Strong gusts of winds blow the leaves belonging to the trees around this beautiful manner. The car tires are rolling over the gravel road as we approach my grandparents' once-beautiful mansion; now, it looks isolated and lifeless. Mother would tell me stories of growing up here, by the sounds of it they had a lot of fun in their childhood. Now the mansion sits empty, with no life in sight. My grandparents died a few years back, and my mother moved to a different city from this quiet town many years before, when she was a younger woman, to start her own family with my father. While my father is parking the car, Mum turns to me from the front passenger seat, she scoops a few strands of her blonde hair behind her pierced ear.
She says, “We will only be here a few days; we must collect their belongings before the place gets sold.”
I can feel her light blue eyes still looking at me. I put my index finger on a word I am reading, looking up from my book, stopping reading to respond.
“That’s okay, Mum, as long as I’m not cold and have somewhere to sleep.”
Dad butts in, saying, “Of course, there is a place to sleep, my boy. Look at the size of this place; go and explore.”
While Dad exits the car to unpack the stuff from the boot, Mum follows his lead while I put my book away in my backpack.
I’m standing in front of my grandparents' old mansion while my parents take a couple of flat-packed boxes through the front door. The pure beauty of this place, I already know in this mansions hay-day, when the gardens were well groomed, they would have looked amazing, now not so much overgrown and wild. I walk over to the massive three-tier fountain, thinking of all the fun on those hot sunny summer days I would have had; playing within, I wouldn’t want to play in there now; I would come out looking like a swamp monster. Whoever buys this place has a lot of cleaning, and that’s just the outside. I approach the front door while Dad passes me to get something from the car, ruffling my blonde hair in the process.
The first thing I notice as soon as I walk through the door is the massive chandelier, once the masterpiece of this home, now draped in cobwebs; you would need a long feather duster to clean them away. I keep exploring more of this mansion, climbing the steps to see what’s upstairs.
I hear Dad shout, “I got it, babe!”
I can hear Mum packing things away as I climb the stairs.
The nighttime has begun, and the mansion has become a bit more spooky as there is no electricity, so we just have flickering lit candles all around, thank you to the person who invented the flashlight as well. Dad went out and picked up a Chinese takeaway for me, Mum and himself. We are sitting around the dining room table, eating. I can hear the windy rain on the windows while seeing the tree branches moving in the wind, like a merry person dancing in a nightclub. My attention turns to the crunch of a prawn cracker between my dads' teeth, I scoop some chicken chow mien up on my fork.
I ask Mum, “What were Nana and Grandad like?”
While I eat the food from my fork, she says, “They were very loving people; they really enjoyed the fun of life.”
I respond, “I bet you had lots of fun in the fountain growing up, Mum.”
She puts her glass of juice down after saying, “We all did; there were seven of us, so we kept them on their toes.”
We carry on speaking over dinner, and it’s nice to see Mum and Dad reminiscing on their childhood and learning new things about my grandparents.
I lay in bed with a flickering candlelight beside me. Mum told me this bedroom belonged to one of her older brothers. I put my book down on the bed, and all I can hear is the branches tapping against the window. Every sound seems amplified in the nighttime. Everything in his house has white or grey sheets over it to keep it protected. I get out of bed to go to the toilet with my flashlight in hand.
I shut the creaky toilet door behind me, walking across the landing past the room my parents are sleeping in, pointing the flashlight at a hanging family portrait of my grandparents with all of their children standing in front of the fountain. Looking closer at my grandfather, I notice he is pointing at something discreetly. I start wondering if the picture has been placed here on purpose. I follow with the flashlight in hand to the direction he is pointing, walking across the landing. The light shines on everything I pass, standing at the end the corridor, in front of a covered grandfather clock, hearing the ticking, I pull the dusty grey cover off to reveal it in all of its glory, with its swinging gold pendulum. I look around it with the flashlight to see if anything is hidden behind.
The next day is a better one; not raining or windy, and the sun has come out to play. While my parents are downstairs, packing my grandparents' belongings into boxes for the removal people to take, they should be coming tomorrow morning. I am back, looking at the grandfather clock. Looking around the back of it, I see an outline of a hidden door. I decided to try and move the clock, with some struggle, I have managed to move the clock out of the way. I push down on a corner of the concealed door, and it pops open.
The flickering candlelight bounces off the walls as I walk through the hidden corridor, walking into a secret room. I look around; the candlelit room is full of filled bookshelves. Opposite where I am standing, I can see a faint doorway that I will have to explore later. I spot a half-used candlestick in its golden holder on a table in the middle of the room. So I go over there and light it off my candle. The room lights up more as I see an antique typewriter with a piece of paper loaded into it. I go to grab the paper when suddenly.
I feel a hand on my shoulder that makes me jump out of my skin, quickly turning around to see my mum standing there.
She chuckles at me, jumping, after she says, “Wow, this is amazing; I had never seen this room before in all the years I lived here.”
“It is amazing. Do you think it was Grandad's secret room?” I ask.
My mum walks over to the typewriter; there is a picture in a wooden frame of her mum and dad in their younger days. Mum takes the paper from within to read. Her eyes scanning over the printed words. As I look at the books on the shelves, I notice they all have my grandad's name as the author, and I collect a couple to read later.
Mum responds, “Yes, it was; from what I can gather, he used to write here because it was very peaceful; it also says that none of these books have been published.”
“I wonder if Nana knew about this room,” I say.
I walk over to the fireplace beside the other doorway with the candle in hand. There is a hanging picture above of Mum alongside her siblings playing on top of a hill, and the picture looks to be hand-painted.
I say, “We will have to clear this room, I want to read all the books, that grandad has written.”
Mum asks, “We will, I want the pictures. What’s down there?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t explored down there yet,” I respond.
Mum says, “Let’s go and look; now I am curious.”
We both walk through the doorway to descend a spiral staircase leading to a wall—a chain draping down in front of the wall beside a rusty metal ladder. I decide to pull the chain that takes a hard tug. Water starts dripping out to pouring; we jump back out of the way of getting drenched as we see some sunlight poking through the gap. We venture upwards to see where it will take us, and I climb the ladder first with Mum in hot pursuit.
The fountain has opened up as we stand in front of the mansion; we can see Dad packing something into a box; he looks out of the window, having to double-take at us standing there; he seems flabbergasted.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this and keep an eye out for the following chapters in the future.
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