Monday, 5 April 2010

The Return Home - a very short story

Author's Note: This is a work of fiction. Enjoy...

Today I begin my story. It is an intriguing one to some, but there are those who would not believe it. I, however, would not demand that you believe these words but would suggest that you listen and only pass judgement at the end of this tale.

As a young girl my imagination was fertile with ideas from stories I had read, and tall tales that I created for myself. And for every adventure that took place in the jungles of my bedroom a story was written, a map was drawn, a doll was made and a costume was worn.

Then, as the years passed by my adventures lessened and another world took hold. My parents were gone and in their place an unknown relative was given charge over me. She didn’t approve of my world of dreams and told me that the real world had other uses for me. So with the burdening and worrisome thoughts of what I was going to be when I grew up, I forgot about the other world that I had created. The final nail was driven when I was sent away from home to a boarding school. From that point, every piece of my dream world was boxed up and left in the dark to be covered with dust and forgotten.

Many moons pass overhead and I return to the house of my childhood a grown girl, with a husband, Jimmy, and daughter, Eliza. The years had not been kind to the house. Or more to the point, the lady who was supposed to take care of me was never a particularly good housekeeper.

The relative has passed on, and I bring my family to see the house of my childhood. We consider selling the house, but something pulls at me and says ‘no’. It is my daughter. She tugs at my hand, “Mummy can we stay here?” The house is dreary and needs a lot of work, and yet tiny Eliza wants to stay.

It is the end of the school year for Eliza and we are all home together – the family unit. Jimmy and I begin cleaning the house starting from the bottom up. Eliza spends time becoming acquainted with the wild garden. At the end of each day she tells us about the faeries she has met. Jimmy and I pass a smile to each other.

Jimmy and I begin looking at the furniture to see what can be saved. Eliza begins to explore the house. She goes up a flight of stairs beyond the second floor, straight up to the attic and disappears into the room for a few hours.

It is dinnertime and Eliza has not come downstairs yet. Jimmy goes upstairs to look for our daughter. While setting the table I hear Jimmy call out to me. He is up in the attic too. I stop what I am doing and follow the sounds of my family. I travel up stairs that I have not set foot on for twenty-four years. The floorboards squeak with a long past familiarity.

I stand in the doorway of a dusty attic with light coming from a single dim light bulb and the setting sun outside. The room is filled with trunks and crates. Eliza sits in the middle of the floor with a trunk open in front of her. Jimmy squats down next to Eliza his hand touching her head. Eliza sees me. “Mummy, I found your things.”
I move to my family and look into the trunk. Eliza pulls out a bundle of old dress ups.
“How do you know these belong to me?” I ask Eliza.
With all seriousness and something of a smile, “They told me I would find your things up here.”
“Who are they?” Jimmy looks concerned.
“The faeries in the garden.” Eliza turns to me, “They said you might not remember.”
I shake my head, and lead Eliza with Jimmy back down the stairs. We don’t know what to make of what Eliza has just said. But it is time that we have dinner. Sometimes these things are more easily understood by the normal light of day.

Later that night, after Eliza is in bed, I go downstairs and step into the backyard. It is summer, though for such a hot day, there is now a light breeze that relieves some of the heat. The garden, once a well-managed lot has become overgrown with roses. It is actually the one nice trait of the property’s current condition. I look into the darkness and wonder about what Eliza saw.