Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Love beyond Time, a Christmas story

   It is extremely cold and I ask myself why I gave in to my own hideous plan to explore the house in the middle of the forest.

   Of course I am dressed properly: a thick warm coat, warm boots with thermo-socks, gloves, a comfortable hood to keep my ears from freezing and even my photo bag is protected against the icy cold. Hopefully my camera isn't going to freeze. I know from experience that an empty abandoned villa is colder inside than the temperature outside indicates.
   I often thought about this phenomenon and the only answer I can think of, is that there is not only no heating but also the souls of the former inhabitants are gone. Even if there are warm memories, you can't feel it any more.
   This is my first visit to the house, I discovered it accidentally and are still surprised nobody ever mentioned it, nor have I ever seen photo's taken by fellow explorers. I am, to say the least, very curious.

  The first time I saw the house, the weather was more friendly, no snow. But I did not have the time to go inside after I discovered a door from the the stables to a hall. I hope the door from the hall to the house is unlocked, we'll see.
   At some places the snow is thick and comes above my boots but I continue my way to the villa. Meanwhile I admire the beautiful surroundings. Nothing is as quiet as a snowy forest absorbing every sound. Only occasionally you hear the quick flutter of a bird but most are gone to warmer areas. There is no wind to clear the heavy branches, sometimes you hear a soft cracking noise as if the weight of the snow is too much for the trees. But apart from that and my breathing causing little clouds, there is silence.

   Sooner then expected the house appears from between the trees, it's roof hardly visible under the weight of the snow. I do not dare to think what is going to happen when the temperatures rise, the roof must leak.
There are no footprints; I know I am on my own and for the first time since I started the expedition, I wonder if this is safe. Too late; I have to be careful and cross my fingers.
I walk to the back, enter the stables that once housed horses and carriages but now the old decaying hay and straw are the only witnesses of a more glorious time.
   The door to the hallway is still unlocked as is the door to the house. It makes a squeaking noise and in a reflex I stand still to listen. There are no other sounds, it is even too cold for the mice and rats.
I push the door further open and enter a large country style kitchen, covered in dust and cob webs but still fully equipped. Actually it looks like if the cook is going to return any moment, complaining the fires are not burning and dinner will not be ready in time. I imagine to smell the pies and cakes.
   Standing still makes me aware of this strange cold and I wrap my arms around my body. Before I am going to take photo's, I first want to explore the house. Everything will still be the same on my way back. And if the whole house is like the kitchen, I am ready for a few surprises, I can't wait.


   From the kitchen I enter a long, long hallway with many doors and I hesitate for a moment choosing one. I open the third at my right and enter a beautiful drawing room with high ceilings and large windows. The ingenious ornaments of the ceiling let go their paint although obviously reluctant to do so but the damp wins its nasty game. The grand curtains which must have cost a fortune, still wait to be closed to keep the cold out but there are no hands any more to do so. Cob webs hang down from the corners, catching flies although they too left the house.
   I walk slowly through the majestic room; the little clouds of my warm breath follow me as if they are reluctant to solve in the cold air.
The furniture is impressive and the dust can not hide the colours of the expensive upholstery and the once lovingly polished wood. The thick carpets muffle the sound of my footsteps. Despite all the glamour and beauty, the room does not look like it was used too often. At least not for cosy family gatherings.
   The enormous fireplace is black and in between the old ash from previous fires and the dirt let go by the large chimney now blocked by crow nests, there are still large logs. I feel tempted to lit them but know I will most likely set the house on fire.

In the panelling I notice a door that looks so small but is actually of a very normal size. I find it difficult to resist doors and walk towards it. The brass handle moves smoothly when I press it and the door swings open like it had been oiled yesterday. I enter a much smaller room and what I see takes my breath.

   Nothing here is dusty, I don't smell decay. On the contrary, I smell roses and a perfume that has not lost its strength. Strangely I am not frightened, it feels like coming home and although I do not understand this completely unexpected feeling, I give in to it and relax.
   The fireplace in this room is much smaller and the chimney looks very clean. I can't resist the feeling that I have been here before. Or that I belong here but decide not to think about this. The logs for the fire are stacked in a very large basket and in a reflex I put some in the hearth and light them with the matches on a small table next to a very comfortable sofa. I don't ask myself if I am doing the wrong thing or if someone outside will see the smoke coming from the chimney, there is something in this room that will protect me, I can feel this very clearly.
   It does not take long before the cold disappears, much sooner than expected it feels comfortable and warm. I take off my coat and hood and settle on the sofa, snuggled up between soft cushions that release the same scent of roses I smelled entering the room. I smile, a broad happy smile and think: “Why did it take me so long to come home?”
   I watch the flames dancing and spreading their welcoming heat and I feel my cheeks turning red. My whole body begins to glow; I take off my warm sweater; my blouse lighted by the flames. The atmosphere makes me sleepy and I doze off.

   When I open my eyes (I must have slept for only a few minutes because the fire is still burning as it did) I notice the little Christmas lights on top of the stone mantle. I am surprised but do not ask any questions. Instead I watch their soft glow in between the needles of the fresh branches of a pine-tree.
   The smell of pine is getting stronger and competes with that of the roses. I turn my head and see a beautiful very large Victorian style decorated Christmas tree which reflection in the large mirror above the mantle, had escaped my attention. Or wasn't it there before? I don't know. Everything in this room is not as I expected and I refuse to question my observations.
  
   Instead I give in to the wonderful feelings that overwhelm me. Feelings of being wanted, coming home, being loved beyond physical attraction. Never in my live have I felt so comfortable as today.
Photo: Helen Varras
   While sitting on the sofa, feeling the heat of the fire, I watch every detail of the room and everything in here is so familiar. I know the titles of all the books, I know the date of the whiskey in the crystal bottle. I know the feel of the soft materials of the cushions and curtains as if I had chosen them myself from a large variate of beautiful samples. I know how they feel against my cheek. I even know the name of the roses that spread their eternal smell and close my eyes again.

   Then I hear that beautiful voice I have been waiting for all my life; deep and warm, surrounding me, touching every nerve in my body, making me tremble. I feel the strong hands that hold me, their warmth reaches my skin through my clothes. I smell the masculine scent that matches so perfectly with that of my favourite roses.
   While I hide in the loving arms that surround me, I kiss the lips that tell me how much I am loved, that smile when they say: “What took you so long my love?”.
I smile too but do not answer, I do not need to; you read my feelings as you have always done over the past centuries. I am home, not only for Christmas but forever.


Helen

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