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“It’ll work Lilly! Just one more tweak,” Mo said.
Lilly could see the back of his legs hanging out of the large metal box.
“You’ve been in this garage for three months straight!” she cried. “We’ve hardly seen you! This is insane!”
“Goethe, Baird, Einstein, everyone thought they were crazy,” he said, still headless. “I’m doing this for a better future for us and the kids.”
“And you think this is what I wanted? To raise our kids alone?” She looked around the garage, saw the numerous machines and sighed. “I’m sorry Mo. I just can’t do this anymore.”
“Lilly, come on please? Just one more day, I’ve made a breakthrough–”
“You’ve been saying that for 12 years!” she screamed.
He stood up and faced her.
“Lilly please, this invention could change the world we live in.”
“Well, you can enjoy that world alone,” she spat. “I’m staying with my mum for a few days and I’m taking the kids with me. Please don’t come after us.”
She threw a brown A4 envelope on the worktop and slammed the garage door behind her. He heard the deadbolt grind against the door.
“What is this Lilly?” he shouted, picking up the envelope and thumping his fists against the door. ”Come back! Why have you locked me in here?”
He was received with silence.
“Lilly! Please! Be reasonable! Talk to me!”
A scatter of footsteps and hushed talking could be heard from outside the garage. A car door slammed and the engine growled to a start.
“Ayden! Ozan! Can you hear me? Papa’s locked in the garage!”
A sliver of headlight crept out from under the door and sliced Mo’s scuffed shoes. He heard his wife’s car reverse out of the driveway and accelerate down the quiet residential road.
He dropped back against the garage door with a thud and the noise vibrated through his hollow chest. He unfolded the envelope in his hand and peered inside. His eyes froze on the word ‘divorce’ and before he could stop himself, he’d ripped the paper into several pieces and discarded the scraps around him. Beads of sweat formed along his forehead. How had he managed to push his Lilly away? How had he been so blind? He was a man of Science but had no remedy to fix the mess he’d created. He thought back to the day he’d met Lilly and the contempt she now held for him. Lilly was the love of his life and there was no other person Mo could imagine being with.
He jumped to his feet.
“I’ll fix this damn machine!” he shouted to the tools and blueprints in his garage. “I’ll get this thing working and she’ll have no choice but to come back to me!”
Mo dusted off his trousers and set to work on his invention. Hours passed and he was finally convinced he’d made the correct adjustments to the machine. For the past eighteen months he’d tested it relentlessly and it always failed in the last few seconds. This time he was sure he’d used the right amount of graphene to act as a binding agent.
He put on his goggles, took the microphone, which served as the cerebral cortex of the machine and spoke into it.
“Apple,” he said.
The machine came to life; it buzzed and whirred, sending an eerie echo around the garage. It vibrated for five minutes before the sound finally came to a halt. Mo took off his goggles and looked through the glass window. He opened the door to see a shiny, green apple sitting in the middle of the metal box.
“It worked!” he screamed, jumping up and down. “I can’t believe it! It worked!”
He took a bite of the apple; it tasted delicious. He kissed it, throwing it up into the air and catching it again.
“An apple! I did it!”
The tears came, and he realised the one person he wanted to share his achievement with wasn’t there. He thought of his wife, put on his goggles and picked up the microphone.
“Lilly,” he said, unblinking.
The machine buzzed and whirred; it vibrated and spat.
“Please, please work,” he prayed.
When the machine finally came to a stop, he peered into the window to see a bright flower lying in the middle of the ground. It was a perfect lily. He banged the machine with his hand, almost pulling the microphone out of its base.
“Oh God!” he shouted.
The machine spluttered, whirred and vibrated.
Newspapers reported an unexplained bright light which lit up the sky over North London last night. It was picked up by satellites in Space and has been likened to a small stellar explosion. Scientists are analysing the images but are currently at a loss for an explanation.