DISCLAIMER: All My Children and its characters are the property of ABC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The story is based on the 1980 movie, Somewhere In Time.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To layla.gray74[at]gmail.com
Somewhere In Time
Five miles in from the highway, not far from The Majestic Hotel lies a trail Frankie Stone knew by heart.
Not more than two feet wide, the dirt trail was longer than the paved path from the main gate of the cemetery and as often suggested by her family, safer.
Frankie would just ignore them. They do not understand.
It was along this trail, under the shade of the trees as they passed the clear, placid waters of Lake Willow where she was told the extraordinary tale of a love that broke the barriers of time and space.
That day, so many years ago, was much like today; the blue sky above and cool breeze blowing in from the east making it all the more perfect for her visit today.
Soon, she reaches a clearing that leads her to an open field of green, dotted with grey and white tombstones. She turns left, up the slope and there under the evergreen Cedar trees lies her sister.
On creaking knees, she lowers herself to sit on the grass. Gently, her fingers trace the name etched into the marble as she says, "Hey, sis, guess what I have for you today."
Frankie pulls out a hardcover book from her tote bag.
"It finally came out. I know, I know it took me forever to edit your manuscript but it's important that I get it right. You will be pleased to know that it's set to be another bestseller. Critics unanimously praise the book, I believe a few called it your masterpiece." Frankie stops as a weight settles heavily on her chest.
"I wish you're here for this...it is your story..." her cracking voice trails off as she turns her gaze to the tombstone next to her sister, "yours and hers."
She remembers her family's reaction when they learned of her sister's wish to be buried next to this woman - surprised, shocked and most of all, baffled. The only thing they knew about this stranger was that she was a famous stage actress who had a long successful career before retiring in the 1960s.
Frankie could not blame them. If she didn't know the whole story, she would have thought her sister was crazy too. After all, these two women were born more than 60 years apart and by all accounts, were total strangers.
But of course, no one knows the real story. No one except her.
There is a part of her that wishes the world knew that her sister, the famous and somewhat reclusive novelist, had spent the last days of her life putting into words the joy and heartbreak of that one week in autumn so long ago, and that every word she wrote was true.
The wind picks up, sending the scattered golden leaves flying and turning, and the sweet scent of fall brings with it memories of another time.
The woman sat at the far corner of the restaurant, silently observing the festivities. A few feet away in a cordoned off area, people with bright smiles and sincere cheers raised their glasses to toast the laughing young woman seated on top of the bar.
"Maggie," the woman breathed as she memorized the perfect features of the face she so loved and had waited decades to see again.
"Maggie," she said again, her wrinkly hands clutching her handkerchief to her chest.
If Maggie only knew what she would give just to be able to hold her again. Even now, she could still feel Maggie's hands on her bare skin, hear Maggie's whispered declaration of love, taste her sweet lips.
Even now, she could still see Maggie emerging from the shadows, her smile crooked and her eyes shining, filling her heart with love.
She closed her eyes to compose herself, drawing in shaky breaths. After a moment, she unfolded the handkerchief, revealing a rose hair pin; a white rose of solid brass, its elegant stems of gold tied in a bow of glittering crystals.
She stood up and slowly made her way to the group, the treasured hair pin held tightly in the palm of her hand.
Maggie was standing in a corner, laughing with her sister and a male friend. Loud voices turned to curious murmurs as she passed but she paid no heed to any of them.
Her sister saw her first and directed Maggie's attention to her.
And there Maggie was, standing right in front of her, staring at her blankly. All she had to do was to reach out and pull Maggie into her arms to satisfy her aching need, but she knew it would do neither Maggie nor herself any good.
Maggie did not even know who she was.
So overwhelmed was she that words failed her. It was Maggie who spoke first, "Hi...erm, can I help you?"
Her hands shook as she grasped Maggie's hands, holding on tightly for a moment. Try as she might, she could not stop the tears from forming.
"Um," Maggie croaked, looking startled.
Before Maggie could go on, she placed the hair pin in Maggie's palm and uttered the plea she had held inside since the day Maggie vanished from her life, "Come back to me."
She allowed herself a few more seconds to savor the feel of Maggie's hands in hers, and without another word, she turned and walked away.
Maggie didn't know what to think. She stood there for a long while, watching the elderly lady walk out of the restaurant, the hair pin still tightly clutched in her hand.
"Okay, that was weird," Frankie said.
Their friend, Jamie Martin asked, "Do you know her?"
"N-no, I've never seen her before in my life," Maggie said, still startled by the incident.
"You know Mags, I know you like your women but I think this one might be a little too old for you," Jamie chuckled.
Maggie smiled but said nothing. There was something about the old woman, something in her unflinching gaze and her tone, of what Maggie could best describe as a plea.
For a moment when Maggie first turned around, she saw a flash of joy in the woman's eyes. It faded away quickly, leaving only sadness, so much so that it made Maggie's heart ache for her.
