- All thanks to Mimi for the banner above! -
- All thanks to Nadeen for the banner above! -
The funeral home was nicely decorated. There were roses, and lilies, and tons of other plants that I couldn’t even guess what they were. People were surrounding my mom, but I had managed to escape for a second before being accosted by the oldies.
My moment of solitude was interrupted when my mom spotted me behind a potted palm, and sent me a glare that said ‘get your ass over here and help me!’ Sighing I straightened up and walked over to her where some little old lady was rambling on and on.
“…was such a kind soul. Richard always sent our family a Christmas card; such a terrible loss. Oh hello, and who might you be?” the little old lady said quietly, eyeing me up and down curiously when I walked up to them.
“Mrs. Bakerton, this is my daughter Amelia.” My mom said politely, hooking her arm through mine so I couldn’t escape.
“I prefer to be called Amy actually and hi nice to meet you.” An easy smile came to my face and I looked into her old blue eyes. They looked like they had seen so much over the years; I had a sudden vision of the old lady playing Rose in Titanic.
“Oh, how polite she is Marie! And so beautiful! You know dear, you remind me of someone…” Mrs. Bakerton exclaimed delightedly at my mom, shaking me from my thoughts. Then she turned to me and said, “I was a dear friend of your grandfather’s. He was our neighbor. Very sweet man. I was just telling your mother here what a terrible loss his death was.”
“Oh, well I didn’t really get a chance to know my grandfather, but I’m sure he was a great guy.” I said in a falsely cheery voice. Mrs. Bakerton seemed a little surprised by my statement. I was definitely old enough to remember him, but I didn’t.
“Marie, I was wondering if you would be taking over management of the manor now that Richard has left us.” She asked quietly. My mom went suddenly pale, like she was about to throw up or something.
“Well we really haven’t discussed that detail yet. After all Walter is still getting over the shock of it all.” She said, trying to sound pleasant and airy, but I saw right through her act.
“What manor mom?” I asked politely.
Mrs. Bakerton decided to pipe up right then with a little gasp. “What manor indeed! Your grandfather had a lovely stone manor just outside of Cambridge. Huge house with lovely gardens, fountains, and mazes. I’m surprised you didn’t visit it more often. But after all, your grandfather never managed to live there.” She finished rather dramatically.
“Why not?” I asked ignoring my mom’s little shove in my side.
“Oh well the house was haunted, by an old ancestor who the house rightfully belonged to. Gregory McClain, the Duke of Evington, I believe. Oh such a tragic tale.” She said looking past us as if remembering something hidden deep inside the recess of her memory.
“What happened to him?” I asked curiously.
“Amy, I really don’t think that’s appropriate for right now.” My mom cut in quickly, giving me one of those ‘knock it off we are at a funeral’ looks. Well at least I’m pretty sure that’s what her look said, but then again she had never really given me one of those looks, so it was anybody’s guess.
“Oh no Marie, I don’t mind at all. Your daughter has me feeling young again. Truth be told, I feel ancient around all these oldies.” Mrs. Bakerton smiled up at us using my oldies phrase which is really funny considering she had to be at least sixty-five. I really hoped I wouldn’t be as short as her when I was her age.
My mom let out a little “oh,” and I had to fight back the laugh that was rising in my throat. So she quietly detached herself from me and smiled politely as she went in search of my twin brothers.
“Now dear where were we? Oh yes I remember now. You had asked what happened to him. Well Gregory built a manor right on the edge of Cambridge for his fiancée Lydia Callaway, daughter of a wealthy earl. Oh he loved that woman so, but the sentiments were not returned by his young bride to be. But they had been betrothed by contract from the moment the set foot inside the nursery.
“So they married and were happy for a time. Until Gregory’s best friend Robert Van Allen started staying at the manor more and more. Gregory, a true gentleman, didn’t believe in straying from his marital vows. Lydia apparently disagreed. She and Robert had what would later be known as the “affair of the century.”
