Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Lakeland (part two)

Lakeland Estate was a grouping of twenty-four log cabins, set on the shores of one of the Lake District’s favourite stretches of water.
Many of these cabins were sold as holiday homes or timeshare properties, but Rose, Chester and their mother lived there all year round.
It was often a very lonely experience, especially in the winter when few people visited. It was cold too. Their mother felt the cold bitterly.
In summer it was better. There were always other children to play with, though they rarely stayed longer than a week at a time. Rose and Chester formed more firm friendships over the course of one summer season than many children managed in their entire youths.
Sometimes, when Rose grew tired of gazing at the bobbing boats or the dabbling drakes, she would turn around and stare at the grouping of the cabins, laid out perfectly before her. Each cabin had been placed in a spot an exact distance from the next, and that pattern was repeated on the row behind, going back up the hillside. Each cabin was offset to the side of the one in front of it, so that each had a forward view of the lake. It was all of a pleasing fit.
And then the cabins themselves, they too were made to an exacting design. From a distance it almost seemed like they couldn’t or shouldn’t possibly be able to stand up, without the tree trunks buckling and falling apart, scattering the insides of the house all over the front lawn.
But these too interlocked and joined in a perfect design, as if nature had decreed it so. The strange 3-D jigsaw of a genius giant.
It was their house, the fifth property (the first cabin to the left on the second row of properties) that Rose now approached, and her eyes flicked about the front windows for signs of life. She saw no movement.
Gingerly, she stepped up the single metal step outside and tugged ever so gently at the door so that it made almost no sound as she clicked it open.
Looking at the clock Rose could tell that she’d been outside for just over half an hour. That would just have to do.
On the kitchen table she spied a familiar sight. An empty bottle of red wine lay on its side there, its last drops spilled like holy tears. Upstairs she heard music playing.
At once, Rose was struck by some unfamiliar feelings. She felt uneasy in her own house, as if the rules of normality had ceased or at least been changed. She had an urge to go upstairs and see if her drunken mother was alright. But the blood froze in her veins as she thought about mounting the first step on the staircase to her mother’s bedroom.
She hesitated and held there, one brown shoe seemingly nailed to the stair carpet. Her ears, her entire body strained to hear movement or a voice up in the room, her mother’s room. While by no means off bounds to her, Rose didn’t like to go near her mother’s bedroom when she was drinking.
After what seemed like ten minutes, there on the stair (it had really been just two), the little girl began her climb in steady earnest.
Deftly and with some experience she avoided the creaking stair. The music, blaring from the radio, got louder with every step.
Outside her mother’s open bedroom door she hesitated. Looking past it, down the landing, she could see the door to her safe, pretty room standing slightly ajar, beckoning and welcoming her.
Rose proudly ignored the lure, the temptation to run, and listened for noise in the room. She heard the rustling of the bed sheets and the sound of laboured breathing from within. Fighting her cold blood once again, the girl stepped into her mother’s room.

...to be continued...

1 comment:

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