Genre(s): romance, fluff, angst
Word Count: 6,338
Summary: Jessica awakens to find herself on a cruise ship in the 1940's.
Written for the bornalady Summer Exchange
Jessica closed her eyes tightly, trying to breathe through the pain. Another migraine. She'd had one the week prior, but it had been bearable. This one was bad. She could feel the way the veins in her temples were throbbing- blood vessels expanding beyond their means and causing the severe pain. She'd tried everything by that point- total darkness, cold compresses, pain relievers, lying on her back, lying on her right side, lying on her left side, sitting up, deep breathing, stretching her neck muscles, kneading the pressure point on her hand. Nothing.
Then it had been time to pull out the big guns- her prescription medication specifically for migraines. She just couldn't take it anymore so she had downed a whole pill thirty minutes ago before turning the lights in her bedroom back off and lying as still as she could as she waited for the effects of the drug to kick in.
Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. In, out. In, out. The medicine was making her woozy- dizzy and disoriented. Images began flashing behind closed lids. A railing. Wooden floors. No. It was a ship deck. Feet. A woman's feet. With high heels- straight, thick heel with a rounded toe. Skirt that went to mid-calf.
Jessica couldn't see the woman's face- nothing above her hips. And the image was going in and out of focus- flashing and breaking up like an old film reel. The scene kept tilting like someone was holding a video camera by their side, unaware and unconcerned with what they were filming.
The throbbing pain in her temples lessened just slightly when the image was clear, coming back as the vision started to fade. It was the drugs, she assumed. She just hoped the pain would be gone soon. And after another few minutes of the same, she drifted off into unconsciousness.
Jessica's first thought upon waking was that her headache was gone, leaving her head feeling somewhat achy like the migraine had made it sore. But the extreme pain was gone and she couldn't stop the sigh of relief that escaped her lips. Having a headache today would be bad. She had to finish up an article about the new boutique down the street and hand it in to her editor by noon.
That's when she panicked. Had her alarm gone off? Her internal body clock was telling her that it was past 7:30- the time she needed to be up by in order to shower, get ready, and make it to work on time.
Jessica's eyes snapped open as she reached over to grab her cell phone from her bedside table on her right. Except her hand hit a wall. What? She blinked. Had she gotten turned around in bed? Except...that wasn't even the color of her bedroom wall. Turning to the left and taking in her surroundings just confirmed what Jessica suspected- she wasn't in her room at all.
Okay, don't panic, she told herself, there has to be a rational explanation for this. Maybe she had had a bad reaction to the medication and was now in the hospital. But how would her neighbors get into her apartment? And this certainly didn't look like a hospital room.
A quick scan of her surroundings told her that she was in a queen sized bed in a medium sized bedroom with floral wallpaper and floral bedding. There was a nightstand to the left of the bed made out of what looked like oak and a matching desk against the left wall near the door that, presumably, led out of the room. There was another door across from the foot of the bed that seemed to lead into a bathroom and a round window on the wall to the right of the bed.
Wait, a round window? Jessica was immediately reminded of the portholes on boats. At least that she'd seen in pictures. She'd never been much of a boat person since she got seasick. But could it be possible that she was on a boat?
Climbing carefully out of bed, Jessica made her way over to the window and stood on her tiptoes to look out- boat deck and, beyond it, water. Okay, this couldn't be good. She went to sleep in her bed and woke up on a boat. Had she been kidnapped? Her instinct was to rush out the door and demand answers. But a quick glance down at herself revealed the fact that she was wearing a nightgown. Even more alarming since she had gone to bed in an oversized t-shirt.
Her eyes slid to the trunk of clothes sitting against the same wall as the window. She might as well get dressed before she ventured out of the room, not knowing what she might find. So she dropped to her knees, rooting through the garments. Odd, she thought, these clothes all look vintage. Except they were in fantastic condition like they were brand new. Just vintage inspired, then? Either way, whoever had packed this trunk had good taste.
Selecting a pair of red trousers and a navy blue blouse, Jessica got dressed before making her way into the bathroom- rooting around in the vanity case on the sink. The makeup looked expensive- better quality than the stuff she got at the drugstore. She almost felt guilty for using it, but then decided that if someone was going to leave her alone in a room with clothes and makeup in just a nightie, they had to expect that she'd make use of them.
