Monday, November 27, 2017

Floating Silence

   The little twigs crushed by his hasty feet, made a cracking noise that did not disturb the wildlife; the inhabitants of the forest were used to this man who lived here most of his life. His smell and posture were as familiar as the trees and large boulders. During the harsh winters there was always food near the red barn of which the white panelling glowed bright in the afternoon sun.
    The deer raised her head; it was unusual to see the man running. Her brown eyes watched him disappearing between the trees before she shook her head to chase the flies and continued eating.

    He did not slow down, he knew there was something wrong. His heartbeat went up, in pace with his breathing. His heart ached and not because of physical strain although it felt like wading through a swamp, facing a nightmare.
He heard stories about people who relived their lives in the last few seconds before they died; flashbacks. Of happy times is what he wanted, reliving the happy times. The face of the woman he loved with his whole heart, suddenly appeared in front of his eyes.
    A bruised face with hollow cheeks and eyes so tired that they remembered him of chased animals. She stood in a corner of his veranda when he woke up to watch the sun rise. She did not move but stood there, her eyes fixed at his face, her chin high, her arms down her side and her back straight. It shocked him and not because he did not expect any human being at his door. No, it shocked him because here was a woman that went through horrible times. Not an accident but brutal violence made her look the way she did.
   At the same time he felt a deep admiration for her courage because there was no fear in her eyes. Her whole body displayed courage and her eyes challenged him not to ask any questions.
   He invited her in and made sure he was not walking behind her and not blocking the doorway. He saw her looking at the breakfast table and in an impulse, licking her lips. His hand invited her to sit down but she remained where she was and stroke her hair. Although she did not say a word, he knew that her pride made her do this and he went to the stove to boil water so she could tidy herself up.
When it boiled, he left his house and walked to the shore of the lake to give her time and space.

    He lost track of time but returned from his deep thoughts about the mysterious woman when he heard footsteps. When he turned his head she stood next to him, dressed in one of his trousers and shirts held together with a string of rope. She carried two cups of hot coffee. He took both so she was able to sit down. She choose the boulder next to him but not close enough for physical contact. He returned one cup of coffee. She folded her hands with the broken nails round the cup and both listened to the sound of the lake, forest and wind.
Like he, she seemed at ease with nature and he wondered where she came from but knew he could not ask.

   In fact he never asked anything about her past after that day. She stayed and did not speak for two weeks. It was only when her bruisings healed that she spoke for the very fist time. Her voice was music to his ears. Not light and high as he expected with a young woman with blond hair and grey, almost transparent eyes that never failed to observe her surroundings, but deep and warm, a voice he could listen to for hours.
    She did not speak much, only when something needed the attention of both which was not often the case as she knew her way around the house perfectly well.
    The first nights of her stay, she slept in his bed and he on the couch. She slept for hours and hours but when she felt better again, she gave him back his bed and insisted to sleep on the couch.
   She was always up early, even before him and he knew she first walked to the lake to sit there taking in the peaceful silence that also healed her mental wounds.
She cooked his meals, washed his clothes, kept the house clean, milked the cow and fed the pigs and chickens while he worked in the forest and sold the timber like he already did for many years.

    He never thought he could live with someone else in his house; he was on his own since he left his parents when he was a young man and this was 20 years ago. He always felt at ease with no other company, he did not need people to entertain him. He was never bored; his hands were always busy.
   But this woman, he did not even know here name, was never in his way. She never disturbed him and never asked questions. She respected him for who he was and also never asked for a favour or for help.
   When he finally realized all this, it was too late for his heart that now not only belonged to him but also to her. It came as a shock that he was in love with her. It turned all his emotions upside down which made him feel slightly uncomfortable in her presence and he did not know how to handle this.
    She did not show any sings of other feelings than taking care of his household and looking after him.
Until the day he came home earlier than usually. He was very restless and wanted to be with her. He wanted to brake the silence regardless what the consequences were going to be. He could not go on like this. At the same time he was very afraid she was going to leave him when he told her about his feelings but it was a risk he had to take. It would brake his heart if she indeed left and his life would never be the same again, still....

   When he arrived home his feet guided him to the lake where she waded through the water, her long blond hair drifting on the surface. He stood still absorbing the view.
She must have felt his presence because she turned her head in his direction. He could only see her naked shoulders which took his breath. She did not move nor did she call him but her eyes showed an emotion he understood.
He did not hesitate, took his boots off and walked in her direction without caring about his clothes.
   When he stood in front of her, she raised her hand and unbuttoned his shirt and trousers. He did nothing to help her. He did not notice his clothes floating away with the hardly visible waves caused by her moves.
Then he lifted her in his arms until she folded her legs around his waist.

    All this crossed his mind when he ran even faster. Four years passed by, four years of love and intimacy. Years that were so very precious that he could not believe her when she said she knew she was going to die. Of course he noticed she lost weight but she never complained and when she finally mentioned it, it was too late. And now he was so afraid, so very afraid of coming home too late.

    He found her near the lake at their favourite spot. He noticed her smile but also saw how much energy this took of her. He kneeled behind her and held her in his arms. She leaned against his warm strong body, her lips touched the soft skin just under his ear and he felt more than he heard “I love you so much....”.
He continued where she stopped: “....beyond my life”.

