The porcelain teacup slipped from Aidelle’s slender fingers and smashed to the ground, spilling the light-coloured liquid across the pale carpet and staining it dreadfully; the first mark on its perfect appearance.
“Phillip!” Aidelle cried.
Her eyes filled up with tears as she held her dainty hands out towards her fiancé's image. He stayed there for a second, a hand held close to his chest, and the other outstretched towards hers. And then, the shimmering figure of Phillip dissipated.
Aidelle screamed, and started to pour out many tears. Her lips became bulbous and Zara had to admit to herself that the older woman looked rather like a toad. It was a cruel thought that Zara instantly took back as she observed her grandmother bawling. It didn’t seem that sort of thing for a woman of her age, and class, to do. It took Zara another second to remember that Aidelle was not the grandmother she knew.
She crumbled down to the floor, and starting beating it with her fists.
Zara managed to drag the large lady up and pushed her into the armchair. Aidelle eyes were sorrowful and longing.
“What happened?” She muttered, closing them in pain.
“That was Phillip. Did he see you?” Zara replied, unsure what to say.
“Yes! Didn’t you hear him call? He just appeared like…fog, and then he dissolved just as easily. He was here, but he was a vague image of my lovely Phillip. How?”
Zara opened her mouth, but paused, thinking for a few seconds longer.
“There was a young version of Peter in the background. Do you think-”
“Peter? As in Phillip’s younger brother?” Aidelle too had not forgotten details of her fiancée’s loves and life.
“Indeed, Uncle Peter. We always said he was special. He could sense things that others couldn’t, and sometimes, it was as though he knew what was about to happen. That trait was passed (through Phillip) down to my brothers as well; only slightly, but they have a better grasp of how time works than most, just like him. It’s something that I would like to have. Perhaps, then I would understand better our situation here.”
Aidelle stared unblinkingly. Zara could see that her mind’s cogs where moving rapidly, despite all the uncertainty that she must have been feeling.
“Of course,” she said after a minute of being lost in a maze of thought. Her words, normally excited at revelations that could help them, were unfeeling and depressed.
“Of course. Peter must be a medium through which the two different time-streams can meet,” She paused, “I didn’t see where they were though. Are they in this house right now, but five years on?”
Zara shook her head, regretfully.
“I couldn’t tell you.”
“Why did the connection between the two ‘times’ break?” Aidelle started to cry bitter tears, “He saw me, we were so close, but the times…”
“…Are too far apart. Five years is rather a long time. Not as long as a lifetime, granted, but still longer than convenient. I can’t remember details of my life five years ago.”
“Are you saying that I can’t even see my fiancé, because he’s in a ‘different lifetime’?” Aidelle wept.
Zara (who was sitting on the arm of Aidelle’s chair, subconsciously fiddling with the tassels of the sky-coloured throw) leant over and squeezed Aidelle’s hand again.
She watched as Aidelle’s eyes glazed over.
“I’ve never been this tired for ages…” She muttered.
“For five years, I expect. But life is coming back now, and we’re going to have to get back to work on fixing it all.”
“Please,” Aidelle choked, “Let me sleep…”
Having, wrapped the throw around her grandmother’s shoulders, Zara wandered back into the small kitchen and stared at the clock that they had left there.
Although she had been warned not to touch it, Zara’s fingers were twitching. She glanced quickly to Aidelle, already drooping down on herself, before pulling her right sleeve up to gaze at her special watch. In real time, it was almost midnight on August 25th; she’d have to work quickly, even if Aidelle couldn’t assist her.
Saying a silent prayer of hope and apology, Zara made a decision and picked up the timepiece. She unclasped the broken back-plate and began to work.