I won’t tumble over.
When he stands straight up, I can tell he’s tall, at least six foot two. He’s lean and muscular, but not exceedingly so. He has reddish hair cut close at the sides, leaving it longer on the top. It’s gelled into a perfect hairdo. In the dimly lit night, I can see his eyes are green and his teeth straight. I stare at him and I’m positive my mouth is open cartoonishly.
“William James McCarthy at your service, Miss,” he says, smiling as he puts his hand to his heart and bows.
I am utterly speechless. I’ve never been presented with this kind of chivalry before. Paige is too busy throwing up over the side of the ship to acknowledge William James McCarthy.
“May I have your name, Miss?” he asks expectantly.
“Oh, yes… uh… my name is Olivia,” I reply, as eloquent as ever. I internally kick myself. It’s then that Paige looks at the man speaking with me.
“Where are we?” she asks. William looks wide-eyed in her direction, then a little perplexed.
“You’re aboard the R.M.S. Titanic, Miss. It left Southampton yesterday afternoon,” he responds.
Paige looks at me with an expression of confusion mixed with absolute fear, then hurls over the side of the ship again. I imagine this time it isn’t because of seasickness. I feel like doing the same. How the hell did we get aboard the Titanic, which sank one hundred and seven years earlier?
“Might I ask why you young ladies are in such a state of undress?” William asks, being careful not to let his eyes linger on us for too long. Very polite, I think.
“This will sound like an odd question, but can you tell me what year it is?” I ask, realizing I sound like a lunatic.
If we really are on the Titanic, it means we time traveled one hundred and seven years into the past. The more plausible explanation is that we are a part of some super realistic reenactment. I’m hoping if it is a reenactment, this William won’t be so into his character to offer me false information.
“Why, it’s the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and twelve,” William replies.
I nod slowly, feeling a fresh wave of nausea wash over me. My mind is flying a million miles a minute. Paige has been throwing up during the entire exchange, so she has nothing to offer. I don’t know what to say. I’m so overwhelmed, speculating just how in the hell we landed aboard the Titanic and in 1912.
How is time travel even an actual thing? And don’t you need a time machine or something? We were literally in a museum looking at a replica of a promenade deck a few minutes ago. It’s too much of a coincidence that we were at the Titanic museum and then ended up aboard the Titanic.
The bigger question is: what happens in four days when this ship sinks, taking one thousand five hundred and three people down with her? Or maybe it’ll be one thousand five hundred and five people if Paige and I don’t figure out a way off this ship.
I am freaking out. What did this guy mean we’re on the Titanic? The ship is supposed to sink in four days. FOUR DAYS! That’s not a long time. How are we supposed to get home? We don’t know how we got here.
All of this is making me more nauseous than the ship swaying. If we stay on the ship any longer, I’ll die from the vomiting before the ship can sink. How is Olivia keeping so calm about it all? I feel like screaming.
“May I assist you in finding proper attire? You must be chilly,” the guy asks Olivia. What’s his name? Warren? Olivia smiles at him.
“That would be most appreciated, Mr. McCarthy,” Olivia says in her friendliest voice.
I smile at him too as he leads the way toward what I assume is his stateroom. I’m calming down enough to think. We stop at a door before walking in behind the man.
“Please, call me William. My sister should have gowns that will fit you well enough. My mother and sister are at supper just now,” he says, going into a closet. Ah, William. I was close.
William reemerges carrying out two dresses and various other pieces of clothing. He passes them to Olivia, and she takes them gratefully.
“You can dress in there,” William says, pointing at what appears to be a bedroom.
We must be in the sitting room, making this a first-class stateroom. Judging from his very dapper tux, I imagine William’s well off in the money department.
Olivia and I are in the bedroom staring at the gowns. It looks like they need a corset. I don’t think bras exist yet. That’s just terrific. William helpfully provided us with the necessary clothing associated with the gowns, including shoes. I guess my lime green converse won’t look so impressive with it.
I help Olivia with her corset first. She keeps her pink lacy underwear instead of the undergarments provided. I make the corset as loose as I can while still maintaining the needed support for her boobs.
The dress she chose is short-sleeved and rose pink with a gold upper part. It has a silk light pink sash, but very few embellishments. I help her into it and the stockings. She can’t bend over with the corset, so I help her with her shoes too.
