Title: A Change of Grace
Chapter: 27 of 41
Summary: Taylor ends up traveling back in time to New York in the 19th century. There he meets Kathryn, Benjamin, Joshua and Grace among many others. The story follows both Taylor’s adventures in the past and Isaac and Zachary’s search for him in present (1997/1998) time.
Josh sighed heavily. Never before had the six flights of stairs been so long and laborious. If he heard Taylor sing one more word of that song, he would throw him out a window. “Josh, I really wish I knew who Taylor was talking about… Led Zeppelin?” Grace, bemused, foggy with alcohol, sat on the steps, as Taylor belted out another verse of “Stairway to Heaven”.
As they had started out up the stairs, Taylor started giggling, then humming. Before they knew it, he was singing full out. “If we don’t hear complaints tomorrow, I’ll know my neighbors are deaf.” Josh sat beside Grace, putting his arm around her, and holding her close. “Did you have fun tonight, my dear?” he whispered into her ear, enjoying the closeness as Grace snuggled in against him. “Yes, I did, Josh…” her words cut off short, as Taylor shouted back to them.
“C’mon you two, no makin’ out on the stairs!”
Sighing heavily, holding hands, they rejoined their noisy friend, who was now making very strange hand gestures. “Air guitar! Jus’ like Bill ‘n Ted! Y’know that movie, right?” Taylor suddenly stopped… “Even better, r’mber Wayne’s World? In the car?” He hummed for a moment, and then started singing again.
“Josh?? What is he singing? And what is a movie?” Open mouthed with astonishment, the couple listened in dismay, as Taylor sang louder and louder. “What the hell… that’s it. Taylor! Enough!!!” He grabbed Taylor by the arm, just barely stopping him from falling headlong down the stairs. His head was starting to ache, and whatever song this had been, it was not helping. It was time to put this drunk to bed. Grace on one side, Josh on the other, Taylor started climbing up the stairs again.
“Wha’s th’matter? You don’t like Queen? E’vryone like Bohem’n Rhap… Rhapsody…”
“Yes Taylor, we like the Queen, but not right now, it’s late, it’s time for bed.” Grace patted his back reassuringly, giggling at the messy boy beside her. She never considered how she might look, hair falling down her back, lip paint smeared, and what Sarah Gage’s reaction would be to the smell of beer and smoke on the low cut velvet dress she had on. But Josh had. He had a fair idea of how his Ma was going to react to this situation, and he wanted a chance to talk to her before she saw Taylor and Grace. “You two. Sit. Wait right here. Grace, I have to talk to Ma, before she sees… well, before we go in. Just wait, and keep him quiet, ok?”
“Yes Josh, if you’d like.” Grace gave him a brilliant smile, one that made his heart skip a beat, and his breath quicken. “Ahh, life is looking so much better, yes it is…” he thought, as he opened the apartment door.
“Ma, are you up… oh, you are. Ma, we need to talk.” He drew a sleepy Sarah into the
parlor, and sat her down. “Ma, just listen to me, all the way through, please? I need your help.”
Fifteen minutes later, a very weary Josh led Grace and Taylor into the parlor, wincing, though he’d known it was coming, as he heard his Ma gasp. “Good Lord in heaven…” Sarah snapped her mouth shut in astonishment, as she watched Grace virtually melting against Josh,
standing so close as to be almost inside his shirt! She watched as her son, her boy, who had only this morning complained about his betrothal, gathered the object of his abject loathing in his arms, hugged her, and looked at her with an absolutely syrupy expression of love on his face. He murmured reassuring words to her, turning her around to face his Ma. The look on Grace’s face matched Josh’s, radiant with her love for him.
“Good God…” Sarah whispered, as she took in the dress, the loose hair, the paint.
“Grace? Love is that you? ” No matter that Josh had told her what had happened, she was completely surprised. Not shocked, she had known that this Grace was still
there, the fun loving, fruit robbing, wrestling, ball playing Grace, hidden inside the society-shackled young woman. But she had given up hope that the child would ever again appear in the woman, or that the pair would ever again find common ground, and the love that they had shared as children. No matter, it was too late to wonder at now. They would deal with all this tomorrow. She was intensly curious to see if they would feel the same in the absence of beer.
