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Daughter of Chronos: 

 

5. The Time Maiden

April 25th, 2009

 

  For the first time in over a year, Finn was returning to the museum.  It was something he had been wanting to do for a long time, but getting there though, that had been the sticking point.  Till now, Grace had always resisted his pleas.  But she eventually, reluctantly, agreed, after an unexpected intervention from Mitch, that he was old enough to use public transport alone.  Most of his friends had already been bussing into town without adult supervision for years, and it was becoming an embarrassing topic of conversation for Finn.       

  “Now, what number bus do you get?”

  “I already told you.  Five times!” he answered, exasperated.

  “I know, I just want to make sure you’re sure.  And where do you get off?”

  “Mom, I’m not a little kid anymore,” he protested, “it’s not like I’ll get whisked away, and you’ll never see me again.” 

  “I know, dear,” she sighed, “it’s just that I worry about you.  That’s what Moms do.”

  She fussed with his hair, raising an exasperated click of the tongue from her eager to be off offspring. 

  “Laters, Mom!” 

  It was an uneasy moment for the devoted mother, watching her ten-year-old trot happily off down the street to the stop at the corner, the fare gripped tightly in his fist. 

  Natasha called breezily to him as he approached the stop.

  “Hey Buddy, finally broke the chains?”

  Finn blushed. “I could’ve gone down on my own any old time I chose.  I just had to wait till Mom was ready, that’s all.”

  “Oh, sure you could!”

  Finn wrinkled his nose. “Ever since Connor, Mom’s sorta wrapped me in cotton wool.”

  “She just doesn’t want anything to happen to you, that’s all.”

  “Yeah, I know, but he was just a baby.  I’m big enough to take care of myself!” He flexed his arms, showing off what he thought were muscles.

  “Ooh!” Natasha cooed, giving one arm a squeeze. “My hero!”

  The bus approached, drew to a stop with a hiss of airbrakes, and they hopped on.  There was a small squabble over who got the window seat, until Finn decided to be a gentleman, and let Natasha win. 

  They were on their way, but what Grace didn’t realise was that Finn had no intention of going straight to the museum first.  The old, original town hall was a stop earlier along the route to the museum, and it was there the two friends debarked the bus. 

  Standing on the sidewalk by the stop, they looked along to the two stone steps leading to the entrance of the imposing building, twenty yards further down the street. 

  The distance was quickly covered, Natasha slightly in the lead, but it was not their purpose that day to go in.  Instead the two stood outside, and looked up at the blue and white commemoration dedicated to The Witch of Duncan Falls. 

  Before, that first time he saw it, Finn was separated from the memorial by the glass window of the school bus.  Now there was nothing between them but the crisp morning air. 

  Finn slowly read the inscription in a hushed, reverent voice, Natasha standing beside him, hand on his shoulder.  He remembered every word perfectly from that first time he ever saw it, the day he first learned of the cruel execution of an innocent girl.  He was here with but one purpose, to reaffirm his pledge.  It was Natasha’s idea, but he had readily acceded to her suggestion when she brought it up in the school yard earlier that week. 

  Glancing quickly up and down the street, he then looked back up at the tablet, solemnly placing his right hand over his heart.

  “Verity Proctor,” he whispered, with deep sincerity, “I do hereby solemnly swear that, someday, somehow, I will find a way to rescue you, to give you a chance to grow up, to be free, and to live the life you never had.”

  Natasha also gave a furtive glance along the road, not wishing any embarrassment herself.  Then she placed her own hand on her heart.

  “That goes for me too, Verity.” It was rare for the dizzy blonde to be serious, but at that moment she had never been more earnest in her life. 

  They both continued to gaze up at the plaque for a little longer, half wondering if, somewhere, a twelve-year-old girl could actually hear them, and take solace from their words. 

  As they looked, some inner voice bid Natasha to reach out, and softly touch the small memorial.  Finn followed, a moment after, but as he did a tiny green-yellow spark struck his fingertip as it made contact, and he felt a tingle run down his finger.  It didn’t hurt, but still he jerked his hand back, more in surprise than pain.  He looked at his fingertip, rubbing it against his thumb.

  “What the heck?” he muttered, “Nat, did you see that?”

  “Yeah,” she murmured, studying his fingertip, “what was it?”

  “I dunno, but whatever it was, it’s freaky.” 

  Still pondering the odd sensation, they turned away, and started the five minute stroll to the museum. 

