Still in a daze, Claire looked over at Trevor. With an excited rush she reached over and threw her wet arms around him, catching him by surprise.
"Trevor! We're alive! I can't believe it. What happened?"
Trevor laughed over her shoulder as she hugged him warmly. He held her in return. "I don't know, Claire."
"Never mind, Trevor. It doesn't matter." She squeezed him tighter. "I'm just so glad we're both here."
"We keep agreeing lately, Claire. Hope it's the start of a trend."
Smiling, she pulled back slightly to look at him, touching his wet face, real in her hands. "I don't," she said, happily.
Impatient as she waited, the old woman grunted loudly, causing both Trevor and Claire to look over. "So. You didn't answer my question, Trevor. Did you learn anything?"
They both looked at her blankly, trying to make sense out of what had just happened. Trevor fumbled for words, not really understanding what she was asking.
"What did you do to... Where were we just now?"
The old woman sighed slowly. This was not a good sign. "You know, I'm really tired of running into the two of you. Weaving your destinies is a pain when both of you always have to start from scratch." Out of nowhere the psychic chuckled. "Does make fortune telling a breeze... "
Still disoriented, Trevor and Claire didn't catch what she was implying.
Leaning back, the old woman puffed on her cigarette. "I suppose old fish gills will be angry that I broke his decree. Oh well. Never liked him anyway. But my original question remains. Did either of you learn a single thing about your short time together? About what you feel for each other?"
More blank looks from the two of them as they looked around, still trying to accept that they were back in Chicago.
Claire looked over at him. "Trevor, is this real?"
Trevor chuckled, unsure. "Which part?"
The old woman shook her head. "I should have known better. You didn't learn a thing. In my foolishness I'd hoped that a little wisdom would leak through. But even after eighty odd years or so you two still think you have it all figured out. And by the way, before you criticize next time Trevor, maybe I'm so boring at Bachhy's parties because his parties aren't as fun after the first thousand times or so. This may be a surprise to you, but some of us actually grow up."
Trevor blinked at her. "Who are you?"
The old woman threw her arms up in disgust. "You got me. I'm a fake. A total fraud. Neither of you ever left the tent for all I care. I had you hypnotized the whole time. Should have known you would never believe it. Or question it to death," she looked over at Claire. "Always the same. Can't see what's right under your noses can you? Oh well. Maybe next life..."
The old woman looked at them slyly as an idea occurred to her, eyes wickedly amused as she considered them. "Unless... you would like to have another peek. Another trip into a different former life?" She cracked her knuckles eagerly before her in anticipation, ready to begin again.
The two of them didn't know what to say as they silently turned their heads to look into each other's eyes. Without warning, they both jumped to their feet and ran frantically from the tent, moving as fast as they could. The metal chairs clattered onto their sides as Trevor and Claire bolted back into the rain outside.
The old woman sighed wearily. "I really need a new gig..."
Warm rain pelted their skin as both of them sprinted away, leaving the old woman's tent behind. They raced down the empty midway, footsteps splashing through the water puddled on the asphalt. Late afternoon sunlight flowed out from under the thick cloud cover above as the sun dipped down, shining bright in their faces. The rain continued to pour from the sky in sheets, soaking them even further, cascading droplets flashing golden in the sunlight. Out of breath, they finally stopped running well out of sight of the psychic's tent. Bathed in glimmering rain and golden light, Claire turned to Trevor as water dripped off her chin. She raised her voice to be heard.
"Trevor, what happened back there?" Claire pushed the wet hair from her face.
Trevor looked back the way they had come, thinking of what they had seen, what they had experienced. But as he faced her, he had no answers. "I have no idea, Claire."
"But..." Confused, Claire looked around, needing to understand, needing to have things wrapped up and tidy. Trevor watched her, bathed in sunlight as water dripped off of the two of them. The rain seemed to glow all around, a curtain of falling drops between them. Out of nowhere Claire looked up... and laughed.
"What's so funny Claire?"
She smiled as she tilted her head back, letting the rain pour over it. She turned to Trevor with a joyful expression. "Do you see this, Trevor? It's raining in total sunlight. Isn't it beautiful?"
Trevor laughed with her. But he didn't look up, he had eyes only for her. "Absolutely."
He didn't think she caught his meaning, since she never had before. But the smile she gave him told him otherwise. That maybe she always had.
"You know what Trevor? If that was all real or not, it doesn't matter."
"So what are you saying?" He watched her, enchanted by her gleeful demeanor.
"That I'm glad we're home." Claire looked at him with affection. "That you were right. My parameters of fun shouldn't be weather specific. That I should wave my hands at the thunder and make myself the tallest thing for miles. And that sometimes all it takes..."
Smiling, Trevor finished for her. "Is spinning very fast."
Enthusiastically, Claire spread her arms and spun around, enjoying the rain and light around her with an elated smile. When she stopped, Claire reached over and dragged Trevor into her arms and they danced through the puddles beneath them. As they stepped around each other, they began a few of the moves they both knew, two solitary figures standing in the rain and sunlight, dancing alone in an empty midway. As Claire spun back in to Trevor, she laughed. With a light hearted push on his chest, she came out of his arms
He watched her happily. "What now Claire?"
