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A Better Place, A Better Time

It’s impossible, this can’t be… 1917. Even time, itself, can’t keep them apart. If this is a dream… I don’t ever want to wake up. Bella finds herself nearly 100 years in the past. Coincidentally in the city of Chicago. (Takes place during New Moon when Edward has left, AU.) Time traveling should be illegal. *COMPLETE* Sequel "All This Time" is posted on my profile.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters in the story. Warnings: None yet. This takes place during New Moon, when Edward is M.I.A. It does not take the rest of the series into account. Enjoy. *Complete as of 4-25-2008!

5. 5. Era of a New Reality

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 1385   Review this Chapter

5. Era of a New Reality

“Isabella, what a pretty name,” Elizabeth remarked after asking what she should call me. I had told her Bella, but she refused, saying it was too informal.

We strolled lazily by a large store window, the mannequins dressed similarly to the ones I had seen a night earlier. It all still seemed to be in a blur.

Elizabeth ushered me quickly along the street, smiling to a few people as we passed. My mind was a blank. It was everything in the air that threw me off. Something was so different, it was in the smells, the sights… the people… Unable to really focus on one thing… I couldn’t put together any sort of conclusion except that something was wrong.

“Quickly, my dear,” Elizabeth pressed a hand to the small of my back and pushed me through a doorway.

“Good Morn-” The gentleman’s voice was cut off by my abrupt appearance. “Mrs. Masen… how lovely to see you this morning.”

“Jean.” She took a few steps forward and greeted him, with a kiss to each cheek. She stood relatively close to him and talked in a low tone. His eyes scanned me, holding his chin in his thumb and forefinger. He hemmed and hawed, nodding as Elizabeth continued in a hushed voice.

“I think I can help you,” he smiled. “Come with me my dear.” He motioned toward me and swept me forward, an arm around my shoulder.

The store was practically empty with a few dresses hanging from the wall or dressed on mannequins. The back wall was a large, glass case filled with hand bags, gloves, shoes, hats…

I squirmed holding tight to the banister, his jerky movements and the creaking of the laces resounded in my head. The dress slipped down over my head, in a flurry of burgundy velvet. He buttoned the silk covered buttons on the back, pulling the high waist tight around my stomach. The sheer sleeves scratched at my bare shoulders.

He smirked as I sucked in a long breath and rubbed at my biceps. “Mrs. Masen, I forgot to mention, I got the new Chanel jackets in from Paris. The same ones that you were admiring a few weeks ago…”

He walked over to a glass case and pulled out a black pair of boot-like shoes. The buttons extended up the side and what looked like a sock, but was all one piece.

The silk stockings he had draped over my shoulder were difficult to fit; they had no stretch and sagged every time I stood up. I tucked them into the garters the best I could. The clips were difficult to move, the hard metal clasp and the hard white buttons scraped against each other making a horrifying noise.

“What would you like me to do with… these?” Jean held out my dirty jeans and sweater at an arm’s length.

“Toss them.” Elizabeth picked around the few items hanging in the store. Touching each fabric carefully.

“Very well.” He disappeared for a moment into a back room, reappearing seconds later with empty hands.

“I’ll take these two jackets,” Elizabeth smiled handing them over the counter to Jean, “And those three dresses, four pairs of stockings, two chemises, three pairs of those shoes, and those two hats.”

The cool morning sun had turned into a blaze of summer heat. We walked to the curb of the sidewalk, a bag boy in tow. Elizabeth motioned to a waiting cab Jean had called for a few minutes before. The driver jumped down from his front seat and helped pack the back trunk with our boxes. Elizabeth boarded the ancient car with the help of the bag boy’s hand. I lingered a moment noticing how intricate everything could be. The littlest things were the largest deal here. I saw a young boy a few feet away.

The boy was on the corner and holding out a large, white sheet of paper with dark print on it. I stopped confused by the sight, realizing a moment too late that he was a news boy. His words rang out like a church bell, “U.S. enters war in Europe! U.S. enters war! Five cents! Read all about it!”

War in Europe? My mind spun. This dream was getting stranger. I walked over to him and glanced at the newspaper.

“Five cents!”

I nodded my head and quickly scanned the head line. My eyes ran across a small date printed just below the headline. April 7th, 1917. I felt suddenly lightheaded, the blood draining from face. This can’t be… It was a sudden implosion of reality. The sounds around me of people talking, cars backfiring, horses’ hooves clattering, bells ringing were suddenly real.

“Isabella, we must leave,” she smiled down at me as I stood bewildered.

I shook off the feeling that I was dreaming, letting reality set it. I had never had a dream that lasted this long… or was this clear… and perfect. I nodded gently, faking a smile.

“Are you feeling well? You look livid?”

“I’m fine, thank you.” I pressed my hand to my cheeks and let their cold bring the colour back to my face.

I climbed into the motorize carriage with the help of the driver. He did most of the work. I could barely move my legs high enough to get a foot up. The corset was gripped tightly around my hips, denying any movement.

I stumbled forward into the awaiting seat next to Elizabeth. My back was rigid and sitting took more effort than standing. The bone of the corset jabbed into my upper rib cage.

“We have to get home in plenty of time to get ready for tonight.”

“What’s tonight?” I looked over at her glowing face. He had her eyes…

“Why, my birthday of course.”

She brushed my hair back into a wavy bun, letting a few stray strands of curls hang around my face.

“You have such beautiful hair, Isabella. I would suggest taking better care of it.” She saw my odd glance to her in the mirror. I blushed immediately after catching her eyes and looked away. “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but,” she hesitated unclear on how to sound polite, “where exactly did you come from?” She had lowered her voice again, to avoid being overheard by Edward, who was cowering in his room. He had avoided me every second I had been in his house…

“I’m not sure, I don’t really remember much,” I lied. “It’s all kind of a blur right now. I think that bump on my head confused my memories.” It was best just to play along.

She smiled down at me, like a mother, and nodded her head. “The doctor said that might happen.” She pulled open a round, hat box and carefully picked out the hat from inside. She gently placed it over my curls, carefully pressing a hat pin into the felt fabric. The brim circled around the hat and dipped down over my eyes. The flower embroidery rested just above the limp brim. It was the pure air of sophistication. I didn’t even recognize myself. The burgundy dress sat dynamically next to my hair and skin tone. The lace sleeves and emerald green belt cinched tightly at my high natural waist, was of a different era altogether.

It was Edward’s sudden appearance that really startled me. I left the bedroom, slipping on a pair of gloves. I glanced up to make sure I would trip over anything and injure myself, as I usually did. It was quite a feat that I made it around in these shoes. The narrow shoes’ leather rubbed roughly against my feet, the stockings allowed no protection from blisters and sores. I caught his eyes as he stood erect in the living room. His dark, wool chesterfield hit just above his knee. His slacks were pinstripe with a pair of black oxfords fitting in neatly at his cuff. His eyes caught me completely off guard. Losing my balance, I tripped over the toe of my shoe and straight into his arms. They caught me, stiffly putting my descent to a stop.

With a hint of exasperation in voice he said, “Must you always be in need of rescue?”