  The street they stepped briskly along was very different to the one of three centuries ago.  Though the town's original old civic hall itself would still be recognizable to any of the former inhabitants, the dusty town square that was once the busy centre of the little metropolis had long gone, sacrificed to the gods of progress.  So too had the tree so often used for public executions.  Now the hall sat on a busy road intersection, with modern buildings crowding it in on either side. 

  The town of Duncan Falls itself had grown, expanding in all directions save the lakeside, which still, as then, formed an immutable natural barrier.  Now the population stood at nearly twenty thousand, and the centre of town, with its busy malls, car-sales showrooms, finance and banking offices and multi-story parking lots had migrated several miles further south. 

  Here and there a few of the old, original buildings survived, preserved and sometimes still in useful employ, such as a few of the original warehouses.  One of the grander merchant dwellings from the 1600’s now served as the town’s library, where the journal discovered by Sherman Peterson still resided. 

  Broad tarmac streets replaced narrow dusty roads, and the old timber-framed and stone-clad houses had long since disappeared, and modern brick and tile two-story suburbs now spread in every direction.   

  One aspect of the town that had survived however, were the old trails used by the trappers and merchants.  Most still wound their way up and across the rugged peaks, following much the same paths as they had for centuries. 

  Now they were popular with tourists, hikers and hunters.  The biggest one, that ran around the lake’s edge to Point Clear, was now a busy highway.  Trafficked heavily in summer months by holiday-makers staying in the plentiful vacation log cabin parks in the area, it also saw many huge semi-trucks hauling the felled trees and lumber back and forth twixt the mills and factories.

  Finn bounded up the steps leading up to the museum, Natasha excitedly shadowing his footfall to the inch.  As they burst through the entrance, the giant skeleton of the prehistoric predator greeted their arrival.  But dinosaurs were not on the menu for today’s visit, and the excitement they once held for Finn was now muted and secondary. 

  Instead, he unhesitatingly led Natasha to the section with the black-and-red sign over the door. 

  The room hadn’t changed one bit.  He stopped in front of the first glass-and-pine box, the one nearest the door, but this time, instead of tears, his eyes now held a grim determination.

  “See that, Nat?” he pointed to the cabinet, and it’s mournful contents, “I don’t know how, but whatever it takes, we’re gonna stop that happening.”

  Since their first meeting in the school yard, Finn and his friends had built many elaborate time machines, crafted from old boxes, paper, cardboard tubes and glue in the early days, becoming more elaborate as their skills, and imagination, grew with age. 

  Old metal bedsteads, broken TV carcases, a huge number of broken or borrowed timepieces, bicycle parts, and, to her intense annoyance, a growing list of electrical appliances and other items from Avril’s bedroom, had all been  sacrificed to the cause. 

  So far, all their attempts at traversing time had failed.  But each failure only spurred the children to greater efforts.  Youthful ignorance was their greatest ally, the idea of time travel being impossible was one they had never contemplated.  For the friends, failure had never been an option. 

  Finn and Natasha spent a long time before the glass-fronted display case holding the witch’s prison smock, soaking up every tiny detail, committing every fold, every stain to memory.  Together they looked at the small dark spots, blood turned almost black with the passage of time; time they had vowed to somehow reverse, to turn back. 

  Next came the case with the manacles.  The chain and shackles still held their menacing threat, a vicious, unspoken promise of hurt offered to anyone who ended up enclosed by their cold, metallic grasp.  Finn particularly hated them with a passion, hated the agonising suffering they had so obviously inflicted on the blameless girl’s flesh.

  Eventually their focus turned to the other, smaller cabinets, the ones Finn had previously not had time to take in due to the field trip coming to an end.  These mostly had copies of old historical documents and papers, and Finn studied them all, memorizing every shred of new information.  

  One in particular was a facsimile of the signed order of execution, the one Sherman Peterson had found in the old archives in the town hall.  He could clearly see, written in the archaic English used in the seventeenth century, the name and age of the condemned prisoner. 

  The bottom edge of the copy had been cropped short though, and he couldn’t quite decipher what it said.  Finn determined he would come back down to the town again sometime soon, and this time see if he could access the original, in the musty archives of the town hall.  Every little detail could be important, nothing could afford to be overlooked.  He was a boy on a mission, and he was deadly serious. 

  Leaving Natasha studying the order, he ambled across the room and started to prop himself up on another low, horizontal glass case, but as he leant on it a shooting pain travelled up his arm, and he let out a yelp.  Natasha flinched, a guilty frown creasing her face.

  “It, still hurts?”

