21. The Crack in Time [IV]

The young woman looked up at her grandmother and smiled. She had finally replaced her wide pilot’s goggles, swamping her small blue eyes, yet making them the size of an insect’s at the same time.

“Yes?”

“I’ve been thinking about the clocks currently in this house. That’s three, although two of which are not working. We’ve established that the natural time-energy that was lost from the physical structure of the little gold and silver, marble clock caused its technical, spiritual, chronological self to disappear. So, the clock in the main bedroom is a reflection of that, right?”

Zara paused, considering the paradox.

“I think so. It’s possible that because our time-streams have been broken, the past felt a ripple from the present, and the clock in the bedroom showed what would happen. I, personally, don’t know where that time-piece is in the future, but I’ll bet that it was working efficiently (in my time-stream) until a couple of days ago.”

Aidelle nodded, brushing down her dress. She glanced down at the bare space on the mantelpiece and guiltily and thought back over the last age. Zara’s appearance had changed everything.

“You said ‘three clocks’ though…?” the younger girl inquired, adjusting the thick bridge that held together the halves of her dark brown goggles.

“Don’t forget your own watch,” Aidelle replied, “That’s the magic of it all. Why does it always work? Why is it linked to five years ahead of now, Phillip’s time, and not linked to your time or mine?”

“We’ve spoken about this before, Grandmother,” Zara said, but even so she continued, “If it were set to this current moment, it would be of not use to us; it would have stopped working with the other clocks, in the bubble. How and why does it always work? Well, I presume it has another stream of time-energy all of its own inside this tidy shell,” here she neatly tapped the glass frame that held inside all the secrets of the world, “those scientists-slash-researcher-slash-experimenters must have harnessed some time-energy (or grew it, possibly) to work the watch away from any other time. I suppose that’s how the time-travel is able to work… Oh, I don’t know.”
With a final shrug, Zara murmured to herself:

“Ex tempus.”

“That’s Latin,” Aidelle said, smiling, “I was never particularly good at it myself.”

“Yeah.” Suddenly Zara was gazing through her. “I get languages from my mother…”

She blushed, realising who she was talking about.

“Father really misses her, you know.”

Aidelle sat on the arm of the chair to the south of the living room, fiddling subconsciously with the indigo tassels that hung down from the velvet blanket. She picked at the beads woven in, those beads representing the life of the sun and moon, and their scattered beaded offspring.

“I can understand… Everybody must have really loved her.”

“She was…” Zara sighed, “She was lovely, wonderful, and caring. She was lilacs and long purple dresses, naturally shiny, curled hair, and sweet words in the cold. And then that one day she just…faded. Her last words to me were ‘I love you all’- she held out her hands…” Zara demonstrated as her eyes misted up, “And she… She smiled. She just smiled, even when she knew that she would never see life; never see us again. It was as though she was happy to be going.”

“She was content,” Aidelle nodded, “She had got all that she wanted from life. Is that the sort of daughter I should have had? A sweet, kind-hearted, caring mother?”

“She had a nasty temper too. Just like you.”

The ladies laughed to themselves, but Aidelle could see the sorrow under Zara’s smile, and Zara understood that Aidelle could feel sadness for the things that she might never have.

“Ooh, mustn’t forget… I’ll be back in a second. Get yourself ready,” Zara said, as she left Aidelle inside the room.

Aidelle stood back up and smoothed her dress down again subconsciously; it was her way of making sure that she was completely ready. Of course, they didn’t need to take anything else but themselves, despite the previous decisions to fetch the whole stationary cupboard.

“Aidelle,” Zara called from the doorway to the dark kitchen. In her hands she held an almost-fixed, golden timepiece.

“Catch!”

Aidelle nimbly caught the little clock. It was heavier than it looked. She gazed down at it with some wonder, and studied the neat reattachment of the back-plate that Zara had just achieved. So much trouble from such a dainty thing! To Aidelle, it seemed weird that the harmless object had caused so much turmoil.

“Phillip tried to catch this, you know,” she said, resisting the urge to finger the cellotaped broken glass on the clock’s face, just as she had done earlier that day. It was the same day, in a way, because, of course, no time had actually passed for her since the point when Phillip had taken his feet outside. But then, it felt like months…years. Oh, the paradox of it! It made Aidelle’s forehead hurt, and her mind became lost in the unsolved mystery of it all.

Observing this to herself without looking up, she continued, “I threw it at him when he was leaving and he tried to grab it, but it skimmed his fingers. I never realised how heavy- yet fragile, too- it is.”

All this was being said purely for her own benefit, and Aidelle seemed to drift off as she spoke the words, contemplating them all to herself.

She carefully turned the miniature clock over and over again in her hands, pink nails tapping any little cog or screw that she found interesting.

“Hmm?” came Zara’s voice, faint and confused.

Eventually, Aidelle looked up. Zara was still standing by the doorway.

“Zara? Come here then.”

Zara parted her lips, odd condensation falling from them, but, before any words could be spoken, before Aidelle’s eyes, her image flickered, as though she was a faulty light-bulb.

“Zara!”

“Oh…?” The girl’s mouth became a large pink circle, as her eyes became large ocean pools of sorrow, “Oh, no…”

Aidelle ran to her friend.

“What? What is it? Tell me what’s happening!”

“It’s just like…mother. Oh, Aidelle, my time has come. I’m vanishing!”

The End

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