I took hold of the old murky door once more, set my feet firmly in the dust and try to open the doors once more. This time I could definitely both feel and see that it really was moving. Was it not? Or was I just imagining things? To unlock the big gate had been easy once I had found the key. I just had to blow away some decades old layers of cobweb, put the key in its place and turn. The hinges of the gate was loud and rusty, but they worked as they should. The big double doors to enter the main building was something else completely. It was heavy, stuck in its ways and…. scared the panties of me. Who knew what waited, once I opened that door? I suspected that once opened they could not be closed again.
The door swung open and I looked inside my Legacy for the first time in many moons since I had made the deal with the Windenburg Mayor.
“Holy Mother and H. Roosevelt Chris! What IS this?”
I have stared at Raven Rosenquist as if I had seen a ghost. Maybe I was afraid that she was? After all, it was close to a decade since one of the three Chicas had died, one of us had taken the blame and one of us had never been the same. They say time heal all wounds. But myself I wonder how long time they were talking about. Now we were both staring at each other, both holding our breath. We were standing only three feet apart, but it easy have been an ocean between us. The energy between us was so intense, thick like you could cut it with a knife. the questions we both wanted to ask visible in our eyes. It was like all life around us was put on hold and time had stopped. Then time started again and we fell into each others arms laughing, crying, hugging all at the same time.
Since I had not had any lunch yet and she now was well past 2 pm I invited Raven to my favorite local restaurant by the shoreline. As we sat waiting for our ordered dishes to arrive we played the game of catch up. Raven started, very hesitant at first. I very soon realized that I got a very fragmented, and patchy image told. But at least I got some idea about what Raven had been through since last we spoke and it was not pretty.
“Some days it really felt like it would not matter if I lived or died” she confessed, her eyes dark of grief and pain.
“Oh Ra-ra, why did you not come and see me? You could have called at least? I could have gotten away to see you, you know that!”
“And go back to where everyone would still think I was a killer, although the police cleared me? No thank you!
Then it was my turn to tell my story. When I got to the part where I was told I was the only heir of the Windenburg, Raven started to laugh like there were no tomorrow. I could not help myself but started to laugh too and then I could not stop if my life did depend on it.
“You? A mulit-million heir? Countess Madame March?” she snorted ears tearing up with laughter.
“Yeah me! Would that be so hard to believe? Then I realized how insanely ridiculous it sounded I broke down into laughter again. And we laughed together for a good 10 minutes. First I laughed because of the absurdity of the entire thing and then because I remembered how good it felt to laugh and I laughed even more because of that. Then we suddenly stopped and Raven looked me straight into my eyes and suddenly her own widened when she understood I was not lying. I really was “Countess Madame March”.
After that things had been very easy. As just little girls growing up together at the orphanage me, Raven and Sasha had dreamed about being princesses together in our own castle. For a period that was the only thing the three of us ate, dreamed and talked about. Now when I had the opportunity to live out my childhood dream and Raven still had no place to call her own, who was I actually to say no? When I asked my childhood best friend to move in with me she had first been quiet, but then smiled her big catching smile and hugged me long and hard. Words were not necessary. When we together swung the gates open this time it truly felt like the first step of the rest of my life. Bring it on!
Obviously there were still tonnes of things to do. Weeds to pull, trims to repair, walls to restore and that was just the on the outside. Still, after many weeks living in Windenburg I had not dared unlock the door into the house. Partly because I was afraid of what to expect. Maybe it would be a total catastrophical and unrepairable mess inside? What if it all was just a pipedream and a wild goose chase? Or worse than that: What if it did not look at all as I thought it would and I would be disappointed. Whatever reason, it was obvious that the mansion as it was now was and for a long time would be a very deep money zink. I needed to start earning my keep. Just working at the gym would not suffice. I was not even sure the gifts and honors from the sea in form of crystals and stones would even do it. But at least it would be a start.
