The rest of that día and all of the siguiente one passed uneventfully, but oh, so slowly, as I waited for the time when I would have my fecha with Paulie.
I was staying in the hostel, but not really talking to anyone o drawing attention to myself, trying not to mess up anybody’s timeline. Also I just wasn’t used to talking to people in person when I didn’t already know them well from social media. Paul was different, of course. I had read so much about him and watched so many vids of him, I already felt like I knew him, and besides – well, he was a Beatle! o he would be. I watched the people, though. It was fascinating seeing how different they were from the people in my time. tu never saw a room full of people in 2157 where everyone was talking and dancing and eating and laughing together. Nobody talked to anyone they hadn’t met online o at least e-mailed first. These people even looked different from the ones I was used to, and talked differently too, in ways I couldn’t really put my finger on. I was considered a pretty average size in my own time, but most of the girls here were both taller and thinner than I was, and I wondered if the average size had changed. I didn’t see a single other person with violeta eyes like mine either. Maybe Paul had been attracted to me because I looked so different from everyone else. Maybe he found me striking.
I also wasn’t ordering proper meals, mostly going for the leftovers when everyone else was done. Nineteen fifties comida looked a lot richer and greasier than the comida in my time, and I wondered if Paul would buy me a whole meal while we were out together and if I would like it. Paul was going to have to pay for everything because I had no nineteen fifties money and wasn’t allowed to spend any and maybe change the economy, but then, I was pretty sure that in the nineteen fifties a fecha was always a male paying for a female, so Paul would be expecting to pay. That was a relief.
So I spent most of the days dreaming of my big fecha with Paul, until finally, finally, the big día came. I woke up on the morning of July 6, 1957, and jumped out of bed, hardly able to control myself. Today I was going on a fecha with my Paulie!!! Why did I feel like July 6 should remind me of something else, too? It didn’t matter. I got dressed as quickly as I could, wishing I could have brought más than one outfit and hoping I looked all right for a nineteen fifties date.
Paul came to get me at ten o’clock in the morning. “Morning, Gloria,” he said, giving me that heart-melting smile. “You look lovely.”
So I did look all right for a nineteen fifties date... My corazón pounded in my chest. “You too,” I said, and blushed, but he just laughed and took my arm. “Come on, then.”
Paul held the door of the hostel open for me as we left, and I paused a moment, not used to having doors opened for me. Actually most doors in my time opened automatically o when they detected your handprint, depending on whether they were private o public....
“Gloria?” Paul prompted. “Is something wrong?”
Wrong... The feeling that I was forgetting something flickered once más across my mind. What could I possibly be forgetting, though? I didn’t even come from this time. My calendar was completely empty, I knew that, and there was nothing I had to do except spend the whole día with Paul McCartney, my beautiful Beatle-to-be, and if I was going to do the thing properly, I was going to do this exactly the way a nineteen fifties teenager would. “Nothing’s wrong,” I told him, giving him a smile that I hoped could possibly match his. “I was just distracted for a minute... Where are we going?”
Everywhere, it turned out. Paul had promised to mostrar me round the city, and he did point out some areas of interest, but he kept getting distracted and leading me into más private places like parks and beaches and little wooded areas where we would happily sit down, perhaps dipping our toes into the water o just lying there soaking up sunlight. I didn’t care, and not only because the less people were around, the less I might interfere with their timelines. As long as I could be alone with Paul, I was happy. I had to admit, though, I had never been outdoors for this long before, o ever done this much walking, and it was a hot summer day. Paul noticed.
“You all right, Gloria?” he said, as we took a rest in the shade of some trees, and I plopped down with a huge sigh, feeling winded.
“Fine,” I assured him, not wanting him to call off the fecha early because he thought I was too tired to continue it. “I just – I don’t walk a lot back home. I’m not used to it.”
“Why not?” asked Paul with an adorable puzzled frown, sitting down siguiente to me. “How do tu get around, then? hola –” a thought had suddenly struck him – “where do tu come from? tu haven’t got an accent o anything like that – although tu do sound a bit different....”
Uh-oh. Dangerous territory. How could I explain to Paul that “where I come from” wasn’t a “where” so much as a “when”?
“Never mind that,” I dicho in what I hoped was a charming voice. “I don’t want to talk about that when I’ll be going back too soon anyway. I want to hear más about you.”
Paul smiled, though he still looked puzzled, and I had a feeling I hadn’t heard the last about where I might come from and why my habits were so different from his. “Well, I live with me dad and me brother, and I amor rock and roll music....”
“I know!” I blurted excitedly, so thrilled to hear this little tidbit from the best rock-and-roll estrella of all that I forgot myself.
Paul blinked those incredible long lashes. “You know?”
“Well... I mean – who doesn’t?” That was right, wasn’t it? Every teenager in the nineteen fifties loved rock and roll music, right?
Paul laughed. “Yeah, that’s right.” I breathed a small sigh of relief.
Paul suddenly stood up. “You’ll feel better after some lunch,” he said. “There’s a place with a jukebox just up there. Come on.” He extended his left hand to help me to my feet. Once I was standing and we were walking towards the place with the jukebox – that was something to do with music, right? I didn’t want to ask him; it felt like a nineteen fifties teenager should know – he was still holding it.
A jukebox turned out to be a big machine that played the música tu selected for the entire store to hear, like an extra-large version of the música app on my phone, which I had filled with Beatles tunes and other assorted songs from the twentieth century, as well as a selection of más modern 2150s choices. Paul and I had a wonderful time selecting songs to play – some of which I didn’t even know, I just chose them to see what they’d sound like – and he swung me all around the floor while I laughed and laughed. I discovered several new favourites, and I made a mental note to add them to my collection when I got back to my own time. There were no Beatles songs, of course, those hadn’t been written yet, but I was a little disappointed. “I wish they had some songs by...” I started to say before I caught myself.