Powder, blush, eyeliner, red lipstick. Jessica thought she looked pretty good (pretty good for having woken up in a room she didn't recognize on a boat, that is) as she worked a brush through her hair and pulled it back into a tasteful bun.
Shoes...she found a pair of navy slingback pumps with a stacked heel and a peep toe sitting by the desk. Perfect. A small structured purse sat on the desk as well. Curious, Jessica opened the bag, rifling around inside to see if she could find any clue as to why she was here. A handkerchief, a compact, a coin purse, a passport...a passport! Eagerly, she opened the passport and nearly had to sit down with what she saw.
It was her passport. Except it wasn't. This wasn't her passport picture. But it was a picture of her. And it had her name on it. This...how was this possible? Then she caught sight of the date of the most recent stamp: June 4, 1946.
Then she really did have to sit down.
1946? No. It was 2012. This had to be a joke. Someone must be trying to mess with her. But who? And why? It sure seemed like a lot of trouble to go through to make her think it was nearly 70 years in the past. Who would want to do that, anyway? No one, she realized. No one would want to do that.
So was she to believe that it really was the year of 1946?
It made no sense, but it wasn't any more ridiculous than anything else she could come up with.
One thing was for sure, though: she wasn't going to figure anything out sitting around in her room my herself. So she felt that she had no choice but to venture out of the only place that she knew to try to find some answers.
The door to her room opened up into a hallway which led to a flight of stairs. Once she'd climbed the stairs, she found herself stepping out onto a ship deck- the ocean breeze blowing at her face and the sound of waves lapping at the sides of the boat greeting her.
“Good morning Miss Jung!”
Jessica jumped, turning to her right to see a man about her own age who seemed to work on the boat. He knew her name?
“Good morning,” she replied, smiling and trying to act like she belonged there.
“Have you had breakfast yet?” he asked her.
“I'll walk you to the dining room,” he offered, gesturing that she should follow him.
“Thank you,” she said, truly grateful because she obviously had no idea of where she was going. And yet she suspected that she was supposed to.
The young man led her to an extravagant dining room- burgundy carpet, high ceiling, ornately carved crown molding, crystal chandelier. This really was a nice ship. Perhaps she should have dressed nicer? But the man didn't seem to take any offense to her clothing and neither did the maitre d' who led her to an empty table- round with a white tablecloth.
After perusing the menu for a few minutes, she ordered a bowl of oatmeal, some strawberry yogurt, and some toast, all of which was delicious. But she was eager to explore the ship and see if she could find out any more about why she was here.
It seemed that all meals were built into the price of the room, which was a relief since she had no idea about how much money she actually had, so she made her way out of the dining room and back onto the ship deck.
As she walked along, she surveyed her surroundings- observing the people who were bustling around her or relaxing on the deck chairs. She kept looking- waiting- for someone to slip up and pull out a cell phone. Like this was some giant prank on her that someone was trying to play. But no such occurrence happened and Jessica was as puzzled as she had been when she'd just left her room.
Just then, something caught her eye that looked like a cell phone. Except, after staring intensely at it, she found that it was just a powder compact. And with her eyes on the compact, she failed to see the woman right in front of her until she'd walked right into her.
“I'm sorry!” she immediately apologized, righting herself and moving her eyes up from the woman's feet to her face.
But wait...those shoes. They looked really familiar. And that skirt! Just like the ones her mind kept flashing to when she'd been in bed- her own bed- the night before! She'd almost forgotten about that. But there was a ship deck then too, wasn't there?
“It's okay,” the woman assured her smiling.
Come to think of it, the woman looked familiar too. But that wasn't possible. She knew that she hadn't seen the face of the figure that she's pictured the night before.
“I like your shoes,” Jessica blurted out, mind in too much of a jumble to think of anything else to say.
“Thank you,” the woman laughed, smile infectious, “I'm Taeyeon, by the way.”
“Jessica,” she replied, shaking Taeyeon's hand politely.
“Nice to meet you,” Taeyeon grinned.
“You too,” Jessica responded, almost wishing she could think of something else to say, but wanting to excuse herself before she made a fool of herself at the same time.
“I'm on my way to breakfast,” Taeyeon said, “But I'm sure I'll see you around. The ship isn't that big,” she joked.
Jessica chuckled, nodding.
