3 comments

General

Music played over the radio and the wind blew through Nicolas’s hair. He inhaled and smiled against the warm rays of sunshine that illuminated his face. His engine purred and his wheels spun on the fresh blacktop. He tapped his fingertips on the steering wheel as his anticipation grew.

Nearly there, Nicolas thought.

A few moments later he was pulling into the driveway of his mate Raymond Wilson’s summer home. He called it a cottage, but it was big enough to be deemed a mansion. There was a swimming pool in the back and a tennis court on the side. Nicolas heard the sounds of music over the gramophone and people laughing as he got out of his car.

“Nick!” He heard Raymond call from the front porch. His friend stood with a glass in one hand and the other up to shield his eyes against the sun.

Nicolas smiled and made his way up the driveway, bolting up the steps and shaking Raymond’s hand.

“Ray, so good to see you. Thanks for inviting me.”

“Thanks for coming. Come in, I’ll introduce you to everyone.”

Nicolas looked back at all the cars parked along the drive way. Most were sparkling convertibles with their tops down and visors up.

Nicolas followed Raymond through the house, nodding to a young woman they passed in the front room who was reclining on a sofa with a magazine.

“This is Nick,” Raymond said as they passed her.

“Edith.” The woman said, looking up momentarily from her magazine. Her red hair was tied with a silk scarf and piled in curls atop her head.

Nicolas looked through a doorway to see a grand staircase with painted white steps and a dark wood banister. They walked past a library. The door was open and within he could see floor-to-ceiling shelves packed full of books. Most of the windows throughout the house were open, and a warm breeze blew aside the thin curtains and let in the radiant sunlight.

Finally they stepped off onto the back porch. It was covered, and sheer curtains hung around it to keep out the mosquitoes.

A table set in the middle of the porch and a bar was to one side. A butler stood nearby opening a bottle of champagne.

“Leave off that, Adams, and get Mr Hanson a drink,” Raymond said as they walked around the table.

“Scotch and soda,” Nicolas said.

“Scotch and soda,” Raymond repeated with a wink and led Nicolas off the porch. They went down a few steps and they stood on the patio in front of the pool. There were tables and chairs set around the pool which was a big rectangle of dark blue water. A man holding a book to his chest lay on a floating raft in the water with sunglasses on. His short hair stuck up and his leg hung off the side of the raft and moved lazily in the water, turning him in slow circles.

There was a woman in a white dress sitting at a table. Her feet were propped up on another chair and she was leaning back with her eyes closed. A man was talking on the telephone, the wire stretching from the house. A young woman with dark hair wearing a bathing suit and espadrilles sat on the edge of the pool, and she looked up and smiled as he and Raymond walked out. Lastly there was an old woman standing on the steps of the pool, her skirt held up and her bare feet in the water.

Adams brought his drink and Raymond said, “Everyone, this is my friend Nick Hanson. He’s a journalist from out East.”

Nicolas looked around at the people. They all looked very different, and very unique.

“Come here, darling, speak to me.” The old woman standing in the pool beckoned him. “Where’s that champagne Adams,” she called to the butler. “I’m Raymonds aunt, thrice removed,” she said, holding up three fingers, two of which had rings on them. “You may call me Auntie, if you like. My name is Florence.”

Nicolas took her hand and shook it. “Nicolas. I met Raymond in New York last winter.”

“He’s a devil, but he’s one of the best. Have you met the others?”

“Not quite.” Nicolas looked around again. The man who had been in a call was off the phone, and he approached them and offered his hand.

“Richard Bradly, how do you do?”

“Nicolas Hanson. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Nick was rather amused at the apparent diversity in Raymond’s guests, and he wondered how his friend had met all of them.

“That’s my wife, Helen,” Richard said, indicating the woman sitting at the table with her feet up. “I rather wonder about some of these other people.” Richard lowered his voice. “That Edith woman is a character, and what about this Mr Thompson, says he’s in manufacturing. I myself am a lawyer, here’s my card. Say, how did you meet Raymond? I represented him a few years ago in a little dispute over the land here…”

Nicolas stopped listening. He was watching the woman in the espadrilles. She walked around to the bar and talked to Adams for a moment, and then he gave her a drink and she went into the house. Raymond had disappeared, and Nicolas wondered where he had gone.

He had met Raymond the winter before when they were both staying in New York City. Nicolas was there on work, and one evening he had gone down to the hotel bar and met Raymond, who was there for a wedding. They had become friends almost immediately and had been in touch ever since.

Nicolas walked into the house and looked around. He heard a clock chime and looked at his watch to find that it was four in the afternoon. He heard the floors creaking and turned around to see the woman he had not met yet standing behind him.

“Hello,” she said. Her glass was empty and her espadrilles were gone.

“Hello. I’m Nick. Nicolas.”

“Evelyn Taylor, nice to meet you, Nicolas.”

Her voice was smooth and melodic, spilling forth like a sweet song.

“I was just going to get my luggage,” Nicolas said, walking towards the front of the house. Evelyn followed him, taking his arm and walking with him onto the front porch.

“Won’t it burn your feet?” Nicolas asked, looking at the black driveway.

“I’ll wait here. Get mine, will you? The blue car.”

Nicolas got their suitcases and walked back up to the house. Evelyn was sitting on the porch swing, her legs tucked under her. Nicolas sat down beside her and looked ahead. It was beautiful here. He had never been this far West before, and he liked it.

“Where are you from?” Nicolas asked.

“Kansas, but I live in New Jersey. I’m a governess, I take care of a little girl there.”

“That’s close to me, I live in Connecticut.”

“Raymond said he met you in New York.”

