21. The Crack in Time

“Aidelle, you do realise that there’s one big fault in this great plan of yours?” Zara muttered, biting at the rough cuticle of one of her mucky fingernails.


Aidelle peered over the plan of the grassland that she had sketched roughly in the little time that they had. It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was a certain show of what Aidelle knew about the intricacies of the neighbouring land, even if the picture did not have the artistic touch of someone like Phillip. The drawing was styled rather like a blueprint, and described the length and breadth of the heath; it gave the colour of different patches of grass: green shrubbery that seemed to grow in wide clumps; the pale turquoise weeds that dotted themselves about unevenly; and the red thistles that grew in an odd zigzag line through the grassland.

Beside that red dotted line, Aidelle had written in her big, floaty handwriting: ‘check here first’ and had circled the ends of the line with her fine black fountain pen.

It had been decided quickly between the two women that the red thistles and some miraculous, multi-coloured flowers thus marked the path of the erstwhile energy. Aidelle had lain out the plan that they would investigate the length of the heath, inspecting each of the variety of colours of the foliage; checking that a crack in the physical earth was not responsible for the weird time-streams, and therefore had retreated from optical view under the dense, rough grass. That grassland had always been seen as something untouchable, and a place of bare danger.

As she stretched her thumbs across the piece of parchment to smooth away the wrinkles, Aidelle smiled sweetly to herself, but still pondered what Zara had just said.

“Hmm. I can’t think. Whatever could I have done wrong?” The innocence reverberated in her tone, proving how young she still was in that time.

Zara laughed, though being careful not to appear as insensitive as she might have been sounding.

“As intelligent as you may be, I believe that you have overlooked the simplest of problems. Perhaps its insignificance is at the root of the very problem itself. I’ll give you every credit though; it’s not something that would be in the way normally.”

Aidelle gazed at the girl with a mother’s, and a friend's, love. It occurred to her, in some flash of beautiful inspiration, that Zara had changed herself so much over the course of a day or two; her wisdom might then have succeeded that of Aidelle’s, because the girl had needed to deal with such an alien environment…and such an alienating person, to whom life had thrown a sudden wildcard. Zara was a woman of a far more modern mind, for Aidelle’s future held more in surprises than just the people she knew. Even so, there had been formed, stronger than one of normal family nature, a bond between them, a bond which, unfortunately, would not even last until the morning,

“Okay, do go on and tell me what I have done wrong,” Aidelle replied, her voice, luckily, empty of contempt or misunderstanding.

“You suggested that we ‘venture outside’ to look around the heath. Aidelle have you forgotten those painful details of your punishment? In all your hasty excitement, it seems that you’ve overlooked the fact that we cannot go outside!”

With a moan, Aidelle collapsed back into her kitchen chair. Her face showed all the pain of the failed plan; after everything that she had worked so dearly towards, Aidelle still hadn’t managed to formulate a successful endeavour to help her leave her prison and reunite her with her beloved.

Biting her lower-lip, Zara observed her; of course, it hadn’t been her intention to hurt her friend, but it was necessary to tell the truth of the matter: their plan was not going to work.

“Aidelle…Grandmother…?” Zara placed her hands over Aidelle’s, but the latter pulled away, her mouth moving wordlessly.

“I thought…but…the plan…I…and Phillip…” she whispered, lifting her prim hands up to her face and smoothing across the surface-lines. She was feeling her future, and she felt old, so old, tired, and lonely. She understood that there would be a time in her life when those lips would shrivel up and lose their curvaceous-ness, and a time when she would be without most gorgeous Phillip, even if the time-streams ever cleared back to what they were.

The End

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