Taeyeon passed her, heels clacking on the wooden deck as Jessica stood there- too shocked to do anything. What did it mean that she'd seen Taeyeon's feet the night before she woke up here? The only remotely logical thing Jessica could think of was that this was all some super involved dream. But she knew deep down that this wasn't just a dream.
After Jessica had shaken herself out of her stupor, she'd decided to explore the ship and learn her way around before anyone realized that she had no idea where she was going despite the fact that she was, and had been, staying on the ship for who knows how long.
It was quite a nice ship, she found, with an upper deck as well as the lower deck where she'd bumped into Taeyeon, another, smaller dining room, a fitness room, (though there were no exercise machines like Jessica was used to seeing at the gym she belonged to), a swanky lounge, and an indoor pool. The best part was that the boat seemed to be big enough that the rocking wasn't making her seasick. All in all, it would be a very nice vacation. That is, of she knew what the hell was going on, how she got here, and why it was 1946.
By the time dinner rolled around, she was mentally, as well as physically, exhausted and quite hungry to boot. It was with relief that she made her way to the dining room when the bell signaling dinner began to ring.
Jessica was led to the same seat she'd sat in at breakfast. Apparently it was her assigned seat for the duration of the cruise. She noted that there was definitely a more formal feel to the dining room for dinner with the chandelier lit and the space filled with well dressed guests. In fact, the table at which she was seated was nearly full when she sat down- a middle aged couple, a rich looking elderly man, and a young couple that looked barely older than herself. She couldn't help but hope that she wouldn't be expected to talk about herself much since she suspected that she wouldn't have answers to the questions they might pose.
But the chair next to her was still empty. She idly wondered who would be seated there as she greeted the others at the table. Was she supposed to know them or not?
Jessica turned to her left to see Taeyeon's smiling face.
She grinned back, happy to see someone familiar to her.
“This is actually my first time eating dinner at the regulated time,” Taeyeon admitted, “How is it dining with everyone?”
Fortunately the waiter came to their table to take their orders before Jessica had to make something up.
After they ordered, Jessica found her attention drawn to the lounge singer who had begun to perform. She could see Taeyeon watching as well form the corner of her eye.
“You're here alone?” Jessica found herself asking when she realized that she was more interested in Taeyeon's profile than in the singer.
Taeyeon nodded, pulling her eyes away from the performer, “My husband was going to be out of the country for a few weeks so instead of leaving me home alone, he sent me on a trip.”
Husband. It was a little like a punch to the gut, but Jessica chose to very carefully ignore any disappointment she might have been feeling. She hadn't been expecting it, at least. Though the diamond and gold band on Taeyeon's left ring finger should have alerted her to the situation. Still, she hadn't expected someone so young to be married. Not that she didn't know girls she'd gone to college with that were married. But marriage was certainly not in the forefront of her mind.
“That was...nice of him,” Jessica offered, unsure of how to respond since the other woman's face had become rather downcast.
“It was,” Taeyeon agreed, forcing a smile.
Jessica wanted to ask her what was wrong but knew that she didn't know Taeyeon nearly well enough to pry.
“You're here alone too?” Taeyeon asked before Jessica could ponder any further on the matter.
Jessica was at least confidant that she wasn't here with anyone. But beyond that...
“Just needed a vacation?”
“Yeah,” Jessica replied, hoping there would be no more detailed questions, “So are you enjoying the cruise?” she asked, hoping to steer the conversation in a direction that she felt more assured about.
Taeyeon grinned and went into detail about her run-in with an adorable toddler that morning at breakfast that had Jessica nearly forgetting the sadness that Taeyeon had seemed unable to hide just shortly before.
They ate their dinner when it was served, conversing politely with the other guests at their table. And even though Taeyeon joked and laughed brightly, there was something underneath her exterior that had Jessica curious. She wanted to know what it was.
The next morning Jessica half expected that she'd wake up in her own bed and find that the past 24 hours had been a really involved and vivid dream. But it was floral wallpaper that she saw when she opened her eyes.
Just like the day before, she found something to wear from the big trunk, doing her hair and makeup in the bathroom before she was ready to venture out of her little room. As she picked up her purse from the desk where she had placed it the night before, she noticed a book sitting next to it- a worn copy of Jane Eyre. Jessica smiled to herself. She'd read Jane Eyre years ago and loved it. Now it appeared that she had something to do while lounging around that day.
Grabbing the book, she made her way to the dining room for a light breakfast before she made herself comfortable on a deck chair- enjoying the sea breeze on her face and the sound of the waves crashing against the sides of the boat.
