Eliza was tired. She lay on her bed, a woman of 97, knowing this would be her last night alive. She could feel it in her bones.
But have I done enough?
She’d witnessed 78 years of the country her family fought so hard for. She did all she could for her nation, but as a woman it was never enough.
She had pulled herself and her children out of the poverty Alexander’s death left them in. However it was not by her work that she had managed the feat- she had claimed the pension Alexander had always so steadfast refused to accept.
She spoke out against slavery. Yet with the rumblings of unrest and civil upheaval between the North and the South, her words were not enough. Alexander could have done more.
She and Dolly Madison raised charity to build the Washington monument. But Eliza was sure, even without her, Washington’s legacy would always live on. The man was only half a century dead and already taken for a demigod.
She had collected every scrap of her husband’s legacy that she could in order to preserve it. Interviews, his accomplishments, his writing. So much writing. But would that all last? She knew the possibility that even with all her work her husband could so easily be forgotten.
She co-founded an orphanage. Her proudest accomplishment.
Was it all enough?
Oh my dear Alexander, you could have done so much more…
Eliza closed her eyes, and she knew she did not have the energy to open them again.
God, please, I hope I’ve done enough. Alexander, Angelica, Philip… I’ve missed you all so much.
Eliza found herself coming to groggily. She gingerly propped herself up on her bed. Her mind was fuzzy, as though she had woken from a long dream. Her thoughts returned to her, and she remembered her last night. She let out a breath- She’d been certain that her life was over- but another day was not too long to wait to see her Alexander again. After fifty years, a day was just another day should could spend, hoping she could do enough.
Eliza knew she could call out for her daughter to help her out of bed, but Eliza refused to be an invalid in her old age. She braced herself as she cautiously put her shaky legs onto the floor then heaved herself onto her feet.
Except her legs weren’t shaky. In fact, she found herself standing with no unease. Taking her hands from the bed, she found she could stand completely unassisted.
Her hands was young and unblemished.
Eliza looked in awe at her hands for a moment. She limped- until she found she could again walk with grace- over to the mirror in her room.
A woman Eliza had not seen for half a century stared back.
It seemed her conclusion of living another day when she woke was mistaken. Her sudden youth had no other explanation but her death.
In awe she flexed her hand. No pain! She gave a twirl and laughed at her mobility. And her voice! So young!
Alexander! After the 50 years of waiting, Eliza felt every moment burn by in her desire to see her husband.
She rushed down the stairs of the Hamilton estate. A thought of how strange it was that Heaven also had her home passed by, but Eliza waved it off. After all, God was all powerful.
Eliza stopped her sprint in the living room when she heard the child’s voice. A boy, roughly the age of 12, munched on a small piece of bread.
Eliza was unsure how to react. Was this one of the orphans she had taken care of over the years? She had taken in many into her home before the orphanage was made- a few had died in her care as well. Was this one of them? Eliza raked her time addled memories. With hundreds of orphans she raised and the near century of memories, Eliza came up short.
“Yes, dear?” Eliza replied. She wasn’t sure what else she could say to the boy.
“Did you and pops get in a fight again?” The boy asked.
Eliza tried to process the boy’s words but couldn’t place any meaning to them. “What makes you think that?” She inquired.
“He ran out just a bit ago. Woke me up when he slammed the door.” He said.
Eliza smiled a little. John always had been a light sleeper, often waking up if Alexander was too loud working at night.
Wait. John .
John Church Hamilton. Her Fifth child. Her son who she had seen only a week before, healthy and in his 50s. Certainly not a 12 year old child in heaven.
“John?” She whispers.
“Yes?” He replies, munching on bread.
Though her memory was not the best and the lighting dark, Eliza was certain this was her son.
“...Where was your father going?” She asked, hoping to get some clue as to what was going on.
John shrugged. “I ‘unno. He greeted Mr.Pendleton before he left, though.”
Eliza felt the floor fall out from under her. Perhaps this wasn’t heaven. Perhaps she hadn’t done enough, and this was Hell. “Mr.Pendleton? Nathaniel Pendleton?” Oh God, please no!
“Yeah, him! He and pops left just a bit ago.”
Pendleton. Alexander’s Second in his duel with Burr.
Eliza let out a slightly hysterical laugh. “This might sound a little funny, John, but what is the date?”
“The 10th.” Eliza sighs in relief. “Wait, no, the 11th. Since it’s morning now.”
Eliza feels her heart grow cold. “And the month?”
“July. 1804, if you forgot that too, mother.” John snarks.
Eliza can’t reply. She goes to the door and opens it. She steps out. She needs to go.
She only barely hears her son’s question as she dashes out into the dark of the morning. This was the night Alexander died. Everything fit- her age, her son, the house. Every small detail she overlooked earlier sprang into focus.
