The paved road had long ago given way to dirt and gravel. I was a bit worried about the whole situation. We had started out from the city before the sun was up, not that we needed the sun in a metropolitan area. The bright white lights that hung from each lamp post gave a soft white glow that lit up the whole area. As we got further and further out of the city though, I began to realize that there was another world out here. I hadn’t wanted to come on this trip, but my cousin and friend said it would be fun. I was actually bewildered and taken aback when I was contacted and told that I had inherited my great aunts country house. I had only been there as a young child. I had a few vague memories of it but nothing substantial. My friend imagined a English estate, while my cousin saw a place with cows, pigs and an old caretaker. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I only knew that we were on a dirt road and that it didn’t seem to end and the sun was full up and it was way too early for me.
In a state of bewilderment we all thought that we were lost, the GPS said that we were on the right road, but we hadn’t seen a sign not since we left a paved road. In a never ending journey on a dusty covered road that had already turned my Red Honda a putrid shade of I don’t know what, I was getting a bit frustrated, then all of a sudden the digital map chirped, you have arrived at your destination. The car came to a grinding halt on the dirt and gravel horse path that was called state route 139 in the middle of no and where. We waited for the dust to settle and we looked left and right, then on top of a hill up yet another well worn dirt path, we saw a house. Guessing that from the mailbox across the road with the designated number and the GPS we turned up the driveway and headed to the place. As we pulled up to the front of the place, I got a really uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. The house didn’t seem to be in disrepair, nor did it have a dark countenance about it. There was a whitewashed fence around the front of the house on either side of a cobble stone walk way. A trellis adorned one side of the structure with wild roses running up it. The front porch was wide and open. The three story structure looked like something out of a romantic comedy if I had to be honest. I was still lethargic as my cousin and friend who was taking her turn driving had already jumped out of the car and darted up to the porch and made themselves at home in a couple of old time rocking chairs. I was only looking forward to meeting the lawyer, finding out about this place and deciding what I wanted to do with it.. I finally got out of the car as I heard another vehicle approaching up the opposite side of the circular drive way that was in front of the house. A pickup truck covered in the same dust that blanketed my car came to a stop about one cars length from where my car was parked. A moderately tall looking sort of portly man wearing a suit and cowboy boots got out of the truck carrying a briefcase. Cliché much I thought to myself, not trying to pass judgment too quickly on the man who was obviously well dressed given the cuff links and tailored suit. He looked at all of us then came walking to me, he called out my name ( Delois Ann) no one ever calls me that, I always go by Del, but it was obvious that he didn’t have that information so I went with it. I said yes I am Delois Ann Baker and my friend Rachel, she hates to be called by that name and my cousin Laurel, who also hates her given name, but what can you do. He asked if we had been here long, I said no, just long enough to let the dust settle. He smiled and said that was a hazard living out so far from the city. I just smiled politely and he said shall we go inside. We walked up the wooden steps that seemed to creak with each step we took. There were hand rails and an ornate door at the front of the house with French Glass panes and painted trim. The house was quite lovely and upon closer examination well preserved for it’s apparent age. The lawyer took a set of keys out of his pocket and unlocked the door. As we entered I felt like I was walking into an old bordello. The furniture in the foyer was dark wood and gold upholstery. There was an ornate chandelier hanging from overhead and a vaulted ceiling with a whitewash paint job that matched the fence outside . I also noticed that while the house did have electricity, there seemed to be a kind of darkness hanging over it. My cousin was elated, my friend perplexed and I was mildly indifferent. This however was necessary so I might as well make the best of it.
The attorney ushered us into a sitting room with an old Grey stone fireplace. It had couches and chairs that looked like they had been taken from some old British TV show about Victorian England. We sat down and got right to business. The attorney looked straight at me and said that my Aunts wishes were simple. It was a straight forward transaction. I was to inherit the house, 25 acres of land and a small sum of money to help me take care of the place initially. That didn’t seem too difficult’ I ask what the amount of the money was and I was told that 100,000 dollars had been left in a checking account at the local bank. I was a little stunned, I asked about the house and land. I was told that the house, it’s contents and the land had been appraised conservatively at 250 thousand dollars. I got a little wide eyed but none the less I kept my composure. So I went on with a litany of questions and the attorney had answers for each one in turn. Finally he asked me if I had given any thought to what I was going to do with the property? I was a bit stunned, but just responded in a coy manner, I said that I was still considering the matter. So he gave me papers to sign and handed me the keys. He gave me a firm handshake and hearty congratulations and told me that if I needed anything that there was a phone in the kitchen and another one in the master bedroom upstairs. He said that cell phones do work out here but the service is spotty at best, and my aunt never owned or used a cell phone. With that he departed leaving me, my cousin and my friend in a old country house that I now owned out in the middle of nowhere.
As the front door closed and the lawyer left, a sort of surreal sense of things set in. My cousin was quiet for a moment then she went OMG, you are a homeowner! I was hardly thrilled at the prospect, I could barely keep my house plant and cat alive, OH SHIT I thought, I left my cat in the car. I turned quickly and dashed out into the yard, fumbling I opened up my car and pulled the cat carrier out of the back seat. My Siamese cat Tasha wasn’t happy. She hissed at me as I took her into the house. I opened the carrier and she didn’t seem to want to come out. I tried to coax her but she just sat in her carrier and hissed. My friend said to me as she was lounging on my couch with her sandals off and feet up in the air and her legs draped over the edge in an obscene manner, just leave the cat alone, she will come out when she is ready. I just gave her a cross look and noticed that there was a dark place in the corner of the room. The corner was diagonally across from the couch my friend was lounging on and adjacent to the fireplace. I looked around and asked where my cousin was, my friend said I don’t know, I think she went looking for the bathroom. So I left my friend on the couch and the cat in it’s carrier as I went to find my cousin. All the time feeling like there was something amiss in the house.