The book opened to a marked page about a fourth of the way in. Jessica read a sentence but decided that, even though she'd read it before, it had been too long ago so she should start from the beginning- since she obviously had no recollection of reading this far and placing the bookmark. So she started over, feeling comfort in reading familiar words in a place and time so unfamiliar to her.
She was nearly thirty pages in when she saw someone sit down in the chair to her right out of the corner of her eye. When she felt eyes on her, she turned. Taeyeon was perched on the edge of the chair with her curled hair swept to the side, grinning at her.
“I'm sorry, I didn't meant to interrupt you,” she apologized sheepishly.
“It's fine,” Jessica smiled, sticking the bookmark in her place and turning to the other woman.
“I've actually never read Jane Eyre,” Taeyeon admitted, picking up the book from where Jessica had set and turning it over in her hands.
“You should,” Jessica told her, “I've read it before. It's really good.”
“You've read it before?” she asked, seeming surprised.
“Yeah, I read it back in high school,” Jessica explained, “I don't remember all of it anymore.”
Taeyeon nodded, setting the book back down.
“So, how are you today?” Jessica asked when Taeyeon didn't say anything right away.
“I'm fine,” she said, smile immediate though Jessica could tell there was more to it than that, “How about you?”
“I'm okay,” Jessica replied cautiously, “Maybe just a little bored.”
Truthfully, she was perfectly content reading alone. And she was considering a nap after lunch. But Taeyeon seemed like she wanted company. And for some reason, Jessica felt compelled to be that company.
“Me too,” Taeyeon nodded eagerly, “Want to walk around?”
“Sure,” Jessica grinned, gathering her things and stretching as she stood up.
She did end up getting her afternoon nap, though that was after the leisurely stroll around the boat and lunch with Taeyeon. Perhaps not the day she'd planned, but she couldn't complain. There was something about Taeyeon...something that made Jessica want to be around her. Something so enigmatic that she forgot that she was really meant to be in the year 2012, going to work and getting her boss coffee and maybe occasionally writing something. This was not where she belonged. But when Taeyeon was next to her grinning and laughing, well...the thought of getting back was the last thing on her mind.
So it was with more than the urge to fill her stomach that Jessica hastily made her way to the dining room that evening, eager to see Taeyeon once again.
“How's your soup?” Taeyeon asked once they'd been served, stabbing at the vegetables on her own plate.
“Good,” she replied, blowing on another spoonful, “How's your salad?”
Taeyeon nodded, chewing.
Jessica was about to ask Taeyeon how her afternoon was when the torch singer began to perform, taking Taeyeon's attention immediately.
“You like music?” Jessica inquired after the first song ended. Taeyeon looked over at her, seeming to have been snapped out of a trance.
“I do,”she replied, “I love to sing. So seeing someone perform...I can't help but daydream a little,” she admitted with a conspiratorial smile.
“You should perform then!” Jessica said to her eagerly.
“I really can't,” Taeyeon waved away the suggestion, “I haven't had any training since high school choir. I'm sure no one would want to hire me. And besides, my husband makes plenty of money. It'd be foolish of me to try to sing like I was some starving musician, hungry for the spotlight.”
“But you could do it as a hobby at least!” Jessica insisted, “And you don't have to worry about paying the bills with what you'd earn, so it's even better.”
“I don't know,” Taeyeon hedged, fiddling with her water glass, “I wouldn't even know where to start.”
“Why not here?” she suggested, “Just ask around and see if they'd let you sing for one night. For free. I'm sure they'd let you.”
“But if I sound horrible...”
“You won't,” Jessica told her, “If you sing for whoever is in charge of the performers on board and they allow you to sing, then they obviously think you're good enough. And I'm sure you are good enough.”
“That all sounds kind of terrifying,” Taeyeon told her, giggling nervously.
“You should try,” Jessica told her, grabbing her hand that rested on the table and squeezing.
“I'll think about it,” Taeyeon promised, squeezing back and shooting her a smile.
Jessica was sure that the increase in her heart rate was completely unrelated to the brief contact.
“They said I could do it!” Taeyeon exclaimed, breathless as she dropped down onto the chair next to Jessica.
“Huh?” Jessica lowered her book and looked at Taeyeon, waiting for her to elaborate.
“Sing,” she clarified, “They said I could sing.”
