Swylce

Musings and Writing of GG Alexander

Pinwheel 4: Tessa Makes a Promise

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July 31st, 2007

City Centre, Bath

Alice chose the town for sentimental value: she used to live near here. Bath is just as beautiful as she remembers. The roads are concrete now, filled with cars instead of horses, but many of the buildings stand the same. White bricks gleam in the morning sun, and there are trees on every street, full-green and rustling. Down the odd narrow street, she spies stone-brick walls, still standing from years ago. The River Avon sparkles beside Parade Gardens. Alice leans on the side of the bridge, and closes her eyes. The din of traffic never escapes her, but with the sun on her face, and the smell of trees and water, she can almost imagine that she is back home. It is good to be nearby, on the anniversary of her escape.

She sighs, and strolls away from the river and towards the abbey, trying hard not to stare at everything she passes. A little familiarity helps to ease down the overwhelm of the future, and yet 2007 does not seem as different from 1930 as she had imagined. In fact, at this time in the morning, Bath is positively boring compared to old New York. Hardly anyone is around.

It is the little things that get to her: the brightly coloured road signs. The different types of motorcars. Large plastic bins with writing all over them, detailing which materials are permitted inside them (and why are they so fussy?). And the clothing. The people make the difference in the future, she realises. Nearly all the men wear similar blue trousers with t-shirts. Many of the young women have dresses and skirts so short it makes her blush. No-one is wearing gloves, and few people wear hats, even though it is sunny.

The other noticeable thing: many people tap into small blocks – metal or plastic, she cannot tell – as they walk or stand. Others talk into these things, as if they are talking to someone in front of them. It must be one of these machines of the future they always imagined in 1930. The people of said future look insane with these blocks, whether tapping on them or shouting into them.

She can’t help but love it.

When she thinks of Bert’s refusal to consider travelling to the future, the anger bubbles again in her stomach. The future’s a surprise, he said. I don’t want to ruin any of it. And I don’t want to find out something terrible will happen, if I can’t stop it. Alice cannot understand why Bertram is happy to return to times of plague and lice and violence, yet refuses to come somewhere like here.

But it doesn’t matter. She considers this her holiday to herself: a solo trip forward, just to see what it is like: not to learn of future history and future catastrophe, but only to experience it as every other citizen does; to walk around, silent and anonymous, without always struggling to talk in a different manner, without always pretending to know more than she does, without the constant threat of embarrassing her friend. He won’t even know she’s been here, once she goes back and returns the necklace.

It is good to be alone, and free, for once in her life.

A few people give her glances, as she ambles by, gazing at the world. On the high street, a young woman with exaggerated eyeliner and a thoroughly immodest hemline approaches her. Alice freezes on instinct.

‘I LOVE your dress!’ the stranger says, smile eating up her face.

‘Ah, thank you?’ Alice says, as quietly as she dares.

‘It’s so retro!’ the girl continues. Alice can’t believe that this is the Bath accent now. Perhaps she is too used to New York. ‘And the matching gloves, too! Where did you get them all?’

‘Um,’ Alice says, mind whirring, ‘a – a catalogue.’

‘Which one?’

She is silently panicking.

‘Sears,’ she near-whispers.

‘Sears? I’ve not heard of that one. Is that online?’

Clueless as to her meaning, Alice nods.

‘Great! You have a nice day – and stay classy!’

The girl walks back to her friends and, giggling, they continue down the street. Alice is struck still like a statue, heart beating fast. The euphoria comes soon afterwards. She did it! She didn’t make a huge fool of herself…she thinks. Who knows? It doesn’t matter anyway!

Smiling, she is about to continue down the street, when a niggling sensation appears at the side of her head. Turn around, it says. Turn around.

She is not one to deny that voice. She turns.

A couple is standing before a nearby shop front. The girl is short, with boyish blonde hair, and wearing a rainbow assortment of clothing – tutu over cycling shorts, with a pink vest top and blue fingerless gloves. She hangs on to the arm of the man beside her as she chatters about the items in the window. The man looks like a study in brown, olive green, and normalcy compared to her.

He turns and catches Alice’s gaze.

Her sight jolts. In an instant she recognises him: not for who he is, but what he is. She can tell by his wide eyes that he has caught something about her.

His girlfriend turns and looks as well. Alice takes a step backwards, preparing to flee. Two of them – two of them?

Her panic slips away from her.

The girl smiles and waves as if she is a friend.

