In the end, it started in much the same way as it had stopped hours ago. After her memories had slowly turned into dreams and Charlotte had fallen asleep – most uncomfortably – with her head leaned against the window of the hotel room, her brain had finally had the chance to slow down by even the smallest degree, starting a painful process of coming to terms with what she had learned about her late father over the course of the day. And yet, the few hours of sleep did not much to clear – let alone, completely ease – her mind and so Egg found herself feeling slightly confused and out of place, as she opened her eyes against the sun raising slowly over Vienna. It took her a couple of moments to realize that she was not, in fact, back in South Africa with both of her parents alive, discovering the magic of Cape Town and Eggs Benedict. Instead, finding herself alone and hurt in Austria, Charlotte sat still for a couple of minutes, trying to breath some sense into this entire situation.
Emma had told her about her father’s old roommate and school friend Barley Willems, which – of course – had triggered Charlotte’s default behaviour of running away, if only in her mind and had provided a welcome distraction from the much more shocking things Emma’s story had unearthed. Like the lies, the deception that had obviously always lived with her and her fathers. Like the secrets, she – and possibly even her papa – had never been let in on. Charlotte shuddered to continue this line of thinking, wouldn’t yet dare to walk down this winding road of uncertainties. She simply couldn’t risk having the image of her father changed forever in her mind, especially as he would never again have the possibility of defending himself, of telling his own side of the story. And so, restless once more, Egg got up from her position by the window – almost knocking over the still full cup of tea she had prepared the previous night, and which had gone cold and untouched as she had fallen asleep – putting fresh clothes and shoes on and left the hotel room once more, on a mission to outrun her throbbing head, of clearing her mind and of finally finding some peace among the little alleyways of the city. She started down one street and up another, never once stopping to read signs or contemplate the direction she was walking in. It didn’t matter to her where she would end up or how she would get back to the hotel. Instead, she found herself turning around ever more corners, now trying to physically throw off Emma’s words, which seemed to have taken form, following and tormenting her inside and outside her head. But it was no good; no matter how many graffiti-clad walls she was walking past, or how many beautiful buildings and churches appeared at the end of long streets, Emma’s words came echoing back with every single step she took: “He had a son, you know … ”, they seemed to be shouting at her again and again: “Lies. Deception. Brother …”
A gasp escapes you, the first time you are told this story. You are amazed by how well the narrator herself appears to have coped with the situation and yet, deep within the melody and sound of her voice, you can hear a troubling note that seems to be giving her true feelings away, open and clear, for everyone to see and yet visible only to some. You can’t help but feel sorry for the girl with the dark hair and the emerald eyes, but more than sympathy you long to hear the rest of the tale, yearn to see what else was braided and wrapped into the story like ivy around a window screen how time had managed to ease the tension even in the smallest of ways.