Taeyeon's eyes were wide like she couldn't quite believe it. And there was a nervous breathlessness to her voice that betrayed her nerves. But she couldn't stop the grin that stretched across her face, even when it was clear she was trying to suppress it.
Jessica dropped her book on the little table beside her chair with a thunk and reached over to hug Taeyeon before she could even think about it, “Congratulations!”
Taeyeon's arms hung limply at her sides like she wasn't used to getting hugged. Maybe she wasn't used to getting hugged by women she'd only met a couple of days ago, Jessica thought. She quickly pulled back, a flush painting her cheeks. But Taeyeon was still grinning, to her relief.
“So when are you going to sing? Tonight?” she asked, trying to shake off whatever embarrassment she'd felt when Taeyeon didn't return the spontaneous embrace.
“No!” Taeyeon gasped, looking positively horrified at the prospect, “Tomorrow.”
“So you'll have time to prepare then,” Jessica observed.
Taeyeon nodded eagerly, “I'm gonna hole up in my room and practice until dinner, actually,” she said, “Well, I will after I go take a swim in the pool to work off my nerves. Do you want to come?”
Jessica's first thought was that she hoped that she had a bathing suit somewhere in her room. But it seemed that this 1940's version of herself was pretty well-prepared so she could only assume that there was a bathing suit in her trunk. Her second thought was much more embarrassing and along the lines of realizing that she was going to see Taeyeon in a bathing suit. But that train of thought was not even worth acknowledging.
“Sure,” she grinned, “I just have to get changed.”
“Me too,” Taeyeon replied, “Meet at the pool in twenty minutes?”
Jessica nodded and made her way back to her room to (hopefully) find herself the proper pool attire.
Just as she suspected, Jessica found a one piece halter bathing suit with light blue strips running lengthwise tucked into the corner of the trunk. It was actually really cute and something that she would have liked to wear even in 2012 so at least she wouldn't have to worry about looking like a moron.
And Taeyeon certainly didn't have that problem either in her red and yellow striped bikini- the waistband of the bottoms coming over her belly button and ending right under her ribs, the material of the top artfully twisted in the center- with her hair pinned up so it wouldn't get wet.
They floated in the pool, careful to keep their heads above water as they chatted. Though despite the relaxed atmosphere with the water gently lapping against the sides of the pool rhythmically, Jessica could see the tension in Taeyeon's frame. She was nervous for her performance.
“So you said you were married?” Jessica asked, trying to distract Taeyeon from her nerves despite the somewhat unpleasant turn her own stomach took from imagining Taeyeon with a husband.
“Yeah,” the other woman replied, nodding, “I have been for...four yeas? Yeah. Four years.”
“So you met in high school then?” Jessica guessed.
“Well...kind of,” Taeyeon hedged, mouth twisting, “I met him when I was in high school. He was a new employee of my father so he was older than me. Not by much, just eight years. Anyway, my father thought that he was a good man- the kind that would be able to support me well. So he introduced us. That was in the middle of my senior year of high school. We married six months after I graduated.”
Jessica gaped, trying to imagine being introduced to her future husband when she had been only seventeen or eighteen. And to imagine being married so quickly thereafter...
“So...he was a nice guy then?” she tried, not wanting to be judgmental- some people got married young and had happy lives!- “You liked him?”
“He...is nice,” Taeyeon told her, smiling lightly. Jessica could see that it didn't reach her eyes.
“There was no one else you'd rather have married?” she found herself asking, feeling like an idiot the moment the words left her mouth. This was obviously a touchy subject and here she was pushing it and asking stupid questions.
Taeyeon opened her mouth as though to speak and then quickly shut it, “No, who else would I have married?” she asked with a forced laugh.
Jessica let the subject drop even though she wanted to know more. She wanted to be able to do something- fix it. Which was impossible. And none of her business, anyway. So she dropped it and asked Taeyeon about what types of music she liked, which they talked about until they parted ways so Taeyeon could go and practice.
The niggling feeling in her gut wouldn't leave though. Taeyeon seemed so unhappy- beneath her strong exterior and her jokes and infectious laugh, she was sad. And Jessica just couldn't let it go.
Dinner that night was quiet, what with Taeyeon just staring at the stage in horror and Jessica fixated on each subtle nuance of Taeyeon's expression.