  His cry of grief was answered by a crow and bounced against the trees, floated above the lake until it died at the shore at the other side.
He raised with her closely in his arms and walked to the lake. He did not stop but walked and walked until the last wave disappeared, leaving a perfectly smooth surface.

Photo: @pekamkinen (Instagram)
The visitor of this forgotten forest stood near the lake and watched the water reflecting the sky, wondering why someone abandoned the wooden cottage behind him. It was obvious it stood empty for a long time but it was left as if the owners could return any moment.

   Suddenly a cloud appeared above the water surface and stayed there. He did not know where it came from and could not take his eyes of it.
His heartbeat changed by the loud desperate scream of a crow and he watched the cloud coming down to be dissolved by the lake.

Word of thanks: the photo of @pekamkinen (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Pekka!

Links: please visit the Instagram account of Pekka Mäkinen to view his beautiful black and white photo's!

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Faint Whisper

   They asked him to trust them. And to be very, very quiet, even more quiet than a mouse.

   He knew mice always wandered around. In the middle of the night when he could not sleep, he heard their little feet on the wooden floors or scratching the burlap to which the wallpaper was glued. He got used to their soft squeaks when they quarrelled or calling each other. And now they kept him company in his hiding place.

   He pulled his knees up as high as he could and rested his chin on them. Before he wrapped his arms round his legs to keep warm, he first pulled the blanket over his ears, thinking that if he did not hear them, they would not hear him. The old pillow his head rested on, smelled mouldy but he did not care, it was only for one or two days and nights they told him. Not that the pillow at his bed smelled much better. It was only every other month that the bed linen was refreshed. The amount of starch that was used made the linen crack as soon as you turned or moved but after a few nights it felt softer and the noises were gone.
    He hated the smell of starch. Some of the children said it smelled fresh like the wind blowing over the fields but they probably did not know the smell of Lavender.

    He blinked his eyes, he did not want to cry but the thought of Lavender, the smell from home, caused emotions he had almost forgotten about.
He was only 6 and did not remember any more why he was here and when he arrived. He did not remember the face of his mother but he remembered the smell of Lavender that always surrounded her.
   He pulled his arms tighter around his legs and imagined it were the warm and comfortable arms of her, the woman that held him when he had scary dreams or when he hurt himself when he fell. Or just because it was so nice to be in each others arms.
   He tried to remember her voice to expel the deafening silence in his hideaway.
Suddenly he remembered a few words of a poem that always made him laugh: '.... eating a Christmas pie. He put in his thumb....!'

    His brains worked hard to remember the whole song and in his head he started again: '.... sat in the corner....'
Little Jack!! He remembered again because that is what his mother called him... 'little Jack, my little Jack'.... Was this his real name? Where he lived now he was called Boy and the number of his bed at the large ward where he slept with numerous other boys his age. Here he was 'Boy Twelve Stroke Three', which meant that his bed was number 12 in the 3rd row.
Suddenly he knew the whole song: Little Jack Horner sat in the corner, eating a Christmas pie. He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum and said: “What a good boy am I!”'

    His name must be Jack, there were too many similarities. Why should he otherwise lay in a corner right now? A corner in a very dark space with walls so tight that he could not even see a glimpse of the candles that moved through all the rooms. He could hear the people holding the candles walking and whispering but there was no light at all.
   He held his breath when footsteps came his way. It sounded as if a hand stroke the panels behind he was hiding. Then there was a long silence in which he thought he could not much longer hold his breath and it was a relieve when the footsteps finally moved away from him. But still he did not dare to move. He kept his promise to the people who told him they were coming back to take him home.

    Although the dark space was big enough for two or three children, he was on his own and wondered if there were more hidden spaces like his. Hiding other children and if they too were told to be patient and of course very, very quiet.
    Because the sound of feet and whispers faded, he dared to breath normal again but he did not dare to move although his muscles cramped a little. He noticed how tight he held his arms around his legs and carefully loosened his grip.
    He was thirsty but wanted to wait till all the sounds in the large house were gone. He knew too that drinking the water they gave him, would cause him to go to the loo and he could of course, not go downstairs to the outbuilding where the dark and smelly buckets were.

    Being very tired, he had difficulties keeping his eyes open. He did not notice he fumbled a corner of the blanket in his little skinny fist, stroking his face with the tip in a slow and steady rhythm. He asked himself where the thought of a soft toy came from. A toy with brown eyes, fluffy ears and large feet. He did not know the name of the soft fluffy creature but he remembered it was always with him. He did not remember where it was now and if another child took it to bed or talked to it. He hoped so for the toy which must be cold an lonely without him. The same feelings he had now; cold and lonely.... cold and lonely....

    He woke up from a strange sound. It frightened him being so very afraid of them, the people with the candles and the whispering voices of which he knew that they were not the same people that hid him here. He listened but again the silence was of the same density as the darkness. He carefully stroke his face and noticed his cheeks were wet. He realized it was his crying that woke him up and all of a sudden he could not hold his tears any more.
   He cried and cried; his fist pushed into his wide open mouth to damp the sound of his desperate hiccups. He pushed his knees together not to pee in his pants, afraid of the painful punishments that always followed when it accidentally happened. But he failed.

