MoboReader> Fantasy > Broken Past

   Chapter 1 New Beginnings

Broken Past By Arathi Characters: 10895

Updated: 2018-08-01 06:22


As I stood before the rustic and quaint house, several emotions flew out to embrace me.

Of these, the most powerful was a deep – no – a profound sense of belonging. A warmth, a friendliness – a certain familiarity. As if I had been here before. As if I had lived here before. As if I had taken a considerable measure of solace and comfort in this very house.

A sudden sense of fear swathed me next. However, the emotion was so tiny, almost like a wisp of a shadow circling and then flying past me so quickly, that it didn't quite register. Had it registered, I probably would have turned and scampered up the mountainside.

As it were, the feeling was nippily replaced by the next – that of happiness, of joy and all things wonderful. Like sitting down with a plateful of Cinnabons. The wonderful hot spicy aroma floating up my nose and the anticipation of digging into something tender, soft, squishy and oh... so full of goodness. It felt so real that I could feel myself salivating at the thought. Ooh... I confess I was perhaps just a tiny bit homesick. I glanced at my watch, calculations flying through my head. At this hour, in London, I would be sitting in the café nursing a hot coffee and digging into a Cinnabon.

A sound tore me from my thoughts. I couldn't quite pinpoint what it was. However, a sudden breeze seemed to be rustling everything in sight; from the weeds growing out the chimney to the loose tiles that made up the roof of the house, to the long grass that grew all around as if it were protective fencing. Dry pine needles floated lazily down from nearby trees only to be picked up by the breeze and transported elsewhere. Dust motes seemed to obscure my vision. I raised my hand to protect my eyes from the dry wind and all that it carried. While the setting seemed idyllic, the agent next to me appeared restless. As if he had somewhere else to be and something more important to do. That irked me.

"Could I take a look inside, " I asked turning to face him. He nodded and fumbled through the keys in his hand for the small half-rusted key that would open the main doors to the house. "The house is built into the mountainside. So it doesn't matter which of the two floors you're on, each feels like the ground floor. There are seven rooms on the floor we're entering now. There's a small spirally staircase out the back that leads to the lower half of this house. That section has another five rooms." As the main doors flew open, inviting me into the dark recesses of the house, I get lost in my surroundings. The agent droned on, utterly oblivious to my undying boredom with his rehearsed speech.

Buying a house in the middle of nowhere wasn't an experience in statistical recounts of the property. It was an investment in the house, its history, and of all the beautiful things it promised. I'd have listened had the agent spoken of its last tenants or the ones before them. For it seemed to me that the house had been empty a long while. Why on earth would someone not want a quaint little house, somewhere in the middle of a picturesque mountain with acres of adjoining land ready for exploration? The weather it seemed, was wonderfully pleasant regardless of the month and how close to the equator we appeared to be. Such a dramatic change from the constantly wet and sleet filled London where I grew up.

".. there are no bathrooms, and the kitchen is outside... disconnected from the house." These words spoken by the agent seemed to shake me from my woolgathering. "What!" I squawked. So there was my answer. Plain as day. A house that was so old it didn't have plumbing, or bathrooms and no semblance of a kitchen. For a minute there, I felt torn between the awe I felt for the house and the fear of living like that... as if I had crawled straight out of the 16th century – or further back. Didn't he say the house was older? What had I expected? Cable TV? Telephone wiring? Free WiFi? Fantastic! First thing on my to-do list, I tell myself. Another voice chimes in... There's a rose bush crawling up the stone wall on the East side that needs tending to and broken wood fencing all the way down to the lower end of the property that needs patching up... not to mention the..

For a minute there, I stopped walking. Shaking my head, I tried to focus. Another voice telling me what needs fixing? How on earth... or more like what on earth! I brushed the thought aside reasoning with myself that the 'other voice' was probably the agent. I haven't even seen the place, I haven't debated over whether to buy it or not, and I'm already making lists of projects I need to do to make the house livable? Does this mean that I've decided to buy it already?

Yes! Yes! Yes! The walls screamed at me. The voice had sounded so real that I went around full circle with wide eyes searching for the source. "Miss are you all right? Is there something wrong? Can I help you with something?" I found myself shaking my head, unable to speak lest I say something that made the man recommend me to the nearest asylum. I should have probably turned and scuttled up the mountainside right then and there, but for some reason, I felt entirely at peace. There was absolutely no sense of fear.

