The kid was freaking her out. She hadn’t left Liza’s side for the past hour. Even when she escaped to the bathroom for a few minutes she could hear the girl on the other side of the door- waiting.
Every move she made, she was there. Liza wasn’t used to having a shadow, and there wasn’t anything she could do about it. She was supposed to be Trina, the child’s mother, which meant she was stuck.
Being a mother was never in Liza’s game plan. She’d never even thought about it. So she had no idea how to take care of a kid especially a needy one.
What made it worse, was she didn’t even know the girl’s name. Luckily, she didn’t seem to mind. The girl was just happy to be around Liza.
However, Liza had questions. Like where was the girl’s father? The idea of having to deal with one of Trina’s exes would be disastrous since she still didn’t know who the hell Trina was.
The woman that let her in was no use. When she finally emerged again, she disappeared in to one of the bedrooms at the front of the house without even acknowledging Liza’s presence.
Liza didn’t know which room was Trina’s and of course she couldn’t ask. If the girl had been younger, she’d have been able to get it out of her without raising any red flags. Unfortunately, whatever age she was, it was old enough to know her mother shouldn’t have to ask where her bed was.
The girl seemed content to just stare at Liza so she let her. When Liza wanted something to drink and she had to look in several cabinets before finding a glass the girl looked confused, but even then, she said nothing just kept staring.
The angry woman, Liza learned was the girl’s aunt, Trina’s sister. She came out of her room once but it was just to fuss at the little girl. The girl ignored her yelling. She seemed used to it. She didn’t even flinch. She just kept sitting on the ottoman across from me.
Liza was looking through one of the family’s many picture albums when she heard a noise at the back door. A second later a woman’s voice called out.
“Alright, alright,” a robust voice yelled. “Everybody let’s go. These groceries aren’t gonna get themselves in here.” The little girl’s face lit up as she jumped from the couch to run down the hall.
Here we go. Liza walked slowly towards the back. Taking a deep breath, she followed the little girl’s voice.
\“But grandma, she’s back for good this time,” Liza heard the little girl’s excited voice as she stepped into the bright kitchen. She’d said nothing of the sort, but she didn’t correct the girl.
Whoever, Trina was, Liza no longer believed she lived here at least not all the time. She couldn’t with how desperate the girl was to accept her a complete stranger as her mother. Her first thought was Trina might have been a drug addict or alcoholic by the way her daughter reacted. She probably dropped in and out of her daughter’s life. It would explain why the hospital staff knew her and the girl’s aunt hated her.
“I done told you about that fibbing,” an older woman said setting her bag down on the steps.
“She ain’t lying,” the girl’s aunt said as she walked out of her room. “The witch is back.”
“Leena, I done told you about that,” the older woman said stepping back out the door to the trunk of the car that had been backed to the door. It was filled with brown paper bags full of food.
“But grandma, she’s right there,” the little girl smiled excitedly pointing at Liza.
The little girl grabbed the older woman’s hand and pulled her by the hand into the kitchen forcing the old woman to look at me.
“See?” I watched the older woman as shock then disbelief registered on her soft brown face.
The brown paper bag of groceries slid out of her hands in slow motion. Suddenly her face cleared and was replaced with a wide sweet smile.
The angry woman from earlier was the first to speak.
“Didn’t I tell you Mama? Some bodies just can’t stay buried.”
“Leena,” the older woman gasped her eyes cutting towards the sullen woman. Then she walked across the kitchen and wrapped me in a big hug. She squeezed me several times before pulling back. “Did you just get here?” the older woman asked.
Liza had no idea when Trina was supposed to be here, but as far as she knew the answer was yes. Liza nodded. She was confused by the look of relief that passed over the older woman’s face but it lasted only a few seconds. Then there was a loud banging on the front door.
“Take her to the back,” the old woman said as a fierce scowl replaced her look of relief. She walked towards the front without a second glance. “Now,” she yelled over her shoulder in a voice stronger than I expected to come from the woman. “Then y’all get those groceries in, ya hear?”
“You heard your grandma, Zuri,” Leena said waving for me to follow.
“Auntie she can stay in my room,” the little girl chirped.
“She got a room,” Leena fired back. Seconds later Liza found herself alone in the blue room at the back of the house she’d seen earlier. The little girl wanted to stay with her, but thankfully her aunt refused to give in. Leena dragged the girl out before shutting the door without another word.
“Zuri and Leena,” Liza said quietly. The old woman was the same one in the picture on the wall in the front room. She had a couple of decades added on her but she had to be Ophelia Davenport unless there was another person staying in the house.
