Saturday, January 31, 2015

Blurred Edges, Chapter One

The station wagon pulled to a stop, prompting Claire to look up from her IPad (playing an old cartoon she watched when she was a kid) and out into the yard of the seemingly gargantuan manor. Pushing a stray few strands of blue hair from her eyes, she opened the door and stepped out into the chilly autumn weather. Hands immediately sought the warmth of her hoodie’s pockets while her jean-clad legs shivered from the frigid wind blowing up from the curving driveway. Leaves circled and frolicked about, carried by the wind, an endless sonata of silence serenading them as they cantered back and forth across the extensive lawn.

The driveway, black tar with gravel laid into it, was circular, encapsulating a fountain that had long ago stopped spewing water. The angel standing in the middle of the fountain, hands folded in prayer, was surrounded by three cherubs holding decanters that had once served as spouts. Now the cracked grey stone was covered in moss, choked by overgrown stretches of ivy. The angel looked sorrowfully up to the heavens, as if begging for a reprieve from the grasping vines of the flowering plant.
“Don’t worry,” Claire whispered, staring at the fountain. “We’ll get you running again.”
“What was that dear?” Claire’s boyfriend of five years, Martin, asked as he locked the door to the station wagon.
Turning to regard her lanky hipster boyfriend, she smiled and merely shook her head. “Nothing honey, just musing.”
Martin smiled before shivering underneath his light black coat. “Let’s get inside, see if they turned on the electricity like we asked.”
“You only called them this morning on our way up here,” Claire said in warning, “don’t be surprised if they weren’t able to get it ready for us in just a single day.”
“C’mon, this is a small town. Who needs the electric company to come out to a place like Alice Grove every day? I bet they had someone out here by noon.”
Claire crossed her arms and moved up alongside Martin, bumping his hip with hers playfully. “Well I hope we can get this place warm somehow.”
“I’m sure there’s a fireplace we can set up,” Martin replied while looking up at the fourth story of the massive complex, completely missing Claire’s meaning. Disgruntled, Claire walked over to the car, the passenger door still open, and picked up her IPad, turning it off. Martin stood and marveled at the structure before them, whistling slightly.
Claire looked over at him and smiled. “Do you really think we can make this place inhabitable in just under a year?”
“Sure, we’ll just have to hire on some extra help. The Traver’s are paying us a fortune to get this place up and running for their son’s eighteenth birthday.” Martin replied, referring to the computer tycoon family that had hired the two of them. “Since it’s already chilly, I’ll tackle the yard work and try and get the root systems dug out before the first freeze. While I do that, you do an inventory of the house and look in the local classifieds to see if you can hire on a couple maids.”
“And that’ll be it?” Claire asked with a smile.
“Of course. This may be our biggest job yet, but we always come through in the end.” Martin sounded confident.
Claire turned and looked down the gravel driveway that led to the grand manor, noting the overgrown bushes and orange-tinted trees, along with the layers of leaves resting over the grassy lawn. She mentally added a group of gardeners to her list of people to hire, knowing how much work Martin could actually do and how much he thought he could do. Looking back at the building, Claire allowed herself a moment to gawk at its sheer size.
A gothic grey and black stone building with three towers reaching up, one from deeper in the interior and two at the edges of the pentagon shaped buildings entry side, the building was older than the United States of America. From her research she knew there was a greenhouse somewhere in the sprawling home, as well as five different basements, three of which were dedicated to housing fine wines and liquors. The first floor of the home was devoid of any windows, though the second and third stories had tall, elegant windows that were wrapped in the same choking ivy grappling the statue in the middle of the dry fountain. Looking closely, she shivered at the sight of leering gargoyles perched evenly along the second floor’s parapets, a foot and half of stone jutting out to support each unique statue as it stood there looking ominously down at her and Martin. Some were missing arms, or chunks from their bodies, while others were shattered stone barely held together by the plant life.
There must be a hundred of them, Claire thought, staring at the vast array of stone figures. Maybe more… I bet we can sell these old ones at auction and have newer ones brought in for a fraction of the price.
The towers were old mortar and stone, rising as high as forty feet above the earth around the building. Each one had encircling balconies that allowed for someone to walk up and open a set of double doors then walk the entire circumference of the upper spire unimpeded, with a waist high wall to provide them with a modicum of safety.
Looking over the entryway, Claire smiled and imagined the things she could do with the seeping marble stairs leading up to a large pair of double doors, flanked by great marble lions the size of their car. The doors, old and weathered wood, would have to be replaced; the lacquer over the doors had faded long ago and rot had taken its place, leaving behind dark moldy remnants that looked like they would peel away if touched.
“C’mon Claire,” Martin called out as he began walking to the door. “I can’t stay out here forever, I’m freezing my ass off just watching you!”
Claire looked away from the once majestic building towards the station wagon, jogging over to it to retrieve her duffel bag full of clothes. After a three day trip by car, she really wanted to stretch her legs and get into some warmer clothes. But just as she was fishing the duffel bag out from the back seat, she felt someone brush her hair over her ear, a breathy whisper tickling her inner ear.
Go back,” the voice murmured lovingly, a breath of warm air on her frozen ears. Spinning around, she looked for someone, anyone, which could have said that. All she found was Martin standing at the doorway watching her with a level of curious interest not normal for him. Looking around, she heaved a sigh.
“Must’ve been the wind,” Claire said to herself, before shouldering her bag and peering up at the windows of the old building. “Must’ve been.”

No comments:

Post a Comment