Alice, no longer afraid but knowing that she should be, does not move as they walk up to her. Logically, she knows she should run away into an alley and travel back to 1929, but her bastard curiosity will not let her move. She has never met creatures like these two before.

‘Hi,’ the girl says, putting out her hand. ‘Nice to meet you! I’m Tessa!’

Alice, wondering if this is a trick or a joke, shakes her hand. Her accent is nice, she thinks. This must be the real Bath accent – it sounds much closer to home.

‘What’s your name?’ the girl asks.

‘Tess…’ her boyfriend says.

‘What?’ she replies, defensively.

The man looks at Alice. Old eyes, she thinks. Seen a thousand things. Looks as sleep-deprived as a new parent.

‘You know what we are,’ he says, grave as a minister. ‘Just by looking. But you’re not an eater.’

Alice shakes her head.

‘You’re scaring her,’ Tessa says.

‘You’re the one scaring her!’ he retorts, but he has a ghost of a smile on his lips. ‘I should know.’

Tessa rolls her eyes, and looks to Alice to speak. Alice does not speak.

Silence. The three look at each other awkwardly.

Tessa fidgets and breaks the silence.

‘Listen, we need to get out of here before it gets crowded. Do you want to come sit in the park with us? It’s a nice day.’

Alice considers. Reconsiders. Remembers that she is on holiday.

She nods.

‘Brilliant,’ Tessa says, grinning. ‘Like I said, I’m Tessa, and this is George. Don’t have to tell us your name if you don’t want to.’

‘I’m Alice,’ she says. She can’t help it; she has warmed to them.

‘You sure look like you’ve been pulled through the looking-glass,’ Tessa says, running a quick eye over her. ‘Come on.’

Half an hour later, the three are sat under a tree in the park, drinking assorted fizzy and fruity drinks, watching the occasional dog-walkers and joggers. It is well before midday, so not many people are outside yet. George’s shoulders have relaxed, which is no surprise.

Silence, again. They are not going to press her to talk, for fear of frightening her away. Strange to think they consider her like a bird. She knows she is more than that, stronger than that.

Alice takes a deep breath and plunges into conversation.

‘My grandmother told me about people like you,’ she says. ‘I always thought you were legends. And now you are both here – in this time. I…I don’t know what to think.’

‘Wow, you’ve heard of eaters? That’s something. Well, it explains something. Maybe explains how you recognised us on sight,’ Tessa says.

‘What kind of power do you have, if you’re not an eater?’ George asks, keeping his eyesight far afield.

Alice’s first inclination is to stay silent. But, when the thinks again, that seems foolish. She can disappear home at any moment, and these people will never see her again. On the other hand, she may never have another chance to meet someone with supernatural powers. If she remains silent, it is only her loss.

‘Nearly everything,’ she says.

‘What’s everything?’ Tessa says, sitting up onto her knees.

Alice looks at the grass. Openness. Honesty. They have always been so dangerous for her. She feels giddy with risk.

‘I have sight. I can see the futures and pasts of people, as long as I have no care in the outcome. It also tells me where I should be, if I tell it what my ambition is. It told me that you were behind me earlier.’

Tessa gasps, about to speak, but Alice continues, like a broken tap.

‘Also I can do blood-readings. If I feel your skin, and the blood running through your veins, it will tell me much about your potential, your health, your state of mind. Sometimes, when I want people to ignore me, they begin to act as if they can’t see me. As well, when I try hard, I can focus on an object and move it or change it with my mind – but only with small things. I have not learnt well in that.’

She looks up from the ground, to the blue sky.

‘And at this moment I can travel through time.’

There is a long moment of silence.

Tessa bursts out laughing.

Alice turns, and sees the girl bent over, face creased-up and hands covering her nose. George, meanwhile, is staring at her like she is about to sprout wings.

‘You weren’t joking!’ Tessa says. ‘Oh. My. God. You’re either crazy or crazy powerful or both. Fuck!’

The casual swear further undoes Alice’s composure. She sits back and shrinks into herself.

‘Oh, oh no, I’m not laughing AT you, Alice,’ Tessa says, shuffling over on her knees and touching Alice’s arm. ‘Fuck, how can I laugh at that? It’s just…it’s just so over-the-top! That’s like, that’s like a superhero just coming down and being like “Hey, I can lift entire buildings over my head – no biggie.” Jesus Christ!’

‘Tess,’ George says, another small warning. He turns to Alice and clears his throat.

‘Okay, number one: time travelling. I’ve never heard of anyone ever doing that. How?’

Alice pulls the chain around her neck, and brings the spokewheel – hidden behind her neckline – into view.

