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Big house many stories untold
by Katerina Charisi
2016-10-09 12:38:11
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It’s been already a month since Marianne hit Bradford’s car. The brothers worked on it for a few days, removing every part and scattering them all over the shed Brad used to work. Then they left it. It was either something that was missing, or one of them being too busy; still, the car was now a bunch of scrap metal and spare parts, and we didn’t have a car to move around, except for Jacob’s old truck that couldn’t take us too far, anyway. I haven’t left the manor since then.

mil01_400_06There was a weird silence between all of us. Marianne was spending most of her time in her room, Frances in her kitchen, and Cornelia was more like a ghost of a person, showing up and retiring in her room in the back of the house. Sam appeared to be the only normal one around, but he was always out and busy with his own chores. I realized that Sam wasn’t that much of a use, he was just an old man, carrying the Manor’s past on his shoulders, living in his little shed with the crop, taking care of the flowers and repairing the fence when the badgers dug to get in.

“Now, look at that!” he told me a morning that I walked around the field. It was a grey and wet and cold morning. The swamp was almost hidden in the mist. The woods in the back seemed darker and colder. “They always come through this way. They dig in the same spot.”

“Good morning, Sam. Why don’t you put a few planks or something?”

Old Sam fixed his straw hat and scratched his head. His rubber boots made a sticky sound in the mud and he moved. “I could. But I wouldn’t want to have to walk all around the land to find them new hole. At least now I know where to look”, he said and smiled and his wet brown eyes smiled with him. “If all the chickens are in their coop when the sun sets, no eggs around, they’re safe. I make sure there’s no way to get in the coop. Let ‘em dig. They might catch a worm or a mouse, which is good for us, didn’t it?”

“You like it here”, I said. I didn’t know if it was a question or a conclusion.

“Yes, ma’am. I was born and lived here all of my life. Right here, in this land, right there, in this shed. There were six of us back then, right in this little shack, can you believe? We were good. A tough life we did, but we were close. Happy, I guess. We didn’t know any other life to live, you know what I’m saying? Even if you told me about something else to do, I wouldn’t know how to do it. This is my life. The only life I ever knew.”

I watched his dark brown fingers working on the fence, pulling the wire down and strewing the dirt, he put a couple of rocks to secure it and turned to me again. “Not that the rocks will do any harm to them foxes, ya know.  I just put them so the lady sees I did my job”, he added with a wink. I giggled.

“I would like to know more about the manor”, I said, “but no ‘ne seems to want to share”.

Sam stood up and rubbed his knees. “Stupid ol’ man, all of dem bones crack. Don’t bother with that. You don’t need to know more ‘bout the past, than what you need is to live your presents. Big house, old house, many people’s lives, many stories to remain untold. Let ‘em be.”

“Have you ever heard about a woman who disappeared? 27 years ago?”

He shook his head. “No, ma’am. 27 years you say? That’s a long time ago.”

“Did you know a woman back then with a motorbike? It had a sidecar, too.”


He lied. I knew he did. Manon’s words twisted in my head. 27 years ago. No one ever asked.

“You couldn’t forget a woman 30 years ago on a bike with a sidecar, would you? Riding on a white dress and a leather jacket?”

He stared at the fence. Then he turned and I saw his eyes fixing on a shed, only for a moment. I followed his eyes. It was the one with the roof that fad fallen in. It’s door was hanging by the top hinge, showing a pitch black darkness inside. The two plank steps were rotting in the mud. Grasses and ivy climbed on its side, choking it.

“I sure would remember if I saw ‘er. I should go on with my chores, now”. He walked away, with deep sticky paces in the mud. I returned to the house, noting that I should go in this shed.

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