In it's day, it was grand house, with summer balls and antebellum dresses.
Maggie stood in the front yard and stared at the house, her house, now. As of eleven o'clock, today, Tuesday, December 22nd, she had paid her downpayment, signed everywhere they pointed, received a copy of all the papers, then been handed the keys to the house. She was then told they wished her the best in restoring the house to it's original splendor. Unfortunately, the owners of the house weren't able to be at the closing so she wasn't able to ask about the history of the house. Nor would they give her their phone number when she asked, hoping to call them at a later date. Their attorney replied, "That due to their experience with the house, they didn't want any more contact with it or the new owners!" Now what did he mean by that comment, Maggie wondered.
Glancing back at the house, she was startled, for a minute there, she thought the image of the house shifted, as though the whole house wavered, like a heat wave or a time warp shift. Laughing at herself, Maggie began unloading her car. The truck with her furniture would be arriving any minute, not that she had a lot, she wouldn't be buying the furniture to go into the house until she had completed the restoration.
For years she had been collecting patterns of furniture, material and all that would have been used by the original builders and owners.
Her love of old houses began when she was an eight year old girl living with her Aunt Violet. Maggie's parents had died when she was two. Her mother's only sister took her in and raised her as her own. She was an interior designer. Before she would agree to work for someone, she would view the home, have several lunches with the "woman of the house", then and only then would she make her decision. If she didn't like the woman, she wouldn't agree to the project. Her Aunt felt that life was too short to be unhappy in her work. Maggie was allowed to go on shopping sprees with her. She watched her Aunt feel the material, look at brand names, tell if furniture was built to last. On her eighth birthday, her Aunt gave her a book on Antebellum Architect, she knew after a few pages, she wanted a home just like the ones in the book.
The moving guy brought in her last box just as the rain started falling. Closing the front door, she switched on the hallway light. Her eyes followed the curving stairway up the center of the house. As she stood there, the present fell away, the mahogany handrails gleamed from all the lemon polish as the four tiered chandelier hung above, the glass glittering like diamonds. The stairway stopped at the balcony that wrapped itself around the walls, with doors leading into five bedrooms. Three on the far wall and one on each side. From the middle bedroom on the far wall, she heard girls laughing. Then it disappeared, she was back in the present of the old house, a room in dire need of repair. Slightly shaking her head, she went into the kitchen at the back of the house.
The kitchen is actually the smallest room in the house. Yet, the designer had used every inch of space. It is a cozy room with a fireplace at one end. In the winter, this would be the room she would live in. Her plans were to refurbish the little alcove into a desk and shelves for her to use. She visualized a long kitchen table that would be used for eating as well as a place for her to lay out her blueprints. Maggie prepared herself a chicken salad sandwich and hot coffee, then went up to her bedroom.
She had chosen the master bedroom for her room. It was her favorite room. She walked over to the glass doors that opened onto the small balcony. This would be her restful place. Suddenly she smelled Camillas, it was happening again! The present gave way to the past. She knew it should be dark, but the balcony shone with an afternoon sun. There were three women sitting on white wicker furniture, each held a flower decorated china cup of tea. A small breeze pushed the flower scents into the room, while at the same time gently lifting the hair on the women's bent heads. There was no conversation, each sat there sipping tea, engrossed in her own thoughts. It was a beautiful scene, then just as quickly it gave way to night, Maggie was jerked back into the present.
Closing the doors, Maggie wondered what is going on. She knew she wasn't going crazy, nor did she feel frightened by the time shifting. Turning, she undressed and took a bath in the old clawfoot bathtub. She went to bed and as she drifted into sleep, she thought she heard the sound of violins playing a waltz from downstairs, and the swishing of dresses as soft footsteps and giggling girls passed the bedroom door. Her last thought before slipping into sleep was that the house was trying to tell her, that in it's day, it was grand house, with summer balls and antebellum dresses worn by young women as they looked over their fans at the young men there who would lead them in a circle of dancing merriment.
Tuesday Morning Writings is a project sponsored by Gaelikaa and Judy Harper. The words are copyright of Judy Harper.