"Hey, you okay?" Frankie nudged her sister.
Maggie nodded absently as she inspect the hair pin, noting its delicate beauty. "This is beautiful."
"I guess. I wouldn't know, I'm a dude," Jamie said.
Frankie rolled her eyes teasingly. "Yeah, you're definitely a dude. The kind that can only appreciate beer and boobies."
"Whatever," Jamie gave Frankie a playful bump on the shoulder which Frankie retaliate with a smack on his back.
Her attention now effectively diverted, Maggie shoved the hair pin into her pocket and stuck out a hand in between her sister and friend, chiding jokingly, "Okay, you kids break it up before you end up wrestling on the floor. Again."
Jamie stuck out his tongue at the sisters and hopped onto the chair.
Raising his glass, he announced loudly, "Okay, it's my turn to toast our guest of honor! To my friend, Maggie Stone who at the tender age of 22 has published her first best seller! You probably can't tell but I'm seething with jealously inside. If you weren't so hot, I would be sticking pins into a voodoo doll that look just like you right about now. To Maggie the overachiever, may this novel be the first of many!"
Maggie laughed as she downed her beer, the old woman forgotten.
She would head east, and keep on driving, Maggie decided as she pulled out of the parking lot.
Maggie drove with the top down, the wind in her hair, the sun blazing down on her and Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini blasting from the player. She relaxed, her foot easing off the pedal as cars whizzed by on the highway.
A few days away was what she needed. Someplace quiet to clear her mind, regroup in a place far away from the smog and mad traffic of the city. Perhaps, she could even be free from the headaches that plagued her the past few months.
Perhaps, just perhaps.
Frankie could feel her anger rising with each unanswered ring. It seemed to go on forever before it went to the voicemail.
"Maggie, where the hell are you? Everyone is looking for you. For God's sake, pick up the damn phone," Frankie paused to gather herself. In a calmer voice, she said, "Mags, you can't run from this. Please, I'm begging you...just call me, please."
With great restraint, she gently set the phone down. A knock on the door sounded and without waiting for an answer, Jamie entered, his face betraying his worry.
"Well? Did you find her?" Jamie asked immediately.
"No, she's not picking up." Frankie's shoulder sagged, hand cupping her forehead in frustration. "We need to find her, Jamie. She shouldn't be out there on her own in her condition."
Jamie stepped forward, pulling Frankie into his arms. "We'll find her, we'll find her."
Frankie could only nod in response.
Maggie had no idea how she ended up here. On a whim, she took Exit 23 off the highway and kept on driving until she came to a crossroad.
Her stomach was growling by then; she had been driving for more than three hours at least. So, the small billboard on the left side of the road with its images of juicy burgers and steaks was more than appealing.
"B.J's, satisfaction guaranteed," the signboard read.
Maggie figured she couldn't go wrong with a restaurant named B.J's, not when it dared to make a guarantee like that.
She flipped the signal and took the road on her left in search of a nice, juicy steak and a glass of thick, icy cold milkshake. Except she didn't get that far.
Somewhere along the way, she turned into a quiet, tree-lined street offering a scenic view of a lake surrounded by the ever-changing foliage of autumn and the age-old mountain range of this little town known as Pine Valley.
Mesmerized by the view, Maggie slowed the car and that was when she saw the hotel.
Just up ahead, sitting by the edge of the lake was a massive six-storey white colored structure that spoke of another era. Four gables pierced the steeply pitched roof with two chimneys resting on both ends. A line of casement windows composed of small-paned leaded glass lined the front of the building behind the four grand looking columns.
And by the side of the road was a sign announcing, The Majestic Hotel.
Without thinking, Maggie veered her car towards the slip road that lead to the hotel.
"Good afternoon, Maám," a porter greeted her with a tip of his hat as she pulled up to the entrance.
She followed him up the red-carpeted stairs to the lobby, taking a moment to study the coffered ceilings, the shiny mosaic floors and the elegant chandelier with its dangling crystals. The wooden front desk was so well polished that it seemed to sparkle from the late afternoon sun streaming in from the window.
Maggie smiled to herself; even the furnishing was distinctively vintage. She liked it.
At the front desk, she was greeted by an elderly lady with red hair and a kind face. "Good afternoon, welcome to The Majestic."
"Good afternoon, charming place you got here. If I didn't know better, I would have thought I just traveled back to the early 19th century."
"Well, this hotel has been around since 1888 and we make it a point to preserve its original look and feel. And trust me, little has changed here. I know, I have been working here since I was a teenager and as you can see, I'm ancient." The woman flashed a charming smile. "I'm Myrtle Fargate. Do you have a reservation, Ms...?"
"Stone. Please call me Maggie and no, I don't. I hope there's a room available."
"That we have, and how long will you be staying with us?"
"A couple of days, I'm not really sure yet."