    When he finally calmed down, he did not know for how long he was sitting there. His skin started to itch where his wet pants touched it but he did not dare to scratch. He wanted to be a good brave boy because, what if his mother came to collect him? He wanted to tell her he wasn't afraid in the dark. Not even for a few seconds. He was big enough to look after his mother, to earn money to buy food, and flowers that smelled like lavender.
    He was going to buy a beautiful house with large windows where the sun could shine through. And with a large garden with a pond with coloured fish he was going to feed together with his mother.
And in the bedrooms nice beds with shiny white sheets and soft blankets and heaps of pillows they could rest their heads on. And boxes full of fluffy toys.....

Photo: @daftintin_official (Instagram)
   The large estate is still standing in its dark grounds, surrounded by centuries old trees that keep the sunshine from reaching the windows. The crumbling outbuildings do not release their terrible smell any more; even the rats left it.
   The silence in the large house is still deafening and only occasionally disturbed by a few people that can not resist exploring it but who leave very quickly after a visit to the large hallway with the numerous doors.

   Only the brave look behind the doors but there is one they never open. They can not explain why they walk pass it as quickly as possible. Is it the sound of a soft cry? The smell of Lavender or the sinister faint whisper of a child's voice repeating a poem?

Word of thanks: the photo of @daftinitin_official (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you!

Links: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @daftintin_official and visit his impressive YouTube Channel.

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


Monday, November 20, 2017

Eternal Memories

   His hand gently turned the pages of the album allowing him to view the photo's one by one as if he had never seen them before.

   The wind that moved the soft white curtains, touched his face; it was the touch of an old friend that eased the pain in his heart. But he knew that the wind was his only witness and that the pain would never leave him; he had to bare it for ever.

   Halfway the book he stopped and cramped his hands round the air that surrounded him. If he had known that this was his eternal future, he had changed his plans. His impulses at the time were too... well... impulsive. No control and less satisfaction although when it happened he thought different about it. He thought he had worked his way to the climax very carefully and well considered. It was not so that he did it when he felt like it, no, it took him weeks! But after the second time he never did it again.
He was not sick. Or mentally ill. He was a normal guy who took his chance when he recognized it.

   Brought up by his uncle who was his mother's brother, and his aunt, he received enough love and attention, as if he was their own son. He did not think they spoiled him, his parents died when he was very young and it was only his right to receive love from the nearest family member. He felt so much their son that he never wanted to talk about his own parents. And his aunt and uncle also never talked about them.
   Although he was very young when they died, he still remembered that day but always considered it as a normal occasion in his life. Something that was predicted to happen and that was it; life went on as he explained the doctors who took him into hospital but who did not understand his feelings. They sent him home because his other behaviours were of that of a regular young child.

   He was raised with love and responsibility for the company of his uncle who wanted him to take over one day. He loved that responsibility and getting in control. He spent all his energy in the business and hardly lived a life outside it. Of course this caused concerns with his aunt and uncle but they did not bother too much. Their happiness over the continuation of the company that they built with their own hands, was more important.
   Still they were a bit disappointed that he seemed not to be interested in women. Silently they hoped this was going to change when the right girl came into his life but never mentioned it to him. They knew how focussed he was at one thing at the time and that handling more responsibilities let alone 'temptations of the flesh' wasn't going to work....

   While he loosened his grip on the surrounding air, he remembered how aware he was of their feelings and thoughts at the time. And right now, looking back at his life as if it was played in front of him on a bright screen that showed even the tiniest details, he felt the same cold again that surround his heart when he was young. A cold that protected him against feelings he could not and did not want to handle. Or as he called it now, did not want to take responsibility for. It was so much easier not to feel responsible; it put the things he had done and was going to do, in a right perspective.
    The cold from then was totally different from the cold he lived in now. The old one he could touch and control, not only physically but also mentally. The cold of today was thin and transparent; untouchable, not his but controlled by others who finally made him aware of what he did and who let him suffer without a cure.

   Punishment. He tasted the word and it did not taste good any more. In the past it was a word with a sweet edge to it and he loved it. Today it tasted bitter and unwanted for the one and only reason he was now the victim of punishment and could not defend himself, even if he wanted.

   His hand touched the next page in the photo album but he hesitated to view the photo. It was not the first time, he spent so much time in this room going through the album but every time he reached this specific page, he hesitated. Not because of what he was going to see but more because they forced him to turn the page and being forced was something he still was not good at. At the same time he knew that if he did not do it, they took his hand and that feeling he was never going to get used to.

    Finally he turned the page; his eyes were drawn to the photo of the beautiful young girl that one day entered the office as his new assistant. He still felt the emotions of that day; they never involved him in her employment. Never!! Again his anger raised to a high level and the cold around him worsened.
   But back then he did no show his anger to anyone and smiled his ever so charming smile at the girl who promptly fell in love with him. Never had she seen such dark brown eyes and long lashes before with a man. Lashes that covered the in his eyes visible emotions but always by other people mistaken by sexy and mysterious.
Never before put a girl so much effort in asking for his attention, encouraged by his uncle and aunt who truly believed he had overgrown his lack of empathy.

