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“Nothing is As it Seems” Chapter 14 – the last one in this story

Elizabeth sighed. “Thank you,” she said into the receiver, waited for You’re-welcome and pressed red button on the phone.

She put the phone reluctantly into its holder and took the postcard she started writing to Jenny four days before. She could hardly believe that only less than a week passed since she arrived in London. She thought her search would take longer, but now it was over. So she booked a ticket back to Germany.

Elizabeth put the postcard she promised to Jenny onto the desk-table combination in her hotel room and turned the card along its axis several times. Yesterday, on the morning after all the revelations at the house on the Hope street, she attempted to finish the postcard, but in the end she couldn’t. All she managed to write was, “Now I know what happened before my Dad and I came to Germany.” After that she couldn’t find any other words.

All Elizabeth could think of was that the house, the street, both turned rather into a house and street of disappointment than hope. But she couldn’t possibly write this to Jenny.

She stayed at the hotel the whole day yesterday, most of the time looking at the wall remembering the messages the projector in her mother’s room displayed on the wall the day before.

She contemplated to go and wander through London again but she was afraid to meet someone from the house, which was silly to think happening in such a giant city.

But having a PhD degree in statistics didn’t stop the fantasies of sitting in a cafe and having a small talk with two pleasant gentlemen from a table across hers, only to discover that they were Jack and Tim, who helped financing the sheltering of terminally ill patients in the house of her early childhood.

No, she couldn’t risk that. With all the low probabilities it was still possible, and all she needed now was distance. That is why she booked her ticket today.

But she had to let Jenny know. Writing a card was a bad idea, since she was flying back tomorrow.

Elizabeth took the receiver and dialed Jenny’s number, hoping that Jenny was away for groceries as she usually did during this time on a Saturday.

“Liza, is this you?”

No way to escape. Jenny was at home. “Yes, I’m—”

“Are you alright? Did something happen? Please tell me you fell in love and your new charm and you were walking along the Thames all the time. I could forgive that.”

Elizabeth smiled despite her mood. “No, unfortunately not. But I was at the house and met my family.”

“Really? But this is great!”

“I don’t really know. It…”

After a few seconds of waiting Jenny blurted out. “I really can’t wait anymore. Tell me all.”

“Shall I maybe call you later? Do you have to do shopping or something?”

“No, no. No way to escape,” Jenny echoed Elizabeth’s thought from before. “You tell me everything now and I will pay you back for all the huge phone bills you’ll be facing. Don’t leave anything untold. You owe me that!”

“I’m sorry for not calling you the whole week. It’s just…” Elizabeth drew a deep breath and started from the beginning.

Jenny didn’t interrupt. Her gasps and heavy breaths confirmed her presence and attention.

At the end, Elizabeth said, “After that, I couldn’t stay there longer. I had to leave…And today I bought a ticket back.”



“I started fantasizing coming to London and visiting you. You know…I’m still single.”

“Jen, can you think of something else than dating? And my brother is married…” Elizabeth caught her breath as she noticed how she referred to Patrick.

“Well,” Jenny said. “I was actually thinking of Jack and Tim.”

Elizabeth laughed. “They must be ancient now. And you talk like there are only three men in London.”

“No, they aren’t and this is exactly my point. Germany seems not to have produced any suitable candidate for me yet. For you neither. So I will come and ask your family to help us get some royal husbands.”

Elizabeth relaxed. For a second she wondered if calling Jenny earlier would have made the day before easier for her, but then she decided to enjoy her friend now. “So, what you’re saying is that I should stay here and not move from the spot until you come and visit?”

Jenny harrumphed. “I didn’t say that either. Don’t make it sound like I force you doing something. But if you ask me for directions, I don’t think you should stay at the hotel. It’s too expensive.”

Elizabeth held another gulp of the air inside her. She knew what Jenny was getting at. She breathed slowly out and said quietly, “You are right. But please don’t make me say this. I mean, to say what I really have to do. What I want to do, but too scared to. Being sad and melancholic was so normal to me. But that house, even with dying people inside is so full of life. This is so scary. I wish…I wish my father could go back there with me.” She blinked through her with tears swelling eyes. She wiped her tears away with her free hand and said. “Jen, I…I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Don’t forget to cancel your flight. You’re not allowed to come back before I visit you. And after in neither.”