Myrtle was quiet for a second, regarding Maggie curiously. She asked, "Have you been here before?"
"No, this is my first time."
Myrtle crinkled her brows. "Hmmm, I have a sudden sense of déjà vu," she paused thoughtfully, "There is this image in my head of you standing right where you are, talking to me."
"Couldn't have been me. If I've been here, I would remember a place like this."
Myrtle waved it off, chuckling. "Forgive me. At my age, the mind can play tricks on you sometimes. Can you please sign the guest registry?"
Maggie chuckled when she saw the registry, "I didn't know there are still hotels that use this."
"Like I've said, we like to preserve our tradition. It has a certain charm to it, don't you think?" Myrtle said as she placed the room key on the counter.
"Definitely." Maggie smiled genuinely for the first time in weeks.
The room was spacious, bright and tastefully decorated; a king sized bed, a dresser, a cabinet, two chairs sitting by the window, a work table and fireplace in the center. In the bathroom, Maggie found a slipper clawfoot tub and a separate shower stall.
She drew the drapes to find a stunning view of the lake and for a moment, she almost felt like her old self again.
But the vibrating mobile in her back pocket brought her back to a reality she wasn't quite ready to face. Without looking at the flashing screen, she already knew it was her sister.
She drew a deep breath and pressed the answer button. "Frankie, I'm fine."
"Where the hell are you? I've been worried sick! You can't just take off without telling anyone!" Frankie yelled over the phone.
"Okay, that's not true. I left a message telling you I was going away for a few days," Maggie defended herself.
"You couldn't have left an address and why can't you answer your damn phone?! You should not be wandering around on your own."
"Come on, I can take care of myself. I still have six months, I'm not dead yet!" Maggie raised her voice.
Silence followed for several moments before a much calmer Frankie said, "You can have decades more if you do the surgery. I know you're scared, I know the risks are high but it's worth a shot. Mags, it doesn't have to end like this."
Maggie sighed wearily. "Can we not talk about this now? Just give me a few days, please?"
A few seconds passed before Frankie replied, "All right. Can you at least tell me where you are? If you don't want anyone else to know, I won't tell them."
Knowing Frankie would just keep calling till she gets her answer, Maggie gave in, "The Majestic Hotel in Pine Valley. It's in Pennsylvania."
By the time Maggie had showered, her headache had returned with a vengeance. The pain spread down the back of her neck, inflaming her veins.
She popped two painkillers and chewed them, ignoring the bitter, brittle taste. Then she tossed back two more painkillers, anything to get rid of the headache. The pain eased a little as she set out in search for food.
She was too early, the Maitre d' told her, the restaurant would not be opened for another hour.
Of course, she could just order room service but she simply wasn't in the mood to eat alone in the room. Perhaps, this would be a good time for her to get acquainted with the grounds of the hotel.
She wandered outside. The air was crisp and cool, cooler than the heat of summer and warmer than cold of winter.
Reaching the garden, she was awestruck by the beauty that greeted her.
Down the cobblestone path flanked by the flowering shrubs of pinkish Azaleas, and passed the rose arch were flower beds of every imaginable color. She moved slowly, taking her time to study each bud, each petal, inhaling the different scents.
After a long while, she found a garden chair to rest, content to watch the world go by. She wondered just how much or if any at all had changed here since the day it was built.
She closed her eyes and let her imagination take over. In the dark, she saw women in shapeless shift dresses, short hair under cloche hats and T bar shoes with buckle and bows. They walked on the arms of men in slim jackets with high pinched waist and narrow shoulders, fedoras on their heads.
It was so vivid that for a second, she could have sworn she was transported back in time.
Soon, it was time to go as the evening light faded away. En route to the restaurant, Maggie chance upon a sign that read, "Hall of History".
The curious sort, she decided to spare a few minutes to learn more about the history of the hotel.
It was interesting; there were display of historic items such as napkins and menus from the late 19th century, a telephone, hotel register and an iron from the early 1900s. There was even a replica bedroom from the pre-war days.
By the corner, she came across programs for plays performed in the hotel. She made a mental note to ask Myrtle about this as she was not aware there was a theater in the vicinity.
As she turned to leave, her gaze fell upon the framed photos on the wall to her left.
Right in the middle, under the light was a picture of the most exquisitely beautiful face Maggie had ever seen in her life.
Her breath hitched, her feet bringing her closer on its own accord as she feast on the image. Full lips of red, perfectly sculpted nose, a heart-shaped face and an enchanting smile that would render the hardest of hearts weak in the knees.
But it was her eyes, those rich, brown eyes that left Maggie breathless. Unguarded and magnetic, they sparkled with such adoration that for a fleeting moment, Maggie was overcome with dizziness.
Her eyes drifted to the small plaque under the frame. Her name flowed out of Maggie's lips in a whispered breath, "Bianca Montgomery."
To Be Continued
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