I walked back to the front entrance of the house and back around to the rear where the kitchen was. Some memories were coming back to me, I recognized the old farm table in the middle of the kitchen and the old wood stove that still stood in the corner. I saw that some upgrades had been made, obviously to be in line with the 21 century as the kitchen had new electric appliances. I walked over to the double sink and turned on the water and washed my hands and face in an attempt to clear my head. I looked back to the wood stove in the corner near the large paned window with storm shutters and a dark shadow seemed to stand over it, despite the fact that it was well past 11 am in the morning. I got my shit together and headed back through the house, as I approached the master stair case that lead upstairs something brushed my face and made me sneeze as well as scaring the crap out of me. I turned abruptly expecting to find some gothic horror stand there, but it was just my cousin, and what the hell did she have on. She was wearing a shimmering dress cut short up to her ass with tassel fringe on it and had a feathered wrap around her neck. I ask where have you been and what is that? She laughed with exuberance, that she went looking for a bathroom, which she found, but she also had gone into several old closets while looking for a place to pee, and had found an endless supply of old clothes! So she decided to try them on, I was a little pissed that she hadn’t asked me first, but then we were like sisters and had been sharing clothes for years. I smiled and told her that she was perfect for my Bordello, she threw the wrap around her glittering form and said with an upturned nose, that if she were an employee of the Bordello, then that made me the Madame, or the Head Whore, I like the first one better. In any case, we both got a good laugh and I told her to come back into the main living room, that we needed to make a plan as to how we were going to explore the house and get settled in. She followed me with a curt yes mistress and went before me. I looked up the stairs, and I could swear that a long dark shadow was following her down. I thought it must be my imagination, little did I know that I would soon be sorely mistaken and that I had a lot to learn about old houses and their long memories.
It didn’t take long for my traveling companions to get settled in. My cousin found a room at the top of the stairs that was across from one of the houses 3 bathrooms. My friend, took a room downstairs near the kitchen. I am not sure why she wanted to be down there, but who am I to ask questions. I went up to the main bedroom, it was decorated in last century Victorian. The pillows had dust covers, the drapes looked like they should be on Scrooges bed. The bed was a 4 poster with a valence. I sat down on the edge of it and it squeaked. I heard a cackle from down the hall, I can only imagine what my cousin was thinking. Anyway, I did have my own bathroom with a stand alone shower and a ceramic tub. I was looking forward to soaking in it. I went to the closet and opened the door, I pulled on the cord for the light. The light flickered on and off before settling a dim yellow. The closet seemed to have it’s own shadow, I stepped in to hang up some of my things, then suddenly I couldn’t see where I was. I felt lost and confused, but I immediately heard voices behind me. I turned around and looked back into the bedroom, there I saw the bed, only it seemed newer somehow. Laying on it was a woman in a white gown, she had flowers in her hair and was barefoot. She seemed so happy and content, I couldn’t figure out what I was witnessing. Then I saw a handsome young man join her with a bottle in his hand, they kissed and he poured her a drink into a crystal glass. Then as suddenly as the image was there, it was gone and I was once again standing in the closet looking at an empty room with a pail yellow light shining down from above. I got a cold chill and shot out of the closet and back down stairs. I found my cousin and friend in the main living room by the fire place. They had found a jug and some glasses and were getting drunk. I could smell the stuff all the way across the room. I ask what is that, my cousin said it smelled like stale peaches, but she guessed that it was homemade brandy. They both were on their second glass, my friend motioned me over, so I sat down and they poured me a glass. I drank it quickly as I was still shaking from my experience. About the time I got the warm fruity tasting liquid down, my can hissed behind me. All 3 of nearly crapped ourselves and fumbled to keep from dropping the glasses in our hands. My cousin was still in that silly dress barefoot. My friend fell off of the couch and onto the floor. The cat had hopped up on the back of the couch and was just arching it’s back and bristling hair towards the fireplace. I noticed that a dark countenance was lingering over the fire place, but noting that couldn’t be explained away as a passing cloud over the sun except the sun was on the wrong side of the house this time of day. I got up and approached the fireplace, as I entered the shadow, I was lost again. I looked around kind of confused and then felt a fire in the hearth. The room was warm and alive with people. I looked back and saw my great aunt sitting on the couch surrounded by a bunch of women. They were having tea and cackling like a bunch of school girls. She appeared to be much younger and I saw a young girl come running up to her, then I thought, that is me. I was taken aback and wanted to speak, but couldn’t . I just stood there for a moment, then the image was gone and I was back in the living room in front of the fire place. I felt disoriented and confused. I looked over and saw that my cousin and friend were both ash white. I asked what was wrong? My cousin asked, where did you go? I said why, they said you just disappeared for a moment. I explained to them what had just happened and they both looked as they had swallowed a bitter pill. For a moment there was an awkward silence between us, then I asked quite bluntly, has this happened to you to. They just both shook their heads blankly. I then sat down and asked for some more brandy. We settled ourselves and discussed the matter between ourselves. We then decided to go together into a place in the house where a shadow might be lingering. We all found ourselves in the kitchen and walked into the corner where the wood stove was. We all had the same experience, but not in a bad way. It was more like we were reliving memories from the past and not being haunted by ghost or specters. Finally we all agreed that we didn’t think we were in any danger, although my cat might disagree. We voted and decided to put the brandy away and spend the night together in the master bedroom. It was obvious that there is more to the house than I was lead to believe and that we all have a lot to experience in learning about the house and my past.