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Generation Gap

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It turned out that lots of people in Massachusetts were big into genealogy – trying to trace their roots back to the pilgrims. The librarians didn't blink twice at Kassandra's request, and knowing the date of death and the church made it a lot easier.

She didn't even know what she was looking for, or why. Ever since her big roadtrip to Bonnevile, the world just seemed flat. She wasn't sure how to talk about everything that happened without sounding like a crazy person, so if the present wouldn’t do – why not the past?

The researcher set the big old tome before her decisively. "Here you go – Giles Redferne. Just as you said – born September 2, 1660, died October 13, 1719. These are the church records here, and it seems like he was quite a devout member."

"Sounds right." She nodded, pulling the book towards her for a closer look, and ignoring the stodgy older man's disapproving frown. She hadn't done the math before, but with a little perspective, 59 didn't sound all that old. "Hey what's this?" She peered down at the page, but the cramped and curling writing was hard to decipher.

"That's the genes part of genealogy," he quipped dryly, sliding the book back into his possession. "He was survived by one daughter."

"What?" A daughter? It felt like a kick in the gut. "With who?"

"Hmm." He peered more closely at the entry. "He was a widower at the time of death so…" He flipped back several pages. "A Cait McLachlan, looks like. She died in… 1698. Childbirth, looks like."

Kassandra's emotions were on a rollercoaster. "Was that… the daughter?"

"Yes – Kassandra. Unusual spelling for the time, but people were a little cavalier with their spelling in the late seventeenth." He paused. "Ancestor?"

Now that was a worrying thought. "More like a family myth," she said, slumping back in her chair. "Can you tell me any more about them? There's not like… diaries or anything? Newspapers?"

"We have copies of the Boston Globe and the Boston Gazette that date back that far. You're welcome to peruse them on microfilm."

Kassandra followed his look to the machines. "Diaries?" she asked again, without much hope.

He sighed. "It's very unlikely, but I can have a look through our records. It may take a few days."

Kassandra couldn't sleep that night. That wasn't so strange – her mind was full of things that could keep her up, theses days. She hadn't needed any new material, and yet she kept wondering about Cait McLachlan, and Kassandra… and Redferne. His daughter would have been nineteen when he died. She had never known her mother. As for her mother – could you be jealous of someone and also sad for them? She wondered how long they had been married. What if he hadn't gone back to 1691, but to a later date? Had he felt anything for her at all other than friendship and… a joint cause? It felt like losing him all over again. At least she knew for sure that you could be in love with someone and still be angry with them – as much good as either did when the subject of your emotions was hundreds of years dead. She groaned into pillow, rolled over and tried to think about absolutely anything else.

The library called a few days later. The archivist had found something.

"It's a family bible," he explained. "I couldn't find anything more about Miss Kassandra Redferne, save that she doesn’t seem to have married at her parents' church, if at all. Her name is the last in the book, though the inscription was odd. I thought you might be interested."

He kept frowning as he explained it, looking mildly perplexed in a way that just made Kassandra more excited and hopeful.

"Let's see it," she insisted, setting herself down at the desk.

First he made her sit through a 'training session' of the proper handling of old and rare books, and gave her another evil eye when she muttered something about how "it'd be easier if they could all just knit themselves back together after they got torn up." Eventually, though, she was left alone.

"The inscription is on the inside," he told her, and went back to his own desk, where he was no doubt watching closely to make sure she behaved herself.

She flipped it open, eyes racing to find the inscription.

It was below the family tree, and she suppressed a thought that this was as close as she was ever going to get to meeting his parents. And there it was: Giles Redferne, with two dead wives, and one daughter.

"Kasssandra," she read aloud, ignoring the librarian's disapproving look, "I Shall Remember You Always, Til Time and Time are Done."

It was the same thing that had appeared on his gravestone after he'd made it back to the past. His special message to her, she'd thought. But was it? He must have cared something for her if he'd named his kid after her, she supposed, but why was this here? Was it meant for something else?

She sighed, flipping through the book despondently. It could never have worked out, she told herself, she'd never read a whole bible, let alone have a special family one. She used to fall asleep during church. And there was all that, well, puritanical nonsense. If he'd thought makeup was the devils work, then well – he wasn't ready for her. A traitorous voice at the back of her head suggested that she could have made him ready, but there was no sense thinking about it.

She sighed again, starring down at the ancient pages, and then stopped. There was a hexmark beside the page number. She looked at some others, but they were inconsistent. There didn’t' seem to be anything about the verses that linked them either…. She looked up and saw the librarian watching her in return, so she pulled out her notepad and pencil and started making notes.

At the end, she had a string of number, and an inscription: she had, she was sure, a code.

This time, it was the number that kept her awake, swimming past her eyes. "Come on, Redferne," she grumbled into her pillow. "Cut me some slack."

By the morning Kassandra had settled on a few facts. The first was that it wasn't fair that a guy from three hundred years ago was smarter than her. The second was that if it wasn't making sense, it was probably because she was missing something. She hoped it wasn't going to involve taking the book out of the library though – she wasn't allowed to bring in a wallet, let alone a purse big enough to stuff it in. Still, she'd have to go back.

She tried a few things that she didn't think would work, and she was right. Touching the ink with an iron pin, or salt (that was tricky to sneak past old eagle eyes, but she managed) revealed nothing. She gave the book a closer inspection, checking the cover for secret pockets or anything shoved into the binding, but there was nothing. She even tried looking for whether there was any rhyme or reason to how the hex marks were drawn, but if there was, she couldn’t figure it out. "Why's it gotta be books," she muttered, "I barely even read the funnies."

Finally, she brought the book back to the librarian. "Look, there wasn't anything else with this was there? An…appendix or something? Anything?"

He frowned. "There is a case for the book, if it is something beyond the text that you are looking for."

"Yes!" She looked around, remembering she was in a library. "Yes," she tried again with a hopefully less manic tone. "Please? It's really important to my family." Kassandra had spent half the morning concocting elaborate sob stories to try and win him over, so she was a little disappointed when he agreed.

It took him the twenty longest minutes of her life (even counting the time she'd aged sixty years in three days) to return. When he did, he set an elaborately carved box down on the table, handling it delicately with white cotton gloves. "Now," he said "We cannot allow patrons to–"

But Kassandra had already seen what she was looking for: Til time and time are done. Two hourglasses, stacked together on the narrow side. Instinctively she reached out and pushed the space where they joined, and heard a satisfying 'click' sound as the compartment popped open. There was something inside. The librarian was stunned, and Kassandra was quick – she snatched it easily.

It was a pendant, and wrapped around it was a note. She read it out loud: "From Kassandra to Kassandra – look for me in time to complete my father's work." She grinned at the blustering librarian. "Looks like this is for me."

She left feeling a sense of elation, and relief. She wasn't sure what this locket meant, only that Redferne hadn't forgotten her, and that she didn’t have to surrender her life back to the mundane just quite yet.