Olivia’s hair is always straight no matter what. It dries straight and when she braids it; it sits wonderfully wavy and never frizzy. She looks like a typical popular teen, lean and muscled from years of volleyball, but curved in the right places. Olivia has blonde hair and blue eyes, always accented by makeup. She’s taller than me, standing at five foot seven.
I find a brush on the vanity and brush her hair. It’s difficult to brush with it. It’s one of those soft bristle brushes that you have to put superhuman strength into brushing for it to untangle knots. I put Olivia’s hair in a loose up-do that matches the times better.
As I brush, I see Olivia mess with her bracelet. It’s one of her most prized possessions, and she does this often to make sure the clasp holding it together isn’t loose. She couldn’t bear to lose it.
“What is happening, Paige?” Olivia asks, on the verge of tears. She knows what’s happening, but I understand what she means.
“The impossible, Liv,” I reply, not knowing what else to say.
“You remember the Chinese myths we learned about in Phillips’s class?” she asks.
“Yeah…,” I say, my mouth dry. I saw the string when we were traveling, and I remember the day I learned about the myth like it was yesterday.
“We just learned about it yesterday, and today I saw the string. It was tied to my pinky, as the myth said, and it led somewhere very far off. What if one of our soulmates is here? Is that why we time traveled, you think?” Liv asks.
“I saw one too, but mine led far and straight to the right so I don’t think mine’s here. It’s probably yours.”
“I don’t know, Paige. I have Brad at home. He’s still my boyfriend. It wouldn’t feel right meeting someone I’m cosmically destined to have feelings for. That feels too much like cheating,” Olivia replies.
“We freaking time travel and Fate brought us here to find your soulmate and you’re worried about that douche nozzle Brad. Jesus, Olivia, he hasn’t even been born yet,” I say, getting a little angry.
“I know…,” Olivia trails off. She does this often when she’s done speaking of Brad’s general awfulness.
I finish Olivia’s hair and despite my flash of anger; she is stunning.
“You look beautiful, Liv,” I say, smiling at her. That is as much of an apology as she’s going to get.
“Thanks. Here let me help you with your corset now,” Olivia says, motioning to the other one lying on the bed.
I undress, also keeping my twenty-first-century underwear on, but I discard the bra with great disappointment. It’s my favorite, and it wasn’t cheap.
I stand silently as Olivia laces up the corset. She laces mine faster than I did hers. She helps me into the stockings and the other dress. It’s gorgeous too.
The dress is short-sleeved and has a gold upper part, but it has a light blue sash with a flower and light blue sheer to the floor. The rest of the dress is a peachy color with embellishment at the foot.
She helps me into my shoes and brushes my hair out. It’s been up in a ponytail, but in the chaos, it fell out.
My hair is just an Auburn color, mostly brown, but it has red coloring in the sun. It goes well with my green/brown hazel eyes. My hair is not so tame as Liv’s. It’s long like hers, but it frizzes sometimes and it’s wavy when not heat straightened. I often wear it up in a ponytail to keep it out of my way.
While I am not athletically inclined, I have good upper arm strength from the many years of cello playing. Olivia and I have the same build, but I’m shorter; only five foot two.
Olivia puts my hair up, completing our 1912 look. We leave the bedroom and rejoin William in the sitting room. It’s only then that I realize what wearing a tux means. He was probably on his way to dinner when he came across Olivia and me.
William looks at Olivia properly for the first time. William was being polite and keeping his eyes averted since he thought we were under-dressed given the era.
Now, William has an admiring look in his eyes when he looks at Liv. It isn’t a look of lust, but of appreciation at how beautiful she is.
“Are you hungry? I believe dinner is still being served,” William asks after a moment, motioning toward the door.
Olivia smiles at him, nodding. It hasn’t been that long since we ate, only a few hours. I’m starving, though. Whatever brought us here took a lot of energy, because I am exhausted. I feel as though I could sleep for a week.
“Yes, that would be wonderful. By the way, I don’t think I ever introduced my sister, but this is Paige,” Olivia replies gesturing toward me. I smile awkwardly and wave. William inclines his head to me.
“Most pleased to meet you, Paige,” William says.
We leave the stateroom and follow William towards the first-class dining room.
“Do you have a stateroom?” William asks Olivia. They are walking side by side down the corridor, leaving me trailing behind them. Olivia shakes her head.