They ate quickly and then returned to their respective rooms with a friendly 'goodnight.' Which just gave Jessica more time to think about Taeyeon- imagine her as a teenager being forced into a marriage with a man eight years her senior. Dampening her vivacious personality in favor of domesticity and normalcy. It wasn't right.
The next day- the day of Taeyeon's performance- Jessica spent wandering around the ship, alone since Taeyeon was in her room practicing. She paced and tried to convince herself to let it go. She couldn't just tell Taeyeon to leave her husband. Taeyeon hadn't even said that she wanted to! It was just...a feeling that Jessica had. But that certainly didn't mean that she had any right to give advice where it wasn't wanted.
It's none of my business, Jessica told herself. But she couldn't help the clench in her heart when she pictured Taeyeon in her home- sitting at a big dining table and quietly watching her husband as they ate, smile absent from her face. Or other nights, sitting there alone- trapped. It made her sick. But there was nothing she could do about it.
Jessica made her way to dinner alone that night since Taeyeon was already there preparing to sing. And even though it wasn't her about to get up on stage, Jessica felt the anxious butterflies in her stomach as Taeyeon was announced. But every bit of nerves she felt on behalf of the other girl was forgotten as soon as she saw her.
Taeyeon looked beautiful. Not that she didn't always look beautiful. But she looked radiant, standing there on the stage- the spotlight hitting her and reflecting off the embellished gold jacket that she wore. She looked like a star with her curled hair and her lips painted crimson. She looked like she belonged up there and Jessica was entranced before she even opened her mouth to sing.
But when she did, it felt as though the whole room stopped eating to listen. Or maybe it was just Jessica who couldn't think of turning away for even a moment. Because she wasn't sure what she was expecting- talent, certainly. She didn't think that Taeyeon was delusional. She'd expected that she could sing. But the power of her voice floored her- the way she hit the high notes with such force yet ease. The way she was able to drop lower in her register- to soften her voice according to what the song needed.
By the time the first song ended, Jessica had chills. And by the time she'd finished her set- two more songs- Jessica wasn't sure she even had words to describe how impressed she was. Except impressed might have been an understatement. Impressed was a few steps below the awe that she felt. Impressed didn't account for the way her heart began to pound when Taeyeon met her outside on the deck after the performance. And impressed certainly didn't explain why, once they'd wandered to a more sequestered area of the deck, Jessica had leaned in and kissed her.
Taeyeon gasped, eyes wide as Jessica pulled away- stunned.
“I...there was someone else,” Taeyeon hastily said before Jessica could even open her mouth to apologize for her impulsive actions.
“Someone else I would have liked to have married,” Taeyeon clarified, words coming fast like she'd been holding them in, “There was a girl...she was in my class in high school. We were friends. She never would have thought anything different. But I...I couldn't help but want more. Even though I knew that it would never happen.”
“So what happened with her?” Jessica asked, “Are you still friends with her?”
“No,” Taeyeon shook her head somewhat regretfully, “She married a month before I did and moved away. We exchanged letters for a bit but...it was too hard. It's probably better like this. Even if she had felt the same...no one would have approved. We couldn't have been together anyway.”
“I'm sorry,” Jessica murmured, reaching out to trail her fingers down Taeyeon's arm, “I wish I...I wish I could do something. But it's not wrong. How you feel. It's not wrong.”
Taeyeon nodded, smiling sadly and leaning in to let Jessica kiss her again. And again. Until Jessica felt like her head was spinning.
“It's late,” Taeyeon whispered against her lips, pressing back once more.
Jessica regretfully pulled away.
“We should go to bed,” Taeyeon said softly, eyes glassy, cheeks flushed, and lips puffy. Jessica wanted to kiss her again, but knew that the other woman was right. Besides, kissing out in the open like this was probably not the smartest idea.
“Alright,” she agreed, stepping back and following when Taeyeon began to walk slowly toward the hallway that led to their individual rooms.
“Goodnight,” Taeyeon whispered, letting herself into her cabin.
“Goodnight,” Jessica replied as the door closed softly.
Lying in her own bed, her heart was heavy. Because while Taeyeon's eyes were bright when they'd parted ways, Jessica knew that this was only temporary. Taeyeon was married. This couldn't continue and Taeyeon would have to go back to her real life after the cruise was over.
It was with the image of Taeyeon's smiling face behind her closed eyes that Jessica fell asleep.