   The more he was forced to like her, the colder his heart was; to an extend he turned into the same two people as all those years ago and he could not stop it.
He could not stop himself of being the charming man that accidentally touched her hand or who smiled his irresistible smile. The day came that she did not mind him putting his arm around her shoulder. She blushed when he asked her out for a drink and his uncle and aunt smiled.
The first drink was a success but he did not kiss her at her door, not even on the cheek. He knew he might loose his control too soon and this time he was going to enjoy it to the full! Every day, every hour and every minute!!

The photo album still lies on the chair he sat on when he still lived here which is a very long time ago. When he turns the pages, you don't see this. You might not even be aware of his presence, forever doomed to relive every minute of his life.
Photo: @dennislexmond_photography (Instagram)
   If you see the soft white curtain moving although the windows of this long abandoned house are firmly closed, you might not know it is the wind touching his face. Yet it is. Remember the wind that blows through every little crack in this old house, is his only friend.
They might have found his parents after he killed them when he was 6, but they never found the girl.

Only the wind knows where he dug her grave.

Word of thanks: the photo of @dennislexmond_photography (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very thankful. Thank you Dennis!

Link: please  visit the beautiful Instagram account of Dennis Lexmond Photography.

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Château Noisy (or Miranda), her personal feelings

   “Am I bragging when I mention being one of the most famous castle ruins in Europe? With it's print on socks? OK, let me narrow it down to the most famous in Urbexland.
    And now you wonder where Urbexland is and if it truly exists. Well, not as a real country with borders and a government, president or king. Yet it is the land of Urban Explorers, people who explore abandoned properties. Thus a land with people and also laws! The main law of the Urbexer is: 'Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints' and they stick to it very seriously. Most Urban Explorers were always very welcome; they saw my sheer beauty and took the most wonderful photo's to preserve it for the time I was gone.

    My relationship with these young people who dared to visit me although the many stories about my permanent ghosts, was always very good. I admired their equipment which varied from very flat telephones that are also camera's to the more advanced camera's that look so different than the very first ones I saw when I was build. Still on tripods but not the large wooden ones. And the modern photographers do not hide under large black cloths, holding up their magnesium boards to produce a flash light.
    Some of the Urbexers still wear black cloth to cover the lower part of their faces against dust. Some with the print of a skull but you will understand that this does not scare me a bit being a host to ghosts (a nice title!!).
    They don't use Magnesium any more but small lamps on top of their camera spreading an enormous amount of light. Though often they don't use a light at all and when I look over their shoulder I see myself at the back of their camera's in grids with information about light and dark, depth and much more. I don't understand this language but know the results are glorious photo's.
    Indeed I started to love these people who obeyed their own laws seeing the beauty in my decaying body that once was so glorious!

    I am not going to tell you when I was build, by whom, how long it took, who my owner was and my destinations over the past centuries. Or, and this is so very sad, that I do not exist any more. You can read all this and about my demolition on the internet where you will also find numerous beautiful photo's of me.
   Actually I am here to tell you about the ghosts that moved in during the build and that never left me. If you ever visited me without obeying the Urbex law, you will have met at least one of my ghosts. You have not??? Do I hear that correctly? And you think you can fool me? I remember you being so very scared that you ran for your life. I know very well you don't want to talk about it, afraid people will know you had a destructive mind concerning my beauty and past. Or people might not believe you at all. Do you remember the stairs that started collapsing? You still think this was a coincidence?? Ha!!

    Back to my ghosts of whom some already lived with the family that created me. This is hopefully not a surprise; every castle, manor or even small house has it's secrets and they had to come from somewhere. Of course, over time there were added a few more after people passed away and let me tell you that this was not always the owner of the castle or some one who lived here.....
    Ghost are also normal beings who need shelter. The ones who live in the woods are not real ghosts but made up creatures to let people believe in fairy tales. We don't interact, let alone marry someone from outside. That is if we believed in fairy tales but we don't. Nice to read them to your children for bed time but there it stops. Oh I agree that you don't read our stories to your children. Strange when I come to think of it because at Halloween, when you also dress like my inhabitants, your children are the little spitting images of my ghosts, or even worse, vampires.....

    Now you, as a one of my former visitors - either welcome or not – ask yourself how many ghosts there were (or are, they are still with me), will I surprise you by telling it were quite a few and of all ages? And that they were always around, following you where ever you went? Did you never had the feeling of someone walking next to you when you carefully walked up the crumbling stairs?
    Did you never shake your head to get rid of that white shadow which was in your way when you looked at the once so beautiful blue or red ceilings with the white arches? And was it you who mentioned that the flakes of the peeling blue ceiling caused the effect of stars?
    Or maybe you remember the strange noise in your film camera while editing at home; a noise you were not aware of when filming.
    Do you remember looking through the round window and all of a sudden feeling a bit dizzy while you had never been afraid of heights before? And when you stepped back, feeling like you escaped from something terrible?
   And you, yes you who sat in the elegant red chair at the landing on top of the stairs. Please admit you thought the chair moved.... because it did!!
    Don't tell me you did not hear the sound of running water when you stood in front of the double bath. Oh yes, now I mention it, you also saw one of the white curtains moving.... A curtain on it's own looks like the image of a ghost the way you picture us. You giggled!! A nervous high giggle, not at all you......
    And when you crossed the rotten wooden floor but never fell through it? This was because we admired your braveness and protected you.
    Remember taking a picture of my coat of arms? You swore you heard the Griffins blowing through their nostrils but someone said it was the wind... who do you believe now?