When I had invited Raven to live with me, share a big camping bed I had not asked her about how she planned to earn her keep. I knew that she had quite a pride and asking her would hurt her feelings. I needed not to worry though. Raven had always been a resourceful girl and as it turned out a wizard in front of an easel.
“If I want to re-invent myself, totally create a new improved Raven 2.0 I better aim for the stars. Then they would never come looking for me” As she envisioned her next masterpiece on the canvas I did not have the heart to ask her about who they were. Time would tell I assumed, so I let it slide. Besides, we needed the money.
My first day at work, at the gym was rather uneventful. My job was simple: Serve the people training at the gym at my shift with water and dry towels. Wipe off the machines thourughly once every two hours and make sure the surroundings were decent. Not the worst job in the world I had to admit. The salary was way below my needs right now, but the benefit of being allowed training at work totally made up for it. I have always loved working my body, making it stronger, leaner – well basically making it work for me instead of the other way around. It also greatly helped me clear my mind.
One afternoon, maybe 2 or three weeks after Raven had moved into the Princess Mansion as we had baptised it to my cell rang. I looked down at the display and saw a number I did not recognize:
“Hi! Uuuhm… this is.. uuurgh… I am so bad at this…”
“Hello? Who is this”
“This is Gold, I mean this is Jonas Gold your friendly Librarian.
It took me quite a while to connect the dots as I realized who was at the other end of the phone. I was talking to the Librarian of Windenburg. He had not introduced himself as far as I could remember, but when I was doing background research for how to find the key to the mansion we had chatted quite a bit and he had helped a lot. I guess that was why I felt I could not turn him down when he eventually had worked up the nerve to ask me out for dinner. At the beginning of our dinner date I found it annoying that he was so easily distracted by his phone. He had asked me out, not his phone!
But after a while he let go of his crutch and actually started to talk to me. Tell me about himself, where he came from. He even managed to look me in the eyes a few times although he shy as a doe very quickly turned his gaze away. I found it strangely endearing and sweet. To my surprise I found myself wanting pull my hands through his thick dark brown hair and after the dinner, when we had said our goodbyes and he had made sure I got into my cab properly I found myself fantasizing about how it would feel having his strong arms around my waist, feeling his lips touch mine… The following days I found myself drifting of in daydreams about those soft lips and as woke up again I scolded myself. Silly girl! I did not have time for any romance as I needed to focus on bring this “little” mansion into the 21st century again. I knew what I had to do. I had to forget about Jonas Gold.
But of course I did not. My infatuation only got worse. Countless of times I found myself looking at my phone to see if he had called or texted me. But no, nothing and I felt my heart break a little bit each time I did so. Silly little goose. After several days where I got nothing but daydreaming and crying done I decided that enough was enough. I needed to get my life back! So I picked up the called him. He answered after four signals. When I asked him to come for a drink at this little pub I had found he said yes without hesitation. But there were no enthusiasm either.
When I arrived to the pub I was fifteen minutes early and Jonas where not there yet. After 2 hours of waiting and way too many drinks he was still not there. I had been stood up.
“Stupid boy, stupid, stupid, stupid…. How could I have been so stupid. As I pulled up the weeds from my little garden with an intensity I did not know I held I varied in my blaming. I blamed Jonas for standing me up. And for being so darn cute that I could not help falling in love with him. I blamed myself for being so naive to think a good looking guy like him would have any interest in a scabby, orphan street rat like myself.
One good thing came with my broken heart and demned up frustrated feelings: I had a tonne of energy that I needed to get a proper outlet instead of just letting it eat at me. So besides gymming what must be considered an unhealthy amount I also focused a lot on furthering my garden . What had started as a small side-project with a tiny pot had now grown to three flower boxes. As I harvested my few snapdragons I realized that I actually could make some good money from this. Who knew?!
