Previous installments of Entanglement can be found by clicking Home on the header menu and scrolling down. If you haven’t begun the series and would like to, here’s a shortcut to Part One.
Collecting herself enough to peek out the window, Aliss saw that Hugh was still there. He shifted from foot to foot several times before looking up the street and down, becoming still again as though he’d needed very much to collect himself, too.
Aliss crawled to the door and stood up, waiting for the wobble in her legs to subside before getting her keys out of the satchel and heading downstairs. She stood in the vestibule for a long moment before opening the door and looking straight at Hugh from the small porch.
He stood straighter when he saw her. She lifted her palm to him without waving, and the gesture brought him across the street without hesitation, pausing at the walk in front of the steps as if waiting for confirmation.
She backed against the open door, pushing it wider with her body. He started up the stairs as if this gesture, too, was perfectly clear, focusing on her face as if searching for more than small moves to interpret. He went past, turning to face her as he entered the building, following close after she unlocked the lobby door and led him up the staircase to her apartment.
Once inside, Aliss went around the sofa and coffee table, past the ruby-colored chair, straight to the farthest corner of the living room. Staring out from there, unable to look Hugh in the eye, she hugged her arms while trying to think of something harmless to say, grateful not to be afraid of him but worried about what he must be thinking. The time he’d spent watching, his resigned persistence jumbled with what little she remembered of their past, created yet another cascade of questions she wasn’t sure she wanted to deal with.
As she attempted to shake off more of her fog, Hugh came closer before she realized he was crossing the room. His voice was gentle as he touched her arm and lowered his face to hers. “I didn’t know how much longer I could stand this. Knowing that you’d forgotten me tore my heart.”
Aliss’s tears poured out with sudden force, surprising her. She let him touch her — his fingertips soft on her face and neck, his hands rediscovering her through her clothes, his arms embracing her tight after weeks of resigned emptiness, as if eager to confirm her solidness and regard. “I’m all right,” he said, “now that you remember.”
But her recall was fuzzy, like one dream’s unseen fade into another. Her words elongated by sobs, she said, “I don’t remember everything,” and pressed herself further into the corner. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m here now, Aliss. That’s what matters.” He took a step back and motioned toward the couch. “Sit down. I’ll help you remember.”
Aliss didn’t move. Hating her loss of control, she wanted everything to stop so she could catch her breath. Everything didn’t, so she did, forcing sobs into a scowl and using her sleeves to dry her face. Softening her frown, her eyes met Hugh’s. “I can’t remember where my mother lives.”
Hugh’s jaw stiffened.
“I see a house in my mind, from when I was little, but I can’t remember where it is. Does she still live there? Do you know where it is?”
“Sit down so we can talk.”
Numbness crept over Aliss. “Is she … all right?”
Hugh nodded, his anger obvious. “Your mother’s fine — so far. Why you worry about her, I’ll never know.” Pain showed through his anger. “You remember more about her than you do about me — don’t you? I shouldn’t be surprised. You don’t make much sense when it comes to her.”
Aliss remembered not making sense. Somehow she knew she’d hear more about that.