Live Like Tomorrow Never Comes
William wants to go on another walk. I’d be fine with that, but I want to do something fun. We might not make it through the sinking. If we don’t, I want to make the most out of my last free night on Earth.
“Let’s go find a party,” I say excitedly.
“I’m sure first-class has some music and perhaps dancing,” William replies, pulling me toward first-class. I pull back slightly and William stops. I smile widely and hope the movie is historically accurate, at least in this sense.
“Let’s go to a third-class party,” I say. William gives me a disgusted look and my smile falls.
“Do you have something against poor people?” I ask, wondering briefly if he was more like Brad than I wanted to admit.
“No, not in general, but I don’t imagine it would be very sophisticated,” he replies, uncomfortable.
“That’s the point. Third-class will have a much better party,” I say. William nods, unsure, but he lets me pull him along.
I pull him through third-class corridors until I can hear music. It gets louder, and I know we’ve arrived.
When we walk in, we see several people dancing and loud music reverberates around the space. People drink cheap beer and there is so much easy laughter.
This is the kind of party I am used to. William looks like he has a stick up his ass compared to everyone else.
I go to a table and find two full drinks no one claimed. They are warm, but it’s all part of the experience. I give William one glass and I keep the other. I hold it up to toast something.
William sees me waiting and clinks his glass against mine uncertainly. I chug the beer. William looks so shocked as I guzzle down the last drop.
“Drink!” I yell over the music. William hesitates a minute more, then drinks his beer in big gulps. I smile at him when he finishes.
“Okay, now let’s dance!” I yell, pulling him to the dance floor. I’m not familiar with early twentieth-century dance styles, but I look around and pick it up easily enough.
William watches me dancing before he reluctantly joins. He is very hesitant at first but gets more into it as the song progresses. It’s so upbeat; it’s impossible not to dance.
Soon, he is dancing like everyone else. We laugh together as we spin in circles, changing partners every once in a while. When the song ends, and the band needs a break, we drink more beer and strike up conversations with the people around us.
William finds a group of Irishmen and talks with them about home. You can tell by the accents who had more, and those who had less, growing up. William is more relaxed than I have ever seen him. He pulls off his bow tie and unbuttons one of his buttons. His hair falls into his face a bit and he looks amazing. His face is red from the dancing and his eyes are sparkling from the alcohol. I am not ashamed to admit I want to jump his bones.
I come to his side and smile up at him. His returning smile is lopsided, lazy, and so, so endearing.
“Guys, guys, this is the love of my life, Olivia,” William says to the men he is talking to.
Oh, my God. Did William just express his love for me? I know his feelings must mirror my own. If I was cosmically destined to love him, it stands to reason he is cosmically destined to love me too. Still, a rush of emotions floods my body, leaving me feeling woozy. I smile up at William, but he’s too drunk to realize what he said.
The men William introduced me to smile and stretch their hands out for me to shake. I shake them and smile back, politely.
“So, why’re ya slumming it here when yer clearly first class?” one man asks, looking us up and down.
“Liv convinced me to come. Said the first-class parties are too stuffy and it would be more fun down here,” he says, a slight slur to his speech.
Oh my God, that’s the first time he’s ever called me Liv. It sounds divine coming off his lips and so unlike him. William is always so formal calling me Miss Wells or Olivia if he wants to get familiar. Never Liv though and I live for my nickname to roll off his tongue again.
“She’s right there, wasn’t she?” the same man says. The other men cheer.
“Oh, that she is. I don’t remember the last time I enjoyed a party,” William replies, his accent thicker from the alcohol.
Another song comes on and William brightens.
“Come dance with me, Love,” William says before grabbing my hand and pulling me along. I laugh and let myself be dragged with no objections. We dance together and with other people as the dances demand.
William isn’t anything like Brad at parties. Brad would get drunk, yell loudly, knock things over, and try to get into fights with anyone who looked at him wrong. He would often ignore me and I would get pushed when I tried to get him to stop his ridiculous behavior.
William, on the other hand, is a pleasant drunk who enjoys the atmosphere. He talks to everyone happily, yet still keeps me at the center of his attention, like there’s no one else in the world.
We sit down at a free table and William finds us a few more drinks. I am panting from the exertion of dancing. A few of the men William met earlier come to sit with us.
William smiles when he sees them. He sits down and passes some beers around. A thought strikes me then.
“Do you guys want to play quarters?” I ask. Everyone looks at me with confused expressions.
“Oh, is that a game where you’re from?” a man asks. I nod and find an empty short glass at a nearby table.
“William, do you have any coins?” I ask. He fishes a coin out of his pocket and hands it to me. I bounce it off the table and it lands perfectly in the glass.
“Okay, if you miss, you drink,” I say.
“Seems easy enough,” William says.
William and the two other men miss most of their shots while I make every single one.
Before long, the two men left, wasted. They bid us goodnight. William and I sit alone at the table. Music still plays around us, but it seems like the night is dying down.
William is drunk from all the lost games of quarters, but I can feel my buzz leaving me.