Nodding, she aimed a cuff at Josh’s arm.
“Josh, wake your Da. Tell him I need him to get dressed. Grace, please, sit. Do you want coffee? You NEED coffee… Taylor, please, you can’t sleep yet. Wait a few more
minutes.” She gave the half asleep boy a shake, and made sure he was sitting
upright, with eyes open, before she bustled off to the kitchen, planning sleeping arrangements. Grace could NOT go home, not like this. Her Da would come spoiling for Josh with a shotgun. No, she’d just have to stay the night. Samuel would come up with a fine explanation, she was sure.
Taylor slowly stood, wishing he had a better grip on his balance, and teetered his way over to the piano. “Awake. Gotta stay. Ma said.” He dropped onto the piano bench, idly touching keys softly. A song tickled at the back of his head… he very quietly started playing. Consciousness fogged, he played by instinct and feel, the first thing that came to mind.
“Taylor, what song is this? It’s very pretty.”
Grace joined him on the bench and looked into his face, surprised to see him
holding back tears. He’d been very quiet while they’d waited for Josh, an abrupt switch from his raucous singing, murmuring names. Ike, Zac, some others she couldn’t remember. He’d seemed so sad…
“Taylor, are you alright?”
He sighed heavily, moving his fingers from the keyboard. “I miss ’em, y’know? So much it hurts, way in…” He touched his chest. “I dream ’bout ’em ‘n, I know they dream ’bout me. I wanna go home…” Tears fell softly down his cheeks, the alcoholic euphoria turning melancholy.
He turned back to the piano, quietly taking up the song again, and very softly, almost inaudibly, he
began to sing. “If I’m gone when you wake up, please don’t cry…”
Josh stood at the door to the parlor, listening to the sad song, watching Grace, mindless of the tears on her own cheeks, comforting their friend.
Looking back for his mother, not finding her, he sighed, and moved toward the pair, joining them on the bench, lending his comfort as best he could. “You’ll be home again, Taylor, you’ll see them.”
“Look, look at ’em, I miss ’em so much…” Taylor pulled his wallet from his pocket, fumbling it twice before he got it open, reaching with numbed fingers into the very back, pulling out a thin stack of small photos. He laid them along the keyboard, sighing.
“I’m not s’posed to have ’em on me…” He sighed again and shook his head. “…but I had to have ’em close, I had to…”
The color photos glowed against the pale ivory of the keys; the brilliant gloss finish matching the polished wood of the piano. Josh and Grace looked at them with awestruck wonder, almost unable to process what they were seeing. Never had they seen such lifelike photographs. Or such colors.
Josh looked from the photos to Taylor, a sharp dagger of fear stabbing itself into his heart. “My God…” His voice was a faint whisper. “What are you?”
Oblivious, Taylor’s eyes never left the faces of his family.
His eyes flicked back to the pictures, at Grace’s insistent tone. He followed her pointing finger.
“What is that?” Josh whispered, somehow afraid to speak aloud. Something large, blue… was it a vehicle of some sort?
“Look at their clothes!” Grace hissed the words, having caught some of Josh’s aversion to speaking. Taylor’s hand appeared in their sightlines, picking up the photos, setting out others. “Look thas m’mom ‘n dad…” He knuckled his eyes, sighing again, the sigh turning into a yawn. “And thas’ m’ sister Jessie. She’s evil…” He smiled and moved to the next one. “Tha’s Avie, and Mackie… look, this’s Ike, see y’look like him…” Taylor shoved the picture into Josh’s shocked face, frowning as the boy jerked away from him, hissing almost angrily. “Taylor put those away! I don’t know where you got them, or what made them, or where you came from, and I don’t want to know, just put them away!” “Geez Josh, chill…” He gathered up his pictures, reaching to take one from Grace, who held it slightly away from him. “Is this your mother?” He nodded, accepting the picture as she finallyheld it out. “What’s her name?” “Diana.” Grace, intensely curious, knew she needed this information, but why, she didn’t know. “Diana what?” “Diana Frances.”