Eliza wanted to scream to the heavens at the injustice of everything. Perhaps there had been more she could have done in her life, but surely she didn’t deserve to relive the worst day of her life!
But she did not scream at the sky, she concentrated on running. Weehawken. She had to make it to Weehawken before dawn.
She ran. By God, she ran. The need to stop was strong, but she refused to stop, even as her lungs gasped and her body burned. She refused to stop- she was given her youth again for a reason, and if she stopped now Alexander would be shot, and she would never forgive herself.
Only when she saw the Hudson did she stop, bending over to heave out the contents of her stomach. Still, she took only the necessary time before standing again. She was slightly wobbly, but it was far less than the shakes she dealt with in the last years of her life.
She looked out in despair when she saw no men manning any of the boats. Her gaze flickered to the horizon and the faint light beginning to filter into the world.
She wrenched her head from left to right searching for anyone about who could take her across but found none.
She let out a wail of defeat. No! She couldn’t let her Alexander die again! But there was nothing she could do.
Then, she saw movement. From one of the smaller boats, a man poked his head up.
A thread of hope, one Eliza would not squander. She rushed over to the boat. In it was a man just woken from his sleep.
“Huh? Did you hear a scream, miss?” The man asked as he looked around.
“Never mind that, sir! Please, I need to get across! Please, I beg of you, take me to the other side with as much haste as you can!” Eliza begged.
The man, only just awoken, blinked a few times. “I, uh. Sure, hop on. You sound desperate.”
Eliza held in a hysterical laugh. “I’m so very sorry to have awakened you, but please hurry.”
The man gave her a funny look, but began rowing anyways.
They were about halfway across when the sun peaked over the horizon. Terror coursed through her. She was so close! But no shots had gone off yet.
The boat was hardly still when Eliza leapt from in and ran to her husband, stumbling a few times from her overtaxed muscles.
Light was beginning to illuminate the day. No. It was dawn. No. She could see five men up ahead. God, no!
She saw two raise pistols. They walked away from each other.
She was so close, she just needed more time! They turned.
A shot fired.
“WAIT!” Eliza yelled as she came upon them, then in between.
A second shot went off.
There was silence for a moment as Eliza panted between the two men.
“E-Eliza?” Alexander asked, his jaw hanging open and eyes bewildered.
“You!” Eliza shouted, rounding on the man. “Do you have any idea how close you came to being shot? No! You assumed Burr would throw away his shot, you foolish, reckless, mess of a man! Do you know where you would leave us? Your family!? Debt ridden! Alone! *Huff* You didn’t even tell me you were leaving! *Huff* That you might never return!” Eliza shouted through gasps of air as half a century of buried anger vented.
Alexander took a step back as he stared wide eyed at his wife. Burr took a step forward, arm outstretched, mouth open.
“And you!” Eliza all but shouted as she turned to the other participant of the duel. “Have you no eyes? He was clearly throwing away his shot! *Huff* And had he not, what of Theodosia? Would you leave her alone? *Huff* Had my husband the lack of heart necessary to murder you, you would have left your only daughter an orphan! *Huff* Fools, both of you, fools!”
“Betsey--” Alexander began before being cut off by his wife’s furious glare.
“Do not dare start! A duel, hah ! Did Philip’s death teach you nothing?” Alexander visibly flinched. “I will never understand how you could so carelessly throw away your life! There is still so much left you could do! And you would just leave your lega--” Eliza stops as her dry throat catches and she coughs. She began hacking as the running catches up with her.
The five men stare at Mrs.Hamilton in the first rays of morning light as she coughed. The woman who stood in between two guns for her husband was still wearing her cream nightgown. Her bare feet were black and red with soot, dirt, and blood. Her skin covered in sweat, her hair messing and unmade.
Despite his wife’s fury, Hamilton took her in his arms. “Betsey, are you well?” He asked in concern.
Eliza found herself melting into his embrace, her anger faded. Oh it has been so long… “I’m fine, love. So long as you are fine, so am I.”
“By God! Did she run the whole way here?” The doctor exclaimed.
“Hamilton, dammit, your wife’s leg!” Burr shouts, distressed in his voice.
Everyone looks down to the hole in Eliza’s lower leg.
“Oh God!” Hamilton shouts as he panics. “Doctor, oh God, doctor!”
Eliza, only just noticing the wound for the first time, laughs. Though her throat is raw, she finds it to be the most carefree and happy sound she’s made in the past 50 years. “Oh worry not, it struck nothing important. It missed the bone, I am certain.” Eliza says, waving a flippant hand.
“Burr, you shot my wife!” Hamilton yells. He turns to reach for his discarded gun before Eliza slaps him.
“Alexander! Get a hold of yourself. Of course he shot me, I jumped in the middle of a duel! Besides,” She adds ice to her words, “ you are the one who truly hurt me here. A shot to the lower leg is nothing compared to your death.”