Jessica awoke to the sound of her alarm blaring- pulling her from what felt like a very deep sleep. In her haze, she reached over and turned off her alarm out of habit- groaning into her pillow and wishing that she didn't have to get up. She had to finish that article and give it to her boss by lunch...
Jessica sat straight up in bed, looking around the room. She was in her room. She had turned off her cell phone alarm. She was...back? No. That was crazy. She couldn't be back because it was insane to think that she'd gone in the first place. It had been a dream. That's all.
Except...it was all so vivid. Everything. She could remember everything from the taste of the food that she ate to each miniscule detail of the clothes that she dressed in each day to the pages she'd read to the feeling of Taeyeon's lips against her own.
If that was all a dream, then Taeyeon wasn't real. Jessica felt her heart clench. Which was crazy, she reminded herself. It was just a dream and here she was feeling heartbroken over it. It's not like the dream was going to have a happy ending anyway.
But work was real. Her job was real and her responsibilities were real. And she had to get out of bed to deal with all of that. So Jessica went on with her morning like it was any other morning. Like she wasn't feeling the phantom rocking of a boat as she made her way across the solid wood floor of her apartment.
“Shit,” she swore when she realized that she was out of breakfast shakes as she stuffed her feet into her heels. And she didn't have time to make anything. She'd just have to get something on her break...
Jessica grabbed her bag from the kitchen table only to stop dead in her tracks despite the fact that she had to be out the door within minutes if she didn't want to be late. Sitting next to her bag was a copy of Jane Eyre. And it wasn't her copy that she knew was sitting on the bookshelves in her living room. It was the copy of the book that she'd been reading on the cruise- bookmark shoved right where she'd last left it.
No. That wasn't possible. Jessica took a deep breath. There was a logical explanation. Maybe she'd seen the book before she went to sleep and then dreamt about it. Except that wouldn't explain why she had the book to begin with. Why would she have a second copy of Jane Eyre randomly?
A quick glance at the clock reminded Jessica that she needed to leave. Now. So she shoved the book in her bag and flew out the door of her apartment, making a hard right only to slam directly into another person.
“I'm so sorry,” she apologized, bending over to pick up the pieces of fallen mail that she'd knocked out of the other person's hands.
As she handed the stack of letters and catalogs over, she looked at the face of the person she'd bumped into. She gasped.
“Thanks,” the woman said, smiling at her.
“Taeyeon,” Jessica breathed. Because right in front of her was Taeyeon. Everything about her was exactly the same. Except the wardrobe of course. The Taeyeon from the cruise hadn't been walking around in leggings and a sweatshirt.
“Um...yeah,” Taeyeon affirmed, looking somewhat confused, “I...have we officially met? I know you live next door, but I don't know your name. I'm sorry.”
She lived next door. Next door! That's why Taeyeon had looked so familiar when she'd first seen her! She must have seen her around the building before.
“I'm Jessica,” she introduced herself, trying to keep from gaping at Taeyeon like a lunatic.
“It's nice to meet you Jessica,” she replied, grinning.
“Are you married?” Jessica blurted out.
“Oh...um...nevermind,” she quickly said, embarrassed, “I must be getting you confused with someone else.”
“Alright,” Taeyeon chuckled and made a move to go back into her apartment.
“Wait!” Jessica stopped her, hoping that she didn't sound as desperate as she suspected she did, “Do you...we should go to karaoke. Tonight. Do you like to sing?”
“I...” Taeyeon paused, looking completely perplexed before she grinned, “I love to sing.”
“I'll bet you have an amazing voice,” Jessica said before she could stop herself.
Taeyeon giggled self-consciously.
“So do you want to go?” Jessica asked again, feeling like a complete moron. Taeyeon was going to get a restraining order against her if she kept up like this.
“Sure,” the other woman grinned.
Jessica let out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding.
“Great! I get off work at five, so I'll stop by after I go home and change?”
“That sounds good,” Taeyeon smiled, “I'll see you later.”
Jessica didn't even care that she'd probably be late for work because now her heart was soaring. Taeyeon was real. Taeyeon was real and they were going out that night. Sure, Taeyeon had no idea who she was- she clearly didn't have any memories or visions or dreams about that cruise. But that was okay. Because even though this Taeyeon didn't know who she was, this Taeyeon wasn't unhappy. This Taeyeon wasn't married. And this Taeyeon might very well end up with her.
There might be a happy ending after all.