‘That’s pretty,’ Tessa says.

‘My good friend found it, and discovered what it does,’ she says. ‘I am…borrowing it, for the moment. But I will not show you how it works.’

‘When are you originally from?’ George asks.

‘Duh, the 1920s,’ Tessa says. ‘Just look at that dress! It’s perfect! You just need a cloche hat to pull it off.’

‘Is she right?’ George says. ‘About the time, not the hat.’

‘July in 1929.’

‘Ha! Bullseye – just!’ Tessa says, flopping onto her back.

‘Fine. Number two: if I take your sight as a given – since you knew what we were immediately – then I want to know if blood-reading is real.’

‘Please – put out your arm.’

She holds his forearm, then presses one thumb on his elbow, and another on his wrist. Flashes appear, like an overlay on the world: aches in his back, a slight astigmatism, previously broken bones, and an unexplainable ability to see and consume the emotions of people within sight.

She lets go of his arm.

‘Your hands are freezing,’ he says.

With a slight smile, she replies: ‘And you are much younger than you look.’

‘Huh. Thanks,’ he says sarcastically, as Tessa guffaws. ‘But that doesn’t prove anything.’

‘You broke your leg when you were younger – around twelve, maybe. The muscles on your right eye are not as strong as the left. Your favourite emotion to eat is enthusiasm, which tastes to you like milky coffee.’

His eyes widen again. He huffs out a breath of air, as if he has failed to laugh.

‘Right. Third. Telekinesis.’

‘…I’m sorry?’

‘Moving things with your mi-‘

Before he has finished, she has focused on the metal can in his hand and pulled it sharply up, and then down. It jumps three inches up out of his hand, and then plummets, contents soaking into the grass. Tessa scrambles away in glee.

‘…well,’ he says, picking it up again, and shaking it. It is nearly empty.

‘Forgive me,’ Alice says, failing to keep the smile away.

‘Energy drinks are bad for you anyway,’ Tessa says.

She kneels in front of Alice, leaning forward, looking into her face like an eager puppy.

‘Alice. You. Are. A-MAZING! I’ve never seen anything like this! I can’t believe it.’

‘It’s…definitely something,’ George says, rubbing the droplet stains on his t-shirt.

‘Look, you’ve made him grumpy. He’s so used to thinking he’s better than me because his power is actually useful. You’ve really shown him up.’

George glares at her and gives her a playful push in reply.

‘How long are you in Bath for, Alice?’

‘As long as I want,’ she replies. ‘In thanks to this.’ She pats the necklace at her sternum.

‘That’s so cool,’ Tessa says, longingly. ‘To be able to just go wherever and whenever you want…must be so freeing.’

Alice realises, in a sudden rush, that she likes these two people very much. It feels like a lifetime since she had more than one friend.

‘It is,’ she says.

‘Park’s getting busier,’ George says, frowning at the new picnickers as if he has a headache. ‘Should we go home?’

‘Alice, come back with us – come have lunch and stay with us for a bit. I mean, no-one’s going to miss you, if you go back right when you left, right?’

She speaks so quickly that Alice barely comprehends the last sentence, but she nods her head vigorously. She is on holiday. She is free.