    Like I said, my ghosts are with many. Some are bound to only one part of me. Which should not be a problem as I was a large castle but if you know something about ghosts and their desire to float through walls and doors (did you ever question why they never go through ceilings or floors??), you understand they don't want to be locked up. Others go where ever they want to go and this is more often than not, causing conflicts with their 'bound' colleagues. In real life they all had different characters which did not change after their death. And not all characters got along which caused occasionally major conflicts. But ghosts can not hit or injure each other, let alone kill (this is one of the advantages of being a ghost!). So, when in a bad mood, they take out on others, mainly my visitors. And did I stop them?

    In the beginning of this story I talked about the Urban Explorers that became my friends. Unfortunately there were also others who called themselves explorers but who's only gaol was destroying my beauty without any form of respect for my history and last but not least, for my owners who would have loved to restore me to my former glory but could not because of the high costs and endless rules and regulations. And to be honest, I loathed the disrespect for my owners much more than that for me.
    Of course it hurts when some idiots smash your staircases, walls and ornaments with sledgehammers. And why? Some unfounded hatred against.... yes, against what? Driven by jealousy? Being the big boy afraid others think you are a softy when you enjoy architecture? I can think of many reasons – that much I have learned from the destroying visitors – but none of these reasons I understand.

Photo: @darrennisbett (Instagram)
    It was with these people that I kept silence when my conflicting ghosts talked about revenge. Revenge not always on short term, some might not have noticed (yet) what the result of the ghosts backlash is but somehow and some day, they will. Particularly after the fire earlier this year. I knew then that I was far beyond saving and I cried for my owners; I am an important part of their history! I cried for the respectful Urbexers who loved me. I cried for my ghosts who went out of control.
And as I mentioned before, I am demolished but we are still here. Looking for new homes....

Note from the author: I never had the pleasure to meet Noisy and to visit her though I listened to people who did and who took beautiful photo's. I listened to the photo's and therefore to Noisy who at one evening, talked to me and asked me to put her personal feelings on paper; which is a privilege. And so I did. This is the way of Noisy to thank the respectful explorers. The amount of Instagram posts with R.I.P. shows the love for Noisy and she will be remembered for very long.
But her story is also a warning for respectless vandals. She emphasised 'warning'....

Word of thanks: Darren Nisbett (@darrennisbett on Instgram) gave me permission to use his photo of Noisy for which I am very grateful. Thank you Darren!
Please visit his Instagram account and website 'Darren Nisbett Fine Art Photography'

I have not only chosen this photo because Darren is a gifted photographer but also because it does show ánd the grandeur ánd the downfall; the pool in front of her, her tears.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Without a Trace

   “Dear Herbert, everything I own I leave to you. Since it is your responsibility now, it is up to you what you are going to do with it. Don't feel embarrassed when you go through the letters in the safe, actually I want you to read them. I want you to know what I wasn't able to talk about. Not even with you. God bless you, you have always been like a son to me.” And enclosed the key of the safe.

    The man who wrote me this letter and whom I called 'uncle', was dead. From the moment on he heard that he was not going to recover from what he thought was a cold, it only lasted two weeks before I had to say goodbye to him for ever.
He was not my uncle, people who did not know us mistook us often for father and son, but we were not related; he was a friend of the family and I knew him all my life.
    The relationship struggled when I was a teenager but this was also the case at home with my parents who passed away a few years ago and who I loved. The bond with uncle Martin grew stronger and stronger and his loss hurts me more than I expected. That he left me all his belongings, means more to me than I can and will explain. Yet it will be strange to go through it.
    Although we shared emotions, we were both also introvert and the private emotions were us. It is strange that he wanted me to read the letters.

   It was 8 PM and a very cold night when I closed the curtains to keep the dark world outside. I added logs to the fire, poured myself a whiskey and sat down in what had always been 'my chair' and which was never reupholstered; it felt like a good old friend that embraced me.
The large box with the letters stood on the floor next to me. All bound with a string and on top a list with numbers that corresponded with those at the envelopes; he catalogued them all with dates.
    I hesitated to open the first one, it felt uncomfortable. I did not know what their content was, if it were personal letters to him and from whom. There were no stamps, someone must have delivered them. Right then I did not even notice that the handwriting looked familiar.
Staring at the envelopes did not reveal much and after a deep breath I started reading.

    The early morning light peeped through the curtains. I kept the fire burning all night until the last log and the last letter dated May 1995.
Fifty years of letters, one every month, that makes 600 letters. Each envelope contained one sheet of paper, written both sides and I read it all during a night I was not even aware of the time. I was more than surprised when I finished the last that it was 8 AM in the morning. The content was so fascinating and yet so odd and questionable, that I forgot all about time, even where I was. Or to finish my first Whiskey and I stared at the little bit that was left in the glass.
I rested my head against the back of the chair, closed my eyes and thought about what I read and if I was able to understand it.