Liza laughed and let another kind of tears push the sad ones down her cheeks. “OK.”


Three hours later Elizabeth set down and supported herself on the intricate fence to the house of her childhood. Her luggage stood at her feet.

Should I have found their number and called first? A varicoloured flock of opposing thoughts and feelings clouded the view on the house. Elizabeth leaned her head on the fence and drew a deep breath.

She blinked several times and decided to look at every turret and corner of the house before going inside. But as she started raising her head she noticed a commotion behind the windows on the ground floor.

Lily’s head with corkscrew curls bounced happily as she turned between glancing outside into Elizabeth’s direction and a tall and pale girl standing next to her, who seemed holding the window sill with her both hands. This must be Lilly’s successor. Another girl with cancer.

In the next window Elizabeth noticed Alice and Ingrid, both smiling widely at her. As soon as Alice caught Elizabeth’s look she pointed up. At first Elizabeth didn’t know what that meant, but then she let her gaze go up the walls until she noticed a movement behind a low set window of the top floor of the house. Claire’s chair moved seemingly by itself and stopped at an angle where Claire’s eyes became visible. Her white keyboard on her lap.

In the next moment Elizabeth noticed Patrick’s shape disappearing from behind Claire. She didn’t notice him until he moved away.

Elizabeth drew a deep breath. He was probably coming downstairs to talk to her. What shall I say? What will happen now?

The front door opened and Patrick came out. He paused after letting the door close by itself behind him, descended the stairs and approached Elizabeth. His eyes glittered with tears as they glanced quickly at Elizabeth, away, then back at her, and away again.

Without thinking, Elizabeth pushed her case away from her with her left foot and looked at the stone base of the fence next to her. Then she looked into Patrick’s eyes.

He nodded and and sat next to her. He lowered his head slowly to hers until they touched, and they both looked up.

Their mother looked back at them.



Picture: the Spring is coming.

P.S. This was the last chapter of this story. It will be revised, edited and published soon as a permanently free book.

P.P.S. You can find the complete story written in its unedited version at “Free Online Books”. This version will be removed as soon as the edited version will become available.

P.P.P.S. If you think your friends might enjoy this story, then let them know about it and forward it to them.

Everything except one paragraph (1st paragraph in Chapter 1) of “Nothing is As it Seems” is under copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

“Nothing is As it Seems” Chapter 13

Elizabeth took a deep breath and typed, “What happened?…And how?”

At first Claire didn’t type anything.

Elizabeth turned to look at her mother. Maybe she was so exhausted that she fell asleep.

But no, Claire looked in front of her. Deep breaths reflected the heaviness of all what happened. She paused some more before her hands started moving again across the keyboard. “You were five and Patrick was nine when this happened. You were already so good at reading that we were able to communicate on our own. I wrote with a pen on a notebook. You used to rip the note away and sit near me on the bed and read the notes out loud. Then I would write again, and you would read again.”

Elizabeth was mesmerized by a vision. She held a piece of paper in her hands, her mother behind her leaning on what looked like tens of pillows to hold her up in her bed. She wasn’t sure whether this was a memory or a wish to have experienced such tender times.

Her mother continued to type. “On the day you fell both Patrick and you were in my room. Your father had to leave that Sunday because of an incident at work and a baby-sitter he managed to get for the rest of the day did not come yet. You were playing being a doctor and treating me. You prepared healing mixtures of candy and juice. But I couldn’t possibly eat it. Patrick teased you of not being able to understand my condition.”

“He said I was stupid,” said Elizabeth out loud.

“…Do you recall now?”

Elizabeth shook her head and typed, feeling a deepening frown make her eyes hurt. “No. He said it downstairs in the kitchen today. That he pushed me off the roof because I was stupid.”

