Elizabeth 8 years later still remembered the night she was told that her mother was dead, her father left and the investigation that followed: She had been in the maroon painted living room when she found out that her mother was dead, ironically. She was 6 and playing with her stuffed animals while her father watched smiling from one corner of the room. The light reflected of his bronze hair and emerald green eyes. He was waiting to get a call from his wife to start making dinner so it would be ready for her when she got home from whatever it was that she did. Elizabeth 8 years later, could still not bear to hear or say anything about her parents without crying, so she had never asked. She knew her father had been a cartographer for some company. He always carried a golden compass in his pants pocket. When Elizabeth looked up she saw her father holding the golden compass staring at it as if it were the answer to all his problems. She knew he only did this when he was nervous so she asked “What’s wrong Daddy?”
“Nothing for you to worry about Lizzie,” he said. That’s when the phone rang. That’s when her father picked up the phone. That’s when Lizzie stopped being Lizzie. That’s when his expression darkened and fury crossed his eyes. That’s when a golden pocket compass was pressed into her hand and a hoarse voice came from her father’s mouth as he said, “I have to look for someone. Now take this it will guide you when you need it most.” That’s when the door slammed and her father’s feet slammed on the pavement as he stormed from the house. That was when she got the golden compass. That’s when he left and she became Elizabeth Rikardsen. That is when she used the phone the first time. She called her Aunt Cordelia and said, “Daddy went to look for someone and I don’t think he’ll be back for awhile. I’m scared.”
“I’m coming. Stay there.”Aunt Cordelia said. Fifteen minutes later her Aunt showed up and coaxed the young girl from her house mysteriously managing not to say anything about Elizabeth’s parents. Once Aunt Cordelia had calmed the young girl to sleep. Her eyes flooded with tears, for her sister.
When Elizabeth awoke the next morning the sky was gray and bleak, similar to her emotions. Her Aunt was sitting in the kitchen on the phone, her face was the picture of a broken heart. Once, her aunt hung up the phone she said, “Where is my Mommy?”
“I have to tell you something,” her aunt says pulling the ridiculously optimistic Elizabeth onto her lap, “Elizabeth, mommy is never coming back.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re mommy…. she decided to take a trip to heaven for a really long time.”
“You’re lying. Mommy isn’t in heaven the only people who go to heaven are dead… Mommy’s not dead she can’t die.”
“No, no, no. She isn’t dead she’s...gone.”
“She’s dead.” Elizabeth sobbed into her Aunt’s hair. Her Aunt stroked her hair as she cried. To Elizabeth seconds seemed to pass like years and minutes of this laborious grief never seemed to end. One question nagged at her mind: Where was her father? “Auntie, Is Daddy coming back?”
“Not for a long time, Elizabeth.”
“Okay” Somberly the pair sat there until the rain storm passed and the sky brightened into a pure and beautiful light blue. Grief seemed to be worse on a happy day then on a day when the sky seemed to cry with you.
2 days later as the police investigation was launched. Elizabeth was asked about how her mother had been acting lately. She answered “She was normal perfectly happy. Stop asking me questions. I want to go home.” Anytime she was asked a question she would start crying and her Aunt had to come over and calm her down. “What did your father do after he was informed of your mother’s death?” asked the annoyed, pale faced policeman. She answered by sobbing for 5 minutes before she told them anything. When she finally did answer she wailed “h-he-he s-said he was g-go-going to l-l-lo-look for s-s-so-someone, and gave me his compass,” and then pulled the compass out of her dress pocket. Then the brunette, polite policewoman asked “Can I see the compass” Elizabeth answered defiantly “NO!” clutching it to her chest. Her Aunt said calmly, “Give it to them. I’m sure they’ll give it back in just a minute” Sobbing again she said “N-n-no Auntie Cor-del-del-ia. It-it-it's m-m-mine.” The redheaded policeman screamed at her “Just give it to us!” Aunt Cordelia screamed back at him “she will not give you the compass if she doesn’t want to. I will not have you treating my niece in such an impolite manner. Can’t you see that she is grieving? We will be leaving.” Aunt Cordelia reached down and picked up Elizabeth and stormed out of the police station leaving the door to slam loudly.
2 days later they got another call from the police station calling them there. When the call came Elizabeth had been licking cake batter from a spoon in the kitchen, while her aunt did dishes at the sink. The kitchen was a mess flour covered the floor, there was a little accident with the butter and the mixer being on a little too high covering part of the backsplash in it, and the cabinet that would typically hold baking pans was empty and it's contents littered the floor around it. Her aunt left the dishes and answered the phone Elizabeth could only hear her aunt speaking but she said “Hello. ……….. We aren’t coming back there until you’ve either decided to learn the manners your mother taught you or assign different officer’s to the case. ……. No absolutely not. …….. Can’t you just tell me now. …… I don’t have time. …….. Fine we can be there tomorrow. …… Yes I said we. It is her mother she deserves to know what is going on. …… Well I am her guardian. Not you. ……… She’s coming. I do not care if you think it's too much. She deserves to know everything. And besides your officers don’t seem to have much of a filter on what they say anyways. …… We will see you tomorrow.” Once her Aunt got off the phone Elizabeth did not ask what the call was about.
The next day, she and her Aunt went to the police station in the glinting sunlight of the afternoon sun. Once they were seated in the dark room lady officer once again expressed her concern about it being to much for Elizabeth. Aunt Cordelia said “it is not your decision to make.”
Man Officer said “Fine, I’ll tell you. The water where Cassandra’s car was found has been searched thoroughly and no bodies have been found in either of the cars.”
Elizabeth said, “I thought only my Mommy’s car drove into the lake. If there is no body then could she still be alive.”
“No, sweetie there was another car that drove her into the lake,” says Aunt Cordelia.
“She could’ve driven that car off the road and then fell in herself.” says officer lady.
“My mom isn’t a murderer. She wouldn’t do that.”
“I wouldn’t entertain the thought that she is still alive. Nobody could survive that fall.”
“We aren’t implying that your mother is a murderer or that she killed anybody. Just that it's a possibility. Also it's been a week and we still haven’t found a trace of her father anywhere. No credit card use. Nobody has seen him. He couldn’t have left the country though because he hasn’t used his passport. Nothing it's as if he disappeared of the face of the planet. But we still have reason to believe that the compass holds the clue.
Possibly even a way to contact him.”
“I’m not giving it to you. It’s mine. You can not have it.”
“If that’s it we will be leaving.”
“We really need the compass.”
“She said you can’t have it. Good day.”