The Watchers 23

I know the real you.

            The Davenport house was dark and quiet. Leena and Zuri were still out. Liza put on a pot of water to make tea when she heard Mrs. Davenport come out of her room. 

            “Bring me a cup when you get it ready,” Mrs. Davenport said sitting down at the breakfast nook to stare out the window.

            “Yes ma’am,” Liza said, smiling that the woman had joined her.

Mrs. Davenport had done more for her in the past few days than she could remember anyone doing for her without expecting anything much in return. It meant a lot. Having the older woman just being there was beginning to mean a lot. The last few days had been quite a surprise.

The trailer in the woods hadn’t been a surprise. There had been many more trailers, rooms, houses, places that she’d set up only to leave when the job was done and it was time to move on. Twenty years she’d lived this way.

            Grabbing sugar and milk, Liza put it on a tray. Once the pot was ready, she added it to the tray with some teabags, cups and silverware. Placing the tray on the table, Liza poured hot water and placed a teabag in each cup letting it steep under a saucer for a few minutes.

            “Two sugars and,” Mrs. Davenport said, “a dash of milk.” Liza prepared the tea then stirred the cup before placing it in front of the older woman.

            “Thank you very much, dear” Mrs. Davenport said her eyebrows raised, “that is exactly how I like it.” Liza smiled pleased to have gotten it right. Mrs. Davenport held her cup but her eyes remained on Liza.

            “I didn’t know any of my girls were so observant,” Mrs. Davenport said before taking a sip of tea. She sighed closing her eyes and taking another sip.

            “Well, we learned everything we know from the best,” Liza said laughing softly as she took a sip of tea.

            “Don’t,” she said setting her cup on the wooden table. “Let’s not sweetie.” Liza felt something turn in her stomach at her words.

Liza felt the calmness waking up, but this time the usual thrill that came with it was gone. She didn’t want what the calm brought, not now. Not with Mrs. Davenport. Pushing her cup away, Liza placed her hands on the table preparing to stand, but the older woman raised a hand to stop her.

It took everything in her to sit back down, but something in the woman’s stare gave her pause.

            “My daughters have always been selfish, egotistical, combative and most of the time hateful strangers to me,” Mrs. Davenport shook her head.

Confused, Liza attempted to defend herself- Trina, but Mrs. Davenport gave a shake of her head. The synthetic curls shook back and forth before falling neatly back into place. She had a warning look in her eyes which Liza heeded. It was the same look she’d given the police chief earlier.

            “I could never do enough,” Mrs. Davenport confessed. “I tried, Lord knows I did, but it was never enough. I always,” her voice heavy. “I always got it wrong somehow.”

            The confession took Liza by surprise. She was at a loss of words. She could only wait and let it all play out.

            Sitting back, she listened. After all this was a job- nothing more. At least that was what she told herself. Liza always knew she’d have to leave eventually. Either she’d finish the mission, or Central would come for her. Either way she didn’t plan to stay with the Davenport’s forever. Did she? Liza pushed the thought away. That would be crazy. Wouldn’t it?

            “I’ve learned in my life to play the game, play by the rules until you learn them and then use them to your advantage,” Mrs. Davenport said with a slight smile. “I imagine you’ve learned that as well.”

            “Leena was always my rock. She was Roger’s- biologically. She was his baby for a time. She’d had to learn to be flexible because she had to be. That was my fault. I felt there was something missing- so, I changed it,” she said her voice fading.

Taking a deep breath, she continued. “I’ve made a lot of bad decisions, but I’ve always been well-intentioned. I never,” Mrs. Davenport said her eyes searching, “I never meant to hurt you,” she said.

The woman’s words hit Liza hard. She felt time slow with each tick of the grandfather clock in the hallway. She wanted to scream at the woman to stop talking, but the words wouldn’t come. It felt like she was talking to Liza, not Trina, but her mind told her that was impossible.

“All those years ago, I thought I knew what was best, and now, I,” her voiced faded as there was a sound at the back of the house. A moment later the back door opened. Leena and Zuri had returned. Liza blinked first. Standing without a word she cleared the dishes from the table as Zuri ran in the door.

            “Grandma, grandma,” she said oblivious to the tension that had filled the room moments before, “guess who got a part in the Christmas play,” the girl said sitting in the chair Liza had just vacated.

Liza tuned out their words. Something had happened, but she wasn’t sure what and furthermore, didn’t want to know.  

            “Um, let me guess,” Mrs. Davenport said playing along, “could it be the loud child that just came running into my kitchen without so much as a hello?” Zuri started giggling, and her grandmother laughed too.

Rinsing the dishes Liza felt Leena walk behind her. She’d been so quiet she’d forgotten she was there.  

            “How long you going to keep trying to play us,” Leena said in a low voice the curve of her ample hips resting against the counter knocking the draining board. The dishes rattled but she paid them no mind.  “She may buy this new Pollyanna act, but just remember,” Leena spat, “I know the real you. I know that all you looking for is enough money to set you off for another adventure and then you going to leave that old woman and your little girl high and dry. Then I’ll be left here to pick up the pieces as usual.” Leena jerked the dishtowel out of Liza’s hands.

“It’s not happening this time. You hear me? This time when you leave you stay gone. You got me?” Leena’s anger was palpable. Liza exhaled realizing the woman still believed she was Trina. When Liza didn’t respond, Leena threw the dish towel into the sink of water then walked out of the kitchen.

Liza pulled the soggy towel out and rung it dry then finished the few dishes in the sink listening to Zuri and her grandmother chattering obliviously at the table. Leena was a problem, but she refused to take the woman’s bait especially now that she had her mission.

Mrs. Davenport was hiding something. Had been apparently for years. The old woman had a secret, and she’d almost heard it tonight. It was why she’d come. It was the reason she was impersonating the woman’s daughter.

All Liza had ever wanted was to be normal, and have a normal life, but as long as she was herself, the Watcher, there was no chance of being normal.

Trina was the normal one. Trina got the normal life- not Liza. Bitterness rose in the back of her throat, but she pushed it down.

Soon enough it would be time to leave, once the job was done. Until then she planned to take advantage of all the things Trina had taken for granted. She intended to live the life that had been denied to her ever since the day Central took her, and made her what she’d become- a killer.  

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