“Please, please don’t say…or write this anymore. He didn’t push you. He just suffers of all what happened as much as I do and…as much as you father did.”

Elizabeth used some force to push her brows apart and sighed. “OK. I’m sorry. Please continue, if it is OK with you.”

“Yes, yes! I want this out and not stand between us anymore. This is what happened. You asked how you could help and I wrote you a note. It was the last note I have written with a pen. I couldn’t touch a pen after you fell.”

“What was on that note?”

“Please come and turn my keyboard.”

Elizabeth stood, put her keyboard full of smiley-stickers — not able to make her smile anymore — onto the chair she was sitting on. She went to Claire and after glancing shortly into her mother’s eyes, which had an expression so warm but so difficult to describe, she took the keyboard from Claire’s lap and found a note attached to the back with adhesive tape at two of its edges. She took it carefully off and put the keyboard back onto Claire’s lap.

Elizabeth noticed Claire fingers typing again. She turned to the wall to read what that was.

“Alice attached it there for me. I hoped all the time you would come and we would talk about this. My wish is coming true, but I had never imagined it to be so hard…If you like you can take the note with you and read it later.”

Elizabeth shook her head. She was unable to speak. She came back to her chair, lifted the keyboard, set and put the keyboard onto her lap. Then she opened the note and read it. Five words written in big and clumsy letters stared back at her. “Only stars can help me.”

This was the moment when she remembered. She remembered everything what happened that evening until the moment she hit something hard as she flew off the roof.


Elizabeth took this note everywhere with her that day. She put it into one of pockets of her red jeans, which she loved wearing then. When it was time to put her night cloths on, she took the note out and put it under her pillow.

Her father must have not noticed the note because he didn’t ask her about it. He read to her Snow White, one of her favourites, what must have been a hundredth time, and tucked the duvet under her chin as she lay there on her pillow with her mother’s note beneath it.

“Papa, can one get everything he wishes?”

Her father, with dark rings around his eyes, pressed a smile. “If one tries hard enough.”

“Even stars?”

He looked at his watch and said without looking at her. “I suppose.”

Elizabeth remembered now how she smiled then under her breath and made a decision to get a star for Mama.

She closed her eyes, waited until her father went out of her room and closed the door. She waited some more then tip-toed to the door opening it quietly.

Patrick had another half an hour before he had to go to bed too. And it sounded like he was in his room, which was at the other side of her mother’s.

Little Liza took her woollen jumper and pulled it over her head. There was almost no evening, even in summers that Elizabeth didn’t have a warm jacket or a jumper on. Evenings always had a freezing effect on her. She almost smiled now as this memory appeared. But then more rushed after it.

She went to the small roof window at the end of the hallway, where she loved to sit and gaze and imagine she was Rapunzel. That is why she refused her hair being trimmed or cut in any way.

She opened the window and set on the sill, which reached both sides from the window. She put her feet on the outer half of the sill and pulled herself on her feet.

“Liza, what are you doing?” Patrick’s head appeared at the bottom of the window.

“I am getting a star for Mama. She said they can help her.”

Patrick smirked. “You’re so stupid! You can’t get a star. Nobody can.”

“Papa said I can, if I try hard enough. And he’s cleverer than you!” She turned and wanted to stomp her right foot to make her point clear. But then she missed the sill and fell.

Before she hit something hard with her head and all went dark, she heard Patrick’s outcry, “Liza, no!”


Now, so many years later, Elizabeth blinked tears away and looked at her mother. She whispered, “It was an accident. Just an accident.” She shook her head. All her life she thought that something big and significant happened before she forgot everything. But nothing really happened. Just a naïve little girl trying to please her mother, normal bickering between a sister and a brother, and parents tired of the circumstances they were in. That was all. Or maybe not? “Did I break anything, or was I paralyzed?” She said this out loud. She could not type anymore.

He mother took a deep breath and typed. Elizabeth turned to the wall to read. “Miraculously nothing happened except a large haematoma on your head from hitting the edge of the roof as you fell down. You must have fallen on the bushes outside and rolled off them onto the ground .”