    This was all a month ago and it is today that I am ready to tell you something about it and still this is not going to be easy. First of all I need to mention that the letters my uncle left me, were not written by someone else; it were his own letters to himself. His address at the envelopes was in his own handwriting. How odd you will think and you are probably right until you understand that it was his way to write a diary. Still a strange way to do it; the average diary writer would start with “Dear Diary”. Not uncle Herbert, he started with “Dear Herbert” and ended with “For ever yours”. No, this is not funny, actually it is very tragic, as well the content as the writing to his own address. And I have to admit that after reading the letters I doubt very much if the story that started in 1944, is true.

    In 1944 uncle Herbert was stationed in France where he fell in love with (his words) a beautiful French girl named Marie. She answered his love and promised to move with him to his country but they were young and there was a war going on although it looked like Hitler was going to loose. But their love for each other grew stronger and stronger and when France got liberated, Herbert moved with his infantry to Holland. The night before he left was their first intimate night. It were very passionate hours; as if they knew they were never going to see each other again. In the very early hours of the day of departure, Herbert left Marie with the promise to come back to marry her. Tears were shed on both sides and than one long kiss before he disappeared in the fog that lay as a blanket at the fields and the ruined houses.

    In 1945 Herbert returned home and never talked about what happened during the war. He never mentioned the horrible fightings, the death of his comrades, the liberation of France and Holland and never mentioned Marie.
Of all the letters he wrote, he wrote one to Marie but never received a reply.
I know now he sent her his address and promised her to go to the station every day, hoping to see her arriving by train.
    He kept his promise and spent much time at the small local station famous for it's candy pink colour that somehow beautifully blended with the natural colours of the countryside. Unfortunately it closed in the early 70's and is now surrounded by woodland.
    The only time Martin wasn't there was when he was taken into hospital with a pneumonia 2 months after he arrived home from the war.
A busy time for my parents who worried about Herbert's health while my mother also gave birth to me; their one and only child. This was also the time Herbert started his strange diary in which he not only expressed his deep love for Marie (if she ever existed) but also his love for me as if I was his own child.
   Maybe it was the chaotic and dramatic period just after the war that a new life of a baby, although it was the son of his best friends, made him aware of the future and the love in his heart, not killed by the terrible things he saw. Or maybe indeed his love for Marie.

    I am now at the end of Martin's story that may not look spectacular to you but which revealed more about his character to me. Because he was introvert, I never got to know what his real feelings were. He trusted these feelings to paper and than passed them on to me. Please understand that I can not go deeper into this, I am introvert as well.

    Yet he left me with a few questions. For instance why did he stop writing after 50 years? Is this because it was an important mark after the war? These 50 years of freedom were celebrated in Europe with veterans visiting the countries they fought for everyone's freedom. Where so many gave their lives.

Photo: @gioboretti (Instagram)
    And why was there an empty envelope at the bottom of the large box? An envelope with a different handwriting and a large safety pin with a blue ribbon?
And the strange address with only the name of the village and “Martin at the pink train station”???

    One day I will read the letters again, maybe I will find the answers.

Word of thanks: the photo of @gioboretti (Instgram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Gio!

Links: please visit the beautiful Instagram Account of Gio Boretti and listen to his beautiful guitar compositions at his YouTube account.

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Liberated Lady

   "Please do come in and sit down. No, not at this chair. NEVER at this chair!!”

    Her sharp voice at the end of her sentence, frightened me a little. Just a little and not enough to leave her house so I sat down at the nearest available chair and looked in astonishment to the one I was not allowed to sit at.

    “Well my dear, you are definitely one of the very view that stay but not the only one with that same look on your face. And I am not going to apologize for the state the house is in.”
    Her voice lost the sharp edges of a minute ago and now sounded very thin, I almost expected it to disappear but she spoke again: “I hope you brought your own beverage, I do not want to poison you with the left tea leaves or coffee beans, let alone offering you a piece of cake!”

    The way she said it, caused me a few negative goose bumps but I did not show it to her, afraid she was going to take advantage of my sudden fear. I said that I indeed had a water bottle in my rucksack but not being thirsty at the moment. She nodded in agreement and watched me; my eyes wandering off to that particular chair next to the old fireplace that once had a bright yellow colour.

    “I know what you are thinking... you ask yourself what that thing is doing here in the kitchen” and I knew she was not talking about the chair. I could only agree but the word 'yes' got stuck in my throat. She noticed this and suddenly laughed. A laugh that scared me almost to death and it was difficult not to move, to hold on to my chair or even run as fast as I could. I am not known to be scared easily but right now I was.
    As suddenly as her laugh started, it stopped and she moved through the room. I watched her and hoped she kept in sight.
Don't be scared, I am not going to hurt or kill you. It is not your time yet.”
I was not sure if this was a reassurance and did not dare to ask when it was my time, afraid for the answer.

