Drifted

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Drifted tells of a girl, Carmen who was taking a walk one day when it started to rain. She sought for a shelter under a tree and later, found a mansion nearby. In this mansion lived a strange family. Everything in the house was vintage-looking. Carmen thought it peculiar at first but later embraced these peculiarities and developed a loving relationship with the family. She spent the night with them and the next day, went home to her worried mother who was insisting she didn’t go home for five whole days. But how was this possible? Carmen was so sure she was only gone for a day. The answer to all of Carmen's questions lies inside the mansion and with the eccentric family she had learned to love.

Submitted: November 11, 2016

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Submitted: November 11, 2016

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I was walking under the pouring rain. My favourite floral dress was soaking wet. I only asked for a quiet and relaxing walk. I was given this. The soft sound of light thunder entered my ears. I sought for shelter. It was raining heavily. The pavement was wet. There were no cars, just a deserted highway. It’s impossible for me to see clearly because of the fog. I found shelter under a tree on the side of the road.

I looked around. Behind me, from afar.. I could see something... a large form. Is it a house? Oh please, be a house.  A cottage? I left my shade and began to approach this dark something. I couldn’t see it clearly. The rain was heavy. It was filling my eyelids. I walked past a bunch of trees. I was in a mini-forest. It wasn’t that big. I lost count with the trees, though. The huge something was getting clearer.

It wasn’t a house. Certainly not a cottage... but a mansion, a huge mansion. I stood before it, having second thoughts if I should enter. A huge gate was separating me from it. The gate looked old. I could tell by the chipping of paint. But I’m surprised to find no rust on it. A few vines were embracing the steel, intertwining themselves around the curves of the wonderfully detailed barrier. I touched the cold steel.  It suddenly opened. I feel like this mansion was inviting me. Should I go in? Before my senses could comprehend what I was doing, my feet were walking past the gate. I stood on wet pavement. Pavement. Wait. I looked behind me. The trees were still visible. What a peculiar location to erect a house. I shook this thought out of my mind. The owners were probably eccentric.

The mansion was surrounded by plants; hundreds of them, except for the pathway leading up to a small flight of stairs to the front door. It took 8 steps for me to arrive at the front porch of the mansion. I grabbed the handle of a weird-looking door knocker, and knocked twice. 5 seconds later, the door opened. A huge ray of light hit my face. I couldn’t see anyone opening the door. I stepped inside the foyer. It was comfortably warm. I felt cozy. A round marble table was in the middle of the room, a bouquet of fresh flowers in a lovely, pearl coloured vase was on top of it. It was a huge and spacious room.

‘Hello?’ I called out.

No reply. I walked around slowly.

‘Anybody home?’ Still no answer.

I took a left turn and followed the way leading up to a sitting room.

The furniture was exquisite. A coffee table was at the center. There was a sofa, vintage looking. At the far end of the room was a large fireplace. The room looked like a 1940s sitting room. Everything was vintage, antique. All of it was wonderful. How I love antiques!

I was having an urge to sit on the sofa, to feel its wonderful texture. But I’ve decided not to, and to look around the room instead. I approached the wonderful fireplace, sat in front of it and decided to enjoy the warmth it was offering.

I was thinking of going back to the foyer at the same time. Maybe no one’s home. But it can’t be. The fireplace was lit.

“Can I help you, Miss?” a voice from behind said.

I stood up immediately, turned around and saw a man about early 60s, grey hair and a pointed nose. He was wearing a formal suit. I assumed he was the owner of the house.

“Umm.. yes. I was wondering if I could please stay for a while? The rain’s really coming down. Are you the owner of this house?” I asked.

“Oh no, Miss, I’m the butler, Bertie.”

“Oh, sorry. Hi Bertie.”

“Hello. Will you please wait here for a moment?”

“Sure.”

He left. I decided to just stay put with my arms behind my back.

About 5 minutes, I could hear footsteps approaching. I stood straight.

3 people were standing in the doorway of the sitting room. One was a good-looking woman about early 40s with long, curly, brown hair. She was wearing a beige-coloured dress with vintage floral prints on it. The other was a middle-aged man, he looked dapper in a long sleeved shirt tucked in his grey slacks. They looked really peculiar. Like they had just stepped out of a time-machine. Their attires were very 1940s. I didn’t give it much thought. They’re rich so they’re dressed in formal clothes even when they’re in the comfort of their home. The other one was Bertie.