Elizabeth waited. She didn’t want to turn to look at her mother anymore. She couldn’t shake off the anger of all the weight this story had put on her. Almost as if she was her mother sitting in her wheel-chair now and not her mother’s daughter.

More words appeared on the wall. “You had been brought to the hospital. One evening your father came and said that you had amnesia and couldn’t remember anything. He said that it couldn’t go any further that way. That he was going to put me into a nursery home, take you and Patrick and leave. He didn’t want that you or Patrick be hurt any further.”

Elizabeth sat now straighter on her chair. So her father didn’t say these words in her presence. She frowned. Or maybe he did. At her bed when she was unconscious in the hospital. Elizabeth shook her head. There was not point now in trying to figure it all out. She was only five then. Even without amnesia, there was not big guarantee that she would remember much from then. The only person who could tell her whether this was true or not was her father. And he was gone. So she shook her head again and waited for more.

“Unfortunately Patrick heard this conversation and started shouting at Kirill that he hated him and that it was him who hurt you, because he told you could get stars…Patrick then ran out of the house and to our neighbour’s Christine home. She came short time later, after your father left the room, with trembling Patrick along with her.” Claire paused, then continued typing. “She was the sweetest and the strongest person I knew. Alice reminds me of her. Christine went to your father and said that Patrick was not going anywhere because he didn’t want to and it wouldn’t benefit anyone if courts were involved.”

“So Papa took me and left. Just like that?”

“You were at the hospital when he left. And you never came back home after that. He packed his and your things and left. We never found out where to.”

“Germany,” Elizabeth said and then threw this mental thread away. This was not important now. She needed to know something else. “But…but what about you?”

“Christine and her two sons, both older than Patrick, moved with us and she rented her house to a befriended family. Through the rent from her house and her job and later thanks to her sons earning some additional money at various cafes and restaurants, and them all putting all the money into the family jar as we called our common bank account, we made it through. Until Jack and Tim left for college, and until Christine’s death several years later. She died from cancer here in the house. She refused to stay at the hospital for her final days. This is when she, Patrick and I had the idea to shelter people like her. She talked to her sons and with their agreement she left Patrick and me all she owned, so that we could finance our idea. Jack and Tim became lawyers and started a Christine & Claire fund, where they get — also today — as many means as possible for our idea.” There was a pause. Claire must have waited for Elizabeth to say something.

But she couldn’t. This happy ending for Claire and Patrick and the house was not her story. She was an outsider. And the person who torn her away from her mother and her brother was the person she idolized all her conscious life. Her conscious lie after the fall, as she realized now. Without looking at Claire — she simply couldn’t do it now — Elizabeth typed. “I have to go now. I am sorry.” She stood, put the keyboard back on the chair, then the note on it and left the room.

As she stepped out and closed the door she noticed Patrick sitting on the floor in front of the window, from which she fell off that night. He raised his head from his knees and looked at her with red, tired eyes.

Elizabeth paused. The memory she gained and all she heard today didn’t quite imply their closeness when they were children. And even if it was obvious that he suffered all those years, it was not her job to comfort him now. She needed comfort herself and this house was definitely not the place where she could find it. She looked once again into Patrick’s eyes then turned away and hurried down the stairs and out of this strange house.



Picture: Photographing the frozen and melted parts of the lawn in our garden. It’ amazing to see the touch of the sun so clearly.

P.S. Chapter 14 will be written and posted latest in two weeks time.

P.P.S. You can find the complete story written so far at “Free Online Books”.

P.P.P.S. If you think your friends might enjoy this story, then let them know about it and forward it to them.