I laughed nervously at the agent and motioned for him to continue with the tour. Nothing could be as bad as having to return to Tom. No, I wasn't leaving here just yet. This house was beautiful. After almost a we

ek of nervously searching for a place that was as secluded as this, I had nearly given up hope. Hope for a better life, for a different life, for a life away from the city I had grown to despise and the man that made me hate it all.

Walking through the several dusty rooms, I drink in my surroundings. The walls both inside and out were made of a blue-ish stone that had grayed over the years. Dust filled every nook and corner. Spider webs floated down from the low placed ceilings. I wasn't very tall to begin with, so the height of the ceilings mattered little to me. At least for all intents and purposes, the house was practical. Not so low that I had to stoop to walk through and not so high that I needed a ladder to remove the cobwebs.

Apparently, all houses built on the mountainside were tiny. They may have several rooms, but the rooms were narrow in length and breadth, and the ceilings were almost always low. Like a constant reminder of the shortage of build-able space. This also probably added to the practicality of being able to keep the house warm in the cold months. Nevertheless, I found this quirk... endearing. Like the tiny space was homely and personal, not huge, cold, and indifferent. And of course, there's always the open land around to take comfort in if I ever felt like the walls were closing in on me.

Large wooden planks that lacked finishing and shine made up the floor and thick wooden beams held up the roof. I could see that in some places rats or weather or perhaps merely wear and tear over the years had run the wood thin in places, so much so that the planks groaned and moaned when I walked over them. Another something to fix...

Several of the rooms had fireplaces; several didn't. They all seemed to be connected to the single chimney on the roof I had spotted earlier. The entire house was empty, not even a single piece of forgotten furniture remained. No broken chairs, no buckets with holes, no three or two-legged tables, nothing. I wondered if the previous occupants had taken everything with them or whether these had been stolen over time. After all, it was, from my experience, inevitable that old furniture was often discarded in houses during moves.

As we moved to the lower floor, a sweet smell assaulted my nose. Almost like cooking gas, but not quite. The agent dug into his pockets for a handkerchief. "The smell of old wood, " he said, placing the 'kerchief over his nose. Perhaps that was his idea of an explanation. Old wood smell, really?

As we exited the lower floor, there was a relatively large patch of land devoid of growth. A stone slab lay lazily, next to what seemed like an underground stream that had found a surface opening. This he said, would be the only source of water on the property and hence where the previous tenants had made the kitchen. A stone slab was a kitchen?

Across from that stood what the agent described as an outhouse. Now from where I come, outhouses meant bathrooms. I cheered up at the thought that perhaps, the agent was mistaken when he said there were no bathrooms.

But no, I was getting ahead of myself. Here, it seemed outhouses were single rooms spaced all over the property – something I could sublet. In the olden days, these outhouses would have been residences of the servants or the people that would have worked the grounds. I turned to take in my surroundings, what was once beautiful terraced fields of perhaps mustard and barley were now overgrown with pine trees and undergrowth. The wooden fence was no more than an odd stick in the mud. The spirally staircase the agent had spoken about was a simple build of slate-like stone slabs thrown one on top of the other to make climbing down easier. Considering how long the house had been neglected, this supposed staircase was covered in lichen and slippery pine needles.

Despite the numerous reasons I could think of to not buy this house, a nagging voice in my head told me otherwise. I had made up my mind it seems. I turned to speak with the agent, "how quickly can you have at least one of the rooms in the house converted into a bathroom and another into a kitchen." The agent mused quietly before answering, "If I keep the bare minimum construction and changes in mind, three days perhaps four."

That didn't seem so bad. I had booked the rest of the week at the rest-house I was staying in, so these additional few days taken to ready the property before I moved wouldn't cost me extended stay. "Done, " I said extending my hand for a quick shake. The agent looked pleased. "I'll draw up the paperwork while we wait. Perhaps in a day or two, I can call on you again, and we can conclude the transaction?" He asked looking hopeful.

A day maybe two. I wondered if I could have the money transferred overseas by then. I had already applied to a local bank for an account, and they had seemed eager to comply. "Not a lot of business to come by in these parts, " the bank manager had explained with a sheepish grin. "You see most people here live at the lowest of standards, and they do not need half the services we would normally provide to our customers. However, we will do our best to accommodate your needs and extend to you all of our services, even if it takes a day or so more than the norm."

Perhaps a quick chat with the bank manager on my way back to the rest-house would settle my concerns. With that, the agent and I parted ways.

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