Read Chapter 21 “In Between”
Jenny’s spaceship was gone; her travelling companions were most likely all dead and, along with them, her connection to the life she left behind. Once she realized what has just happened, her body started to shake uncontrollably while she struggled to catch her breath.
Maggie wanted to comfort her, but she could only bring herself to a gentle shoulder pat. That surprisingly calmed Jenny enough to allow her to take a deeper breath. It’s been a long time since anyone showed any affection or sympathy to her.
– “When we get back to Ecotopia, our doctors will do their best to help you with your condition.” – Maggie wanted to say something more, something kinder and comforting. But the raging anger she felt at that moment stopped her. She was angry with herself that, once again, she believed Patrick would change sides. She couldn’t understand whether his actions were driven by fear or loyalty for the Old World’s regime.
– “We are staying put.” – Jenny tried to argue, but her voice was weak and body in pain.
– “You want to stay, stay. Just don’t slow me down.” – Maggie was getting angrier and replied in a harsh manner she always used when stakes were high. She put her backpack on and took out Patrick’s compass from her pocket. She waited for the needles to settle before pointing South.
Jenny wasn’t used to being ignored, and she surely didn’t want to follow Maggie, but the position she found herself in didn’t give her much room to manoeuvre.
Maggie skillfully hid her negative feelings and emotions for years. She was fiercely protective of that part of her life. All this bottled anger became her driving force for action, while at the same time destroying her from within. Jenny could spot anger from miles away. She had her own unexpressed rage, mostly directed at Maggie. But seeing her so shaken and unsure started shifting Jenny’s perception.
In reality, Jenny never thought that Maggie had to deal with her own problems and never considered that maybe, just maybe, Maggie chose the lesser of two evils. Not even once it crossed Jenny’s mind that Maggie could have been conflicted, uncertain and overwhelmingly desperate to save whatever she could of the dying planet.
Maggie reminded Jenny of her own mum, who also was determined, unsure at times and exhaustedly terrified every day of her life while trying to figure out how to save her family from slavery. Maggie was scared that her window of opportunity has closed. Maybe after all the Old World was too big, too fragmented and too confusing for her to be able to find the children in time. To take her mind off the negative thoughts playing up in her mind, Maggie asked.
– “Do I really go back in time?”
– “In the version of the reality, I come from you went back in time and built the spaceship you needed.” – said Jenny.
– “How many versions are there?” – asked Maggie.
– “I don’t know; a lot I guess.”
– “Co-existing at the same time?” – Maggie was intrigued by the idea of countless realities occurring at the same time. The possibilities this knowledge could offer to the humankind were endless.
If a week ago anyone would have told Maggie that she was going to meet someone from the future, talk about the time travel and different dimensions that co-existed simultaneously, she would have laughed dismissing the very idea. But now everything has changed, giving her hope; something she has not felt for a very long time.
– “I remember one teacher on Aqua Moons mentioning that it was wildly believed that many realities co-exist at the same time. People’s personal choices determine the outcome of the reality.” – said Jenny. It was a bit disheartening to learn how little the people, who decided on the future of the whole planet, knew about the Universe and its laws.
– “Is this where you are from? – Maggie needed to talk.
– “No, of course not. I’m from the Earth, just like you are. But my Earth died a long time ago. All because of the actions you took.” – Jenny didn’t feel as relieved of her anger and frustration as she hoped it would.
– “What the hell did I do?” – Maggie stopped walking and turned to look at Jenny.
– “I’ve already told you. You built your spaceship and relocated, leaving the Earth and all the future generations to die.” – pain and sadness in Jenny’s voice broke Maggie’s heart.
– “Ever since I can remember… Ever since I was a child, I only wanted to save the planet, save what was left of it.” – Maggie tried to explain, but it was hard to defend actions that caused so much pain and suffering to someone.
– “Well, you didn’t. You chose “your people” and took off. Instead of fighting for the planet, you just ran.” – Jenny shouted.
Maggie wanted to apologize, but if she did, it would have meant that her whole life work was regretful. She wasn’t ashamed of her pioneering ideas and believed that she helped Ecotopia grow, and she surely wasn’t ashamed of wanting to save the planet. She tried for years to reach out to the Old World’s government, who cared nothing for the slaughter they were committing against humanity and nature. Wasting time and energy with the Corporate Government became too draining and too tricky.
So, when the natural resources began shrinking in the New World, the Ecotopians decided that relocation was the only feasible alternative to save at least a part of the human race.
– “My mum found an old Ecotopian ship, fixed it and made it ready for us to travel. She died protecting me, my brother and my dad, while we took off.” – Jenny tried to control her tears, which were pushing their way through her protective armour, leaving her very exposed and vulnerable. Maggie’s maternal instinct kicked in, and she wanted to comfort Jenny, tell her that everything was going to be fine. She extended her hand to touch Jenny’s cheek but instead she froze in mid-gesture. Somewhere amongst the thick fog, she could hear children’s voices. She knew those voices. They were the most beautiful voices in the world. Maggie started turning frantically, trying to locate the direction the voices were coming from.
Seeing her desperation, Jenny put her hand on Maggie’s shoulder to stop her from aimless spinning.
– “Allow me.” – she said.