  “Yeah.”

  “I’m, sorry.” She gave a lopsided grin.

  “Yeah, I know.  You already told me.  Fourteen times.  This week!”

  The break in his arm had healed, but the tissue was still tender.  It was his own fault.  The broken arm was the result of one of Finn and Gregor’s home-built time machines getting out of control. 

  Speed.  That was the deciding factor in time travel, the boys had decided.

***

  March 21st, 2009

 

  Six weeks earlier, Finn and his friends had gathered together at the top of a grassy slope in a small area of municipal parkland, not far from Jocelyn’s home.  The slope was steep enough, they believed, to reach the required velocity to induce time-warp in a rickety cart they had enthusiastically, but not very adeptly, cobbled together.  Though Finn was responsible for the basic design, it was the more scientifically gifted Gregor who pieced together the required electronics needed to control the machine’s traverse through the pages of history. 

  The two boys were now firm best friends, the quiet, thoughtful and technically minded Gregor making the perfect counter to Finn’s outgoing and exuberant nature.  Though the ginger-haired boy shared Finn’s desire to alter history, for him it was all much more of a science project than a rescue mission.  Natasha and Jocelyn made up the rest of the Witchsaver Generals, as they had now named themselves. 

  Now the four friends were ready for the latest attempt.  Finn, naturally, was the pilot, Gregor was mission control, Natasha had appointed herself chief launch technician and Jocelyn played the assembled crowd.  It has to be said, the crowd was slightly less than enthusiastic. 

  Finn strapped himself into the seat of their latest creation using a thick piece of blue rope found behind Gregor’s father’s garden shed.  The front wheels were tiny, pirated from an old abandoned supermarket cart, and were steered by a rusty length of bicycle chain around some haphazard gears nailed to the carcass of an old winter sledge.  The rear wheels were ‘on loan’ from Jocelyn’s older brother’s home-made gravity racer go-cart, and the sledge frame’s hyper-alloy combat chassis had been daubed with silver paint by the ever-artistic Natasha, who had also grandly christened it ‘The Time Maiden.’ 

  Perched behind the seat was a large, rotatable disk, made partly from the skeleton of an old umbrella, but which had been clad in carefully trimmed tinfoil, into which Gregor had cut a deftly planned selection of slots and holes.  The disk was supposed to be rotated by the wind blowing through the slots, and once the required rate was reached, the foil would form the Heisenberg warp, and transport Finn back through time. 

  In front of Finn was the flight deck, an imaginatively crafted collection of old alarm clocks, a bicycle speedometer, a selection of components liberated from Avril’s electrical beauty appliances, and a home-made counter for setting the desired year of destination. 

  The date had been set.  May thirtieth, 1699, the date of Verity’s execution.

  “Are you sure this is going to work?” Finn called to mission control.  He was wearing elbow safety-pads, soccer shin-pads, yellow-tinted ski goggles, and an old army surplus helmet bought at a garage sale.

  “I have absolutely no idea!” came the comforting reply. 

  Finn turned to the launch chief. 

  “Prepare to launch!” Finn called, the over-large helmet slipping over his nose as he did so.  The dutiful technician took her pre-assigned position, with her hands on Finn’s shoulders, arms carefully placed to avoid the Heisenberg disc.  Jocelyn watched the proceedings with an air of misgiving, glasses glinting in the warm afternoon’s sunlight.  Like all of them she was deeply moved by the notion of innocent children being hanged for crimes they didn’t commit.  But despite the others boundless enthusiasm, so far all of the Witchsaver Generals efforts had resulted in epic failures, and she had the feeling this one would fare little better. 

  The launch chief tapped the time transporter pilot’s shoulder twice.

  “Contact!” she called brightly, signalling that launch was go.

  “Launch in five, copy?”

  “You betcha, I mean, copy!”

  Jocelyn rubbed the bridge of her nose and lowered her head.  This, she was convinced, was going to end badly. 

  Finn started the launch sequence.

  “Five - four - three…”

  At the count of three the time transporter lifted off prematurely, due to a malfunction in the launch technician’s emotional stability, and the rickety contraption took off down the grass slope with the mission control team in hot pursuit.

  ”I-I…was-s-sn’t…r-read-dy!” Finn yelled, his voice shaking from the undulations from the rough take-off runway. 

  Quickly the transporter exceeded the speed at which the launch technician could pump her legs, and she tripped over her own feet, collapsing in a heap of limbs.  At that moment the steering mechanism suffered a total catastrophic failure just as Finn realised there was another serious flaw in the design.  No one had thought to add any brakes. 