“No, I know it sounds odd because we shouldn’t have been allowed to board without a ticket, but I promise we aren’t stowaways,” Olivia replies sounding nervous.
She’s right to feel that way, there’s no logical explanation as to why we ended up on the Titanic without a ticket giving us a stateroom. No explanation we can give William, at least. He’ll never believe the truth.
I’m feeling even more exhausted than before, thinking about where we’ll stay tonight or any other night we’re on this ship before it sinks.
William nods at the vague explanation Olivia gave him.
“All right, perhaps I can talk to the captain. There might be an extra stateroom,” he says.
It surprises me that this guy, who doesn’t know us at all, is going to the trouble of helping us. I don’t know how his sister will feel about William giving us two of her dresses.
“You’d do that for us?” Olivia asks with a touch of shock in her voice. Shock is right. She doesn’t know what a good man is. She’s dating Brad. Though she can’t see it, he’s close to scum. Wait, scratch that, he is scum. The scummiest.
William nods, offering Olivia his arm, which she takes.
“I can see you are in need. I don’t know your circumstances, but maybe you’ll tell me when you feel comfortable. Until then, you need help and I can offer it,” William replies. I should probably say something. I haven’t talked to him much.
“Thank you, William. Everything you are doing for us is so much more appreciated than you know,” I say.
William looks back and nods at me with a kind smile. I hope our parents are proud of our politeness. They raised us well.
Thinking of my parents leaves me missing them. It hasn’t been long since I saw them last, but now I am left wondering if we’ll ever see them again. What if we don’t? At least the last thing we said to them was ’goodbye’ and ’I love you’.
I have a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. William is so handsome and kind and chivalrous. He offers me his arm, and I take it.
Walking like this down a corridor of the Titanic wearing this gorgeous dress is so surreal. I haven’t for a second forgotten the circumstances under which we arrived. We have to make the most of being here. We don’t know how to get home or if we even can.
I am lost in thought when we come upon two white French doors. Two stewards are standing there and open the doors as we walk up to them.
“These two young ladies are with me,” William tells the stewards. They both nod to him, bowing.
“Of course, Mr. McCarthy. Enjoy your supper,” one of them says as we walk by.
Paige is trailing behind us. She comes up to my side, and together, we stare in amazement at the staircase that stands before us. It’s so much more beautiful than I ever imagined.
We walk down the stairs, but I have to stop at the famous clock to admire it. William nods at the various couples that pass by him.
When we reach the bottom, Paige and I look up to see the glass dome on the ceiling. It’s very stunning, but I have a sick feeling knowing that the glass dome will shatter sending tides of icy water through this entire space.
I swallow the lump in my throat and glance at Paige. I know her thoughts parallel my own.
We come to a table and William stops to pull out a chair for me and one for Paige. We both smile and thank him as we take our seats. William stands a moment more, looking around. I assume he’s looking for his mother and sister.
A second later, he sits and smiles at us. A waiter brings us glasses of water and tells us our dinner will be out shortly. The waiter comes back not too long after offering us champagne.
“For you?” the waiter asks.
For a second, I am taken aback. I’m only seventeen years old. I’m not old enough to drink. Then, I remember where we are, or more appropriately when. I don’t think they’ve passed any drinking laws yet.
I nod and glance at Paige to gauge her reaction. She offers none and nods at the waiter to fill her glass. She’s not usually a drinker, but I don’t think she’s going to pass up trying alcohol in a public place. When in Rome and all that.
I take my glass and bring it to my lips. It’s my first time drinking champagne. I am no stranger to alcohol. I’ve played my fair share of beer pong and flip cup during my high school years. I don’t think Paige has ever tried alcohol, though. She never goes to any parties.
Paige brings her glass to her lips. We look at each other and take a sip. As the taste fills my mouth, I realize it’s way better than the warm piss water beer I am used to drinking.
I look at Paige and smile at her reaction. It’s very obvious she doesn’t like it, but she’s trying to be polite. She sees me watching and smiles sheepishly after she forcibly swallows.
Finally, our food arrives at the table. There are so many forks, I am overwhelmed. I remember what Molly told Jack in Titanic: to start from the outside and make my way in as the courses came. We eat silently at first, then William speaks.
“I forgot to ask what your surname is. Perhaps I’ve heard of your family.” Paige and I look at each other for a moment.