‘I would love that.’

~~~

29th August, 2008

CERN Headquarters, Geneva

Grace has been trying to teach Sosuke how to say “cool” in an American accent for half an hour. Given that she does not speak in an American accent herself, and Sosuke is bright red and mumbling, this endeavour is hilarious – or would be, if the people around them weren’t worried about other things.

Onyeka tries her best to work, but it is hard with such distractions – and when she doesn’t understand the work they have been given. Her task is to modify the design of what seems to be an attachment for the Large Hadron Collider. The attachment is like an extra chamber, to be linked to the side of the LHC. Her task is to modify it in two ways: one, so that it is unaffected by the super-cooling liquid nitrogen and helium required by the machine’s magnets, while still being linked to the electrical current of the collider and being exposed to its electrical and magnetic fields; two, the data from the chamber is not to be sent back to CERN’s computers, but Sosuke’s, and will run its own machinery according to the program he is currently writing. Sholeh is meant to helping her with this engineering side, but she is on the other side of the room, trying to ignore the computer and hunching over her pad of paper instead. A window of wikipedia takes up half of her screen.

Onyeka frowns at her own screen. She doesn’t understand why such a chamber is necessary, when it won’t affect the particle accelerator itself. She has asked John multiple times, and every time he has shrugged and said he’ll tell her later – or that she should figure it out first. Such evasions worry her. John is not officially a member of CERN; she knows that much. His fake letter to her was only the first confirmation of it. None of them have badges, or security passes, or any official documentation, and yet security and the other workers all look the other way when they walk to the office. John has forbidden them from going anywhere without him. When she asked why, he laughed and said ‘Because I don’t want to explain where I picked you up from. I don’t want us getting thrown out.’

She pushes away the keyboard and looks over at her sister. Grace may be content to float about in time without question, but Onyeka cannot. Secrecy – ignorance – makes her anxious. Her father’s gun sits in her handbag, clean as the day she swiped it. She hopes there will be no need to touch it, but if John does not give her answers – if his intentions are less noble than he says – then she may have no other option.

John appears in the centre of the room and the four of them jump. He dusts himself off as if he has just stepped out of a dune buggy.

‘Sorry,’ he says, seeing their glares. ‘Last time. I won’t need to do it again.’

He puts the necklace in his jacket pocket, then removes the jacket and places it over the back of a chair.

His employees stare at it like hungry dogs.

‘Sholeh,’ he says, then devolves into speaking Persian. Onyeka turns back to her screen in annoyance. One polyglot is bad enough, and at least Grace works hard at learning every language she comes across. John is no longer aware when he is speaking English or not. Foresight, time-travel, and now accidentally learning languages…she had been awed at these supernatural abilities at first, but their allure has cooled, and their mystery seems ever more sinister with time.

‘Coo-LUH,’ Grace says, still sitting on Sosuke’s desk, swinging her legs.

‘Kuu-ru,’ he mumbles again, trying to drown himself out with his keyboard taps.

Grace laughs.

‘Do you want me to take you back home?’ John is asking Sholeh.

She is working on paper, typing with two fingers only when necessary. She shakes her head.

‘There’s no point,’ she mutters. Her eyes are red from late-night crying. ‘I can’t change anything. And no-one would believe me if I told them what I know.’

Sholeh was introduced to computers and the internet this morning. She has spent most of the her time clicking between webpages about her home, and trying harder not to cry.

‘I cannot even take the book back,’ she continues. ‘I would cause a…a…’

‘Paradox,’ John says, as if bored.

‘Yes,’ she whispers.

The letter from her future self was a paradox. She shouldn’t be here now, because that letter convinced her to go with him, but that future self and that letter don’t exist any more…

The world threatens to sink into sand again. She squeezes her eyes shut. No. Taking a book back, or a print out of a web page, or anything like that – that would be even worse.

‘Nothing I can do will change it,’ she says. ‘If I went back, I would only watch my mother’s disappointment. Her despair. One person cannot change so much.’

‘Not a normal person, anyway,’ John says with a smirk. ‘Only a couple people can ever change things, and we’re not usually one of them. At least, I never thought…’

He pauses, as if catching himself, and laughs.

‘Hah, what’s the point? It doesn’t matter. None of it will matter.’

He gets up and walks away. It is like a cloud has covered his sunny day. He is shrouded, dark and indiscernible. Sholeh follows him with her eyes. A spark of curiosity spits into her depression, lighting up her mind’s fire.

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Onyeka looking at her. They share a worried glance.

‘Kuu-LAH,’ Sosuke shouts. Everyone stares.

Grace chuckles.

‘Now you’ve got it!’

~~~

February 13th, 1931

Pinwheel Club, New York

‘Listen to me, son: this is the real secret behind everything,’ Bert says.

John frowns.

‘A necklace?’

‘Not just any necklace. The spokewheel necklace. Controller of time. It’s an ancient Burmese artefact, lost for centuries – and found three years ago, by yours truly.’

John thinks he is lying, but of course he’s not going to say that to his boss.

Bertram leans across the table, chain splayed across his palm.

‘The design is based on the Buddhist symbol for the noble eightfold path, the Dharma wheel, but I’m sure it was more recently carved into that design – and by “recently” I mean a thousand years or so, instead of hundreds of thousands. The monks had to disguise it as something religious, to hide what it truly is. See, I’d been reading about it for years, in legends and folk tales, never believing it existed – and then, in Old Bagan, I found it. It had been sitting under a slab in a caved-in stupa for over a century.’

He smiles and adds quietly, ‘It’s almost enough to make you believe in fate.’

‘But what is it?’ John says. He doesn’t see what monks, or Burma, or one unexceptional necklace has to do with anything.

Bertram sits back, drawing the necklace out of his reach.

‘It’s a kind of powerful magic.’

