Another busy week, but here's the final part of the Elizabeth story. Hope you enjoy it. Next week begins a new story. Can't wait. If you need to catch up, just click on the stories link at the top of the page. Happy reading.
She had hardly opened her eyes in three days. He hadn’t closed his. Even the sharp sounds of the hospital equipment began to drone like a lullaby. The wait was difficult, but Will thought the sterile hospital lighting was the worst. The overbright rays illuminated everything in the room except his mother’s hollow face. He had already lost a sister. Losing his mother would break him.
She woke while he slept. She liked it that way. When the nurse entered the room, their soft murmurs caused him to stir in his chair. They were only a couple hundred miles from California, but with no car, she didn’t know how they were going to make the trip.
Will gave her his forearm for balance as they walked through the parking lot. The pavement blistered under the afternoon sun, and the heat made his mother lightheaded. What money they had, they needed for starting a life in California, and there was none to spare for a new car.
It took eleven days and three drivers before they made it to Palo Alto. The stucco buildings jutted out of the ground like oversized boulders. Every inch of grass seemed precision cut.
“Do you know where to go?” Will asked as he examined the labyrinth of off-red roofs surrounding them.
“No,” she responded, overwhelmed by the gravity of the campus.
“Excuse me,” Will flashed his hand in front of a young man who looked to be a few years older.
“Yeah?” the boy pulled out one of his earphones.
“Do you know where I could find a list of people who go to school here?”
“Uh, yeah. You could try the registrar’s office” the boy replied with a quizzical glance.
“It’s the tall building just past the intersection two lights up. With the big windows.”
“Thanks,” Will added, his feet whisking him away faster than he could end the conversation. The building was two blocks away, but Will and Laura couldn’t decide if they wanted to enter. Their hopes could be validated or nullified in minutes, and neither was optimistic.
The sun was already sliding down the sky, and grabbing the door handle, Will was pleased to find it still unlocked. The tile floor squeaked under his sandaled feet as he approached a woman sitting behind the desk inside the doorway.
“Excuse me,” Laura glanced at the woman’s nametag. “Miss Tanner?”
“I was hoping you might have some information about a girl who goes here?”
“What’s the name?” the woman asked, her fingers darting across the keyboard for a moment before looking up again.
“From New York or from Washington?”
“Neither,” Laura’s voice dropped as her chest deflated like an untied balloon. “What about Elizabeth Akers? Do you have anyone by that name?”
“No. We don’t have anyone here by that name.” Laura’s hand gripped her son’s wrist tightly as Miss Tanner spoke. Her single thread connecting her with her daughter unraveled with one question. The last tie to her own daughter disintegrated.
“We’ll keep looking,” Will added as they walked back to the car. “She may not be at Stanford, but we knew that. She couldn’t pay, but she’s probably nearby. We’ll find her.” The last remaining traces of daylight were creeping toward the horizon as they walked down the street.
“We’ll find a hotel and then look for a new place tomorrow,” Laura suggested. She could see a motel a few blocks away and started walking toward it. Brakes squealed as a green GMC truck nearly clipped them as they crossed the street. She turned and yelled as the truck sped past. “Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to drive,” she turned back toward the motel and continued to walk.