I’ll post the whole thing tomorrow: here’s the final episode.
Suddenly Anna had a vision of her life as one long series of obstacles, from the reins her mother had used on her as a toddler to the barriers at school (her father had to fight to get her into A-level Science) and then Him, snatching her away from Uni in her second year, demanding that she commit to him or he’d walk. And now this, the woman she’d thought was her friend. Yet another obstacle. Well, she would rise to meet it – and suddenly another slogan came to her aid: Take Back Control. She finished her biscuit, washed it down with the last of the tea and then turned to face Phyl square-on.
‘Tell me if I’ve got this right: you have a desire to hurt yourself and it gets deflected onto others. Is that it?’
‘Well done,’ said Phyl sarcastically, though Anna could tell she’d never seen things in that light before.
‘So here’s the thing; you think you can take me back in time to where I was before, but if you knew anything at all about Physics you’d know that’s impossible. There is no going back. Time isn’t a line. Did you know that?’ She paused, mainly for effect, and carried on, ‘it’s a spiral. Time is a spiral.’ With every word the confidence was flowing back. ‘Have you never heard of the quadruple helix?’ She was riffing now; the idea had only just occurred to her, but it seemed a good one. Phyl was clearly wrong-footed, searching for a response and as she watched it came to Anna with a blinding epiphany that here was her dissertation. The idea needed examination, it needed testing – but sometimes knowledge comes in a flash and she knew, as surely as she knew anything, that it was true: time was a helix. This had huge potential: since Einstein no- no-one had done serious work on the non-linearity of time. She saw herself doing a Doctorate, publishing books; she also saw Phyl’s confidence crumbling. Phyl had her arms folded now and sat slumped in her chair.
Taking advantage of the moment, Anna stood up. ‘I’m leaving now. And you are going to unlock the door.’
Phyl sank further into her chair; she looked almost asleep and for a moment Anna thought she wasn’t going to respond. Then there was a clink on the bare tiles. A key clattered to the floor; Phyl lifted a foot and kicked it towards Anna, then she relapsed into a sleep-like state. Quickly, not trusting the moment to last, Anna crossed to the door, unlocked it and then turned the key again from the outside. The police would have to be called, the University’s procedures would doubtless be called into question – but before all that she had work to do. It was imperative to get the quadruple helix idea down on paper…