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?”
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?
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