Everything except one paragraph (1st paragraph in Chapter 1) of “Nothing is As it Seems” is under copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

“Nothing is As it Seems” Chapter 12

Elizabeth wiped her tears and looked at the bright spot on the wall in front of her and Claire. She moved her hand to delete the last sentence. I don’t remember…you. But then she stopped. It was too late. Claire must have seen it. She stole a gaze at her mother, who looked ahead in her frozen state of paralysis. How could she live like that? Elizabeth cursed silently at herself. How could she be so mean to her mother?! She took a deep breath, noticing that chocolate aroma followed her all the way from the kitchen to the Claire’s room. She typed. “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean…”

Only then she noticed that Claire has typed already a whole paragraph above Elizabeth’s apology. It said, “I had a stroke when you were two years old. Unfortunately I noticed that something was wrong with me only when I was at the top of the stairs and as I tried to support myself on my right arm. But it didn’t function anymore, so I fell down the stairs. I remember the world whirling around and then everything stopped. When I woke up at the hospital I couldn’t move, but you, your father and Patrick were at my bedside, which made immensely happy. You were safe! You were alone with me at home when this happened. I was so terrified when I was falling down the stairs. I was terrified that something might happen to you.”

Elizabeth shivered as she read her mother’s words, who seemed now oblivious to Elizabeth’s apology from above.

Claire kept typing. She seemed eager to let out all those words of explanation she must have gathered inside her for so many years.

Elizabeth sighed with relief. She was still loved. She gazed a few more seconds at Claire oblivious to her daughter’s staring. Typing away.

“Then the next shock followed. First the doctors said I should not talk for a while. And when I tried we discovered that I couldn’t say anything at all. My vocal chords were paralyzed as the rest of my body. I still could swallow. And blink. But nothing else was possible.” Claire paused breathing heavily.

Elizabeth used the break in Claire’s frantic typing. “Shall we make a break? I can come later…if you need to rest.”

“No, no. Let me tell you everything now.” Claire placed one hand over another on her keyboard, then separated them and continued typing. “You were the one to discover that my hands and forearms were still functioning. Or rather Patrick noticed as you played with my fingers and they returned your movements. Shortly after that the therapy began and goes on until today.”

There was another break in the typing stream and Elizabeth decided to wait. She could not imagine herself in her mother’s situation. She would definitely go insane. She stole another gaze at Claire. What inner strength was necessary to keep herself so awake, so present and alive?

Elizabeth noticed Claire pressing two keys simultaneously for a few seconds. As she turned to the wall she saw, “:-))))))))))))))))))))” Then typing recommenced. “My doctors keep saying until today that it is amazing my forearms and hands are still functioning while everything else is paralyzed. Only Joe, my current physical therapist says, ‘If you believe in miracles, then no surprise there.’ 🙂 He keeps on massaging every muscle when he comes here every afternoon. He says, he’s not keeping me alive, he is just searching for another miracle in my asleep body. Which I doubt he will find. But he said, as long as he is responsible for me, he’ll keep going. He’s a good sport at his fifty-five.”

Elizabeth smiled. She started to guess why her mother was able to survive. There were people around her supporting and loving her. She imagined this house, its whole idea of sheltering people fighting with their illnesses for their lives and health, which she now suspected was Claire’s, kept her alive. In the next moment Elizabeth frowned. But why…? She shivered again. She knew that she would flip the conversation to unspeakable sadness, but she had to know. “Why…how…why did Papa and I end up in Germany and not stayed with you and Patrick here.”

A stream of air came pressed out of Claire’s nostrils filling the silence. “Kirill was the most to suffer. Medical bills took much of his salary. And then you and Patrick needed so much attention. He did all he could, but it was very hard. And when you fell off the roof—”

Elizabeth stopped reading. So what Patrick said is true? Forgetting to read her mother’s words further she typed. “Did Patrick pushed me off the roof?”

“What? No! Why would he? Who told you that????”

“Patrick.” Elizabeth avoided looking at her mother now. She felt that she was inducing a pain into this already suffering woman.

“Why would he do this? No, no, he didn’t. It was…I am the only one to blame for this. You fell because of me. That is why your father took you away from here, before worse things would happen.”

Elizabeth felt that the last five words were not her mother’s. They were her father’s. And she sensed that she heard them before.


Picture: The winter is returning to Aalborg.

P.S. Chapter 13 will be written and posted latest in two weeks time.

P.P.S. You can find the complete story written so far at “Free Online Books”.