“Good afternoon”, I greeted.

“Well, hello there, young lady”, said the middle-aged man.

I smiled.

“Bertie told us that you wish to stay.” the woman said, smiling.

“Yes, Ma’am. Could I?”

“Of course. Please do.”

“Thank you so much.”

The woman ushered me to sit down.

“It’s our pleasure. We don’t get to receive guests often.” The man said.

I could imagine. How can you receive guests when your house is at the middle of the forest?

“What is your name, my dear?” asked the woman.

‘Carmen. Carmen Hartley.’

“That’s a lovely name. We’re the Astors... I’m Margaret and this is Frederick.. and you’ve met Bertie.”

“Yes. So nice to meet you. You’re awfully kind.”

Me and Margaret were sitting on the sofa and Frederick’s sitting on a separate chair. Bertie’s standing next to the door.

“Now, what brings you here?”, asked Frederick while lighting a cigarette. “Do you mind, my dear?”

“Oh no. Please.’ I replied. ‘Well, you see, I was taking a stroll when it started to rain.”

“Oh, you poor thing.’ said Margaret. ‘It’s a good thing you’ve found our home.”

“Yes, it is.”

Hardly found it.

“Where do you live?” asked Frederick.

“Not that far.”

Oh shoot. I forgot about my mum. She’ll go berserk. Should I call her? Damn. I left my phone. Now what? Just nice, Carmen. Just nice. Should I borrow their telephone? 

“That reminds me. I’m sorry for asking but can I use your telephone for a moment? I’d like to call my mum.”

“Of course. It’s near the stairs. Shall Bertie direct you to it?” offered Margaret while glancing at Bertie.

“That’s okay. There’s no need. Excuse me.”

I stood up and walked past the door and smiled at Bertie. I approached the stairs. There’s a small circular table beside it. Their telephone’s one of those vintage ones with the dial thing. Beside the telephone was a small pad with ‘544-8547 - Home’ written on it. Couldn’t they memorise their phone number? I shook this thought out of my head, picked up the receiver and dialed our home number.

The ringing won’t stop. Why isn’t she answering? That’s unlikely. She should be worried about me right now. I dialed again. Still no answer. Come on, Mum. Answer the telephone. A few rings later. Still no. I put the receiver down.

I stood there for a few minutes. I was worried, worried about being scolded and nagged at. My mum’s overprotective. Since I’m the only child. It really bothers me that she didn’t answer the phone. Maybe she couldn’t hear it? Or she was taking a shower, maybe? I crossed my arms and questions and possibilities ran through my mind. I didn’t realise I was standing for quite some time when I heard Margaret call me. I was distracted from my thoughts and turned my head to the right.

“Is everything ok? Have you called her?”

“Um. No, actually. It just kept ringing.”

“Well, it’s probably because of the rain. You know, there’s a storm coming. You might as well spend the night here.”

“Oh no, please, it’s alright.”

“I insist and it’s dangerous for you to go out at this hour.”

It’s only 5:54pm, come on. What should I do? As much as I wanted to refuse, I was shy to. Maybe I should stay here. But what about mum? She wasn’t picking up. I should probably just stay and go home first thing tomorrow morning. Yes. After all, I did try to call her.

“I will, then.”

‘Good. That settles it.’ She said ‘You could go around the house if you’d like.’

“Could I, really?” I asked, smiling

“Of course. Dinner won’t be ready until 6:30.”

She went back to the living room.

I was so excited to look around the house. It’s not every day you get to visit a mansion. Which way shall I go first? Let’s see.. the left wing. I’ve already been to the living room. The right wing.. Hmm let me see. I walked slowly and opened the door. An office of some sort. The inside had a desk and a couple of shelves. I swear it looked like a bookshop.

I closed the door and went back to the foyer.

I was facing the stairs. I decided to go up. It was a pretty long staircase. When I reached the top, I could hear a muffled noise of people conversing. I think someone’s watching a film. I followed the sound and it led me to a room.

“Good night, darling”.

“Goodbye, darling”

“Why goodbye when it's only till morning?”

“Because, every parting from you is - is like a little eternity.”