John snorts and Bert raises an eyebrow.

‘You don’t believe me? Last week, I saw you shake Abe Hodge’s hand, and tell him he’s ill and should go to a doctor. This morning he came to me and said they found a tumour on his kidney. You know how you knew that?’

John looks down and shakes his head. He didn’t know about Abe. He didn’t know anyone had noticed what he said to him last week – he didn’t know what to do about the images that flashed before his eyes that day.

‘You’re picking up my blood-reading. That’s how. How did you do that? How can I do it in the first place? It’s unexplainable. It’s supernatural. We might as well call it “magic” of different kinds.’

John can’t hear him very well over the sound of his skin crawling, over the panic of drawing an ability from another person without realising it.

‘This is the same,’ Bert says, shaking the hand that grips the necklace. ‘I can’t pretend I know how it works. But legend spoke of an enchanted stone that could take you across time, just by thinking about where you would like to be. I found one that looked like it, and out of curiosity I tried it – and I woke up in 1944.’

John still doesn’t believe him, but it’s the kind of disbelief an older child feels when thinking about Santa Claus. He doesn’t believe, because he is rational, but his desire to believe runs deeper than his logic, and he will pretend to believe and enjoy pretending until his logic becomes unbearably heavy.

‘1944?’ he asks. ‘What’s it like?’

Bert’s face clouds over, as if he resents the question, and resents remembering it.

‘That’s not important,’ he says. ‘What I learned was that it worked. Time-travel works. And when you can go through time, you can do nearly anything. I was a dirt-poor archeologist living off whatever the university was willing to pay me. After a couple of trips back in time, I had enough to sell to the museums to pay for the deposit for this.’

He gestures to the club around them, dead in the daytime, weak rays filtering through the windows like multiple dusty spotlights. Varnished wood and glinting glass, and original artwork on the walls.

‘So that’s what Sam meant by your “antiques”?’ John asks.

‘Just ordinary things,’ Bertram says. ‘Cutlery. China cups. Even toys. Take them a hundred years into the future, and they’re worth more than anyone could imagine.’

‘That’s nice, Bert,’ John says, ‘but why you telling all this to me?’

Bert puts his hand back on the table and reveals the necklace again. He frowns at it for a second before answering.

‘I’m going to be honest with you, John,’ he says. ‘The more I see you picking things up, and influencing everything around here, the more I…well, you don’t realise what’s you’re doing yet. But I think, with this and your power, we could make an actual difference. When I came back from 1944…’

Words fail him momentarily. John waits. He has tipped towards belief without knowing it. He wants to snatch the necklace from his boss’s hands and see what is so bad about 1944 for himself.

‘I couldn’t make much of a difference,’ Bert says. ‘People thought I was crazy, so I kept it quiet. I’m not one of those people who can change the world by myself. But I thought, maybe –’

A door shuts. Footsteps approach from the back rooms, and a voice along with them:

‘–it was just too apt, I’m there at four in the morning, eating and I haven’t slept in days, and this song starts playing on repeat, “We’re up all night to get–”’

Tessa and Alice enter arm-in-arm, and stop dead. Alice’s eyes light on Bert’s hand, and the necklace he is holding out to John. Her face pales.

She runs to the table and snatches the necklace away, stepping back and eyeing John like he is a predator.

‘Alice!’ Bert cries, turning to her. ‘What are you doing?’

‘We discussed this,’ she says. Her accent still irritates John.

‘Alice…’ Bert says. An undercurrent of menace lurks beneath his slight frown. He holds out his hand and Alice steps back, clutching the necklace to her chest.

‘I gave you this in confidence,’ she says.

‘It’s mine,’ Bert says, like a schoolteacher about to give out a caning. ‘And I decide what to do with it, and who is allowed to use it – not you.’

He gives Tessa a significant glance. She looks down and stealthily moves towards the front door.

Alice flushes. The meaning of this exchange is beyond John, but he knows when not to get involved. He stands. Bert and Alice are staring each other down.

‘John, come back tomorrow,’ Bert says, not looking away from his girlfriend. ‘I’ll need you for the harbour run, and the bank.’

‘Right, see you,’ John says, and makes his escape just behind Tessa.

The air outside is cool, despite the sunshine. Tessa puffs out her cheeks.

‘Woo, glad I could get out of that!’

‘Same,’ John says. Tessa’s pretty, but he doesn’t like the way she talks, either. Not enough decent Americans round Bert, in his eyes.

‘Hey, you’re that guy’s wife, ain’t you – George’s wife?’

