Return to Latter Days/Lonely Nights Chapter Forty-Three

Latter Days/Lonely Nights

Author: Willownut
Disclaimer: Blah, blah, blah. Many characters are Joss Whedon's. Yada, yada, yada. No harm intended with the use of these revered characters. Peas and carrots, peas and carrots.

(Day 10 - Saturday, November 17, 1984)

Tara woke up with a smile on her face. She looked at the clock; it was only four-thirty. There was plenty of time before gym class. She considered her options: She should study Japanese, or read her scriptures, and journal time was probably overdue. Tara sighed. There was always so much to do. Lying in bed all toasty and warm thinking about what Willow had told her the night before, or closing her eyes and daydreaming about Willow seemed more fun.

She and Willow had avoided making any decisions about their situation again, so that conversation was still coming. They had some time yet before her next appointment with the mission president. I'll take 'avoiding difficult conversations' for eight thousand, Alex. Tara smiled and rolled her eyes. She reflected on how Willow had seen her discomfort and then tried to divert them toward something more enjoyable. She loved the way Willow did those kinds of little things. She is so enchanting.

Tara began to replay the events of the night before. Their voices echoed in her mind. "How do you do that? Do what? Make me think so hard about what I really want when I'm trying not to." Tara remembered her next comment, "I was trying to be vague, trying not to be clear...Trying not to let you see." She sighed again. I guess I did some avoiding myself. She remembered leading the two of them to the vacant room to continue their discussion. Tara Maclay uses this medium: buzz... what is kissing Willow? Tara looked at the clock again. Time flies when you're having fun.

A small wave of nausea interrupted her thoughts after a few moments. I have to - what had Willow called it -"Get mission-y." Thinking about The Church seemed to bring up so many issues she didn't want to debate within herself. And, the fact that she needed Willow's distractions from the flood of negative emotions she was feeling only seemed to accentuate the chaos of guilt, fear and shame she was harboring. How did things get so complicated?

She moved her arm to reposition her pillow and then cradled it against her. After a few moments, she was uneasy. She felt out of place on the bunk she had chosen. It was silly, but it was just positioned the wrong way or something. She flipped over and nestled the pillow into a more comfortable position facing the wall. What she really wanted to do was sprawl out, and she wished she had a larger bed.

Tara closed her eyes and tried to imagine her room back at home. From her vantage point where she would lay on her double bed, the dresser and then her closet were at her feet. Her desk and chair and some shelving with pictures were to her left. She could envision her school books neatly stacked as they would have been when she was a student.

Her room was tidy, well kept actually. As a youth, she had longed to throw a wayward sock on the floor, or leave a top out overnight tossed across the chair, but that just wasn't done. She had grown up in a strict environment. There was "A place for everything and everything in its place".

Tara pictured herself preparing for bed. Everything had to be put away and sometimes in a rush, things didn't end up exactly where they should. She always intended on going back to straighten up, but never seemed to make the time. It was a little hint of rebellion to which she clung. A smile crept on her face as she remembered the state of her desk drawer. Willow would probably call that "modern chaos" or some other cute phrase meaning a huge mess.

She let the images and thoughts fade, and she reflected on her family for a moment. She thought about how Donny's room looked, he too had struggled with her father's strict rules. She remembered seeing him roll his eyes more than a few times when her dad started in on one of his long speeches. She always felt a strong bond with her brother over those types of things. Her father's ways were tough, but she really thought he meant well and he seemed earnest in his desire for her perfection. Tara paused at the thought.

She knew an insight was coming and decided it was time to grab for her journal. She flipped through the pages scanning quickly over some of the text before she started a new entry.

November 17, 1984

Things are not always as they appear.

My room always had the semblance of neatness. Dad said so many things about how our home reflected our respect for others (In retrospect, I'm guessing that meant him). Cleanliness is next to godliness and all that. There had to be order.

Good habits and organized living where essential for spiritual excellence. I guess I just was superficial in my excellence then 'cause my desk drawer and closet were always in disarray. I wonder ... If I'd paid better attention to my drawers, would it really have made my head less messy now?

