It had felt very important to be properly dressed before leaving the house this morning. Proper decorum had been a vital part of keeping her sane these past few months. Loretta had thought it was odd that the only proper dress Ramona had was tucked away in the back of the closet. Odder still that she not only dressed herself in a pair of trousers she called ‘jeans,’ and a thin blouse, but that she also let her children wear the same things! She held her tongue for politeness’ sake, not wanting to abuse her host, but hoped that wearing the gown would show the children what proper young ladies should be wearing.
It was only as they walked down Main Street from the Seaview Historical Society to find this witch that she realized her mistake.
“Ramona, you could have mentioned this morning that nobody wore dresses like this anymore,” Loretta said as they stood waiting for a little box across the street to tell them it was okay to walk again.
“Would you have believed me?” Ramona asked.
“Well, no, probably not. But I might have! You could have tried!”
The little box across the street changed from an orange hand to a white figure walking, and Winnie pulled on Loretta’s arm, hustling her across the street.
“I didn’t think you’d even want to dress like us,” Angie said from behind her.
Her brother snorted. “Yeah, I thought everyone from way back then was all stuffy and proper all the time. Except cowboys. Hey, did you know any cowboys?”
“She lived in Maine, dumbass, why would she know any cowboys?”
“Don’t call your brother a dumbass.”
They were walking mostly in a line. Ramona in front, Winnie pulling Loretta along, and the two older children behind her. People streamed around them, looking and then looking again at her dress and working so hard on not tripping over the skirts that they’d then trip over something else, like a bench. They were almost all wearing jeans. Some of these jeans stopped above the knees! The shoes people wore were very odd, many of them only wearing brightly colored sandals. And the women with their blouses! If you could call them blouses. Loose things that showed off the arms, the shoulders, even the tops of their breasts! Loretta watched as one woman walked by with the tiniest blouse and shortest jeans she had seen yet.
“You can see her butt,” Loretta said to herself.
“Oh, man,” Angie said with a giggle. “You are going to freak out when you see bathing suits.”
Loretta tried to straighten up and got her arm pulled on by Winnie again.
“Well, I don’t want anyone to see…that…on me…but I think I should be dressing the way modern people dress. Everyone does look far more comfortable in those clothes. It’s so hot…I don’t remember summers being so hot here.”
“Oh, that’s from global-”
Noah grunted, and when Loretta turned she found him holding his arm and glaring at Angie. She looked between the two.
“Did you hit your brother?”
“She did hit me! Mom!”
“Angie, don’t hit your brother. Wait, why are you hitting your brother?”
Angie rolled her eyes. “Because I don’t think we need to be having that conversation right now. Especially if she can go home and not have to worry about it?”
Loretta turned to Ramona. They had come to another street and were waiting for permission to cross from another little box. Ramona had obviously only been half listening to their conversation, and Loretta could see her playing everything in her head. Eventually she made an ‘o’ shape with her mouth and nodded.
“Noah’s right. We don’t need to be talking about that.”
“You’re keeping things from me?” Loretta asked, frowning.
“Well, yes. But Angie – besides hitting – is right. If we can get you back home, there’s no need to have to explain…that. It’s…well, it’s scary. And I’m sure you’re plenty scared enough.”
The little box showed the little white man and they all started walking again. Loretta was quiet as they walked the next block, reflecting on what Ramona had said. ‘Plenty scared.’ She should be ‘plenty scared,’ shouldn’t she?
The thing of it was, she wasn’t. Nervous, yes, from all the people and the cars on the road. Seaview had certainly become a noisier place in one hundred and sixty years. But she wasn’t scared. The cars were a little hard to get used to. She barely recognized any of the words on the signs or the shops – Yoga? Pilates? Ye Olde? – and the little bits of magic she had been surrounded by in their room were apparently everywhere. But it wasn’t scary. If anything…it was a little thrilling. With a shock, she realized that besides the discussion with Mrs. Reed at the Historical Society, she hadn’t thought of her husband or her grief once.
She looked ahead, to Ramona. She was still leading their little group, looking to every shop sign to find the right one. She was a strong woman, so strong Loretta had completely forgotten her own husband had died recently, too. And now, on top of the children and the house, she had Loretta to deal with. Loretta, wallowing in her own pity and wading around in this huge dress. What were they going to do today, if they didn’t have to wander the streets of Seaview looking for a historian and a witch?
Loretta wasn’t sure if she wanted to go back to 1868 anymore. But maybe it was the proper thing for her to do.