I am so near the end of my novel, Magick… two more chapters, one of which will be a short tidying up, finishing off sort of chapter. Thomas Radwinter, in search of his maternal ancestors has found the house Sylvia Magick lived in as a child, with her parents, sisters and brother. Have a preview!
The house has only a small area in front of it and then a low red brick wall beside the road. There is a path round the wall of the house itself, but the areas of what must have been lawn are just wild grass. The house is very regular, like a child’s drawing of a house; the front door is in the middle, up a couple of steps, there is a room either side with a window, top and bottom, and between the two upper windows, above the front door is a plaque with the name of the house. At first I think it says Hopeless, but then I realise it says Hope Lees… I have a sudden shiver.
It should be an attractive house, but actually it isn’t… maybe if the bricks were a cheery red like the wall along the road, but the sallow yellow and the black inset up the corners and round the windows and door give it a sickly look somehow.
I went up the couple of steps and notice that there was a gate, but it had fallen off its hinges and was lying behind the low wall alongside a ‘For Sale’ sign. The house is empty and deserted and I peer through the windows on the ground floor. Plain empty rooms, with small old-fashioned fire-places. The walls are all neatly painted, the floorboards sanded and varnished. Rich had told me that he’d sold the house after the sisters had died; it had been ‘sound, but in desperate need of renovation and updating’ he had told me. Well it looked as if the basics had been done leaving just the shell of the house.
I walked round the side and there was another red wall, about six foot high, with a gate in it leading through to the back garden. It was just a wilderness. Whoever had modernised the inside had done nothing out here. A rackety old fence surrounded it and beyond was farmland, fields and meadows… no other building in sight. There were a few bent over fruit trees and I could see spots of red and orange of whatever the fruit was.
There were two rooms at the back, and the back door was over to one side. The rooms, a dining room I guess, and the kitchen were empty. Unless the radiators were under the windows there was no central heating. In the kitchen there was an alcove for a cooker, what would have been a range maybe, when the Waxham Collins lived here.
Beside the back door was an outhouse, perhaps it had originally been the privy. It wasn’t huge, but enough room for a toilet and maybe a wash-house. The windows of it had not been replaced and the glass was smeary and dirty so I couldn’t see in. There was a track trodden in the grass leading from the locked door of the outhouse, going down the garden… maybe farmer’s children came scrumping for apples, maybe there was still a toilet which they had used before someone had secured the door.
I put my hand on the back door handle and my mind flew back to one dark and rainy night last year when John and I had stood outside the India Inn where the Radwinters had lived a hundred and more years ago and I had reached out and put my hand on the door knob…
The door opened… whoever should have locked up, had forgotten… I stepped inside, into the empty kitchen. I had no sense of anything… it was just a fairly big empty room, clean, but empty. I wandered through the other rooms, and then made my way upstairs. The bathroom had been modernised, there was a basic bath, toilet and basin but nothing more, and I was right, there was no central heating. Whoever took on this place would have to spend money on it. The basics were here but that was all.
The bathroom was quite small, at the back, and I guess whoever bought the house would maybe enlarge it by making the bedroom next to it smaller.
The rooms at the front were of different sizes, and maybe someone would want to use some of the space for an en-suite or to create a very small fourth room for an office or spare bedroom… but this place wouldn’t really suit a modern family… maybe they could extend out the back, using the outhouse to extend the kitchen and create a utility room and build up above it…
I had no desire to do so. I wouldn’t want to live in this house, not because it had any bad vibe, but it wasn’t convenient and was literally miles from anywhere. We’d have to drive the children to school… I gave a little chuckle, the children, Kenneil and his brothers and sisters…
I looked out of the bedroom windows and from this elevation I could see other houses, and a church spire poking up above a low hill. From the front windows there was the tiniest glimpse of sea.
I went downstairs again and opened the door which led under the stairs. It wasn’t just a store space; there was a staircase down into a cellar. I tried the light switch but there was no power. I took a couple of steps down but the light coming in from the windows of the other rooms was not enough to penetrate the gloom… a cold and rather nasty feeling seemed to be lurking below.