The Windfall House ...Part 2

in #writing2 years ago


Fran and I had inherited a Victorian row house in the Kensington district of Toronto.

The Windfall House as I called it should have comforted me—after all, it was passed down through my family all the way from my grandmother Eileen to my mother—and now finally, to me.

But I have an aversion to Victoriana—a leftover from a troubled childhood—and these old houses always come complete with ghosts.

So, rather than make a hasty decision, I opted to take Fran to lunch and afterwards drop by the property and take stock of things and perhaps come to a decision.

We had lunch of crepes at The Gabardine in the Financial District, grabbed take-out coffees and enjoyed a leisurely drive out to Little Portugal, with its fabled market and narrow streets and charmingly painted houses.

Whatever my views on the Gilded Age of the Empire, life in the colonies was far simpler and these modest attached houses with their gaily-painted facades had nothing gothic about them.

Great Grandma Eileen’s narrow row house, dappled with shadows in the afternoon light, seemed gentle and graceful as if mirroring her soul.

“Maybe we could reno it,” I thought aloud, “modernize parts—make it more livable.”

I don’t think Fran agreed. “Let’s go in and check it out,” she said, hastily exiting the car.

The front garden was a romantic aspiration from another time filled with lacy, delicate vines such as Clematis, Wisteria, and Morning Glory. There was lavender too and bleeding heart bushes.

It must have been beautiful for Eileen, I mused, as I paused on the verandah—I could imagine her sitting out summer nights on this wooden porch, the street asleep, and islands of scent drifting on the breeze.

“Are you coming in?” Fran eyed me quizzically.

“Yeah, just looking at the street,” I lied.

I think I was slowly starting to come around to Fran’s point of view. Besides, I couldn’t hate the house—it was Great Grandma Eileen’s after all, and it seemed to have a soul. Still, I wanted to put my stamp on it, somehow—maybe make an office in one of the upper bedrooms or remodel the front room.

Fran seemed to be thinking along the same lines. “This room is lovely. It has possibilities.”

“Oh yeah, what kind of possibilities?” I teased.

I came up behind her, encircling her waist, my face nuzzling the nape of her neck and inhaling her perfume.

She wasn’t in the mood for snuggling and backed me off with a playful jab in the ribs.

“Let me go, Blake—I need to see what I can do with this room.”

She was frowning, her brow furled in concentration. She scanned the room until her gaze rested on the cast iron fireplace with the Carrera marble mantel. “This is lovely,” she sighed.

“So are you.”

She smiled faintly, still completely ignoring me, running her hands along the lines of the marble, until she gave a sudden start, “Oh!”

“Are you okay?” I asked, thinking somehow she cut herself.

“I’m fine, it’s just there’s a compartment here in the side of the mantle—I could feel the seams with my fingertips. Come, take a look.”

I peered over her shoulder, trying hard not to inhale her scent, while focusing on the pillar where her finger traced the faint outline of a hatch.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” I swore softly, as she touched a lever and the door that was molded into the contours of a pillar, smoothly clicked open.

She gazed into the dark recess. “There’s something inside.” She reached inside and drew out a dark wooden box.

It was an old Benson & Hedges cigar box with the King’s coat of arms engraved into the wood and a caption below the product seal that read, Beware of Imitations.

She looked at me as if holding a relic—and it dawned on me she was obeying the laws of propriety—looking to me for guidance, since it was my Great Grandmother’s property.

“Open it,” I smiled.

Fran was fetishistic with a natural sense of drama. She carried the box to the center of the room and sat cross-legged on the floor, patting the oak hardwood beside her, stirring up a faint cloud of dust. I read the gesture and dutifully obeyed squatting down beside her.

Her eyes were huge and dark. “I’m almost afraid to open it.”

I reached around her waist jokingly as if to take the box from her, “Well then, I guess I’ll have to do the honors.”

She wriggled away, holding the box just out of my reach. “Not on your life—you said I could open it.”

“Then, hurry up and do it—the suspense is driving me mad.”

Again, the huge eyes gazed at me, dark with meaning. “I thought I drove you mad,” she whispered.

“You, do, Love—you make me crazy—but right now, open the box.”

She flushed, pleased by my flattery, but also ablaze with excitement at what lay inside the humidor in her hands.

Using her index finger, she gently eased the latch and slowly opened the lid. The box was cleverly crafted with removable cedar inserts placed within.

Immediately, lavender scent filled our nostrils as we peered at a stack of letters neatly tied up in a violet ribbon. There were also some other items—I could see a few loose photographs and a sachet of dried seeds.

“How lovely!” Fran whispered as she gazed in awe at the contents.

I was wondering why Great Grandma Eileen didn’t keep the box with the other memorabilia in her big cedar chest. Obviously, it must have been very special.

“Aren’t you going to read the letters?” I asked. Fran seemed reluctant to untie the ribbon.

“I don’t know, Blake—it seems a violation somehow. I mean, just think—your Grandma Eileen tied up her secrets in this violet ribbon, putting them to rest. It doesn’t seem right we should pry them open just to satisfy our curiosity.”

I shrugged. She was right—as always. I hugged her tight.

“Put them back for now. We’ll think about it.”

She nodded, but neither of us stirred.

We sat there in a kind of spell, watching dust motes in a shaft of sunlight, as if the atoms of a far older scene were suspended in that beam.

On the drive home, we decided to keep the house.

© 2019, John J Geddes. All rights reserved



Masterful - are you missing a hand. Captain Hook

Ha ha, I hope you are hooked, Jeff - it's the magic dust of story land :)

To listen to the audio version of this article click on the play image.

Brought to you by @tts. If you find it useful please consider upvoting this reply.

Coin Marketplace

STEEM 0.23
TRX 0.06
JST 0.028
BTC 20023.31
ETH 1092.27
USDT 1.00
SBD 3.06