His eyes started to fill up again, and Grace took pity, ending the questions. “She’s very lovely Taylor, and you look just like her…”
Taylor nodded, face forlorn, and broke into another huge yawn.
In their absorption with the photographs, the trio didn’t hear the departure of Samuel, as he headed off to Grace’s house. His mumbling and muttering had been low key and sleepy. This no longer the case, they certainly heard his arrival back home, as he re-entered the house, bellowing out to Sarah.
“Fine, they’re fine with it, Sarah, now do you want to explain to me why I had to go
out, in the middle of the night, to lie to Grace’s father?! What kind of a family is this that…”
“Later, Samuel, later. Let’s get these children to bed first. Grace?” The three turned, in unison, on the bench, Taylor twisting his body to face Josh’s parents. He clumsily scooped the photos off the piano, putting them back into his wallet.
“Oh, what is that dear?”
Sarah stepped toward the piano, as Josh, more desperate than coherent, gave Taylor a shove that sent him off the bench and onto the floor, hard…” In the process he managed to get his body in front of the offending pictures before his mother could focus on them. “Oh, gosh…Ma nothing, go help Grace get settled…Sorry Taylor…” He made a show of helping him up, only to drop him again the moment his mothers resigned headshaking was out of sight. Some of the fear had drained away, but he had no urge to touch the other boy. “Where’s she goin’?” “What Taylor?” Josh moved to sit on the couch, disturbed. “Gracie, where’s she goin’?” “To bed…” Josh’s face suddenly lit up. “To bed in MY bed! Sans me of course, but it’s a start!” He giggled to himself, sliding down to sit on the floor, back resting against the sofa. He leaned his head back, falling into a dreamy half doze. The alcohol, combined with the repeated shocks to his sensibilities, had worn him to nothing.
“Did you see how she had to pull her off me, Tay?” It was true, Sarah had had to almost pry Grace away from Josh, and while it had touched her to see such caring between two who had been so recently opposed, it was doing something other than “touch” Josh. “Do you think I could sneak in there later maybe, huh Tay?” Taylor flung himself flat on the floor, throwing an arm over his eyes. No less drunk, the start of a headache compounded his misery. “I dunno, if y’ ma’s not layin’ cross the doorway…”
The gruff voice filled the room, and the boys blinked up at Samuel. “Enough talk. Get to sleep.” He dropped pillows and quilts within their reach, and exited without another word, hopeful he could find his bed before Sarah could find him another chore, and uninterrupted sleep for the rest of the night. Halfway down the hall he turned back. “Josh.”
“I’d be thinking what I was going to say to Grace’s father tomorrow…”
He nodded grimly at his son, and turned back toward his room.
Groaning, Josh whispered a good night to his Da. Tomorrow was not going to be a highlight for him. “Tay?” He closed his eyes, arranging himself around a pillow and a blanket. You go ahead and sleep on the sofa, I’m fine on the carpet.” He waited for an answer, and hearing nothing, he turned to see where Taylor had gotten to, by now almost afraid of what he would find.
He laughed softly, then, as he saw his friend, curled up on the floor, arms wrapped around his pillow, already snoring softly. “I guess I’ll have to wait for morning, won’t I then, to thank you, my son.” Smiling, he toed the extra quilt within reach and flung it clumsily over his sleeping friend. Too comfortable, and feeling too close to sleep to even think about getting up onto the sofa, Josh’s eyes closed. Sleep however, was long coming.
Josh wrapped himself again in his quilt, futilely trying to get settled and stop thinking. Taylor’s insane blatherings had practically scared him sober, and combined with everything else that had happened, he just couldn’t shut his mind off. Grace. His Grace. In a bar. In that dress! And the kiss… He closed his eyes, the vision of her beauty burned into his mind.
My Grace has changed, and so have I… He sighed softly, and turned from the
moonlight shining in the window. “It’s all due to Taylor, he’s changed us all…” The thought followed him down into slumber. To wonder how it had changed Taylor, never dawned…