“This was very enjoyable. Thank you for bringing me,” William says, smiling. I return his smile and grab the hand that is lying on the table.
“All the parties I’ve been to are like this,” I reply.
“Did you attend many parties?” he asks.
“Yeah, I did. I had this boyfriend that went to parties a lot, so I’d get dragged along. I enjoyed them mostly until he got drunk and mean,” I explain. William’s expression darkens.
“I don’t like to think you were ever with someone who treated you less than you deserve,” William says.
“I was with Brad for a long time thinking nothing was wrong, but the more time I spend with you, the more I realize how horrible he was to me,” I say.
“I will always treat you well,” William says solemnly. I smile just a little.
“I know. You make me feel alive inside and so happy. I feel like I matter and that you’re interested in what I have to say,” I reply.
“I regret anyone made you feel less than all that,” William says, squeezing my hand and bringing it to his mouth to kiss.
“I was always meant to find you and maybe my time with Brad was a necessary evil, so I could appreciate you for everything you are,” I say, feeling the truth in my words as I say them.
“I know you’re who I’m going to spend my life with,” William replies, looking at our hands.
I know he sees what I see; the thread at its shortest and tied in perfect bows.
His remark makes me sad though. I want so much for it to be true, but I don’t know if it will ever be a reality.
It’s late when we stumble back to my room. I am half holding William up so he doesn’t fall. I let him go at the couch and he sits looking lovingly up at me.
“I love you, you know,” he says, smiling. My heart swells. Though I’d known I felt this way, I haven’t said the words yet.
“I love you too,” I reply, helping him out of his jacket.
“You’re so amazing,” he says, his eyelids slowly opening and closing. I help him take off his shoes so I can get him settled on the couch.
I’d done this countless times for Brad, but he never said kind words to me as I did it. They were always rude and would make me feel bad.
Seeing the stark differences between William and Brad makes me ask myself what I’d seen in Brad at all? He is so awful, and I wonder how I never saw it. It’s difficult to leave an abusive relationship when you don’t even realize that it is one. I see it all so clearly now, though. I cringe at all the time I wasted with Brad.
William smiles lazily at me, and I find an extra blanket to put over him.
“Goodnight,” I say bending to kiss his forehead. He sits up at once and pulls me down to sit next to him. His fingertips caress my cheek, making me shiver.
“You deserve the world and I intend to give it to you,” he whispers and kisses me abruptly.
It’s the most intimate kiss we’ve shared. I wrap my hands around his neck and I kiss him until all my breath has left me.
We both pull back, breathing hard. We stare at each other a while longer before he falls back and is asleep in seconds. I smile and walk back to where the bed is.
Paige is snoring quietly, and I smile at her and the memory of my perfect night. It has been a good one. If death is what’s next for me, I can die happy.
I slip in beside Paige and have wonderful dreams, all of them involving William.
In the early hours of the morning, I wake up to find Olivia sleeping soundly next to me. I walk out into the parlor. William is sleeping on the couch, which is way too small for him.
I laugh a little thinking they must have had one hell of a night. I am happy they found some joy amid the impending destruction.
I hear Olivia shuffling in the bedroom and go back there. She’s sitting on the edge of the bed, her head in her hands. How many mornings have I seen her do this exact thing? I can tell she’s hungover, but I don’t think it’s bad.
“Epic night?” I ask, sitting beside her. She smiles halfheartedly.
“About the most amazing night I’ve ever experienced,” she replies.
I smile and give her a side hug. I hear William fall off the couch accompanied by some cursing. I follow Olivia out into the parlor and William is getting up off the floor. He’s grabbing his head and I can tell his hangover is way worse than Olivia’s.
“I’m so sorry for staying last night,” William says, buttoning the top button of his shirt. He pushes his loose hair back from his eyes and grabs his jacket. Olivia is smiling at him.
“Nothing happened, and it’s not a big deal,” she replies.
William tries not to look at Olivia in her shorts and tank top, but I think William is reaching a point where it doesn’t matter as much.
William smiles at Liv. I walk back to the bedroom, but I can hear everything.
“Thank you again for last night. It was truly an eye-opening experience and one I hope to repeat sometime,” William says.
“I hope we get a chance. It was an amazing night,” Liv replies.
“I should go get changed. I don’t want anyone to see me leave. They might think something untoward happened,” William says, moving in the door’s direction. I can almost see Olivia’s facial expression based on her snort.
“Let them think what they want. We know the truth and that’s all that matters,” Olivia replies. It’s silent, then the door opens and closes.
Olivia comes to the room to get dressed for the day. She’s humming quietly to herself as she gets ready. I smile over at her.
“What?” she asks me when she catches me looking. I shake my head.
“Nothing,” I say, smiling. “You look happy is all,” I finish. She smiles back.
“I am, I just wish it didn’t have to end so soon,” she replies.
Ah yes, she is referring to our upcoming disaster. I suppose that puts a damper on happiness, but we have our plan and the rest is up to Fate. Ha, the irony of that.