When everything was moving so erratically it was actually hard to plan ahead. But when I found that my neighboring pear tree was bearing fruit I was happy. I had no space to grow it just yet, with the soil being so contaminated. But at least, it gave me some short satiation when I was out long hours working the garden instead of forcing me to go back home and grill something. It was strange this obvious zone of contamination and no contamination. The entire lot I had inherited was sick with toxin of some sort. Making it it truly impossible to grow things directly on the soilsurface. But just a few feet away from the stonewall that served as a fence trees and herbs grew fiercely. What had happened here? Why was my new home so sickly? And was it even safe for me and Raven to stay here?
And time passed, day put to day , week to week and I still heard nothing from Jonas. I assumed that he might he might be the one that got away. I tried to put my mind and heart at ease. Bu still could not. Not even the soothing crashing of waves against the shoreline helped. So when the phone beeped and I saw the short message from Jonas I started to tremble:
“Can we meet?”
My first response was wanting to throw the cellphone into the waters. But luckily I restrained myself. My second response was to write something snarky to show how totally content I was with him being a jerk. As it was, I ended up just texting back:
“Sorry, I am busy today. Busy the rest of the week, my entire life in fact. Love, A.” Very childish I know, but very rewarding and he did not text me back.
The rest of the week my mind was not really into it. I found myself not being 100 percent focused. Which turned out to be disastrous. One minute I was grilling some vegan burgers the next I found myself catching fire. I tried to turn the flames out myself as I was hearing Raven screaming in the background. For both of us this was a true unwanted flashback to years back and I even had time to think to myself: “Sasha, I am coming to you know” Then Raven was there, again, saving me with the fire extinguisher and the only thing burned to a crisp was the grill. As the fire was gone I was strangely numb and I took a good stab and guessed that I was in a shock and denial. In the murky shower the tears started to fall and my body started to tremble. I had once more stared death in the eye and lived. How many lives were there for me to die for?
After both of us had showered and cleaned up me and Raven took to the local pub. The fire had not spread or anything so we basically were two normal guests having drinks, listening to the gossip around us. It felt very bizarre truth be told. Like we were in the twilight zone or something. Maybe some inter-galactic travelers as Jonas would have teased me about as a good-humoured joke. I suddenly felt a sharp pang in my heart. Jonas… There had been a spark there, between us, I was sure of it.
It was Raven who had poked me in the ribs.
-Earth to the Moonbase… Earth calling Moon or rather why on earth do you not call him? You know you want to!
He answered after just one ring of my phone. Just by hearing his warm base voice made it tingle like champagne inside me. Who was I fooling really? We had not known each other for long. But I allready knew I was starting to fall for this guy. -Hi Jonas, its April. I hated how starstruck my voice sounded, but I could not help myself. Truth be told, I was not sure I even wanted myself not to.
-I am sorry….
-Look, I really….
We started to apologize to each other at the same time, then stopped abruptly. There were an akward silence then Jonas spoke:
-I would like to see you, to explain. His voice was low and it sounded like he was searching for the right words to say.
He came by at the big mansion around noon the next day. At first he just gawked with an open mouth at the house that I had been given to care for. Then he looked at me, at the mansion and back at me again.
-You really were not kidding when you said that you were looking to make a castle out of a …. he hesitated in lack of words obviously.
-Nope! I grinned and he grinned back. The world felt whole again.
We sat down at the garden table I had bought earlier the same week. And then we started to talk.
We talked almost for the rest of the day. He told me that his mobile had been stolen that same day we were having dinner and he had had no means to contact me to cancel. I told him about how hurt I had been for him not calling back and that had been the real reason why I had played hard to get the day after when HE called.
We stood outside the big rusty gate, neither of us wanted it to end, but it was getting dark soon.
-Look Jonas, I really like you, I admitted (You more than like him a pesky voice pointed out, but I ignored it). But my life is complicated. I am kind of like this rose, something fragile and with thorns…
-Don’t interrupt me! I really do want you in my life. But then you have to promise me that you take really good care of this, whatever it is between us. Can you promise me that?
Here are some images from inside the mansion, so you know exactly the state the mansion was found in….