P.P.P.S. If you think your friends might enjoy this story, then let them know about it and forward it to them.

Everything except one paragraph (1st paragraph in Chapter 1) of “Nothing is As it Seems” is under copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

“Nothing is As it Seems” Chapter 11

Elizabeth shuffled on her feet. There, in front of her was her mother, of whom she, all her conscious life, thought was dead. And she looked almost dead now, as she sat there motionless in her chair, her face muscles atrophied after many years of not being used. Smooth and even with not trace of a wrinkle. Neither those of sadness, nor those of merriness.

Only her eyes, full of tears now, showed that she was alive. And her heavy breath, as Elizabeth started noticing. And her trembling hands.

Elizabeth searched for the pockets in her tight jeans and hooked her thumbs in them. “Um.” What should I say? Slowly and with trepidation she raised her gaze to her mother’s eyes.

Claire blinked several times. Her tears fell on her cheeks and ran down heading to her motionless neck supporting only the tiny for an adult head leaning on the headrest behind it.

Elizabeth panicked. She felt her hands raising to her waist. Shall I wipe the tears?

Claire’s eyes gazed in front of her.

Elizabeth followed her gaze, looked at the brightly lit spot on the wall, and read. “No, you don’t have to.” What? Did I say those words out loud?

Claire typed, “Yes you did. :-)”

Elizabeth turned to Claire. “Oh. I’m sorry. I just—” Then as she saw her mother typing, Elizabeth turned back to read.

“Look here at my right.” Claire’s fingers flew across the keyboard. “There is another keyboard. We can chat together. It might make things easier for you.”

Elizabeth looked and saw the second white keyboard with several brightly coloured smiley-stickers grinning in all directions from its perimeter. She noticed Claire typing again and turned to the wall to read.

“Alice, Ingrid and most visitors who make it up here find chatting with me in writing easier. Only children and Patrick talk to me directly.”

“How do they do it?” Elizabeth was surprised about her own question. She turned to Claire thinking that it was unthinkable to talk to the screen instead of her mother. Claire’s eyes smiled without producing wrinkles around them. Then they guided Elizabeth’s back to the wall.

“They do it, just like you did. They look at the screen on the wall when they talk to me. But…they sit close to me…when they do this.”


“Let’s start with chatting, shall we? :-))))) Will the chair below the keyboard suit you?”

Elizabeth shook her head sideways. She needed to shake this confusion away. She turned hurriedly to her mother. “Yes, yes.” Then she walked to the chair, lifted the wireless keyboard, sat and put it on her knees. Big red sticker with words “Push here”, which she didn’t notice before directed her to the “ON” button. She pressed it and stopped. What shall I ask? Should I maybe say, no, write, something, I don’t know…nice maybe, before asking? But what?

Words on the wall appeared. “It’s OK. Let’s take it slow. I don’t think I will fall asleep for another hour. I am too excited to see you. Would you like me to tell you what happened?…To you…here?”

Elizabeth drew a deep breath and typed. “Yes, please. But before that…Before that, please tell me what happened to you…I…I don’t remember, I’m afraid. I don’t remember…you.” Tears clouded Elizabeth’s eyes and hindered her to delete what she had just typed.


Picture: Barborky cut by my son, husband and father-in-law during past winter holidays and blooming now in my parents-in-law’s living room.

P.S. Chapter 12 will be written and posted latest in two weeks time.

P.P.S. You can find the complete story written so far at “Free Online Books”.

P.P.P.S. If you think your friends might enjoy this story, then let them know about it and forward it to them.

Everything except one paragraph (1st paragraph in Chapter 1) of “Nothing is As it Seems” is under copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

“Nothing is As it Seems” Chapter 10

Elizabeth’s arms fell to her sides. She gasped for air and whispered. “My mother? She…she hasn’t died?… Is she really my mother? I…thought my mother’s name was—”

“Klara,” Patrick said. His voice low and powerless. “That’s how papa used to call her.” He shook his head as if refusing to say more. Then suddenly he raised his head and looked at Alice. “How did she find out? Did you tell her?” There was no anger in his voice. It seemed to be just a question.