I was looking back through my journal. I seem to keep having these realizations, but they don't do a thing to make my mind any clearer. Donny's letter seemed to help, but it felt like that was ages ago. And Willow provides a lot of insight... She's smart that way. I loved her cake example about the frosting not being the actual cake. Maybe I've been frosting for a long time and didn't know it. Oh gosh, what if I'm really just this shallow person? I don't feel shallow. I think I have depth.

It's hard here, there's no real wiggle room to do anything. I just want some time to work some things out and we don't have any. I think I'm supposed to feel like any distractions are bad and everything not "work" related needs to be cut out. And Kitchen Shimai said I needed to be careful who I let set my path. Am I off course? Well I suppose in other people's eyes I am, but when I'm with Willow, things finally feel right. I just don't know what that means. But then after... like now... I'm just so confused.

So what do I do? Keep up a facade that everything is perfect-that I'm not having this huge crisis of soul here. I don't like feeling this way, but when I'm with Willow, that's when things just seem to make sense.

Down the hall, Willow was locked in an inner battle of her own. She felt like she was dressed up in all the wrong clothes, especially given the threat of impending doom. Who wears a tube top and heels to a tidal wave? And these shorts are too - well - short. Tara's outfit seemed much more suitable, but her large rubber flippers weren't helping her at the moment as they both attempted to run up the hill.

Sister Smith suddenly appeared in Willow's dream with a large green 'frog' inflatable swim ring around her middle. "What?!?" She looked indignant, "All the life jackets were gone." She yelled above the roar of the panicked crowd, "And it went with my outfit." It was true; she was wearing green from head to toe. Willow giggled a little when Smith fluffed her hair to accentuate her point.

Sister Kitchen went by them on her roller skates, which actually didn't seem that out of place since she was wearing stylish protective headgear. The strap fit nice and snug under her chin. Kitchen's hair bunched out wildly where the short helmet ended on her head. Clearly, she was well on the path to escape the killer wave. Kitchen had already skated past by the time her hand shot up in a belated wave. Willow felt silly when she realized she'd returned the greeting that Kitchen would never see.

Willow scanned the crowd for other familiar faces. Sister Colson was across the street making progress. She had on a brightly colored loose fitting top, baggy trouser pants and a big red nose. She was barking out orders with an overlarge megaphone, "Come on, we don't have all day people!" She gestured wildly with her Mickey Mouse hands, "I said move!"

After seeing the others, Willow was also not surprised when she soon spotted Sister Conley in a duck suit. Hmm, yellow looks nice on her.

Willow turned her attention back to Tara. She seemed comfortable enough. The skintight wetsuit was a bit of a distraction. And Willow liked distractions. It was a full body suit, dark blue with a very light blue curved stripe that went from Tara's lower leg all the way up her side and ended with a slighted curved point just under her arm pit. Truth be told, facing impending doom didn't seem as bad if she could watch Tara move around in that.

Willow's own "Daisy Duke" shorts were riding up in all the wrong places and she felt like the tube top would fall at any moment. She was exhausted. It seemed like they had been running for hours up the hill. The last time she'd looked back, the huge mass of water was about to crest and head inland. She knew that when the wave did break, the lower parts of the city would be destroyed. Their only hope was to out run the rushing flood.

"Tara, I can't go much further."

"I know; me either. Should we try an empty building? Maybe we could ride it out."

"Can you climb stairs in those ... um ... big flippers?"

"I think so. Should we tell the others?" Willow pointed toward the duck, the frog, the clown and the roller derby queen.

"Nah, I'd rather just be with you."

"Oh Tara, are you sure?" Willow felt uncertain. She knew how she felt but pleasing Tara was important too.

"Oh hell yeah."

Tara's use of profanity startled Willow a little, but she kept searching earnestly for an appropriate shelter for them.

Tara continued, "Plus, in that outfit..." she turned her head to check behind them, "Damn!" Tara realized they didn't have much time left, "We'd better hurry."

