Forever and a Day

10 Jan

Hampshire, England
April 10th, 2012

Dear diary,

I am here at Ivory house for the holidays. I have met all the gardeners and have run all over the grounds at least twice. Mom has given up hope on me ever behaving with grace and poise. Hannah has promised me chocolate cake and pot roast. I can’t wait!

I also gave mom a heart attack when I decided to clean the attic. (Needless to say I didn’t get beyond the first trunk). I found this old, musty book in the attic, in one of the many trunks there and it turned out to be my great-great-great-great-grandfather’s diary. (That was five great’s. Mom says it could even be six. People don’t recall where Grandpa Anthony was on the family tree. Sorry, Gramps!) I also found a key tucked away within the cover, when it fell on my foot, no doubt dislodged by my fall down the step-ladder. Wonder what it opens.. I am once again, irreversibly glad, I wasn’t born at the time when women were made to waltz.

The initial pages were pretty boring. There were day-to-day accounts, of what was bought and sold, information about the estates.. Occasionally, there were little tidbits about hunting episodes and nights at taverns and fight clubs. It felt like I was caught in a time warp. I had almost given up hope, when I saw a poem somewhere in the middle. The book fell open at that page, when I tried to lay it on the table. The pages were yellowing at the sides and starting to curl up. The words were almost faded. There was a lingering smell of lavender and as I touched the book, I found a small bulge on the surface and turned the page to find a small sprig of lavender and a lock of black hair, both enclosed in small papers, folded carefully. The well-worn creases showing that they had been opened several times.

I found an old, empty sketch book. Have started sketching just about anything and everything. I’m loving it, here.

Food calls! Ciao.

Hampshire, England
April 8th, 1814

Drawn like a moth to the flame
There I was
Some said it was real
Others said it was fantasy
But, I couldn’t think

My hand was cold
A perfect foil to her fever
Her every curve and crevice
Have been imprinted indelibly
On the bristles that brushed past

The flame enticed me to
Take what was on offer
But the woman in white
Was but a mirage
Yet I thirsted for her

Knowing that my fingers
Will clutch at air
When I think I am
Close enough to be set ablaze

The fire burns
Its flames reaching out
Engulfing her until
She is the flame

She tried to move away
Becoming an apparition
One that dreams are made of

Her perfection was the very thing
That made her unattainable
A beauty, so beyond belief
That her very presence
Made men go mad with want

Yet, I dared
Closer and closer I went
In response to
Her exquisite beauty

Closer and closer I went
Enough to be singed by her
And yet, wanting more

As I reached out
In the trance I was
I saw her as
A vision in white

In that moment she appeared
Almost human
Her frailty reflected
In her bottomless eyes

“Don’t”, she whispered
“Once you touch me
You will not be able to forget.”
“What makes you think I want to?”

She wanted to succumb
Longed to be real and grow old
And so she gave in
The flame becoming white-hot
One night to last for eternity

Drawn like moth to the flame
There I was
Some said it was real
Others said it was fantasy
She smiled and said
As she vanished into the night

“Neither, it was just me.”

Hampshire, England
May 14th, 2013

Dear diary,

I have been searching around the house for a lock that could be opened with the key I found for over a year now. So far, I have been unsuccessful. I noticed that the gardens are still beautifully maintained. Colin has turned as weathered and wrinkled as the portraits hanging on the walls of the house.

He shaded his eyes from the sun, squinted at me, smiled and said, “Ah! You have come.” He has the greenest thumb, I have ever seen on anybody. He is the sweetest man I have ever seen.. Although to get to that sweet side you need to dig about 800 miles deep!

I sat down on the stone bench in the garden and was about to ask him to tell me the story of Grandpa Anthony, when he told me to come with him. He had been born to the previous head-gardener of Ivory House and his children would continue to be here.

He took me around the sprawling gardens and told me that Grandpa Anthony had left explicit instructions in his will about maintaining the gardens well and that it had continued several generations after his passing. He also told me several anecdotes about my ancestors, including my favourite ones, right at the end.

He pointed out several new flowers that I had seen, but never knew the names of. He showed different varieties of lavender that had been planted and grown with utmost care.

I remembered the sprig in the diary and looked around for a similar tree, but found none. I asked him about it and he said that these were the only lavender trees in the garden and that he knew of no more.

I figured that there were simply too many trees and maybe people had just lost count. I then went about gardening and setting up a small garden that I could take care of, by myself.

I am also reading the diary I found and it is something right out of a story book. It feels surreal to be reading about what happened two centuries back.