Alice shook her head. “No. I think this is none of my business. It was only up to you to do so.”

Patrick’s face colour returned and deepened immediately.

Alice let Patrick’s arm go and turned her hand revealing an open palm. With a shrug she said, “It was Lily who told her Liza was here. And before that Claire saw Liza sleeping outside the other day and recognized her.”

Elizabeth’s jaw dropped. She noticed it, pulled it up and said, “She recognized me? After all these years? But why…” Why didn’t she try to find me? Elizabeth couldn’t pronounce her thought out loud.

Patrick shook his head without raising his head.

“I think you better go to Claire and find out for yourself,” Alice said.

Elizabeth nodded. She stood up and looked at Patrick. She hoped he wouldn’t come with her.

He kept on shaking his head, looking on the floor. What was wrong with him?

“You can speak to Patrick afterwards, if you like,” said Alice.

I don’t! Elizabeth hoped that this thought wasn’t too obvious.

“If you like,” said Patrick.

This started Elizabeth. Was this an offer to talk? After he almost threw her out of the house?! “Are you sure?” She couldn’t take her eyes off Patrick, even if looking at him still sent chills to her spine.

“No, I’m not. And I don’t want to.” He glanced at her, his eyes red and tired. “But probably we should.”

“Liza,” said Alice. “You should go now and talk to Claire. She becomes tired very fast. So you better talk to her before she takes her next nap.”

“Is she ill?” Then for the first time of their acquaintance she saw something close to restlessness in Alice’s eyes, so she added, “Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to be so pushy. Where should I go?”

“You are not at all pushy. Don’t worry,” Alice said. “Claire’s room is on the second floor. I’ll show you.” With this she went out of the kitchen.

Elizabeth followed Alice up the stairs. She recalled how the handrail felt many years ago. Further then that should couldn’t tell what she saw or felt as she climbed the stairs. She tried to remember how her mother looked like when she, Elizabeth, was small and simultaneously to imagine how her mother looked like now.

Her vain attempt to see her mother in her memories and now was stopped by Alice’s back, into which Elizabeth almost bumped. She managed to stop one inch behind it. “Oh sorry, I—”

“Wait a second here, OK?” Alice smiled as she took a step away and turned to face Elizabeth.

“Yes, yes.” Elizabeth backed a step too.

Alice left the door open. Elizabeth heard Alice saying, “Claire, Liza is here. Shall I call her in?”

Silence followed.

In the next moment Alice appeared in the gap of the opened door. “You can go in now.” Then she ran down the stairs without making a sound.

Elizabeth turned to the door and knocked. I should knock, right? Even if allowed to come in?

Again, silence.

Elizabeth entered the room and in the first moment she thought it was empty. In the next she heard a quiet sound of typing on a keyboard at her right.

Elizabeth turned and saw a woman in a wheelchair. The typing stopped. The corner of the room, where she sat was dark, but Elizabeth still could see her features clearly. Either the darkness or something else made Claire’s face soft.

She had grey hair, Patrick’s eyes, and a smile. A frozen smile. After she stopped typing, not a single muscle of her body seemed to move.

Her gaze darted somewhere and then back to meet Elizabeth’s eyes. Elizabeth frowned. Claire repeated the movement. Looking somewhere away then back at Elizabeth.

As Claire was about to make the same movement again, Elizabeth decided to follow her gaze. She looked at her left and discovered a white wall with a brightly lit spot. On it, the words were projected, and started to multiply, “Hello Liza. I am so glad you found your way here.”

Elizabeth turned to the woman in the wheelchair. She had tears in her eyes.


Picture: At a bus stop in the centre of Aalborg.

P.S. Chapter 11 will be written and posted latest in two weeks time.

P.P.S. You can find the complete story written so far at “Free Online Books”.

P.P.P.S. If you think your friends might this story, then let them know about it and forward it to them.

Everything except one paragraph  (1st paragraph in Chapter 1) of “Nothing is As it Seems” is under copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels