Today I took a day for myself, partly because I have no friends to spend the day with and partly because I felt like I needed one.
I did things I liked and did things I didn’t but it was all for me. I read a lot, finished Freakonomics and I am partway through What the Dog Saw, I played a bit of vainglory and did exercise (100 pushups, squats and situps) then I took a lovely walk, found a stream and a tree trunk that had fallen over it, sat on the trunk in the middle of the stream and started typing out an English essay. Here it is.
Maximilian sat on a small three legged, milking stool at the end of his grandmother’s bed. In front of him stood a bed frame, ornate and carved, flecks of dying white covered it’s brass frame. The once decadent and resplendent bed posts had worn away with time, shadows of their former selves. His grandmother lay on the bed, hand folded over her straw-like frame. Her hands were removed in jewels and bijoux from the orient, though their beauty had dulled over the years, it was clear that glittering gemstones once sat in the place where dull quartz now resided.
His grandmother, Irene, had once been the family matriarch, revered throughout the land for her beauty and ferocity. As a young girl she would entertain men of class and nobility in her father’s ballrooms, by the tender age of 14 she had already received numerous wedding proposals and had potential suitors queueing up to meet her. Her mother doted over her only daughter, frequently taking her out to trips abroad to foreign countries, showering her in the finest silks and garbs. Irene’s mother had been betrothed to her husband at an incredibly young age, a marriage that was arranged out of duty and was purely financial, a marriage to an older man whom she had never met before; because of this she made sure that Irene would be able to marry a man she truly loved. Irene grew to love the countryside, away from their stately home in Philadelphia, she spent many a summer playing in the gardens with her mother and end the evening wrapped up in the arms of her father in an old armchair as he read her classical literature of Ovid and Homer. When she grew up it was clear that Irene was destined to marry well, she was enchanting in a way that seemed to intrigue and beguile any mortal man; she showed a kindness that is not usually demonstrated by women who came from such a social standing; wise beyond her years, yet not in an intimidating way which could potentially ward off potential suitors. Being the daughter of William Andre, a veritable monolith of the Philadelphia community, also didn’t seem to harm her standing.
She fell in love with a Mr Samuel Johnstone, an officer stationed in Philadelphia during the wartime, whilst he had some social standing, he wasn’t the paragon of excellence that her father always expected her to marry, nevertheless her mother managed to assuage her husband and the two married happily.
Sam had died peacefully years ago, after that happened Irene had taken to bed, become weak and docile, a shadow of her former self. Maximilian and his family had moved back into the ancestral home to look after both the dilapidated estate and it’s owner.
Max examined this woman he had heard so much about, his mother had often talked about her gilded childhood, the balls, the trips and the acclaim. And at the centre of all that commotion lay Irene, a powerhouse who orchestrated the family’s life like a virtuoso conductor. Irene who had been so strong and powerful, someone to be feared and adored, now reduced to her present form. Bedridden and suffering from dementia the woman was a husk, a soulless entity- devoid of warmness. His own mother now refused to come into the room, refused to believe that this once great woman had changed so.
He reached out for her hand, grasping it in his own, he felt her skin, gray and wizened. It had a scaly property to it, the cellulite clearly showing, paper like and raspy. Worst of all it felt cold, lifeless, it sucked in energy from it’s surroundings, a contrast to a woman who had so readily radiated power and energy. Placing a finger in her palm, he lightly traced circles with his forefinger, the skin gave a little, much less taught and alive than his own skin. He pressed a little, feeling how the skin moved around as his finger pushed around, gently and slowly.
A stream of fire and ice raced to the top of her arm, They could be clearly seen under her now translucent skin, faintly beating, intertwining each other, fighting for pole position as they raced from her forearm, arm, to shoulder. She was pockmarked by dirt-brown spots, splatters of colour upon her wrist, a dirty-white canvass. She smelt as all people in her predicament would, a musk that permeated her clothes, her bed, the room and waged attrition upon the nose. A steady odour that wore away at the senses, dulling oneself. In contrast to her vibrant childhood, surrounded by foliage and trees, she now smelt of decay and entropy.
Her mind was shattered. The brilliant mind which had so readily soaked in Proust and Heidegger, which had adorned ballrooms in her imagination, had romanced and seduced Samuel, it was all gone now. Her sparkling personality, wit and charm had been replaced by a blubbering child, one that could not control itself, helpless and weak. Something so frail that it couldn’t sustain itself, hand-fed and given thickened drinks for fear she would drown herself. This is what so repelled Max’s mother, Irene’s daughter, to see her own mother, this enigmatic personality who was so inextricably connected to her own life, reduced to a mere child. Perhaps she was sad to see such a huge part of herself disintegrate before her eyes, perhaps she was sickened by her mother’s state, or perhaps she was just terrified of what would happen to her when she grew older.
Max stood outside the old manor, he looked around at this old, archaic building. He thought about the history, it’s dark past as a slave plantation, then to a country manor, a booming family home, now old and disused, windows boarded up, paint peeling from the rafters, as if the house itself was ancient, wheezing its last breaths.
Feedback would be lovely as I’m probably going to change a good chunk of it and/or write a completely new one.