Hamilton gapes wide-eyed at his wife. There was a hardened glint he had never noticed in her eyes.
“Now, good doctor, why don’t we dress this wound of mine.” Eliza says, turning to the doctor, speaking as though she was discussing the weather rather than a bullet wound.
“Y-yes, please, come sit.” The man stutters.
Eliza remained latched to Hamilton. As much as recent events reignited her fury at her husband, the pain was old and she had long dried her tears on the subject.
The crisis over, Eliza found her taxed legs unable to carry her any further. She fell to the ground but with Alexander fussing over her Eliza can’t help but smile.
The doctor wrapped her bleeding leg. Thankfully, the bullet passed through and missed any important arteries and the bone. Eliza felt the pain of the wound lance through her, but was grateful nonetheless, knowing the bullet would have proven deadly had her husband been struck instead. Her feet were arguably in worse condition than the bullet wound. The doctor was forced to spend longer pulling rocks from her bloodied feet before bandaging them.
“You truly ran the whole way here?” Alexander faintly asked.
“I had not the time to do anything else,” Eliza replied.
She doesn’t pass out, but the next few hours move as a blur from her relief, joy, adrenaline, and satisfaction.
Eliza refused to let Alexander leave her side. They sailed back across the Hudson. Alexander tried to fight with Burr, but every time Alexander opened his mouth in Burr’s direction Eliza gave him a light swat. His concern for her overrode his anger at Burr. Eliza’s anger at Aaron fell to pity years ago- He may have killed her husband, but he paid a price. She would never forgive him, but the man suffered nearly as long as she. He too knew the pain of a widow or widower.
Besides, Burr hadn’t killed her husband. Not this time, not this Burr.
She made it clear to the five witnesses that no one was to mention this day again. No one was to charge Burr for her own recklessness, she stated while boring her gaze into her husband.
She continued to press until she received an oath from all who were present to not bring the matter up again.
Later the two Hamilton's return home- Alexander carrying Eliza- to be faced with their frantic children.
The rest of the 11th was spent calming the children. It is only when night comes that Eliza had time to let the day’s events catch up.
Alexander is by her side as they sit on their bed. Eliza thinks on how long it’s been since she last shared a bed with anyone but the occasional child with a nightmare. Then she thinks on how long it’s been since she shared a bed with her husband.
On how long she has longed to see him.
“Oh, Alexander,” She cries suddenly, and wraps herself around him.
She cries on her husband and laughs. Nothing hysterical, but a truly glad laugh. She senses her husband’s confusion as he comforts her.
“Oh, my Alexander. I’m so glad you are well and alive. I could not bear to see your death again.”
“Again?” Alexander asks as he holds her.
Eliza stills for a moment. “It… It was merely a dream, dear.”
Alexander holds her closer and the two stay together for what feels like hours. Then, Alexander is unable to hold back his queery. “Eliza, I must profess my confusion. How did you know about the duel?”
Eliza swallows. “I am not certain what to tell you. I still don’t understand it all myself.”
“I had a dream, my love.” She begins. “I knew nothing of the duel. Midday I was told of your condition. You were shot in the hip. Mortally. You threw away your shot.” Eliza buried her face into Alexander’s chest, taking in comfort she had missed for so long. Her husband held her close. “I don’t know why God gave me such a vision, but when awoke I refused to let you die again.”
“Oh Eliza…” Alexander said. “You are the best of wives and women. I have wronged you so many times, and yet still your love for me remains.”
The conversation lulled away as the two drifted to sleep. Eliza slept the most comfortable she had in years.
Eliza stirred into wakefulness when she felt movement at her side and the sudden loss of heat. Blinking, she saw the first sign of dawn. Time for her to get up, then. It was through practiced routine that she gingerly hauled herself out of bed, supporting her shaking legs with a hand on the bed. As always, her old bones protested, but she needed to begin breakfast for the orphanage.
“Betsey?” A voice whispered. “Sorry, I did not mean to wake you, dear.”
Eliza blinked in confusion in the dark of her room before the previous day’s events returned to her. “Alexander?”
“Yes? You should go back to sleep, the children will still be sleeping for some time yet.”
Eliza realized she shook not from age but from the exertion she performed the day before. Her Alexander lived. She had saved him.
She didn’t pretend to understand why or how she was 47 again. Everything she knew told her she should have been sent to heaven with the other dead- but this was most certainly not the case.
Again it seemed God had gifted her with more time.
Good thing she had plenty of experience with making use of more time.
Eliza knew she wouldn’t be able to fit back into her old life. The past 50 years she had devoted herself wholeheartedly to one cause or another, she couldn’t revert be being a housewife again. She had accomplished so much as a widow- but now she had Alexander by her side.
“My dear, the morning has already begun. To go back to sleep now would be a waste. Besides,” She said, her easy grin turning determined, “there is a so much I have yet to do. I think it is time I go about fixing that.”