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*Final instalment in the 'Little British Girl' Trilogy *
One year after Elia’s death, and the entire planet is rebelling. With the news of Xander’s assassination attempt against his own daughter alarming the world, Elda and Luci are leading a powerful resistance, competing with the Southern rebellium, with no powerful government to stop either of them.
And yet, nothing seems to have changed.
Annabeth, alongside Beverly, Zacharia, and Steve Ryans, hide out amidst the chaos , unable to prevent what’s happening right in front of them. Disheartened and helpless.
Then one day, a girl turns up, a girl with heterochromia, with some interesting letters, and some even more interesting information. Could it be that Xander Moore had another daughter? And that Luci has a half-sister?

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7. Chapter 7

The word goes by slowly outside the bay window. The weak breeze lazily flicks the leaves around on the trees, playing with them as they dangle from the thin branches that could easily snap the second a bird decides to perch on them. People wander seemingly aimlessly up and down the street, hunched over, staring down at the ground, avoiding all possible interaction with their neighbours. Even the cars seem to be abiding by the speed limit. It’s all so still, so quiet, and so mind-blowingly boring.

What am I doing here?

Why, after fetching a fresh mug of coffee and two biscuits, did I wander into the main living room and perch inside the bay window like some middle-aged depressed nobody struggling to practise mindfulness for the first time? I should be upstairs, with Zacharia and Beverley, planning out our trip to the printing factory, making sure every last detail is sorted and correct. But instead, I’m here. Like a leaf on a branch, unable to break away and give into the omnipresent force that pulls it to where it most belongs. What stem keeps me here? Why aren’t I moving?

The door swings open, and Quinn walks in, carrying a hot cup of her own. She jolts when she sees me, splashing a small amount of coffee onto the carpet.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I-I didn’t realise you were in here, I’ll go somewhere else…” She fumbles, turning back around. She’s been keeping her distance for the last couple of days, as uncomfortable around me as I am around her. For some reason I stop her, calling her over.

“No, it’s alright, stay.” I invite her, making room for her to sit opposite me in the window. She smiles cautiously, surprised by my offer, but more than happy to accept. She makes herself comfortable, leaning back and staring out of the window. Does she see the stillness too? Does it bother her like it bothers me?

“I thought you’d be upstairs with the others…” She trails off, trying to start up a conversation.

“I’m just taking a quick break,” I tell her, “What about you? You usually help out Steve with the daily grocery shop.”

“He said he didn’t need my help today.” She shrugs, “It’s a beautiful day, there’s barely a cloud in the sky.” She notes, resting her head against the glass.

“Mhm.” I hum. I hadn’t really noticed.

“It would be a great day for tennis,” she speaks again, “Mom and I used to play a lot in the summer, what about you? Do you play?”

“No...no, I’ve always preferred contact sports.” I tell her, “Does your mom know about this? That you’re here I mean, did you tell her what you were planning?”

“Uh, no, no she doesn’t…” Quinn trails off, shifting uncomfortably in her seat, “She, uh, she died two years ago, it was, um...it was cancer.”

“I’m sorry.” I apologise, regretting bringing it up.

“It’s okay.” She sighs, “It was a while ago now, I’ve had time to move on.” I nod, understanding her completely. Silence falls over us again as we sit and sip our coffee, both staring out of the same window and managing to view two different scenes. “I-uh, um...I’m sorry about what happened a few days ago. Steve told me that, that I arrived on the anniversary of her death...I had no idea, I’m sorry.” I sigh internally as she speaks, my heart sinking as I realise that this is now where the conversation must go.

“It’s fine, don’t worry about it.” I assure her, managing to speak through the lump in my throat, “And her name was Elia by the way, you can use it, none of us will get upset over hearing it.”

“Elia...it’s a beautiful name.” Quinn says it aloud, smiling faintly.

“She was a beautiful person, inside and out.” I say, staring down at the carpet, my memories beginning to take over.

“Was she a resistance member? Like you?” Quinn asks, getting curious.

“No, no not really.” I shake my head, “Her crime was having a father in the North and a mother in the South, that’s what brought her to us. Falling in love with my cousin kept her with us...although, they were planning on running off together. At the time I was angry. I-I felt betrayed...I shouldn’t have yelled like that...they had every right to leave…” I trail off, guilt clamping an invisible hand over my mouth. Why was I so angry at them? Neither of them chose this lifestyle like I did. Maybe they’d have left sooner if I hadn’t shouted at them, maybe Elia would still be alive…

“The night my mom died I was out at a friends birthday party,” Quinn speaks again, rescuing me from my thoughts, “She’d only been out of the hospital for a few days but I thought she’d be fine, she said she felt okay. So I left. There isn’t one thing I wouldn’t give for the chance to go back and spend that evening with her instead.”

“I suppose neither of us can change the past.” I sigh, shrugging tiredly.

“Yeah, you’re right.” Quinn nods, smiling, “I miss her, every single day, but at the same time I know that she’s gone, and that that’s okay. She’d want me to be happy. She loved me.”

“I was never close with my mom…” I mutter, looking back out of the window. Before Quinn can reply, the door swings open and Zacharia steps inside.

“Me and Beverly think we’ve perfected the plan.” He announces, inviting us to follow him back up the stairs and into the study where Beverly is sat at the desk with a laptop. She looks tired. There are huge, swollen bags under her eyes, and her eyelids droop as if they’re ten times more sensitive to gravity today. She looks tired a lot lately, a part of me feels sorry for her.

“The printing factory shuts at six every day,” Beverly begins to brief us, sitting up in her seat, “By seven even the workers working overtime will have left. The security system hasn’t been updated in ten years, I’ve seen hundreds exactly like it before, it will be easy to hack into. Once inside I’ll head to the main office to turn off and wipe all the CCTV footage, whilst Zacharia and Annabeth get to work printing the letters in the paper. We’ll regather at the exit, and leave probably within the same hour that we arrived.”

“Then the letters will be out in the open, and it’ll be up to fate to decide what happens next.” Zacharia adds on, sending a very clear 'after that we're done' message to all of us that I gladly receive. I can see when he looks at me that he’s worried. He thinks after this I’ll run back into the field again, like a moth to a flame. He’s seriously underestimating the extent of my utter exhaustion. What he doesn’t realise is that the moth’s already died in the flame, I’m too tired to get back out there. This past year has drained out every shred of resistance in me. “This factory isn’t some super-secret base or a government office, it’s just a printing factory. This is an easy win, providing we all stick to the plan and don’t get carried away.” He looks directly at me as he speaks, only really feeling the need to address one person in this room.

“This all sounds good to me.” I shrug, forcing a smile, “I think I heard Steve come back in, I’ll go see if he needs a hand with the groceries.” Before anyone can stop me, I dart out of the room, finally feeling as though I can exhale again in peace. I head downstairs, but pause outside the kitchen where Steve is busy packing everything away.

I reach into my back pocket and pull out Daniel’s note. I feel the weight of it in my hands, and brush my fingers along the creases, before gripping each end firmly and ripping it right down the middle. This past year has been hell, but it’s over now. A new year has begun and it’s time I moved on. I’m going to go to the printing factory, I’m going to print the letters, and then I’m going to go somewhere and do something, anything, to help me forget...and if there’s any good in this world then hopefully I’ll never have to stop forgetting.

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