    “Let me tell you a story, please relax.”, she said and stopped moving right in front of me but without reach although I did not have the desire to touch her.
I tried to relax and listened to the following story:

    “I was born in a time and family were women needed to be very slim and beautiful. We were taught manners, how to have intelligent conversations, learned to dance and to serve tea. My father was a rich man and a wool merchandiser. He bought a large estate and although the many restrictions, I had a very pleasant childhood. We travelled to other countries and I went to a school in Switzerland to become a real lady. And this was the time I got my first Corset. I had seen one in Mummy's bedroom and knew it was used to shape her body but never knew it also was a torture to wear it; Mummy never complained.
    In those days you did not complain, at least not openly and not in front of your children. Of course I don't know if Mummy ever complained to Daddy in the thrifty moments he stayed in her bedroom. And you need to know that Corsets were highly fashionable those days. It was only until I got married that I learned that men thought of the torture garment as being very sexy. That is why I understood the black and white photo's I found in a secretly hidden box in the wardrobe after Daddy passed away. No, I was not shocked, I am not an old spinster!”

    Her voice faded when she recalled these memories and I had difficulties understanding her. I moved a little to attract her attention. I agree being very curious; this was a women who did not mind talking about the more intimate details and I was more than willing to learn a little history first hand. I watched the smile on her face when she noticed my curiosity.

    “I like you” she said. “I really like you and continue my story before I decide to let you go or take you with me. I know I said it is not your time yet but I can change my mind, can't I?” She laughed; a shivering high sound that died in sudden stillness. I did not dare to move again.

   “I married at the age of 20 with a man who at the time, was also attracted by my dowry and status. Fortunately for him I was beautiful and I was happy he was quite handsome but also knew about his reputation with women, something my parents preferred to neglect.
    Of course I heard stories about the wedding night and they varied in emotions from 'disgusting', 'a duty not a pleasure' to 'heavenly' and 'exciting'.
I have to give all credits to the experienced skills of my husband that my wedding night was the latter. And it was the first exciting night of many to follow. He taught me to feel and to be sexy. He bought me flowers and presents, he openly showed his deep affection for me and herewith upset the women he made love to in the past.
    These women who were at first kind to me as if they felt sorry, now tried to patronize me and some got very rude, spreading rumours about my husband being unfaithful.
He and I laughed about it, we knew much better. We spent all nights in the same bed and sleeping was not the only thing we did!”

    The smile on her face was a surprise and I almost forgot that horrible laugh I heard earlier. I now saw the young women that was deeply in love with her husband and who was treasured and loved by him in return. Her whole face changed and her eyes, first as cold and sharp as icicles, shone bright and warm.

    “And you know what was our favourite garment? Of course you know, you are an intelligent girl. Indeed, it was the Corset. But not the one my mother bought me. No, he bought me very beautiful ones in different colours; red with black lace, or white with pink lace. Even completely black, almost like leather. Instead of being tortured by tight strings and baleens, I was spoiled with soft materials that more became a toy than a necessity to be in line with the current fashion.”

    Her voice faded again and she looked up to the ceiling. I sat very still, I wanted to know the ending. She turned her eyes to me. Her smile was nice and warm which caused a glow round her whole body.

   “I lived in a time that the word 'emancipation' was not a descent word or even existed. You modern women think that we were slavish and unobtrusive but this we had in our owns hands. I learned to handle it and above all to use it. What looks like a Corset in life is not always what you think it is. It is your choice to pull the strings as tight as possible or to loosen them and to form the baleens your way.
    I can say in all honesty the Corset was my liberation form the Victorian rules and traditions. And therefore I keep my very first one in sight, at the chair near the fireplace. Two symbols of the flames in my marriage and freedom!!”

Photo: @lotjeurbex (Instagram)
    Liberation!!! Liberation.......
I clearly heard the words, loud and out of place in a house that was decaying. Suddenly the words were gone as was the old lady.
When I entered the abandoned villa, it was very cold and I could feel the cold right through my thick quilted coat and warm gloves. The smell of decay was very present and the chaos covered in dust enormous.
    But now it felt warm and comfortable as if there was a little flame burning inside me. The items around me suddenly had a meaning and I realized more than ever that they once belonged to a living person who knew love, who lived a real life.

   I smiled, took my rucksack, blew a kiss to the ghost of the old lady and walked out the door.

Word of thanks: the photo of @lotjeurbex (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Lieselotte!

Links: please visit the beautiful Instagram Account of @lotjeurbex and her impressive Facebook Account.

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


Thursday, November 09, 2017

The Diva

   The cacophony in his head was the deafening opposite of the stillness around him. Her voice, loud en clear, overruled everything. Something he wanted to avoid at all costs.

   He sat at the red comfortable chair with the soft lining which was designed for his needs. And this indeed, was very expensive. Each chair on it's own was £ 1500. Ridiculous amount of money, fortunately it were only 6 and not a whole theatre. But even then he had been more than willing to pay for them.

    While leaning backwards, he modified the chair to his own comfort and allowed his thoughts to wander off, hoping that thinking about her might also reduce the noise that swirled round and round with false tones.
    He recalled her face and hoped this time it would be calm although he knew the main feature of it was her mouth and that was never calm. How stupid to have fallen in love with that same mouth which was at the time her attraction, particularly to him being a bachelor who lived on his own for too long.

