“He took my brothers and I to the place they were ‘playing’ with time. That’s the only people they allowed. They inspected Uncle Peter, in a way, but he, wisely, didn’t want to be involved. We should have trusted that instinct of his, but instead, we thought him mad.”
Aidelle nodded and fetched her more tea. Luckily, that was the one thing that the house had an endless supply of.
“It was clear however, once they had showed us around, once they had described to us the ‘colour’ of time-energy and how to trap it, that they were going to use our fading family as an example of how great they were.”
Zara spat the words out bitterly. Aidelle didn’t blame her.
“I guess I was pretty mad about that when you told me?” She whispered, comfortingly patting the girl’s arm.
“You had already been pretty depressed. But, I know that you wanted it all back to the way it was. You were starting to fade, in mind, if not in body.
“And so, we pretended that we were letting them use us. But we’re tougher than that, we’re not that sort of family!
We waited until they had started the blueprints, until that day when they showed us the watch and how it worked. Of course, their opinion was that one of the institute’s operatives would make the journey. They basically rebuked all suggestions I made.”
Zara took a sudden, deep breath, as though she wasn’t proud about the next words that she was going to say.
“A couple of days before their calculated, and scheduled, jump, my brothers and I snuck into the institute, and…stole the wristwatch. We knew, and already had been ‘briefed’, on how it worked; our family had been told of our plan, and everything had been made ready for me.
“I knew that the authorities had been alerted, even before we left the institute building. In fact, I had a lucky escape and the younger of my twin brothers trapped himself in there for my sake; he made a sacrifice, in order so that I could save the rest of our lost family…
“I can’t go back to life as it was… I’ll be prosecuted and there certainly won’t be anyone left to support me.”
“So… You’re a fugitive on the run?” Aidelle questioned.
Zara nodded, and then broke down, crying tears of loneliness onto the tabletop. They ran down her face, leaving horrible, smearing mascara trails after them. I was all very unbecoming of the intense girl, Aidelle noticed.
“A fugitive through time,” Aidelle mused to herself, before leaning down and cuddling her granddaughter’s shoulders, “But, you did it for me, for your family. You can be completely forgiven.”
“But not now I’ve ruined everything. If I don’t fix the clock, and the fissure it holds within, I will have to go back to that life I have; with a jail sentence that looms, and my life literally disappearing left and right. So much has happened because of that blessed union between you and Phillip; you don’t know how much I’ll lose.”
Aidelle patted her, as she gazed down, empathetically.
“I’ve lost my husband-to-be. Do you think you can top that?”