Willow saw a couple of girls riding by in a bright orange convertible with surf boards positioned in the back seat. When they caught a glimpse of Willow and Tara, they honked and waved. Willow felt even more conspicuous in her short shorts and tube top when she recognized the tune was "Dixie".

Once she recovered from her embarrassment, she continued searching for the best refuge. Willow eyed a tall building with assessable stairs that looked worthy to stand against the raging waters. "Over there!" She pointed toward the structure. "Come on!"

The dreamscape suddenly changed. Willow sat on a hard floor next to Tara. Both were breathing hard. Willow's feet were sore and she was scared. She turned to Tara looking for comfort. "Tara?" She spoke quietly, "What were you gonna say about my outfit?" Willow looked at her exposed abdomen self-consciously.

"Oh," Tara blushed. "It's nothing."

"I know; I feel like I have nothing on. I don't know how this happened, this just can't be happening, I would never wear this, this is so not me. I just wish I could cover it up with a sheet or something. And these shoes, they are so impractical for running, and I'll just stop now." Willow interrupted herself mid babble.

"No, not the outfit is nothing, what I was gonna say was nothing." Tara was amused, "Well nothing important anyway."

"Oh, I'm sure it was important." Willow was prodding. The distraction from the coming water was nice.

"No, not really," Tara knew instinctively what Willow needed and she anticipated Willow's response with ease.

"Bet it was." Willow guessed what Tara was thinking as well.

"Not." Tara smirked.

"Was." Willow giggled.

"Not." Tara laughed

Willow knew they would go on for a while if she continued, "What was not?"

Tara took a breath. "Well, I was gonna say something about counting your freckles. But I realized we didn't have that much time."

"Well that's new." Willow was pleased. Tara always seemed to say the right thing. She didn't feel self-conscious anymore for some reason.

Tara continued, "And then I thought, 'so many freckles, so little time' would sound too bleak, like we're not going to get out of this mess. And I think if we just can hold on to something here, we'll be okay."

Both girls heard the terrifying sounds grow louder as the wall of water rushed toward the coastal city. Cars slammed against buildings just blocks away. The people trapped in the wave screamed in fear and pain as they were hurled away. The roar of the ocean was low and deep, and they heard almost an eerie hollow sound as the sea moved quickly up the street between the concrete and steel structures that directed the flow. Some buildings withstood the collision force; others were washed away without a fight. The girls hoped the edifice they selected would be strong.

"Tara, the pillar!" Willow cried out, "We need to grab something now!"

"It's too big."

"Then we'll do it together." Willow scrambled to her feet. "Grab my hand!" She pulled Tara up and they headed over to a large pillar. "We can do this. Just hang my holds and hand on." Willow shook her head, "I mean, hold my hangs and hand on," In frustration she rolled her eyes, "No, geez, I mean hold my hands and hang on. God I hate it when I do that." She looked at Tara in earnest, "You know what I mean." Tara just smiled at her in reply.

The water crashed against their building and the walls shook violently. As she prepared for the chill of the seawater Willow thought she heard Tara yelling something at her over the muted sounds of destruction around her.

"Get up."

Willow was struggling to speak, "Just hold on."

"Rosenberg Shimai, it's time to get ready for Gym,"

"Jim?" Willow was puzzled. They don't name tidal waves do they? I know they name some storms if they are big enough, but just a big wave? I'll have to do some research to see how big these things have to be before they get named. "Is that what you named it?"

When she heard the mumbles from Willow, Kitchen Shimai remarked to Smith, "Did you get that?"

"Uh huh," Smith looked pleased.

"You are gonna write that one down for her and ask her later, aren't you." Kitchen already knew the answer.

"Oh, most definitely," Smith grabbed Willow's pillow and jerked it a little. "Come on Sister, up you go." She looked bemused by the confusion on Willow's face as she woke slowly from her dream. "Time's a wasting."

Continue to Latter Days/Lonely Nights Chapter Forty-Five

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