    He met her at the birthday party of his best friend. He never meant to go but this was friend's 40th birthday and a 'Bal Masqué'. He liked that, he did not often appear in public and definitely not at parties but this way he was going to be slightly incognito. Not that he was easily recognized because he was famous (which he wasn't) but he just did not like large crowds.
And one other thing was that he was extremely rich and women, particularly single women, had a nose for money. They smelled it and immediately behaved like cats in heat, something he hated! It made him immune for the female species. But with a masque he would be fairly safe.

    Blame the masque that he fell for her mouth. Of course it was the most visible part of her face apart from her chin which revealed a determined character but that is not what he noticed. No, it was her mouth as beautiful as a rose in full bloom. He wasn't a poet but the phrase 'a rose in the morning dew' crossed his mind. He watched it from a distance and could not take his eyes of it.
    Her lips were so fascinating that the world around him disappeared. He stood in the middle of a universe without sounds and people. The space was empty and in this emptiness floated her mouth with the moving lips like wings as if they weren't attached to her.
    The thin air around him wasn't cold but warm and comfortable. He couldn't remember if her mouth made his blood boil or the warm thin air. Or both, he did remember he fell in love, deeply in love, without being introduced to her.

    The mist dissolved and very slowly the sounds of tinkling champagne glasses laughter and conversations returned.
A male voice next to him asked him if he was alright and without turning round to the man he said he was fine and added: “thank you for asking.”
    He shook his head an realized he must look like a fool although the beautiful mouth smiled and moved towards him. It was then when he noticed it belonged to a woman almost as tall as he was. He looked into green eyes behind a very simple but expensive masque. A warm voice said: “I don't think we met before”. When he agreed, they exchanged names and started a conversation. He needed all his willpower to listen to her words (which were many) and not to fix his eyes on her lips. Although he had relationships before with women he went to bed with, he never had the desire to kiss them the very first moments of their first meetings but now he only wanted one thing: kissing her. And not a social kiss, or a kiss between two friends no, he wanted to press his lips against hers until she opened her mouth to welcome him. He wanted his tongue to dance with hers in an erotic rhythm and he did not care he was at the birthday party!

    With these memories he moved in his chair, a little restless because his emotions balanced between relief and grief and he did not feel comfortable with both. Why did he marry her so soon? He surprised family, friends and society. Even the newspapers that never wrote about him before, headlined “Most desired bachelor found his Eva” (why on earth did his parents name him Adam...)

    She did not only have a beautiful mouth but also brains and organisation talents. In no time she organized their wedding and sent out numerous invitations to people he had never heard of before and who she called 'colleagues' or friends. If he had not been so very much in love at the time, inviting these people who were mainly in the showbizz, must have set off numerous alarm bells. But the bells kept quiet and only rang when it was far too late.

    It did not take her long after the marriage to convince him of her many talents like performing, singing and being an actress of high level. Well, not discovered yet but with his help (read; money and status, after all he did not only have a double barrelled name, no, he had three names and a long forgotten title) she was finally going to break through.
    Strangely enough he never heard her singing (not even in the shower but this might have been because the always showered together), nor seen her performing. And when it finally happened, in full public in the music room in his Manor, he was shocked. Not just a little bit but deeply shocked. At first he could not believe how a beautiful mouth and a warm sensual voice like hers, produced a noise that could only be described as an old unmaintained unidentifiable agricultural machine that tried to plough it's way through sticky clay.
    It was awful, terrible, shocking and above all embarrassing because she did not stop! She went on and on, looking over the heads of the poor spectators that were too polite to cover their ears wit their hands.
He wanted to crawl under his chair, fly to the ceiling, dissolve in thin air (maybe not a wise thing to do), everything to move away from her singing as far as possible. And by the look of their guests, every body had the same idea. And even so more the so called 'colleagues and friends' from their wedding party.

    Even after all those years his cheeks turned red in embarrassment. And what ever he tried to stop her, to convince her to search for other talents (she must have at least one he hoped), she kept believing she was The Star the world was waiting for. He sighed and was the producer that organized her first official concert, still thankful. Agreed, they planned it together to make her see that the large audience wasn't at all polite enough to let her go on. People who paid for her performance were most likely going to shout and whistle.

    Fortunately for her, it never happened. Yes, she was going to perform, people were waiting for her to enter the stage but when she did, her high healed shoe got strangled in her enormous dress of which the skirt was made of numerous layers of lace. Before someone could offer help, she fell off the platform in between the people of the orchestra and indeed, broke her neck.
Her audience still wanted their money back but not before the next day because they thought it was part of her act and applauded and laughed.......

Photo: @marshallubx (Instagram)
   In the old abandoned and forgotten Manor his now fading and decaying private theatre with the red chairs and curtains (the colour of her mouth) the blue walls and the large mirror instead of a scene decoration is the only witnesses of his desire to stare at the reflections of an empty stage, empty chairs and to absorb the valuable and admirable stillness.

Word of thanks
: the photo of @marshallubx (Instagram)) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Marshall!

Links: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @marshallubx

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!