  The cart gained momentum at a frightening rate, and, realising the device was destined to crash and burn, Finn decided to eject.  But before he could undo the safety strap, one of the shopping cart wheels decided it had had enough of being pushed well beyond its original design envelope, and left the field of play in a huff. 

  Now mortally wounded, the hopelessly unstable Time Maiden’s front end dug in, pitching it and its pilot skyward, where they described a not-so-graceful cartwheel, and the whole contraption disintegrated around its designer. 

  Finn lay on his back for a few seconds, pinned down by the wreckage, before heaving the larger part of the combat chassis off his chest.  Groggily he stood up, and looked at the rapidly approaching Witchsaver Generals. 

  He looked Natasha square in the eye.

  “Wha… what happened, to five?”  

  Natasha scraped the tip of her toe from side to side through the grass in front of her. “I, couldn’t help it, I, got excited.” she puffed, “Sorry.”  

  Finn then became acutely aware of a rising, excruciating pain in his right arm.

  “Oh, God,” he exclaimed, looking at the strange extra angle his forearm had now acquired, “is it supposed to look like that?” 

  Natasha stepped closer, took a look at the mangled limb, turned a very pale colour, then finally rolled her eyes back into her head and collapsed into the waiting arms of Gregor.  Jocelyn shook her head.  It was even worse than she thought it could be.

***

That little escapade had earned the would-be time explorer a night in hospital and three days off school.  Laying on the hospital bed, Finn turned his injured arm around, studying the plaster cast from every angle with something approaching pride.  A soccer teammate had suffered a similar fracture during a match earlier that year, and had amassed a sizable assortment of get-well messages and drawings penned on his own cast.  Finn spun his arm again, determining he would beat his friend’s collection.

  Across to his right the ward door opened and Avril sauntered in.

  “Okay, baby bro,” she asked with mock disdain, “what did you do now?”

  “I busted it,” he answered with a grin, holding up the damaged limb. “What do you think?  It’s way bigger than the one Reece had!”

  She rolled her eyes as she took a seat at the foot of the bed. “Yeah,” she said, smirking, “trust you to think it’s some kind of badge of honour!  Does it hurt?”

  “Hurt like heck when I did it.  Then when I got here they jabbed me with something.  Now it just, sorta, aches.”

  “Heh, I bet you cried in the ambulance!”

  “I so did not!” he huffed, then smiled a little. “Nat passed out, though!”

  “Really?  Typical Nat, always the drama queen!  But, seriously bro, you really need to lay off building these dumb time machines of yours-“

  “Hey, they are not dumb,” Finn said sharply, “I have to build them, or how else-”

  “Finn, you scared the crap out of mom, did you know that?”

  “I... I did?”

   “She was all set to skip work to come straight here when the hospital called.  Then the dude on the phone told her it was okay, that you were fine and weren’t seriously hurt and she didn’t need to come till she finished.  So she called me, since I was round Janice’s and nearer, and told me to check on you and meet her here.  Bro, she was furious.”

  Finn looked down. “She don’t normally get mad at anything,” he murmured nervously.

  “Well she’s totally ticked now.”

  “Hey, I didn’t mean to crash it, it was an accident.”

  “Sure, but suppose you broke your neck, and not your arm?  How do you suppose the rest of us would feel?  You need to think, bro, think about us, not some stupid, impossible fantasy.”

  Heat began to flush his cheeks. “I keep telling you, it’s not a-”

  His irate answer was cut off by the ward door opening again, as Grace hurried in, followed by Mitch.

  “Finn dear, are you alright?” she asked, full of motherly concern.

  “Hi Mom, Dad,” he said brightly, then muttered under his breath to Avril, “Thought you said she was ticked...

  Avril turned to her mother to hide a growing blush. “Uh, hi mom, aren’t you supposed to be at work?”

  “Mrs Thrace saw how agitated I was, and told me to go anyway.” Grace plumped down on the bed, leaned across and ruffled Finn’s hair, raising the usual exasperated click of his tongue, then studied his plastered arm. “Oh, Finn!” she exclaimed, lips pursed.

  “It’s fine, Mom, really.  And the doc even said I get some time of school!” he said, giving a hopefully disarming grin.

  “It’s not funny, Finn.  I was worried sick when the hospital called.”