“A year after they were married, Gregory and Lydia threw a masquerade party on All Hallows Eve as it was called back then. Now in a traditional masquerade, at midnight everyone throws their masks in the air, kisses their spouse, and drinks to the health of their hosts. Well exactly at midnight just like in those good mystery books, Gregory fell to the floor dead after the toast. No one knew what happened to him, but it was obvious that he hadn’t died of natural causes. Well the police and the magistrate were obviously called in but for Gregory’s killer was never found. Not that they tried very hard to look for him, or her as the case may well have been.” Mrs. Bakerton took a moment to say a friendly hello to some old couple that was passing by. I looked around me at all the family members and friends of my grandfather’s. Some smiled at me, others gave me sympathetic looks, but then there was the guy standing behind the potted plant that I had just vacated.
Dressed in very odd clothes, he stood next to the potted plant I had hid behind moments earlier. He had the most amazing hazel eyes I had I had ever seen. It was like they could see right into my soul. I had a sudden memory of something I knew had never existed. A dance, happiness. Image after image passed through my head and I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I felt connected to him, like I’d known him for forever. Then my mind reeled with pain, hurt, agony all there in his eyes. I shut my eyes against the pain, shaking with it. When I opened them again he was gone.
Fear gripped me as my eyes darted from person to person trying to find this mystery man. Mrs. Bakerton must have finished talking to whomever and looked at me with a weird expression on her face.
“Dear, am I boring you. I can stop if you’d like,” she said sweetly.
“Oh no, I’m sorry I just saw someone I thought I knew and was trying to find him.” The lie rolled off my tongue so easily and at once I felt guilty about lying to her.
“Oh of course. Should I continue then?” I smiled sweetly at her and nodded.
“Alright, now where was I? Oh yes, Gregory was dead. No one knew what had happened to him. His fiancée was apparently heartbroken over the accident and was the picture of mourning for the required year. But as soon as the year’s traditional mourning period was lifted, Robert married the girl happily, and since Gregory had left the manor to Lydia, he moved in full time.”
I felt awful for Gregory McClain. He had everything taken away from him, including his life. But I still didn’t understand how that tied to my grandfather not living in the manor. So I asked, “So why didn’t grandpa live in the house?”
“Well you see my dear; Lydia and Robert didn’t live in the manor long. It was said that Gregory haunted the place. About a year after they were married, Lydia and Robert were blessed with twin boys. But soon after, it was said that Robert lost his mind. He would rant and rave about being haunted by the deathly spirit of Gregory and how Gregory would show him terrible images of his wife and children. Two months later he threw himself off the roof, swearing that no Van Allen would ever live in the manor as long as Gregory was haunting the place.”
“And no one did, until your grandfather tried just after he married your grandmother, Allison. But things started happening the night the last box was unpacked. You grandmother had horrible nightmares about your grandfather. She swore to me that it was the house. Every once in a while she would see a ghostly figure standing over her in the bed. Well, sooner or later she had had enough and told Richard she couldn’t spend one more night in the house. So they left. There are caretakers who live just outside the property who watch over the place; you know tend the gardens, clean the house, but no Van Allen can seem to live in the place.”
“Wow,” was all I could say for some reason.
“Yes, well oh look there is your mother, I do believe I have kept you long enough my dear.” She laughed softly and got up to go see someone, leaving me to my thoughts.
When I looked down the hallway to see a familiar face, I saw my dad’s retreating form. I followed him out onto the patio behind the funeral home.
“Hey, Bug,” he said quietly without even bothering to turn around to make sure it was really me.
“Hey Dadio, how have you been doing?” I asked, slipping my arms around his chest to give him an awkward hug.
“Okay I guess. How’s your mother doing?” he replied smiling down at me. I could see that he was sad. I wanted so badly to wipe the sadness from his eyes, but instead I just smiled, hoping he would understand. I’d never lost someone I was close to; I didn’t know how to make it alright.
“Okay, she’s being attacked by old people constantly, and I’m sure the boys have destroyed something by now.” I looked out onto the lawns, seeing all the headstones, wondering where grandpa would be buried.
“Probably, but how ‘bout you miss Amy? How are you doing?” he looked down seriously. I gazed back up at him. I didn’t know whether or not to tell him the truth.
“It feels wrong somehow. I feel like I should be sad, but there’s nothing, just numbness. I didn’t know grandpa, so I can’t feel sad. I can’t cry like everyone else, but I want to.” I looked down at the stones shamefully. I felt miserable here.
