18. A Lost Childhood

Lynnie raised her voice to the roof of the chapel, feeling the heat rush to her cheeks as the congregation praised her for catching and propelling out the high A-sharp inside of herself. Little sandy-haired Lynnette Costello beamed with joy, but it was a subtle short-lived happiness; even through the mirth of childhood, Lynnette could feel the loneliness that only a child who has lost her mother can. But little Lynnie hadn’t just lost her mother. Gone too were her grandfather, and her sister, and her elder brothers who were on the run from the government and the strange men from the strange institute with their ghastly time-travelling scheme.

Whoever was the lady who had started it all, and had ruled over the change of events, with an hourglass and a dagger in her hand, would pay.

Although, after thinking long and hard, Lynnette realised that she had, in her subconscious (even though it was a vast expanse of knowledge that she knew little of), described a mythical figure from one of the storybooks that her father had read to her before all the trouble and disappearances happened. That creature hadn’t been made of good, but she was not evil either; she took that which was ready to be taken, yet her whispers scattered through the peoples’ lives unnoticed otherwise. She was time herself. The greatest and ever-present winner of every battle. Lynnette had learnt, over and over, that time could never be beaten.

And so it was now in her life.

Suddenly, there was daddy, supporting grandma, lest she disappear into thin air (although grandma had been the toughest and the least affected throughout time’s reign), who looked frailer and more ill than ever; time was almost ready to let the dagger-with-a-face, her minion Death, bear down upon the old woman, and snatch her from then now.

Nevertheless, Aidelle put on a weak smile as she wandered over to congratulate her youngest granddaughter’s beautiful singing. She had always been closer to Lynnie than to her other granddaughter, Zara, but both had their great points and their faults, and both she held dearly in the family portrait hanging over the hearth of her heart.

Aidelle had started to value every photo of her family that she held within her grasp; since the start of the family’s disruption, everything had changed. Even the painting above the fireplace, Phillip’s very first painting of their family domain, had its paint start to peel, crack and lighten, rapidly burning, corroding suddenly, as though it had lived through a thousand years…or millions of lifetimes. It had always been so durable, but after all the tragedy, even the painting itself, the heart of their house and life, was giving up, fading away to a lesser version, and to something unrecognisable.

Still, Aidelle smiled and turned her false happiness back to Lynnette.

The End

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