The Spice District hosted its own festivals. None compared to the fun Eliza experienced at the Humour and Hijinks. It was the beautiful fireworks; they brought her comfort in the early year. She recalled watching them from her window when she first arrived. The people, enjoying themselves below as she hid from the world. Eliza had attended a few times, laughing at the wannabe comics and falling foul to the pranksters. Often she went to feel a part of something. Living in the city; it was lonely, and these festivals offered a temporary friendship. People who would not give a second glance in the street; stopped to tell you a joke and start a conversation. She had tagged along with neighbours, a hint of disappointment as Scarlett was not with them.
The distraction she longed for was not the company of her brother. He seemed hassled on the phone, the twins screaming in the background. Charlotte had vanished, and now Caleb refused to return Patrick’s calls. Part of him wanted to call the authorities, except he had grown attached to the two girls. The idea they would end up in foster care, raised by anyone else but him. Patrick could not bear the torture of losing them.
He fought tears, explaining how he failed Charlotte; and feared the same would become of the twins. Daciana and Luliana were growing, their birthday a few months away. Their parents’ absence concerned him; they should be bonding with their babies. Instead he had begun referring to himself as their father. Eliza glanced at the Jokester tea they were here to enjoy. She pushed it away, resting her hand over Patricks, her guilt at not being more present in their lives. Patrick took his hand back; he needed to get home. The twins would have the best father he could be.
Eliza lost her desire for humorous antics; she walked towards the tube station. Art Gallery sat illuminated and welcoming. She had intended to visit since she had lived next to it. Art had provided her with a space to meditate, relax and process the choices she wanted to make or had made. Charlotte never came to her; as Eliza left without a word, so had she. The difference had been their ages; Charlotte was still a child when Eliza ran away. A foolish notion, someone so young could never understand those emotions. How could Eliza have explained the cruelty of their father? Eliza wondered if that was the reason; Charlotte feared no one could understand.
As a child, her sister had begged in e-mails for Eliza to come home, desperate to know why she had abandoned her family. Eliza never explained, at least not to her siblings; it sat as a festering wound between them. She shook the spray can, working her magic on the mural. Their choices separated and disbanded their family. Eliza could not change Charlotte’s mind. As for her own, Eliza would need to make peace with her past to build her future.