Mother is on a Hebrew learning spree, similar to when she was pregnant with me. (Don’t ask!) Apparently, my name means sublime. Hannah’s pot roast is sublime. Oooh. I can smell something so beautiful, it is making my eyes water.

Red peppers. I should have known.

Going to go sample some of that chocolate cake.

Toodles!

Hampshire, England
May 12th, 1814

Unbeknownst to her
I had cut a lock of her hair
Hair that was as black as a raven’s wing
And hid it in my diary

She had a fragrance
Of lavender lingering
About her person

One that I wanted to
Bury myself in
But none of the sprigs I found
Smelled like her
And so I set about planting a garden
Full of flowers
And a hint of citrus

Hampshire, England
May 16th, 2013

Dear diary,

Mother seems extraordinarily suspicious that I am not throwing tantrums about wanting to watch the telly and keep going out. I have kept Grandpa Anthony’s diary a secret for a year now. Mother would disapprove and dismiss it, but there is something so full of longing and spun dreams emanating from his diary that I just can’t give up till I find what the key opens.

Maybe I should let her know, I have discovered that gardening is my calling? Worth a shot, don’t you think?

I also found the huge full length mirror I used to sit in front of and play. I remember trying to get my eyes to change colour, when I was particularly bored.

The diary seems to be getting more and more interesting. I wonder who the woman in white was.. Most probably a figment of Grandpa Anthony’s imagination was what my mother would say, but how I wish she had been real.

Hannah was a worried at my bluuuuuuue mood. She baked gingerbread men. I love Hannah.

It rained a little today. The earth smelled divine, the combined scent of lavender and lemon. Loving the colours in the garden.

Hampshire, England
April 18th, 1814

I did not know
How she died a little
Wondering if it would last
She waited with bated breath

For me to wake up
Rub my eyes and
See right through her
Like she never was

I did not know
That she was no match
For my brand of ammunition
Had I known
I would have brought out
All the weapons in my armory
Able to touch and feel
Yet, ephemeral was her fate

She knew, instinctively
That I would wipe out the traces
Of all those heart-breaks and
Make her mine, only mine

Even if I remembered her for a day
She would be mine for a day…
And forever.

Hampshire, England
May 18th, 2014

Dear diary,

I’m nearing the end of my stay here. Holidays are almost done for this year. I am contemplating getting Daddy to shift base here. Whimsical, I know, but I can’t help it. In any case, Daddy was telling me that we might have to move soon. So, why not back here?

It feels like I belong here and I am always happier here than I have ever been in London. I think I am one of those people who was born into the wrong century.

The gardens are looking beautiful. I think I can go around the house, blindfolded.

I can imagine Ivory House back in the 1800s. The ballrooms, the dancing. Riding across the fields. It would have been a nice life.

I have read the diary more times than I can count. Anthony seems a tad obsessed. The entries towards the end of the book seem almost.. wistful. I keep re-reading the diary in hope of finding her name.

I just sketched mother while she was sleeping. Maybe I should make her drool?

Just a little.

Hampshire, England
March 12th, 1815

I have started overseeing the renovation of the manor. Father is pleased with my efforts. According to him, I have started to behave in a way appropriate for the next Viscount.

I have ordered the construction of a small outhouse at the far East end of the grounds. This was a matter, just between Gilbert and me and he obliged.

The days tire me out and I welcome the  weariness. The nights are torturous. They seem to be filled with her and her alone. I must give up searching for her. But I find that I don’t posses the will.

Father is looking for suitable wives, ably assisted by mother. I find that I cannot muster any cheer and that unfortunately, I cannot put it off, any longer.

Hampshire, England
May 20th, 2014

Dear diary,

YOU are not going to believe what just happened today. Obviously, from my excitement, I have found what the key opens. The small outhouse a little away from the main house, where I sit and read and paint has a lot of locked rooms.

There was a small locked room there, towards the back, facing east. The lock was a little rusty and it took a while to get it open. Colin was with me and we managed it, together.

Inside the room we found several rectangular shapes, all covered in sheets that had a layer of dust over it. I pulled a sheet off one and started sneezing when I noticed that Uncle Colin was quiet. I turned around to look at him and he seemed to be staring at me and at the something behind me.

I turned around, a small fluttering of something in my chest and ..

There was a portrait. Several, in fact. All of a woman in white, who looked remarkably like me. Which would have been impossible because I hadn’t even born, back then.

She was beautiful. She had long black hair, reaching to her waist. Her eyes were.. the same as mine. A startling green in some and dark green, inky black in others. Her clothes.. Well, let us just say not all the portraits would have been allowed in the house if mother had been around.

I also knew that she wasn’t Grandma Belinda. She had blonde hair and blue eyes and was quite petite.This woman was.. enchanting. Grandpa Anthony was extraordinarily gifted.