Claire smiled as she brought her face near Trevor's. He tensed as she came closer, and Claire enjoyed his discomfort. Leaning forward, her lips were only inches from his when she... grabbed him by the shirt and dragged him after her.
The old woman looked out at the rain and shook her head in disgust. She pulled her tent flaps closed, flipping the sign that hung there to the side that read Cloe's Fortune Telling. The moira is out. As the rain pelted the roof of her tent, she walked back inside without any enthusiasm. Muttering to herself, the aged fortune teller picked up the chairs Trevor and Claire had knocked over. Then she shuffled back to her own chair, lighting a fresh cigarette as she sat down. Putting away the crystal ball, she scooted the ash tray base within reach as she spread the want ads on the table before her. She exhaled a cloud of smoke, briefly passing her free hand through the floating vapor without thinking. Disgusted, she folded the want adds into a small square. Picking up a pair of scissors, she spun them expertly in her hands before cutting into the folded newspaper. She worked quickly, without pause, cutting away paper like a pro. Then she put the scissors down and pulled the folded paper apart. It made a long chain of interlinked hearts. For the first time, the old woman smiled. Puffing again, the old woman reached down and pressed play on her radio, as it sat on the floor beside her chair. A song started, playing loudly.
I met you before the fall of Rome,
And I begged you to let me take you home.
The rain had stopped and the clouds above had finally cleared away. The sun turned a golden red as it dipped towards the horizon, painting the sky in rich colors. Claire screamed happily, grabbing Trevor's arm beside her as they took the first drop. The wooden railing of the rollercoaster sped past in a blur, colored lights flashing by. Claire laughed, bathed in the light of the setting sun as the seat rattled against the rails. Looking over at her, Trevor smiled, gripping the bar before him. As the coaster rose to the next apex, he lifted both arms, nudging Claire to do the same. Reluctantly at first, she did and she laughed again when they swept downward and across the bottom. The track continued on, and Claire remembered to enjoy ever second of it.
You were wrong, I was right. You said goodbye, I said goodnight.
It's all been done, it's all been done, it's all been done before.
A small plastic ring fell soundly onto the wooden peg it was thrown at. Claire smiled smugly at Trevor as they stood in front of the game booth, pleased with herself. Behind them night had fallen and the midway bustled with people. The grungy booth operator handed Claire a small teddy bear, which she shoved into Trevor's hands with satisfaction.
Trevor gave her a look. Plopping down some money on the counter, the operator gave him three throwing rings. Holding the rings before him, Trevor adjusted his aim from the target Claire had hit to a wooden peg far in the back, near the tent's roof. With three quick flicks of his wrist he sent the rings flying in quick succession. They all landed squarely on the peg, one right after the other. Trevor laughed with confidence as the operator shook his head, believing he had designed that shot to be impossible. Pulling it off the ceiling, he handed Trevor a large four foot long teddy bear. With a smug expression Trevor looked over at Claire, who sighed and waited with her arms outstretched, until he turned and decided to keep both bears for himself, whistling as he walked away.
Claire watched him leave in disbelief, hands on her hips. She thought about what to do, tongue in her cheek, until she smiled and ran to chase Trevor through the crowd as he sprinted away.
I knew you before the west was won.
And I heard you say the past was much more fun.
As Claire stepped out her shower wrapped in a towel, she moved past her bed where a yard long teddy bear was propped against her pillows. Drying her hair with another towel, she sat down before her dresser and picked up a hair brush. As she slid it through her hair she looked at her face in the mirror, remembering how she and Trevor had done the same thing in their cabin on the ship. She could hear his voice now, implying that she hadn't been smiling enough recently. Well, she was smiling now. And as she looked at herself in the mirror, she decided that she liked it.
Noticing something on her dresser, Claire looked over. It was a picture frame, laid face down. Calmly, she reached over and stood it up where she could see it. It was a picture of Frank, and it had been face down in that spot for weeks. But now, for the first time in a long time, Claire didn't feel bad when she looked at it. Instead she smiled as she looked at herself in the mirror, face content
As Trevor walked into Taggerty's carrying a small teddy bear, Champ called out to him from behind the bar. Walking over, Champ handed him a bag that he said Claire had left for him. She had come by earlier that night. Curious, Trevor read her writing on the outside of the bag. To Trevor. From Claire. A true 'First Class' meal.
Trevor opened the bag and reached in, only to pull out... a hot dog, covered in chili and cheddar cheese, with extra onions, mustard, mayo, ketchup, and absolutely no sauerkraut. He laughed, pleased. Turning to the kitchen, he went to get some supplemental food items. He had some catching up to do..
You go your way, I'll go mine. But I'll see you next time.
Woo hoo hoo! It's all been done. Woo hoo hoo! It's all been done.
Woo hoo hoo, it's all been done before.
