In it's day, it was a grand house, with summer balls and antebellum dresses.
Maggie awoke to sunshine pouring through the windows. Still, even with the warm sun, the room was chilly. She hurriedly dressed and dragged herself down to the kitchen. Thankfully the previous owners had restored the fireplaces and rewired the house. She started herself a pot of coffee and went over to the kitchen fireplace to lite the paper and wood that she had prepared the night before. Soon a blazing fire warmed the kitchen. Pouring herself a cup of coffee, she brought it to the table and set down, enjoying the warmth as she sat there planning her day. She knew the drywall subcontractors would be here at nine o'clock. Glancing at her watch, she saw that it was just past seven. She pulled a box of waffles out of the freezer and popped two into the toaster.
As she sat there eating the waffles, she looked at the old architect drawings of the master bedroom. As she starred, that's strange, looking up at the ceiling and then back down Maggie realized there was more ceiling space, then floor space along the wall where the closets were. She picked up the drawings and headed upstairs to her bedroom. Halfway up the stairway, time shifted again. She stood there amazed by the scene, a woman, in her thirties, with black hair piled on her head, a beautiful red, no scarlet dress on, smiled at her, then turned and entered the bedroom, Maggie hurried after her. When she reached the bedroom door, she stopped and glanced in. The woman stood at the closet door, then disappeared inside. Maggie rushed across the room and opened the closet door. There was no one there! Then she saw the Camellia lying on the floor in closet corner. Walking over, she bent down and picked it up. She breathed in the fragrant scent, a light hyacinth sweetness.
Stepping back, Maggie eyed the wall, then taking her chisel she bumped it along the right wall to see if there might be something behind the boards. Nothing, so she went back to the corner and started along the left wall. Midway along the room, there was a different sound. She felt along the boards, several were loose. Picking up her hammer, she used the tools to pry off the boards. There hidden inside the wall was an old fashioned gift box, she could barely see the outline of the roses decorating the box. The lid was tied on with a faded ribbon. A red ribbon faded to a blush. Maggie gently lifted the box and placed it on her bed. Slowly she untied the ribbon and lifted the lid. A musty smell wafted out and just as suddenly there were four young ladies sitting on the bed in their petticoats. Two of the girls had their braided blond hair falling down their back, while the other two, one with red hair and one with black hair had their's pinned up with loose tendrils cascading down. The black headed girl reached in the box and brought out a batch of letters tied with a faded blue ribbon. She caressed the top letter and smiled. Time shifted and the letters fell to the bed. Maggie reached for them and carefully slid the first letter out of the envelope. She thought it would be a love letter, in a way it was and it wasn't. The envelope was addressed to Camellia Jackson, with the return address from Madison Jackson. He told of his love for her and that he couldn't wait to return home to finish building their house. He went into great detail of how each room should be completed.
Maggie couldn't believe her luck! She paused, it really wasn't luck, it was the house. The house wanted her to find the box. It wanted her to restore it to it's original grandeur.
Using the letters as guidance, it only took a few months to complete the remodeling. Here is was April, Saturday, the fourteenth. Maggie stood at the top of the curving and gleaming stairway, pausing to look around and breath in a sign of relief that the project was complete, well almost complete. Tonight she was giving a open house reception to celebrate the beauty and completion.
Her gown was a scarlet silk gown. When she walked the dress felt cool against her angles. She first thought about wearing an antebellum gown, but decided against the idea. She felt it would be too much. This night was about the house. She was proud of the work, she felt that the house had finally been brought back to it's original self. Feeling someone standing beside her, she turned to see the beautiful black haired lady standing beside her. She was wearing a dress the same color as Maggie. After reading the letters, Maggie now realized the woman was Camellia Jackson. Camellia smiled at her as though she knew what Maggie was thinking.
All through the reception, time shifted from the present to the past and back. Sometimes people of now seemed to be talking with those of the past. It was if the house was showing her it had come full circle and was now complete. From the information she learned in reading the letters, she knew the time shift to the past was five years after Camellia's husband returned and completed the construction. Why did the house return to that year? Why not show Camellia and her husband in their older years? What happened during the past that the house wanted her to know? In the later letters, Camellia referenced her journal, but so far Maggie hadn't found it. Wonder if it had been destroyed with time or did it exist somewhere here in the house.
Maggie was tired and after the final guest had left, she made her way upstairs to her bedroom. As she waited for sleep to overtake her, she heard the distant sounds of music. Music from the past, and then she thought she heard a woman crying.
Tuesday Morning Writings is a project sponsored by Gaelikaa and Judy Harper. The words are copyright of Judy Harper.