“Yes, I was writing a piece there.”

“That must be an interesting job, journalism.” Evelyn said, turning towards him. She had hazel eyes, almost green.

Just then the door opened and Raymond walked out onto the porch, followed by Edith and the man who had been on the raft, Mr Thompson. Thompson was young, about twenty it looked like. He had short dark hair and dark eyebrows over clear blue eyes, and he was very tan.

“Hello, I’m Russell,” he said stepping towards Nicolas and cocking a smile.

Nicolas shook his and then Raymond said, “Shall we look over the grounds. Maybe you lot would like to play tennis.”

Edith took a seat on one of the porch chairs and said, “Don’t worry, we have all weekend to decide.”

They laughed, and made their way back inside where the Bradleys and Aunt Florence were. Adams stood close by with a tray of champagne glasses filled nearly to the brim.

“Say, I’d rather like to see the house. Wouldn’t you Helen?” Richard bent down and kissed his wife’s cheek. Nicolas was surprised by that act of affection, he didn’t take Bradley for the type.

“Well then we’ll split up.” Raymond said. “All those who want to see the cottage follow me, and everyone else can explore the grounds. I appoint Auntie as your tour guide.”

The Bradleys and Edith went with Raymond; while Nicolas, Evelyn and Russell followed Aunt Florence outdoors.

It had cooled off quite a bit as the evening grew nearer, and the breeze had picked up.

“Raymond bought this cottage five years ago. Before that it was owned by Earl something or other, who died with no heirs. The cottage was auctioned. The grounds should have gone with it but there was a feud between a neighbor and the previous owner, and the relatives of that neighbor claimed that the owner had sold the grounds to their ancestor, and that it was theirs. There was no record of this sale, so Raymond took it to court and won the case.”

“He had a good lawyer,” Russell said when Florence had finished speaking. “Bradley’s gotten me out of a scrape or two.” He smiled back at Nicolas over his shoulder, and Nicolas glanced sideways at Evelyn.

The grass was mowed short, and they were shaded by huge sycamore trees.

“Do you ever make it to the City?” Nicolas asked Evelyn in a low voice.

“Sometimes the family I work for go for the weekend, and I go along to take care of Violet.”

“Would you call me next time you’re going to be there, and let me take you out for dinner?”

“Yes, I’d like to.” Evelyn smiled. Her smile was brilliant.

After they had toured the grounds, which were well kept and as green as the rest of Oregon, they ventured back inside.

Nicolas had taken off his shoes, the hot concrete warmed the soles of his feet as they reached the patio. Adams was setting the table outside, and Nicolas could hear soft music playing from inside the house.

The doors were open and Helen Bradley came out dressed for dinner.

“Hello,” she said, coming up to Nicolas. “I haven’t spoken with you yet. I’m Helen.”

“I know, I’m glad to meet you.” Nicolas smiled at her, feeling intoxicated by the warm air and dazzling surroundings.

“My husband tells me you’re a writer.”

They walked inside together and Nicolas parted from her and went upstairs to dress for dinner.

There was a knock at his door as he was fixing his tie, and Raymond entered his room.

“Evening, Nick. Enjoying yourself?”

“Very much.” Nicolas grinned at Raymond in the mirror as he combed his hair.

Raymond helped him put on his coat and they went out into the hall, meeting Evelyn there. She had changed into a cream colored, beaded dress, and her hair was done.

They traipsed downstairs and onto the porch for dinner. Now all the guests were seated around the table. Candles were lit around them and their light sparkled off the crystal glasses and silver cutlery.

Raymond stood with his glass and said, “I’d like to toast to all of you. You lot are some of the hardest working people I know, and my truest friends. I wanted to invite you here for a little holiday, to get away from all the buzz and enjoy yourselves for a few days. So, here’s to all of you.” He raised his glass. 

Aunt Florence raised hers and said, “And to our host, dear friends.”

“Here, here” and other words of approval and agreement rang out all around the table.

“Raymond took me in when I was at my worst, and helped me find my way,” Edith said.

“And I rather needed this,” Richard said over the brim of his glass, with a smile in his wife’s direction.

“You’ll never know the hardships of the press,” Nicolas said, causing laughter around the table.

“Well I just need an excuse to get away from Mummy,” Russell said, at which more laughter erupted. “No really, she’s trying to get me to marry.”

“Oh well in that case, I’m glad to have rescued you,” Raymond exclaimed.

“I think we all needed this weekend,” Evelyn said, smiling. “I certainly did. I’m so happy to be here with all of you.”

That evening passed into night and still the eight of them sat around the table. Empty plates were taken away, desert served and eaten, and glasses drained more than once. A constant buzz of conversation danced around them, and Nicolas felt as if he had known these people his whole life. Each of them with their own life, their own cares and wishes; they were gathered in this beautiful place with one thing in common: they had all wished to get away from their own lives and experience a different one for a few days. They were in a fairy tale for as long as the weekend lasted. And when Nicolas got back into his rented car at the end of the visit and waved goodbye to his new friends, and his old one, he knew that these people and these few days would stay with him always.

August 01, 2020 23:11

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

3 comments

P. Jean
03:35 Aug 13, 2020

Yes there were a quite few characters but the main characters wove their way through and around the others as though pieces of furniture so I thought it worked well. No tension or drama but a weekend at a posh cottage like a dream!

Reply

Lisa Sedley
04:13 Aug 13, 2020

Thanks for the feedback!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Mae Obusa
09:52 Aug 08, 2020

There were too many people introduced in the story that the characters were all a bit of a sketch. Please check out my story and give an honest opinion. Keep writing!

Reply

Show 0 replies