Pushing the heavy door inwards, the familiar creaking reaches my ears. The waft of freshly baked scones greets me drawing me inwards as I close the door behind me. Jenny has been busy in the kitchen, the delights, I will savour later. Something is different this morning. There is a familiarity about the scene before my eyes. This old castle has been my home for as long as I can remember. What had my father been thinking when he decided to buy this old tower castle on the west coast of Ireland? My father was a romantic and his dream became the torment that eventually destroyed him.
My eyes are taken to the spiralling staircase. The image of the top floor flooding my memory and that wooden hallway running towards the distinctive oak arched door that has always been shut since the first day I ever entered this fortress of a home. I am of German descent, having moved here when I was seven. My mother died when I was sixteen, one could say from a mysterious illness while others might say it was of loneliness and isolation that rotted her soul, destroying her from the inside out. Whatever it was, it made no difference, my mother was taken from me. Three years ago, a month following my twenty sixth birthday, my father passed on and I left with this stone castle tower of memories. I think I became its keeper.
Moving inwards, I step into the large reception hall that opens onto the castle dining area with the kitchen off to the left. The door is ajar and the corner of the tray of fresh scones catches my sight. I can almost taste them already with melting Kerrygold butter and rhubarb jam. Casting my eyes around me, I am almost expecting something to look out of place, but everything is the same, the furniture, the pictures, ornaments - it was as it should be.
The familiar sound of that light footstep from upstairs reaches my ear. Jenny is busy in her study, designing a new range of summer dresses which she sells in her local boutique. A smile reaches my lips on thinking of her. I am feeling nostalgia this morning but the thoughts overpower me. Jenny McCarthy was the first person I met on joining the local primary school. When everyone else would laugh and mock my strange accent, Jenny just smiled and said you will soon not be a stranger here. It was like I had fallen in love with her from that moment. I was always by her side like her knight but she never needed any protection.
The scene of my thirteenth birthday fills my vision. My mother had wanted to organize a big party for me but I did not care. I was socially shy and not much has changed. You see my mother had arranged a portable swimming pool as the weather had been exceptional but to me, the weather always seemed sunnier when I was younger. It was on seeing Jenny in her bathing suit that my eyes focused on her differently. My mother caught me staring and I ended up going bright red and mocked for the rest of the party that I had a girlfriend. Even now the redness blushes my cheeks on reflecting on that moment. Jenny did not seem to mind, only smile her usual gentle smile as if to say to me, I wouldn’t mind. My mother may have embarrassed me that day but I returned the moment when she caught me two years later stark naked with Josh Galvin who was a year ahead of me in school. What can I say, I was a curious teen. But as the years rolled on Jenny made me the happiest man by becoming my wife.
For now, this old stone building is my home. I long to see Jenny but I can’t get the feeling out of my head something is missing. Glancing around once more, everything is where it should be. Dropping my bag onto the kitchen table I quickly move upstairs stopping by the doorway of her study. Her focus is on her work. Her strawberry blond short hair is sticking up at the back after having slept on it. She pulls her attention to me and our eyes meet. Her face lights with her gentle smile. Stepping towards her I place a kiss on her coffee tasting lips. No words are spoken and I move towards the window placing my gaze onto the garden below, a legacy from my father’s hard work. I tend to the lawns and shrubs and Jenny cares for the small vegetable patch.
A shape to my left brings my attention to a woman who is standing in the centre of the lawn to the side of the castle. She surprises me with her sudden appearance. She had not been there before. Her eyes fix on me. She does not move. Leaving Jenny I descend to the ground floor and exit the house moving to the lawn where the lady is positioned. There is no sign of her. I know I am not going crazy, I really did see her. I could see her plainly. I know what she was wearing, the shape of her shoulder length brown hair and those eyes, oval in shape with a strange focus directed on me. Now I stand alone in the centre of the lawn with no one in sight.
Part II - 01.08.18
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