“No, sweetheart, it’s fine you don’t feel anything. It was my fault that you didn’t get to know dad, I shouldn’t have kept you or the boys from him just because of our fight.”
I looked up, suddenly curious. “What was that fight about anyway, dad?”
I heard him sigh like he was bracing himself for something really ugly. “Well, your grandfather wanted me to marry someone in ‘society’s standards’ as he put it, but I was in love with your mom, and wasn’t about to let her go. So we fought, said some stupid things, and I haven’t spoken to him since. We would get the birthday cards, Christmas and birthday presents, but that was it.”
“Oh,” I suddenly wished that I hadn’t asked such a stupid question.
Father Dane came out just then. “Mr. Van Allen, we are ready to proceed onto the lawns.”
My dad nodded curtly, suddenly looking like he was about to do something terrible. So I followed quietly behind him, soon in line with the procession.
It was pretty warm out, and the sun was beating down, which is pretty uncommon for a day without rain in England in September. I followed behind my parents, the twins in tow, actually behaving themselves for once.
I tried to listen through the service, but found myself focusing on Mrs. Bakerton’s story. When I finally got down to concentrating, my dad was standing before the casket, finishing up his speech.
“…was a good man, I will never, ever forget him.” He went to sit down and my Aunt Claudia went to say some words. I looked across the casket to him, and though he wiped them away before anyone could notice, I saw tears rolling down his cheeks.
Finally we had all said our goodbyes, and were walking back to the car. Before I got in I looked back at the casket being lowered into the ground and saw him again. Standing alone on a hill near the grave was my guy. The intensity in his eyes as he watched the procession scared me. Then his eyes settled on me. Gasping I turned to my dad and asked, “Who’s that guy over there on the hill?” My dad looked past my shoulder and shook his head.
“What are you talking about? There’s no one there sweetheart.” I turned back around and he was gone. He must have walked away or something, I thought as I opened the door and got into the car.
On the way home I glanced around at everyone. The boys were sleeping in the back seat, my mom was holding my dad’s hand, and my dad just had his eyes on the road, but his knuckles were white against the steering wheel he was holding it so tight.
The London streets were unusually bare for a sunny day. I looked around me at all the things I knew so well, the pubs on the corner, the coffee shops, and the grocery store owned by a cute old couple. I remember moving to England when I was five years old. My mom and dad were born here, but they moved to the states after they got married. Eventually my dad’s job required him to move back to jolly old England.
When we finally pulled up to the house on Maybelle Drive I was just as exhausted as the twins. Our house was an old townhouse that dated back to Mayfair in the 1800s. My bedroom was on the third floor, and when you’re tired, it’s really a pain in the ass to walk up all those stairs.
After a thirty minute shower I changed into my comfy shorts and sweatshirt. I flopped down on my bed and closed my eyes. I guess I must have dozed off because suddenly I was walking down a hallway past a bunch of oak doors to the end of the hall. The door is locked and I can’t seem to find a way in. I jiggle and jiggle but nothing happens. The hairs on the back of my neck start to stand up and I feel lightheaded. Something is wrong I can feel it. The door finally swings open, but it’s dark inside and I can’t see anything. Someone screams; I feel sick to my stomach, then a pair of bright hazel eyes stares at me through the dark and I fall into nothingness.
I started awake. My phone was ringing on my desk. I scrambled to get to it in time.
“Hello?” I said groggily.
“Jesus, you sound awful!” I relaxed back onto my bed. Good old Kaylie able to wake me from any nightmare.
Kaylie had been my best friend ever since we were six years old. I used to be picked on for my American accent and Kaylie had always stood up for me. Even when she stayed in Cambridge and we moved to London we kept in close contact, spending every weekend, and break we had together.
After catching up on the usual dose of gossip in Cambridge, I hung up the phone and put it back in its cradle. I felt the early pangs of hunger and thought something really yummy but totally bad for me would do just the trick. I took what used to be the servants staircase that led into the back of the kitchens, but stopped short on the stairs when I heard my parents bickering.
“I don’t know. We’ve only been here for a year and that’s not long enough. Why do they have to transfer you?” I heard my mom say bitterly.
