The room was filled with the quiet murmurs of the seamstresses. Jane stood on the small pedestal in front of the mirror as careful hands entwined themselves in the soft fabric of her wedding dress. The wedding was months away and there were many more fittings to be had. Though Jane was content with the dress after each alteration, Mum always found something to add, remove, or change.
"What do you think, ma'am?" asked the head seamstress as she and her companions fell back. Jane studied her reflection in the mirror.
Jane's black hair had been pulled up so as not to interfere with her dress. When it was let loose, it tumbled down her back in thick, wavy sheets. Her eyes were bright and luminous; like emeralds, her fiance had told her. In all honesty, Jane did not appreciate the virgin white color of the dress. It simply drained her of any color she might have had. But she held her tongue against any protests knowing that her mother's voice would overshadow anything Jane had to say about the wedding.
Examining the dress, Jane had to admit that it was a stunning piece of work. The collar framed her long neck and the shape flattered her figure. The dress was adorned with all sorts of lace and jewels.
"You look beautiful, Jane," said Lydia. Jane turned to smile at her little sister. Lydia was only eight and was going to be one of the flower girls at Jane's wedding. The other would be Eric's younger sister Olive, who was twelve.
"Thank you, my dear," said Jane. She returned to her reflection. "I do like it. Might I see it with the veil?"
"Of course, ma'am," the seamstress said. With a snap of her fingers, the veil was brought forth and placed gently upon Jane's head. It sat uncomfortably on Jane's head, but Jane attributed that to the awkward hairstyle. For the wedding everything would be perfect.
It would have to be.
"I think the bustle is a little too... slim," Mrs. Carlisle said. Grateful that the veil was hiding her visage, Jane rolled her eyes at her mother. There was always something. As her mother and the seamstress talked about bustles and propriety, Jane found herself visualizing the wedding.
The church had been placed on reserve and invitations had already been sent out. Everything would already be planned out and Jane and Eric would know hardly any of it! Oh, how Jane longed to see Eric again. Maybe later tonight she could slip away and meet him under the oak tree. But how would he know to be there? Jane feared that if her mother kept behaving the way she was, the next time Jane would have any time to see Eric would be as she was walking down the aisle! As much as Jane anticipated the wedding, what she longed for was afterwards. Jane and Eric would travel to Eric's family home in the country, where it would be just the two of them. No mother's hovering trying to provide the wedding they wish they had had, no well-wishers, no cries of the city. Just them.
And suddenly Jane bent double as a flaming pain rebounded through her body. She was aware that she had cried out and that her name was being called but that didn't matter. She opened her eyes and saw blinding white light. She was standing still but the entire world around her was rushing and twisting and pulling.
And suddenly it stopped.
Hesitantly, Jane opened her eyes. She was in London, she was sure, but this was most certainly not London.
There were... vehicles everywhere. Metal carriages that pulled themselves. And there were lights on buildings and so much noise. And the people. Why, there must have been hundreds of people milling about in the strangest state of dress.
Whatever had happened, Jane wished it wasn't so. Where had she gone? What was this strange world? Jane tried to pinch herself as assurance she hadn't fallen asleep and concocted this dream world. No, no. She was very much here; wherever here was.
Where had she gone?
She looked up at the people filing past her. "Excuse me," she said to a young man in a coat. "Pardon me, sir, but could you tell me where I am?" The man continued to stare straight ahead, as if he hadn't heard her. "Sir," she repeated a little louder. "Sir, please, I beg your assistance. Could you please tell me where I am? Is this London?"
Yet still he ignored her.
Anger flared up in Jane as she turned away. Why had he ignored her? Desperately, Jane looked around for the sign of anything familiar. A shop or something. She had been in her house, how had she ended up in the middle of a walk way so far from home? As she pushed through the throng of people, Jane realized something.
She was in her wedding dress. A wedding dress with a cathedral veil on her head. Surely, in this crowded of an area, someone would have stepped on it. Jane turned around.
Yes. There were people walking over her veil and gown but it didn't stop her moving. It was like they were stepping through her clothes. Jane thought at first she was a ghost but she dismissed the idea entirely. Ghosts did not have corporeal forms and she knew she was very much alive.
"Think, Jane, think!" she told herself. "Think!" Jane remembered standing on the pedestal during a fitting of her bridal gown. She remembered the seamstresses talking and how Lydia was so very excited. Her mother had been complaining about the bustle...
With a gasp, Jane's eyes flew open and she startled herself into a sitting position. She was in her bed, the covers tossed and turned about. She glanced out her window and saw the stars dotting the night sky.
Night! It had just been early in the afternoon. Flopping back down on her bed, Jane tried to piece together what had happened.
Somehow she had traveled to a different time. Even as she thought it, she scoffed. She couldn't travel in time; that was the stuff of novels and penny dreadfuls. But she couldn't deny the experience. Even now, safe under her thick covers, Jane could hear the sounds of the metal carriages, the babble of hundreds of people.
Jane had then, somehow, returned to her room, safe and sound. It was an impossible journey and a mystery but one Jane couldn't wait to rediscover.