Wait a minute. I know this film. It’s one of my favourites. Waterloo Bridge. These people had good taste. The sound led me to a dark room. Before I could notice, I was unknowingly saying the lines. I’ve seen this film so many times that I could memorise their dialogue.

“Who are you?” said a sweet, little voice.

My eyes looked for the source of the voice. I couldn’t see anything for it was dark.

“Umm, Carmen.”

I heard footsteps from inside the room and the next thing I know, the lights were on.

A little girl about 7, with long, curly, brown hair stood before me. She was wearing a white laced dress.

“I’m Lucy.”

“Hello, Lucy. Are you Margaret and Frederick’s daughter?”

“I don’t know who they are but I do live here.”

I chuckled. She’s so adorable. She doesn’t even know her parents’ name and yet she was watching this film.

“Waterloo Bridge, huh?” I pointed at the wall where the film was projecting.

“Yes, how did you know?”

“Well, it’s one of my favourites.”

“Ohh..”

“Should you be watching this? You’re too young to.”

“No, I do love the story.”

I smiled and raised my eyebrow. “You do, do you?”

I approached her bed. “May I sit down?”

“Of course”, she followed me.

“You know, I didn’t know one person who has seen this.”

“Really? It’s a lovely film and the girl’s really pretty.”

“Yes, she is quite lovely.”

You know what puzzles me? A little girl about 7 was watching a drama film not suitable for her age.

“It’s a pretty old film.” I told her.

“No, it isn’t. It’s just three years.”

“Three years? What do you mean?”

Before she could answer, I could hear knocking on the door.

“Lucy, can you turn it down? I’m reading here.”

A tall, brown-haired boy about 19 was standing in the doorway.

“Well, hello.” He greeted.

I waved my hand.

“Are you a friend of Lucy’s?”

I looked at Lucy and she was nodding.

I smiled. “I am now.”

He was approaching towards me and said “I’m Laurence. Larry“, while extending his hand.

I took and shook it. “I’m Carmen.”

“Pleased to meet you.” he said

“Likewise”

Margaret called us to have dinner eventually. The Astors and I talked and talked. I was really having a great time. They were a pretty close family. How I wish I were a part of it. I love my mum though. Even though it’s just the two of us. I’m so glad I’ve met them. They’re such nice people.

After dinner, me and Larry went outside the balcony and had a never-ending conversation. My guess was right. He was 19. I was 18. We sat under the stars in the cool, August night. It stopped raining, thank heaven. The cool breeze was blowing my long, brown hair and brushed it aside.

Both of us had just met and I felt like we’ve known each other for years. It’s really weird. I feel so welcome here. We talked about loads of stuff like college and his parents and sister. I told him that I was an only child and that my mum’s the only family I have left.

“Well, you have us, and your mum, of course.”

“Yes, I do.”

When the night air got colder, we both decided to come back inside. We went to the living room and all of them were there. Lucy was sitting on the floor facing the fireplace playing with a doll in a Victorian dress, Margaret was sitting on the sofa, knitting and Frederick was smoking a cigarette while reading a book. Larry and I decided to join Lucy on the floor. We stayed in the living room for what felt like two hours. We shared a few laughs and exchanged conversations until it was time to go to bed.

I didn’t need to change; my dress was already dry and warm. Margaret offered me one of her nightdresses though. I was led into their spacious guest room where I was to sleep. Before finally going to bed, we bid each other goodnight. I closed the door and jumped on the bed. It was so warm and comfy that I was so excited to go to sleep. I laid there for a minute or two before finally closing my eyes.

The next morning, breakfast was already on the table and the sun was shining out the window. Thank goodness. I can finally go home.  I waited for them to finish eating and announced that it was time for me to go.

“Aww, couldn’t you stay until the afternoon?” asked Margaret.

“I would stay a little longer but my mum’s probably so worried about me right now. I really need to go”

“Well, then, we’ll walk you through outside.” said Frederick.

We all went out of the dining room and proceeded to the foyer where we were to say our goodbyes.

“Well, I must be going.” I said. “Thank you all so much. You’ve been so kind.”

“You’re more than welcome. You can come visit us anytime.” said Frederick.

I smiled.

Margaret hugged me. “We already feel like you’re a part of the family. Come back anytime, my dear. You can visit and stay here for as long as you’d like.”