Trevor sat before a banquet of greasy foods which he tore into with vigor as the busy crowd at Taggerty's buzzed with activity all around him. Biting into a hamburger, Trevor was again disappointed by the fact that Taggerty's didn't serve pizza. As he chewed he watched the crowd, suddenly realizing how similar it was to the gatherings on the ship. Some things never truly changed. As the crowd parted before him, he noticed the unused piano in the corner. Trevor became thoughtful, wondering what part of what he had experienced had been real. Putting down the hamburger he stood up and walked slowly across the room to the piano.
Claire was seated at her dinner table, two candles lit before her as she had a late meal alone. Taking a drink of wine, she looked over at the small table where she had placed the bags she had brought home with her. Curious, she stood up and walked over to them. Reaching into one, she pulled out an oversized book with a painting of Titanic on its cover, still wrapped tightly in cellophane. After stopping at Taggerty's, she had gone across the street to the bookstore and purchased it. Looking at the picture, she walked back to her dinner table, placing it before her as she sat down.
Champ struggled to carry a large rack of glasses through the doors out of the back room. As he took the glasses behind the bar he looked up, surprised. A crowd had gathered around Trevor as he sat before the piano, playing fluently. Others turned to listen from all over Taggerty's, enjoying his performance. Champ blinked, knowing that Trevor didn't know how to play. When did he learn to do that?
And if I put my fingers here, and if I say I love you dear,
And if I play the same three chords, will you just yawn and say
Woo hoo hoo! It's all been done. Woo hoo hoo! It's all been done.
Woo hoo hoo! It's all been done before.
Cellophane removed and discarded, Claire hands flipped delicately through pages filled with pictures and facts about the 1912 luxury liner. She smiled at what she saw, recognizing several of the areas depicted, knowing what lay beyond the camera lens. Claire found a list of passengers and began looking through it with curiosity. She recognized several of the names. Violet Jessop. John Priest. David Bowen. Stella Sage. Mr. and Mrs. McNamee. Claire purposely avoided the statistic that told who had lived and who had died. She wasn't ready for that yet. But as she looked for William and Eileen, it suddenly occurred to her that she had never heard their last names. And there was no mention of a Mr. and Mrs. Collins at all, although there was an Elizabeth Allen in 1st class and a Reginald Hale in 2nd. She wondered who they were.
Trevor's fingers danced over the keyboard, gaining confidence as he began to play with more embellishment. Looking back at his audience with a smile, he brought his foot up to bang on the keyboard as he continued to play. The crowd was all smiles behind, some had even begun to dance. Champ stood watching at the bar, shaking his head in wonder.
Claire's fingers danced over the pages of the book she read, flipping through until she came to several color pictures of restored artifacts recovered from the floor of the ocean. Cups, luggage, pieces of hull. As she turned the page her heart stopped, and she smiled down at one picture.
Alone and bored on a 30th century night,
Will I see you on the Price is Right?
Will I cry? Will I smile? As you run down the isle?
Woo hoo hoo! It's all been done. Woo hoo hoo! It's all been done.
Woo hoo hoo! It's all been done before.
Trevor finished the song with a flourish as the crowd burst into applause. He turned and took a bow, shaking his shoulders to increase the crowd's enthusiasm. He held his hands in the air before him, looking at them in surprise. Apparently he had retained something of the experience after all.
Claire's finger traced delicately down a picture of a gold pocket watch with its lid open. It had been cleaned and restored, and she could just make out a tiny scratch carved into the rim of the watch face, marking a time of 11:41. On the open lid, Claire read an inscription as the floor seemed to drop away beneath her.
We'll always know each other, because true love remembers...
Claire laughed before she could stop herself. Her expression amazed, she looked up and thought of Trevor, considering things about the two of them she would have never considered that morning. Considering what he meant to her, and what she meant to him. And for once, she didn't run from those feelings.
She smiled at the picture, knowing that it didn't really prove anything. Her analytical mind knew that she could have seen it years ago and incorporated it into the delusion she and Trevor had shared. But that didn't stop her from smiling at the memory. In the end it didn't matter. It had been real to her. For the first time she could see how Trevor could believe all the things he believed about himself.
It's all been done... It's all been done...
Trevor threw his coat onto his bed as he walked into his bedroom. Unnoticed by him as it fell beneath the bed, a small black and white picture fell out of the pocket. It was of Trevor and Claire, her face smiling as he kissed her cheek before a worn farm house and rolling country side in the back ground. Trevor wondered if he should call Claire as he kicked off his shoes and pushed them under his bed. The picture was pushed further into the shadows, slipping under a pile of discarded Pizza boxes.
Taking a sip of wine, Claire thought about Trevor, wondering if she should call him. She realized he had been right about one thing. She needed to start living again. The words of the fortune teller were in the back of her thoughts. How lives dance along their courses like smoke floating on the air. With memories like water, forgetting what shapes came before. But this time, she remembered.
Claire looked happily at the candle flickering before her, shorter than before. Leaning forward, she blew it out. Ribbons of smoke twisted upward from the wick. Claire trailed her fingers slowly through them, smiling as they bent around her passing fingers.
It's all been done before.
THE END OF PART THREE OF THIS SERIES
PART FOUR is
WHEN THE BOW BREAKS