“Well this might be good for us. The kids can go back to their old schools, and see their old friends. I thought you liked living in Cambridge.” My dad argued back.
“I did, but Amy and the boys have just started to make friends here, in London. It just doesn’t feel right, and I don’t want to live in the manor. That house has always scared me. Your own father wouldn’t even live there!”
I would have kept eavesdropping but my foot slipped, and I did a sort of somersault down the stairs, and landed flat on my ass in front of my parents.
“Uh, hi,” I said, smiling sheepishly.
“Amelia, were you listening in on us?” my dad asked in a low voice. Great I had screwed up royally.
“Um, what exactly would happen if I said yes?” I asked as I stood and brushed myself off.
“Oh for the love of God, how much did you hear?” my mom asked as she began to pace the room glaring back at me every once in a while.
“Dad, you got a transfer? Back to Cambridge?” I decided that bypassing my mom all together was the best thing to do. Unfortunately she didn’t see it like that. That’s when the giggling started.
I turned around, stomped up the stairs, and grabbed two twin ears, and brought them back down with me.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow,” Tommy and Jake cried as they tried to wrench themselves out of my grasp, causing them even more pain. Honestly, how stupid can they possibly get?
“Ok, so apparently we don’t need to fill anyone in on the subject. Now how would you kids feel about moving?” my dad asked cautiously, stealing a glance at my mom who was, to say the least, not happy.
“Would we get a bigger house?” Tommy asked.
“Well, er, it is rather big,” dad said quietly.
“Then definitely!” they cried in unison.
“Guys, that is not the only reason you should want to move. I mean we’d have to pack all of your stuff, and move it back to Cambridge.” My mom tried to reason with them, but they just looked at her like she had five heads or something.
“I would love to get to see Kaylie more again.” I piped up. After all why should the boys get to decide everything? It was all because of that puppy dog face that they had perfected. Damn their annoying cuteness. If only my parents weren’t completely oblivious to the havoc they reek.
My mom growled in my general direction, she actually growled! I looked over at dad, who shook his head, and held up a hand signaling that he wanted absolutely no part in this whatsoever.
I guess that’s when my mom knew she wasn’t going to win the battle. I could tell that she was a little excited about moving back to Cambridge, and so was I, except for that one little bit about living in the manor.
“Wait the manor? As in the manor? The one that grandpa owned? We’ll actually live there?” I was blabbering; I always did that when I was nervous or scared. And thought about living in a house where a guy had killed himself, not to mention the creepy dreams. Wait what was I thinking? Ghosts don’t exist, so why was I worried?
“Well, er, yeah? What’s the problem with that?” my dad asked curiously.
“Oh Amy relax, I’m sure Mrs. Bakerton was only trying to scare you with that story about the house.” My mom nodded subtly to the boys.
“Oh right, I, I knew that.” I sputtered. Wow, that sucked.
“So it’s decided then. We’re moving back to Cambridge!” my dad shouted triumphantly.
The boys began jumping up and down shouting incoherent things. Half the time I don’t even know what they what they were saying anyway, so I didn’t really care. My dad had my mom around the waist and they started dancing, really badly in fact.
I shook my head and headed back up to my room with a small smile on my face. It was getting late anyways, and it had been a long day. After leaving a message for Kaylie telling her to call me on my cell phone in the morning so we could talk, I crawled into bed with my favorite stuffed animal and slept.
But the minute I shut my eyes I was walking down the same hallway to the door at the end. The pain gripped me like an iron glove like before and I was falling again. Those haunting hazel eyes staring above me the whole time I was falling. Suddenly I was in a room of swirling silks and satins. Flashes of people’s faces and smiles whirled around me as I twirled in the arms of someone. Hazel eyes connected with mine and I felt fear, like I was about to do something horrid, and the eyes knew as well. A name came whispered on the wind “Lydia.”
“No!” I screamed, sitting bolt upright I my bed. I was covered in sweat, and my bed was a tangle of sheets. The name whispered itself to me again and again. “Lydia from the story?” I said to myself.
I sighed and flopped back into the comfort of my duvet and fell back into a restless sleep haunted with hazel eyes that pierced my soul.
Edited by Ari-san, 12 November 2008 - 01:13 AM.
Winter (Awards) is here!