I reached out to touch her face and I swear I am not kidding, but it felt like she smiled just then.

The paintings were beautiful. There was also this page tucked into the portrait, which rendered me speechless. Which by itself is an accomplishment for me. I never run out of words. EVER.

Hampshire, England
April, 1814

I’ll come back, my love
For you, I will
If not in this lifetime
Then in the ones that follow
Not as me, but as part of you
Two halves making a whole

Same as me
Same as you
Different than both
Yet, similar in our differences

I shall look at your world through my eyes
And love through your heart
Together we shall be, one soul

Give me time
To permeate into you
To become you
Just as you become me

~ Aaliyah

Hampshire, England
July 27th, 1816

The outhouse is nearly complete. I have also asked for a small garden to be planted here. Full of lavender, of course and some lemon trees. I’m still in search of that elusive scent. The lavender here has not been planted anywhere else in the garden. This is my sanctuary. Hers and mine.

By laying the strokes over her form, I manage to convince myself she was real. I know she was. Yet, nobody I know seems to remember her. How could anybody forget her?

Upon gazing at her countenance, one could tell, she was not from England. She seemed magical.

Father has never approved of my love for painting and I have tried to give it up. However, she keeps haunting me, and the only relief I find is in recreating her magic.

Father has decided on Belinda Smith. She seems pretty enough and we shall get along. But I know in my heart I will not be able to love her like I had once thought I could love my wife. 

Her third portrait is almost complete. The strokes making her come alive. She will live on, in my dreams, in every leaf on my grounds, in every brick of my house.

I do hereby promise, that though I might not be able to love my wife, I will be kind and faithful to her. She will not want for anything.

Hampshire, England
May 20th, 2014

Two centuries.
I can’t even.

Hampshire, England
November 12th, 1864

Now all I remember of that night is the way my blood raced through my veins. How everything seemed to stand still in the face of her beauty. Now, years later, I wish, I had asked for her name. Venus incarnate was she. Or was she Aphrodite? I forget the details.

But what I’ll never forget is her. The way her eyes caressed my soul and how they held more secrets within them than I could count. Was I one of them? How she put to shame all those sculptures of Goddesses and how she left taking a heart unaware of anything, but her and now it continues to wait for her, despite being taught otherwise.

***

A/N- This is the first time, I’m trying something like this. By this, I mean, I wanted to try to tell a story in a single post. And I wanted it to be from the perspective of different people, united by the same emotional chord. I don’t know how far I have succeeded or failed. I also believe that if something is truly yours, even if you can’t have it or get in the current circumstances, it will somehow make its way back to you, if not as part of you.

In case, it got too long winding, my apologies. I would love to know what you thought and where I can improve. Thank you for sticking by me and reading!

Cheers!

***

© My Rickety Typewriter, 2014; Vintage Ink.
No part of the text – partial or complete – may be copied/ reproduced or transmitted without prior permission from the author. The content is the intellectual property of the author. The above applies no matter what way the access to the blog was granted.

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9 Responses to “Forever and a Day”

  1. meera30 May 7, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    This makes me thing of sprawling Austen-ish estates, Pemberley and Netherfields, old crinkly yellow paper and blotted ink, scones and jam, sunshine and unexpected rain, old attics and cobwebs, scraped knees and ripped petticoats sweeping dust from the floor, of summer romances and bright eyes full of far-away dreams, of long white skirts and ballooning trousers, of cowboy shoes and horse hooves echoing across an open meadow, of tea and clinking china, of disapproving ladies and preoccupied gentlemen,

    Oh how this takes me to Regency England and makes me wish!

    Like

    • VintageInk May 9, 2014 at 9:25 pm #

      Your comment makes me want to pick up a book by Georgette Heyer or Julia Quinn..

      Like

  2. Laavanya January 12, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    Interesting! Although, I do prefer your ‘other style’ a bit more.Not that this isn’t good; I enjoy that better.
    I should write. Guh.

    Like

    • VintageInk January 12, 2014 at 10:15 am #

      Thanks, Laavanya 🙂 I have another style? Yes, you should write 😀 It has been a while, no?

      Like

      • Laavanya January 13, 2014 at 4:25 am #

        Another person can probably discern subtle variation in style? I know I can’t tell when I write.

        Yeah it’s been too long. Somehow, I lack the motivation.

        Like

  3. vishnu priya January 10, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

    i loved it! 🙂 it was short, simple & beautiful!! 😀

    Like

  4. rambling poet January 10, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    I think I’d like this in a small booklet, with hand-written annotations and quaint photos. Excellent job!

    Like

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