“Our last name is Wells. We are from America, so I’m not sure if you’d know of them. Have you ever been to America, Mr. McCarthy?” Paige asks, shifting the focus from our family back to William. He has a glint of amusement in his eyes.
“No, Miss Wells, I have never been to America. This will be my first time. My father just died, leaving his fortune. My mother, sister, and I decided to go to America to get away from the memories,” William explains.
Paige is quiet after losing what little edge she thought she had.
“I’m so sorry to hear about your father, William. I hope you enjoy living in America as much as we have. We were born in England ourselves, but moved to America at a very young age,” I break in before Paige can say something that’ll offend our savior.
William and I continue to talk cordially as the different courses for dinner come. After the last course, two women come to the table. One is an older woman who puts her hand on William’s shoulder. The other is a young lady, perhaps sixteen.
“Who are these young ladies you had dinner with rather than your dear mother and sister?” The older woman asks.
She has an even thicker Irish accent than William if that was possible. Before William can offer any explanation, his sister breaks in with a note of hysteria to her voice.
“Are those my dresses? Why are these floosies wearing my dresses?” His sister is staring daggers at us. William gets up and grabs his sister’s arm.
“Stop being cheeky. I will buy you new dresses when we get to America. These ladies needed help, so I offered,” William responds, accent thick. “Now if you’ll excuse me, Mother, Breeda, I have to have a chat with the captain. Paige, Olivia, if you would.” William motions for us to follow him.
“So nice to meet you, Mrs. McCarthy,” I say as we pass William’s mother, bowing. I assume shaking hands is offensive considering the way we just met.
Mama McCarthy gives us a look of disgust like we aren’t worth the floorboards we’re walking on.
I resist the urge to mock his sister and walk to William’s side. He’s walking fast, so it’s hard to keep up with his long strides.
Paige holds a straight face, but I know that on the inside she’s most likely cussing William’s mother and sister out.
Paige and I walk with William to the captain’s quarters.
The three of us walk silently to the captain’s quarters. I think William’s angry with his mother and sister. I can’t blame him. My sister is never outwardly a bully. She hangs around the wrong people, but she isn’t acidic like Breeda. Our mother’s a nice woman. She is caring and approachable.
Sadness rolls over me. A memory of my mom and dad in our backyard passes through my mind. We are so happy. Mom is looking at me with her hazel eyes; eyes that are so much like mine.
I swallow the sadness and try to hold back the tears that are forming. It’s hard work holding back tears. You wouldn’t think it’d be that hard, but it creates this uncomfortable pain in your throat. It’s so odd since the eyes and throat don’t seem at all connected.
When we arrive in front of the captain’s door, William stops and turns to us. He looks at us both apologetically.
“I want to apologize to you about the way my mother and sister acted toward you. They used to be much more humble. Things have been hard for everyone since my father died, but that is no excuse for the way they treated you. Anyway, I will talk to the captain about an extra stateroom. I think it would be best if you stayed out here. If he knows the stateroom is for you, he might question how you two got aboard without a ticket. I believe you are not stowaways, but I don’t think others will extend you the same courtesy. I don’t want you arrested or given a room in steerage,” William finishes.
We both nod to him and walk away before William knocks on the door. He enters the room and leaves Olivia and me alone in the corridor.
I sit down against the wall. It’s a little hard because of the corset. I have to sit straight, but my feet hurt. I’m not used to wearing high heels at all, even as low as they are.
Olivia paces back and forth for a moment before deciding to sit down beside me. She puts her head on my shoulder.
“I’m scared, Paige,” Olivia whispers. I breathe in and sigh.
“Me too, Liv,” I whisper back. We are silent for a moment before Olivia speaks again.
“Do you think we’ll ever see Mom and Dad again?” she asks. I don’t know the answer. There are three options:
1. We will use the same time travel method that brought us here to get back home, preferably before the ship sinks.
2. We won’t be able to get to a lifeboat in time and we’ll die aboard this ship or freeze in the Atlantic.
3. We’ll make it to a lifeboat, weather out the night before the Carpathia rescues us, and live out the rest of our lives in the early twentieth century.
Obviously, we are hoping for option one, option two is the most likely, but assuming option one didn’t happen, option three is the best alternative. I don’t say any of these options out loud to Olivia. It will just scare her more.