The old lady looked like a grandmother she imagined that would have decorated this home. So this was her house. She had to be in her mid-sixties but she was very active, and Liza could tell she ruled her home by the way everyone jumped to do her bidding.
She’d been accepted by the Davenports, but nothing had change. None of her memory had returned. She still couldn’t remember anything between Morocco and yesterday. She needed more time, but the clock was winding down. A day or two she could explain, but beyond that she’d expect Central to start wondering about why she hadn’t checked in, if they hadn’t already. It was a big gamble, but until she remembered why she was there, Liza couldn’t call Central.
Ophelia had given me know reason not to trust her, after all she was hiding me. That had to mean something.
Liza looked around Trina’s room hoping to find something that would help her fill in the pieces. Unfortunately, the room was bare. From the empty blue walls to the generic bed spread that was the color of sand. It didn’t look like the room of a grown woman. There were no momentos or pictures anywhere not even of the little girl.
The room was spotless. Even the wicker trash can in the corner was empty. It was too clean, like no one had lived there for quite a while.
Liza pulled open one of the dresser drawers. There was underwear in the top two drawers. One had women’s underwear all white and the other had pajamas and some long johns.
“Fucking great,” Liza said. The last thing she wanted to have to do was keep wearing this god-awful outfit.
Walking back to the door, she heard voices that seemed to be getting closer. She’d had a lot of assignments but this by far was the strangest. The voices faded as they moved further away. Unable to resist she opened the door. She couldn’t see anything but she could hear better.
Ophelia was talking to a man in the kitchen. She couldn’t see who she was talking to but she recognized the voice- Blackfoot.
Suddenly, the voices faded once again. Liza needed to change clothes. If she had to run the boots would be useless. A quick look in the closet and she saw some women’s shoes and a few sparkly sweaters that appeared to be larger than her size, but she’d wear them. She needed a bath and fresh clothing in that order. She also desperately needed to wash her hair. The amount of blood caked on her scalp was ridiculous. She could smell it. The bump on the back of her head was smaller than before, but she still didn’t feel one hundred percent yet. She needed another day to rest but Liza didn’t have time for that. She needed to be ready to move as soon as possible.
Washing her hair would have to wait. The nurses at the hospital last night said she was welcome to try and wash it out, but it was going to be a job in itself trying to thoroughly clean the tracks. Besides as cold as it was outside, Liza knew it would take forever to dry. If she wasn’t on an assignment, she’d ditch the weave altogether, but she had to be careful that she didn’t compromise her cover. She was supposed to be Trina, not Liza.
Trina was high maintenance. She wore her hairstyle like armor. As gross as they were the tracks would have to stay. Besides if it weren’t for them, she probably wouldn’t be alive, at least that was what the doctor said earlier. She had marveled at finding the spent bullet casing trapped within the seams of her weave cushioning her from the blast.
Liza might have marveled at it too if it hadn’t been one of two attempts on her life in such a short period of time. Trina had a target on her back which meant Liza had a target on her back. Until her memory came back she planned to lie low.
Liza bent to look under the bed. Spotting a large metal box, she pulled it out. There was no lock so she opened it.
Inside was a bible, but underneath the bible a small serrated knife still in its sleeve and a gun. Liza was shocked but pleased to find both. “Two out of three’s not bad.” Only thing missing was bullets. There were some papers with the name Roger Davenport written on it. She could only assume the box belonged to the patriarch of the family.
Liza pushed the knife down the side of her left boot. The gun she stuffed into the back of her waist band. She saw nothing else she could use so she closed it up and put it back under the bed.
Getting bullets was the easy part anyway. The hard part was figuring out a woman who seemed to not have a friend in the world. Trina was shaping up to be an enigma and Liza was beginning to feel she would remain that way.
Walking back to the door, Liza listened for voices again. This time there were none.
Liza had a feeling the old woman was the key to what she needed to know. Ophelia Davenport’s unwavering gaze gave the impression of a shrewd woman that said what she meant and meant what she said.
Suddenly Liza remembered something from last night. Ophelia Davenport had called Trina’s phone last night.
If Ophelia was Zuri’s grandmother that meant that the woman was Trina’s mother. Why did she have the woman’s full name listed in her phone?
Even during the worst of times, Liza never called her mother by her full name. It was always Mom.
It was a small but telling piece of information that confused Liza and made her wonder more about Trina’s relationship with her family. Where had Trina been living? And why had she returned?