  “Okay, okay, I’m sorry, but like I just told Avril, it was an accident.  We just forgot to add some brakes.  Next time-”

  “No, Finn,” Grace said firmly, then sighed, rubbing her temple. “Look, I think it’s time you realised this obsession of yours... it’s getting a bit out of hand.”

  “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell him,” Avril said, pointing her finger at him. “Don’t you know the greatest scientists in the world have all tried and failed?  If they can’t do it, what makes you think you can?” 

  Finn frowned. “Just ‘cause no one’s done it yet, don’t mean it’s impossible.”

  “No one’s done it yet, son” Mitch advised him patiently, “because it can’t be done.”

  “They laughed at Michelangelo too, when he said the world was round,” Finn pointed out, somewhat inaccurately.

  “And while we’re on the subject,” Avril asked, leaning in, “I went to get my curling tongs this morning, and I can’t find them.  You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?” Finn shuffled back awkwardly, shrinking into the hospital bed as Avril rapidly sat back. “You took them?  Oh-my-God, Finn, I only just got them!”

  “We needed a magnetic force-inducer,” he mumbled.

  “So where are they now?”

  “Umm... they, uh...”

  “You wrecked them, didn’t you!” Avril said, throwing her hands up. “You wrecked them, just like you wreck everything else of mine you ‘borrow’ for your stupid time machines.”

  “I’ll buy you some new ones, once I get my allowance-”

  “That’s not the point, dammit.  You always take my stuff, and either it comes back trashed or not at all, and I’m totally sick of it.”

  Grace tapped her daughter on the arm. “Okay sweetheart, I think he gets the point.” She took Finn’s good hand and gave it a squeeze. “Finn, I’m sorry, dear, but your father’s right,” she said, smiling sympathetically. “Honestly, I do admire your wanting to save this girl, I know how you get about things you feel are wrong, but it’s time you accepted this is just something not even you can fix.”

  “But, I-”

  “No, Finn.  You need to stop.  Now.” Finn’s eyes widened. “Before you get seriously hurt.”

  Finn swallowed a nervous lump. “Mom, no, I... I can’t, I just can’t, I promised her-”

  “Finn, she’s dead for cryin’ out loud,” Avril snapped, “how in the hell do you think she can hear a promise some dumb butthead in the twenty-first century makes to her?”

  The flush returned to his cheeks. “Why?” he snapped back, “tell me, why is it dumb to try n’ save someone’s life?  She never had a chance to grow up, Avril, never got to do the stuff you did, and you’re okay with that?” Avril rolled her eyes then stared angrily at the ceiling. “How would you like it if someone tried you in some stupid court, and told everyone you were a witch?  Then dragged you outside and dangled you by your neck from a tree?”

  “For Christ’s sake, bro, don’t you get it?  You are wasting your time!  Do you think Connor would’ve been so dumb?” Across the bed, Grace flinched. “Do you think he would’ve messed around with stuff, despite the rest of the family telling him not to?  He would have listened, bro, just like you won’t.  He-”

  “You don’t know that!” Finn spat, aiming a finger at his sister, “you don’t know how he would have felt about it.  I’ll bet you anything he would have wanted to do something about it too-”

  “Connor would have been smart enough to accept what he couldn’t change!  Connor-”

  “Enough!” Mitch barked, nodding a head towards Grace, “both of you.” Beside him, Grace’s head was lowered and one hand covered her eyes.  The altercation died instantly, fiery words rapidly exchanged for simultaneous apologies.

  “Oh Jeez, mom,” Avril said, briefly giving Finn a shocked look, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean...”

  Finn’s face mirrored his sister’s distress. “Mom, I... we didn’t think...”

  Grace lifted a hand dismissively. “No, it’s... I’m alright.” The two siblings exchanged a further worried, embarrassed glance.

  Grace took a moment to compose herself before speaking softly. “What Connor would or wouldn’t have done is beside the point.  It’s what you are doing that worries me, Finn.  Look at yourself.” Finn sheepishly glanced at his fractured arm. “Because of this... this obsession of yours you had a nasty accident.  Thank God it wasn’t worse.  I shudder to think what the future holds if you keep this up.  I can’t keep worrying about you like this, it just isn’t fair.”

  Finn furled his fingers in and out of the corner of the hospital blanket, chewing the inside of his mouth to hold back the tears.

  “Mom, I’m sorry I upset you, I never meant to do it.”

  “Then promise me this is the last time.”

  Anxiety twisted his insides as the extinction of his dream loomed. “But... we were so close, I nearly made it-”

  “And you badly hurt yourself trying.”

