21. The Crack in Time [II]

“Phillip-” she whispered again, tears clouding in her eyes.

Aidelle ducked her head to hide the dainty trail of tears that were splashing down her face, falling from her eyes like dew of a dragging winter. She had given the last of her hope to that plan, and it was all in vain.

“What’s the point anymore?” she choked, her voice going stone-cold, “If I can’t even make a plan to enable us to save him, how am I worthy to have Phillip? How am I even worthy to live? Life is useless without Phillip in any case.”

“Aidelle!” Zara scolded with a shout, “Don’t you dare say that! Without your life, I would not be living either. And it’s you who I came back to see, you who can save my entire generation of Costellos: your grandchildren-

“It doesn’t take a genius to realise that you do mean something if we’ve all gone to this trouble-”

“But I was the one who caused all the trouble!” Aidelle cried, “You only came to me in order to get your life back on track!” She paused to take a long draught of air, but it didn’t calm her any further, “I can’t even save my future family! When we come to the suitable conclusion about the effects of the clock, it breaks and we lose even more time to save you.”

“Which wasn’t your fault,” Zara muttered, shamefacedly.

“And now, when I make up a plan to rectify everything, I miss the simple point that I am trapped here, forever. The whole idea that I am trying to get away from. Why didn’t you warn me?

“Why didn’t you warn me that I am an idiot...” she added, spitting the poisonous words out quickly.

Aidelle sunk her head back down into her hands. Zara couldn’t hear her say another word, but her lips still opened and closed in frustration.

“Aidelle,” Zara whispered, softly, “It really wasn’t my place to say that you were wrong. I’m sorry.”

In response, Aidelle mumbled something that sounded like “but you have”.

“Okay, yes, I have done that,” sighed Zara, “But it was because I don’t want to endanger your life. You know that if we go outside that front door, we’ll die.”

Aidelle’s head shot back up violently. She stared hard at Zara and sniffed sedately.

“Yes, but that’s just your speculation. After all, we are the ones who suggested that ourselves. Nobody knows what’s out there, or whether we’ll actually...well...

“Anyway, we’ll effectively die even if we don’t try to escape- or be frozen in here forever, and I’d rather not have that.

“Listen, wouldn’t you rather taste death with your fingertips and the skin that spreads across your body and life, than stay in an eternity of madness?”

Zara sprung back, wounded.

“That’s hysteria talking!” she exclaimed.

Aidelle grabbed a tissue from a paper box on the work-surface and rubbed at her sore, red eyes, which caused the inflammation of her tears ducts once again, and her neat make-up to be smudged, giving her more of a sad, red-eyed panda look than any other time before.

“It’s really not. I daresay that you have faith in me; you do trust me, right Zara?”

“Of course, Grandmother. Please don’t ask me to do anything wild though. I...”

“And you say yourself that I am clever enough to think up a decent, if ‘mad’, plan.”

“Now, you know I didn’t mean it like that, Aidelle... You’re letting comforting words go to your head- along with your hysteria- and drown your mind.”

“I’m not hysterical!” Aidelle almost shouted, “Just...emotional. I really don’t want to go into this conversation again. What if we can go outside...and the grassland is as it has been portrayed in my time, that is: the 28th of August. Then any plan will be sound.”

“But...this is speculation! What if the grassland is not the answer? What if it’s stopped like we are?”

“Better to try to be free, than stay here mad, don’t you agree?”

“I...” Zara finally gave in. She shrugged. “I suppose I do, yes. I’ve always been an advocate of freedom for everybody. The oppression of women was a dark time for our society.”

Zara felt her face go pale. She was only young, and, yes, she felt scared about what would be ahead, but, as comes with youth, she was curious; and she knew that would be her final downfall: herself.

“What do you suggest we do?” she whispered, fear surrounding every word.

The End

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