“By who?” asked Paul, when I didn’t finish.
Uh-oh. “I – I don’t remember,” I improvised quickly. “It was just a thought... Come on, let’s go eat something.”
The menu featured a lot of hamburgers and chips and milkshakes. I remembered suddenly that back in the nineteen fifties, they still made comida using animal products and the hamburgers would be made with real meat, and the milkshakes with real milk. How did that taste? I had never had anything like that before. I was going to find out soon, though, as Paul ordered us each a hamburger, an order of chips, and a milkshake. “I wonder what it will taste like,” I said.
Paul’s perfect eyebrows raised. “Haven’t tu ever had hamburgers before?”
“Well, no,” I said. “I was...” What should I say this time? “My family is...” what was the word they had used? Not vegan, not in this era... “Vegetarian.” That was a thing in this time, right?
Paul frowned. “Do tu want to eat something else, then?”
“No, no.” I was determined to live this día like a proper nineteen fifties girl. “I want to do this properly – I mean, I want to try it.”
Paul nodded. As we sat there waiting, he took my hand across the mesa, tabla again. I blushed hard and looked down, and when I glanced back up I saw Paul was staring into my eyes with the most adorable dreamy look. “I’ve never seen eyes that colour,” he said.
My corazón pounded with excitement. “You’ve never seen eyes my colour...!”
Paul laughed. I think he knew what I meant. “I just call them hazel,” he offered.
Our comida arrived. And from the first bite, I was hooked. This wasn’t anything like the soy protein that tu got in burgers in 2157. This was rich and greasy and savoury and everything deliciously bad for you, but so, so worth it....
“Gloria!” I looked up from my comida and saw Paul watching me, half-amused, half-surprised. Had I been that obvious?
“It’s good,” I supplied unnecessarily.
Paul giggled. “Do tu want another?”
I looked down at my place and realized my burger and milkshake were almost gone. I hesitated for one moment, wondering if it would alter the timeline too much to have Paul spending so much of his money on me, but the comida made up my mind for me. Once I was back in my time, I would never be able to taste this deliciousness again. “Sure – just one.”
It was three incomparable burgers and milkshakes later that we left the restaurant, feeling uncomfortably full but oh, so satisfied. Paul held my arm to lead me out the door, looking a bit amused. “You like your food, don’t you?”
“Actually,” I replied a little distractedly, “I don’t know if I’ll ever like comida again, after this....”
“Why don’t tu keep eating them?” suggested Paul with a bit of a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “Your mum and dad wouldn’t have to know. Besides, tu could talk them into letting you.”
I shook my head. “No. Back where I come from, they don’t even make comida like that.”
Paul frowned again. “Where do tu come from?”
I tensed. “I told you, I don’t want to talk about that. Oh, look, what’s that building over there?”
My diversion worked to a certain extent, although Paul was confused about why I found a post office so fascinating. I really did, though. Once I realized what I was actually pointing at, I wanted Paul to tell me all about how written messages were delivered before they had e-mail and texting and everything else. I had never really understood how that worked.
As we continued walking all around Liverpool, Paul held my hand más and más frequently, and as the sun began to set, he actually slipped his arm about my shoulders and kept walking with me that way, and I put my head on his shoulder to let him know that I wanted him to keep touching me. I was getting used to all the walking, and almost felt refreshed por it, though the air still smelled very different from what I was used to. Then again, maybe it smelled better.
“Supposed I should be taking tu back now,” Paul dicho at last when streetlights began to flicker on and the sun had set completely.
I nodded reluctantly. I didn’t know how Paul’s timeline might change if he got in trouble for staying out all night. “It’s been lovely, Paul. I wish tu didn’t have to go....”
“Maybe we can do it again sometime,” Paul suggested with his beautiful smile. His face was a lot closer to mine than it had been... he was leaning into me....
And then Paul kissed me, and for a moment I was completely taken aback, not expecting that he would just come out and kiss me like that, but then I recovered myself. Paul McCartney was actually besar me, and I slipped my arms around his neck and kissed him back, and refused to pull away from him for some long moments.
I felt dizzy. “We have got to do that again,” I murmured when I had recovered myself.
Paul took my hand again as we began to walk towards the hostel where I’d been staying. “We can do all sorts of things while you’re here,” he agreed. “There’s lots más to do in Liverpool than what we did today – especially if you’re so fond of post offices,” he added with a teasing grin.
I giggled. “I loved it, though, really I did!”
“There’s lots más I can mostrar you. Museums and parks and all sorts – we can even go to a fête o two, like that Woolton Village Fête my friend Ivan asked me to go to today....”
My blood froze. I felt like the world had suddenly dropped out from under me, and I was half-aware that I had stopped walking. “The – the Woolton Village Fête? That was today?”
Paul looked round at me, eyebrows furrowed with puzzlement in a way that would have been adorable if I hadn’t been so horrified. “Yeah, it was. It doesn’t matter, though, really. I’d much rather have spent the whole día with you.”
“No!” I cried, agonizingly aware that I couldn’t explain how much it did matter. “You had to go today – tu needed to – tu best friend....”
“You mean Ivan?” Paul was frowning now. “He didn’t mind that much, really. Look, it’s not important! There’ll be other fêtes, that we can both go to! I didn’t need to go to this one!”
But it was important, in ways that Paul couldn’t possibly know. The Woolton Village Fête was where Paul had met John Lennon – the Beatles’ bandleader, Paul’s songwriting partner, not to mention one of Paul’s very best friends along with the other two Beatles. It was that meeting that would set the ball rolling for all the other events that would eventually bring the Beatles together. And now, thanks to me, it had never happened.
Oh no, oh no, oh no.
What had I done?!