Olivia already knows of our possible imminent death. I could tell she was thinking about it when we were walking to dinner. She looked up at the glass dome with a mixture of wonder at how beautiful it is and fear at what’ll soon happen to it.
“I hope so, Liv. We’ll figure out how to get home,” I tell her. Yeah, easier said than done. We don’t even understand how we got here.
Olivia brushes a tear away from her cheek. We sit there in silence for a few more minutes. I realize I’m no longer seasick. I wonder if it’s because I’m not up on deck anymore. I haven’t been sick since before we changed. Whatever the reason, I’m glad for it.
We don’t wait much longer before the captain’s door opens. Olivia and I stand quickly and walk arm and arm in the opposite direction so we don’t make the captain wonder why we’re hanging out by his stateroom.
“Have a good evening, Captain Smith, and I thank you greatly for the extra stateroom. I don’t know how much longer my mother and sister could last in the same one,” William says as he shakes Captain Smith’s hand. He walks in our direction, smiling.
“I got you a stateroom. It’s near mine, so if you need anything, let me know.”
“Oh, I don’t know how we’ll ever thank you, William,” Olivia says sounding on the verge of tears. William smiles at her and offers an arm.
William looks at me and offers his other. He’s quite the gentleman. I take his arm, and we walk toward the first-class staterooms.
We go a different way, so we don’t pass through the dining room again.
“Just agree to go on a walk on the promenade deck with me tomorrow.”
Olivia giggles a little, sounding nervous. I wonder if she’s thinking about Brad. I hope she isn’t. It’s about time she’s interested in someone decent, however small that interest might be.
“All right, tomorrow,” she replies.
That’ll be perfect. I’ll have time to be alone to think. Olivia will be too occupied with William to think of our impending doom. I send a silent thank you to William for that and everything else he’s done for us.
At last, we reach our stateroom. William opens the door for us and we walk into the room. He comes in behind.
“I’ll bring the clothes you left behind in my sister’s room,” William says, taking his leave.
Olivia and I look around the room. It’s elegant. It’s much the same as the one we changed clothes in, but this one is ours.
The bedroom only has one bed, but there’s a couch in the sitting room. It looks uncomfortable, but it’ll work in a pinch. The bed looks big enough for Olivia and me to share though.
There’s a soft knock at the door. Olivia gets up from the couch to answer it. As I thought, it’s William. It’s not like we’ll be getting too many visitors.
William hands Olivia our clothes. He was very careful to have wrapped the undergarments into them. Hopefully, William doesn’t know that much about women’s underwear to know ours don’t match the time. If he thought something was off, he didn’t let on.
“Thanks again, William, for everything. I don’t know how we can thank you,” Olivia repeats what she said not twenty minutes ago. I understand why she wants to reiterate how thankful we are.
“Just accompany me on a walk along the promenade deck and maybe tell me how you came to be on this ship,” William says. He sees the look of alarm on our faces and adds, “When you’re ready.”
Both Olivia and I let the tension out of our bodies. I wonder what William is imagining. I know whatever it is; it definitely isn’t the truth.
Would he even believe us when, and if, we tell him? We owe him the truth, at least, after everything he’s done for us. We’re on a time limit, but I think we need to get to know him better first.
William leaves shortly after he arrived. Paige and I help each other out of our dresses and corsets. We dress in our undershirts to sleep. We decide to share the bed. It’s not big, but it’s big enough. We lay down and get comfortable under the covers.
“Are you okay?” Paige asks me once we’re all settled. It’s dark so I can’t see her, but I snuggle closer.
“Yeah, I’m all right. Just freaked out. Maybe the promenade deck will take us home,” I reply.
I know thinking this sounds naïve, but I don’t know how else we could get home. Las Vegas doesn’t exist yet. Well, it does, but not as we know it with the lights and casinos.
The Titanic museum isn’t there yet and won’t be for a good many years. So that way of opening the time gateway or whatever isn’t possible. We won’t be alive forever to wait for it either, even if we make it off this ship.
“Well, we can try tomorrow. Let’s try to get some sleep. We’ve had a long day,” Paige says sounding exhausted. A long day, indeed.
“Okay. Night Paige,” I say letting out a sigh and close my eyes.
“Goodnight, Liv. Sleep well,” Paige replies. Her voice sounds far away as I drift off to sleep.