  “It doesn’t hurt that bad, honestly.  I’ve been hurt worse playing soccer.”

  “Really?” Grace tutted. “I don’t remember you ever breaking a bone while playing sports?”

  “Please mom,” Finn begged, “please don’t make me stop.  I can’t.  I just... can’t.”

  “Finn, look...”

  “Please...” The look in his eyes magnified the pleading in his words.

  Grace breathed sharply through her nose. “I just don’t want you to be... to get hurt, dear, that’s all.”

  Finn nodded. “I know, mom.  But I know I can do it, I just know.”

  Grace remained silent for a few moments, then sighed. “I guess there’s no stopping you, is there?” she said, lifting a corner of her mouth. “Stubborn.  Just like Granpop Killibrand.”

  Finn raised one shoulder and gave a small, lop-sided grin. “You say that like it was a bad thing.”  

  Grace reached over and ruffled his hair again, producing another gruff.

  “Just promise me you’ll be much more careful in future, okay?”

  “I promise.  And mom... once I save Verity, I’ll go back and get Connor, too.  Then... then you won’t have to be sad anymore.”

  “Oh...” Grace swallowed a small sob, then leaned across and pulled Finn in close.  For a few moments she said nothing as she gently stroked the back of his head.  Then, voice crackling, she whispered softly in his ear. “Sure you will, sweetheart, sure you will.”

  The hug was interrupted by the bell signalling the end of visiting time.  Grace pulled away, rubbing a damp cheek with the back of her hand.

  “Now you be good, okay?  Make sure you do what the doctors and nurses tell you.”

  “Sure mom,” he answered.

  “And take your medication,” Grace said, motioning to a small bottle on the bedside locker. “I’ll be worrying if you get any sleep tonight.

  “Yes mom!”

  “And don’t forget to brush your teeth in the morning.”

  “Mom!

  Grace stood to leave, followed by Mitch and Avril.  As she started towards the door she turned back. “Have you two finished with each other?” she asked, looking between brother and sister, “because I need to know you’re okay.”

  “Uh, yeah, we’re good,” Finn said.

  “Yeah, sure,” Avril said with a glance at Finn. “No big deal, just another day at the office, eh bro?”

  Grace looked hard at them both. “Well?”

  Avril’s jaw slumped. “You mean, you want to see us apologise?”

  Finn’s eyes too, widened. “And make up?  ‘Cause I am so not kissing her.”

  Grace nodded. “A hug will do.”

  The two looked uncomfortably at each other, wondering who would break first.

  It was Finn. “Uh... I’m, sorry for breaking your stuff,” he said out of the side of his mouth.

  Avril reached gawkily around him. “And I’m sorry for yelling at you.”

  The hug lasted no longer than they considered necessary to satisfy their mother.  Avril gave an embarrassed cough, clearing her throat. “You, uh, want me to bring some comics with me tomorrow?”

  “Um, no... no need, Doc says I only need to stay overnight, so I’ll be home soon.  But... thanks, anyway.”

  Avril started to follow Grace towards the door. “Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 As she reached it, Finn called out. “Hey, Sis.  You know I’m right, don’t you?”

  “And you know you’re still a butthead, right?” She threw a grin back at him. “See you tomorrow, baby bro!”

  “Make sure you bring a pen, somebody’s gotta be the first to sign my cast.  Might as well be my sis!”

  As the door closed behind his family, he briefly forgot his situation, and fist-pumped.

  “Ow!”

---

  April 25th, 2009

 

  Finn adjusted his posture on the museum display case and looked at Natasha.  Her exuberance was often infectious, but he had also soon learned she was the sort of girl who, once she befriended someone, would be faithful to the very end.  Now that loyalty was magnifying the guilt she felt for accidentally hurting Finn.  Despite the twinge in his arm he couldn’t help smiling at the downcast, sorry-looking girl, still cringing with embarrassment.

  “Hey, look, it’s in the past, okay?” he reassured her once more, “no- more- apologies!” He poked her in the shoulder with each word, to enforce the point.

  “O-kay,” she grinned back sheepishly.  Her gaze then lifted back to the case with the dress, and she moved slowly back to stand in front of it.  The grin slid off her face. “We... we will stop it, won’t we?” A lump moved down the front of her neck. “I mean, we will save her, yeah?”

  Finn followed her gaze. “Yeah.” He curled a comforting arm around her shoulder. “We’ll do it, somehow.  I promise you.  It’s just a matter of time, that’s all.”

 

 

 

 

~~~ 

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