John sat at the kitchen table, his face resting in his hands. Brianna, the woman who he had barely known a short year ago, sat on the other side. It felt like they had been sealed inside of this room for an eternity. “I’m sorry,” John muttered.
“For the last time, stop being sorry,” Brianna replied in a tired voice. “This stopped being your fault a long time ago.”
“I started it though. If it hadn’t been for me at the very least we wouldn’t be stuck in this damn house.” Suddenly a deep fury grabbed hold of him, and with a bellow he grabbed the table and flipped it over, sending it and its contents crashing to the floor. Brianna yelped in surprise and fell from her chair.
“Ten months,” John snapped. “Ten fucking months in this house!” His hands clenched into fists before they went slack as John released a sigh. “I never thought I’d get so sick of living in a god damn mansion.”
He tensed when Brianna placed a hand on his arm. He looked at it and noted, not for the first time, how pale her skin was in contrast with his own worker’s tan. He looked into her inquisitive green eyes, framed by her light red hair that fell to just below her shoulders.
“This is hard on everyone,” she said soothingly. “We just have to be patient.”
“I’m tired of being patient,” he grumbled, but he could already feel the tempo of his heart begin to slow. It was amazing she had that effect on him. “He’s forgotten about us, Brianna. He’s not coming back.”
Before Brianna could reply to that, a small blonde girl ran into the room, her short, curly hair bouncing with every step. She looked around the room frantically, her gaze finally settling on the upended table. “What happened?” she asked.
“Lost my temper,” John said.
“Again,” Brianna added.
“Again,” John agreed. “It doesn’t matter anyway. It’ll be fixed before tomorrow morning. It always is. The same reason we never run out of food. Everything just resets to the way it was before.” His bad mood was reasserting itself.
At hearing her say his name, John returned his attention to Ellie, his daughter, though he wasn’t allowed to call her that. If they never got out of this place, he never would.
Wordlessly, he walked over and gathered the ten-year-old into his arms and held her close. He reminded himself that even if they were frozen in this moment for a thousand years, at least he still had her.
Maybe she would never grow older, maybe he would never give her the future she deserved, or the paternal bond his ex had denied them, but at the very least they were together here, and they were safe.
“He’ll come back,” he heard Brianna say. “He won’t forget us. He can’t.”
John didn’t say anything; there was nothing to say that hadn’t been repeated a hundred times before. He just focused on the feeling of his daughter’s embrace, yet another thing that would never change in the frozen world they were trapped in, suspended forever until He decided to pick back up where he left off.