The Silver Lining

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Chapter 27 - Zoe

Haxby was as if I’d never left. It had taken Jesper some convincing, but he wanted to see where I had come from. Besides, Aunt Caitlyn and Darcey were desperate to meet Clara. As were Vivienne’s parents.

Jesper had never been to England at all. I felt a little ashamed as we drove through the boxy council estates and dreary parks, practically prehistoric compared to the fashionable beauty of Copenhagen.

“York city centre is lovely. Just you wait and see.”

As if reading my mind he replied, “That would be great. Haxby seems nice though, quaint.”

“There are some nice parts. I’ll have to give you and Clara the grand tour,” I caught sight of a playground I used to hang out in as a kid, “Look over, that was where I had my very first kiss. Jealous?”

“Of the kiss or the location?”

“Very funny. England is a great place to grow up. Not everything is picture-postcard but it’s home.”

“It was home. Now you have a new home, with us. Doesn’t she Clara?”

I was glad to not live in Haxby anymore - or England for that matter - but I couldn’t shake the feeling of comfort these drabbed streets gave me. In spite of all the tragedy that had happened here, I still had many fond memories.

The car satnav had informed us that we’d arrived at our destination. It had been so long that I’d totally forgotten the route. We parked up just as Clara began to stir.

“So which house is your aunt’s?”

“That one there, with the dove grey door.”

“Dove grey? I think my architectural influence is rubbing off on you.”

“No, I remember. That was the paint name. Dove grey. Darcey and I painted it for her. Not a bad job aye?”

Jesper looked the door up and down like he was eyeing up a woman.“Not bad at all. I’ll have to get you doing our house up, now I know I can trust you with a paintbrush.”

A wry smirk spread across my face. I couldn’t hold it in place for long. Aunt Caitlyn didn’t live far from my childhood home. I wondered if my father still lived there.

“Let’s head in, Clara’s getting hungry.”

Aunt Caitlyn practically smothered me as soon as I made it through the door. She briefly greeted Jesper before proceeding to coo over Clara, announcing how wonderful she was.

“Doesn’t she look like you, Zoe? Gosh, it is like seeing double.”

“Absolutely!” Jesper interjected.

“Where’s Darcey? I’d love to see her,” I said, eager to get the focus away from myself.

“She’ll be here soon. She said she’d come straight from work. We’ve all been so excited.”

Wrinkles surrounded her eyes as she grinned. Caitlyn had aged so much since I last saw her. She’d had her hair cut short, and I could see sprouts of silver hair that turned almost translucent in the afternoon sun.

“You’ve brought the weather back with you.”

“Don’t worry, we get rain in Denmark too,” Jesper replied.

We digressed to chitchat about Danish life and how we were finding parenthood.

“It isn’t easy, but it’s the greatest gift. And you two. You make the most stunning couple, you really do. I’m so happy for you both.”

Caitlyn broke down then. Unable to restrain the flood of emotion flooding from every pore.

“I’m so sorry, I just can’t help thinking about Grace and how proud she’d be.”

I sniffled back a tear of my own, attempting to squash the image of my own mother embracing my daughter. After feeding Clara, we spent hours leading up to Darcey’s arrival looking over baby pictures and of course, Aunt Caitlyn held her the entire time.

When Darcey arrived, we reminisced about the old days. She too fell head over heels for Clara and insisted she be the one to put her down for a nap. Jesper and Aunt Caitlyn were busy preparing dinner for us all, so as Darcey came out of the bedroom, I took the opportunity to take her aside for a quiet word.

“Darcey, can I ask you to do something for me?”

“Of course, anything, what’s the matter?”

“This has to stay between us. You can’t say anything to Aunt Caitlyn or Jesper, okay?”

“…Okay, but you’re scaring me, Zoe. What’s going on?”

I lowered my voice, whispering now, “I need you to call me tomorrow morning, pretending you’ve bumped into an old friend, and you want us all to catch up over lunch.”

“…Why?”

“So I have a reason to leave the house, without Clara or Jesper.”

“So you don’t actually want to go out for lunch?”

“No…I…I want to go and see my dad.”

Darcey didn’t say anything, just stared blankly. Nobody knew why we’d fallen out. I didn’t know if he’d told them the truth or made up some fictitious story.

“Are we never going to talk about why the police questioned him over Vivienne’s death?”

I felt queasy, what happened after I left?

“What? The police interviewed him?”

“Yeah, I figured that’s why you hadn’t told him about Clara yet?”

“So he didn’t go to jail?”

“No, the police came and spoke to us too, asked about his character. His past. It was so strange. I thought they’d reach out to you too. Did they not?”

“No…not that I can recall. Do you guys think he had anything to do with Viv’s disappearance?” I was fishing here, gaging the reaction.

“Me? No. Never. My mum, however, was a little less unconvinced. Still has her doubts I think.”

“Does he still live in the same house?”

“Yeah, never moved. Even after all the suspicion. He’s a bit of a recluse now. Mum thinks he has a drinking problem. I don’t know if it is safe for you to visit him on your own, Zoe. Let me come.”

I considered her offer briefly. My plan had no way of working if she was there, “I need to go alone, Darcey. I need to ask him myself, once and for all. So do I have your help?”

Darcey bit her lip and huffed.

“What time should I call?”

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