Alice stared at Maiv with wide eyes. She breathed, “What did you do?”
“Obviously, I chose to stay; a chance to save people, make a small difference.” She shook her head. “I plan to unplug her when I get too old to continue.”
“How long have you been here?” asked Alice.
“Let’s see; it was early 2409 when I entered and it’s now 2460?” asked Maiv.
Alice nodded and finished the calculation. “51 years. Did you eventually save him?”
Maiv sighed sadly. “No. His wounds and doubts ran too deep to reach him.”
“That’s so horrible.” Alice scowled. “You’ll figure it out, though.”
“Perhaps,” she said neutrally. “I’ve often wondered what would happen if I did; would I be here and back on the farm with him at the same time? Or would I no longer be here to counter Hamberton?”
“Oh,” Alice said softly. “Or to help me.”
Maiv smiled faintly and set the stuffed bear on the table. “Is this one you gave her?”
“No. That was a childhood toy she kept around. She liked to hug it when she was sad.”
Alice picked up the bear. “Do you think you could use the glasses to save Sasha?”
Maiv shrugged. “It’s getting dark. You’re welcome to stay the night. I’ll walk you to the forest edge tomorrow.”
Alice stared at all the ID cards. “May I come visit again? Maybe I can help you.” And, she thought, maybe I can save Sasha and Marco.
Maiv paused in the doorway, her back to Alice. She was quiet for a long moment, remembering similar promises. She said wistfully, “I’d like that.”
Copyright 2014, Kimberley Long-Ewing, all rights reserved