I hugged her back. “Don’t worry, I will.”

 “Yeah, Carmen. Come back soon so we can watch films together.” said Lucy.

I smiled and kissed her head.

Wow I’ve only been here for a day and I feel like I’ve stayed for weeks. I would surely visit again. They’re such lovely people.

“Please come back again, Carmen. We’re going to miss you.” said Larry.

“Don’t be silly. Of course, I will.”

I planted a kiss on his cheek. He grabbed me and hugged me tightly. I hugged him back. We hugged for what felt like minutes.

“Ok, you can let go now.”

He released me and said “Sorry.”

“Well, goodbye everyone.”

“Goodbye.” They all said.

I walked past the front door. Bertie’s already outside.

“Goodbye, Miss.”

“Bye, Bertie. I’ll see you soon” I smiled at him.

I bid my last farewell and took 8 steps down. I walked past the gate and through the sea of trees once again without looking back. As much as I wanted to stay, I missed my mum. I ran and ran past the trees. At last, I was back on the street again. I took one last look at the dark something from afar and smiled.

---

When I got home, I looked for my mother. “Mummm!” I called out.

I could hear footsteps quickly approaching from her bedroom. “Carmen?!”

She got out of the room and her eyes were all puffy and red. She ran towards me and hugged me tightly.

“Mum? What’s wrong?”

“Where have you been!? I’ve been worried sick!”

“I called you yesterday and you weren’t answering the phone.”

“You were? I was waiting for your call all day yesterday.”

How did that happen? I called twice yesterday. How come she didn’t hear it?

“Anyway, you shouldn’t worry. I was alright. It was only a day.”

“What do you mean a day?!”

“Why?”

“You were gone for five days!!”

I couldn’t process that last sentence. She said I was gone for five days. Five. No way. I went out for a walk yesterday. Yesterday. Which means just one day. My mum’s mistaken. It was only yesterday I was walking down the street and it rained.

I didn’t speak for the rest of the day. My mind was still processing what had happened to me. I couldn’t remember. I didn’t know what to think. I was puzzled and confused. I swear it was only a day.

---

That night, I decided to call the Astors. To let them know I got home safe. What was their number again? 5-4-4-8-5-4.. what was the other one? 6? No, no. I think it was 7.Yeah. 7. I dialed their number.

No one was answering. My eyebrows furrowed. I dialed again. It kept ringing. I grabbed the phonebook and looked for their phone number just to be sure. 

“How come they aren’t answering?”

“Who?” my mum asked.

“The family I stayed with.”

“Did you dial their number correctly?”

What, their number’s not in the phonebook. Not even an ‘Astor’ in the list.

“I think I did.” I replied. “How come? It isn’t raining. The signal’s pretty good.”

“You said you called me yesterday.”

“I did, Mum. The signal was probably bad since there was a storm.”

My mum stayed silent for a while. I gave up on calling them and put the receiver down.

“Carmen.”

“Yep?”

“You said there was a storm?”

“Yes.”

“Carmen, it didn’t rain in the last five days that you were gone.”

---

The next morning, I decided to come back there.

I was walking in the street while thoughts and realisations came to my mind. Why weren’t they answering the telephone? It was working perfectly fine. But how come their number’s not in the phonebook? And mum said I was gone for five days... But I was only gone for a day. 4 days were unaccounted for. Where did those four days go? Is it possible that... I visited a different dimension? Impossible.  Is it possible that—no. No way. But what if, though? What if... I traveled back in time? It could be? It fits everything together. The clothes. The furniture. The mansion. The film. Waterloo Bridge. Yes. That’s why Lucy said it was three years. Waterloo Bridge was released in 1940. I went back in 1943?! No. It’s impossible. Maybe they were just old-fashioned. Yes. I ran and ran.

I was nearing the tiny forest. Just a few more steps. I stopped and held on to a tree. I was breathing heavily. I want to prove myself wrong. That these thoughts are silly. It’s ludicrous. Time travel isn’t possible. They’re real people from the present time. Just with eccentric interests. That must be it. The trees were there.

I walked past the sea of trees. I wanted to make sure. I really wanted to. I took the same path, the one from the other day. I stopped at the exact same spot facing the gate.

But the gate and the mansion were nowhere to be seen.


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