‘Sure am,’ she says, glancing at her ring with a smile. ‘I’m not sure we’ve met before – I’m Tessa. George talks about you a lot.’

She holds out her hand, straight out and confident like she was a man. John looks her up and down. There is something definitely funny about her, says a voice in his mind. Something decidedly wrong about the way she talks, and acts, and looks at him with the same veiled worry as her husband.

‘Only met the man once,’ he says.

‘Oh,’ she says, bringing her hand back down to her side. ‘Well, it must be because of Sam, y’know. He likes Sam a lot, he’s a great guy.’

‘Yeah,’ John growls. ‘I know.’

Her eyes widen, ever so slightly. She is scared. Of him? Of…making a mistake?

Yes. And of course she’s scared.

A thin gauze, a veil, appears over his vision. Like the images he saw when he shook Abe’s hand, pictures overlay life: Tessa and George, sitting in a room covered in posters and books and plastic cases, wearing clothes so bright and tight they might be from the circus. Glowing screens on the wall and in their hands. A knock on the front door. Concern on their faces. A hand reaches out, holding the spokewheel necklace, and three hands pile on top of each other, medallion clutched at the bottom. Then, only an empty hallway is left.

The voice says: this is 2007.

‘John?’

John blinks and he is back in the present. Tessa’s fear has tripled.

‘Your eyes,’ she says. ‘They went like – like Alice’s, with the sight –’

Sight? Alice? She must be wrong. The sight is Sam’s – but it was like sight, something like it – oh God, if he took the blood-reading from Bert and didn’t realise –

‘John, are you okay?’ Tessa says, taking a step forward. He bats her hand away.

‘You freak,’ he says. ‘Don’t touch me. I know what you are. You’re from the future.’

Tessa freezes. John shakes his head. Magic didn’t exist a month ago, and now he is talking to a woman from the future and seeing things he shouldn’t know, learning things without even trying. It’s too much. He has enough to deal with, enough already – he doesn’t want any of this.

‘Stay away from me,’ he says. ‘Just…just stay out of my way, you and your freak husband. Leave me and Sam alone.’

He turns and walks away.

Tessa stamps her foot, groaning internally. She has blown it.

~~~

August 24th, 2007

Combe Down, Bath

Tessa has never heard Alice shout before. It sounds so unusual that she doubts it is her outside. Banging on the front door like she will break it, she shouts ‘Tessa!’ as if her life depends on it.

Tessa runs down the hallway and throws it open. Alice is red-faced, in a dress meant for warmer weather than this. Sweat drips off her long nose; tears threaten to drip from her eyes.

‘What is it?’ Tessa cries, ushering her in. She hears George walk up behind her.

‘You have to help me,’ Alice says, shutting the door behind her. ‘I’ve found something…something awful is going to happen.’

She wipes her eyes before the tears can spill.

‘What is it?’ George asks, putting his hands on Tessa’s shoulder. His presence relaxes her – but only a little bit.

‘Don’t eat this,’ Alice commands, pointing at him. ‘I need this. I need to feel this, and remember it, and use it.’

‘I won’t,’ he says. ‘But what’s wrong?’

‘There is someone else travelling through time.’

The couple glance at each other. Tessa is glad to know she has not missed something; George looks just as puzzled as she is.

‘What’s so wrong about that? If they have another means –’

‘There is only one of these,’ Alice says, pulling the necklace out. ‘Only one in existence. I asked him, and he said I gave it to him. He said he knew me from 1931. He said…’

She stops and swallows. Rubs her face. Straightens, and takes a breath. When she opens her eyes again, she looks like a queen ready for war.

‘Whatever happens in February in 1931, you must stop it. I can do nothing, else I meet myself and create a paradox. You are my only friends outside of that time. Please, you must help me.’

‘Of course we’ll help you,’ Tessa says. There is no need for consideration.

‘What’s so wrong about him taking the necklace? How do you know he won’t go back and give it back to you?’

George is being needlessly logical, and it is clear Alice is not in the place for logic.

‘I don’t care,’ she says. ‘It doesn’t matter. I do not matter. But if you do not go back and change things…’

She threatens to quail again.

‘…then the man who means more than the world to me – he will die. Bertram will die if I don’t do anything. And I’ve already…’

Tessa cannot read emotions like her boyfriend, but she sees two purities cross Alice’s face: pure self-loathing. Pure terror. Then Alice puts her face in her hands, and sobs.

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Written by G.J.

07/05/2014 at 4:08 pm

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