The Bay House

The Bay House

Status: Finished

Genre: Fantasy

Houses:

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fantasy

Houses:

Summary

A Novellette: The First Story in the Bottle Trilogy
Legend speaks of a mysterious green bottle that brings lovers together across oceans and time.
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Summary

A Novellette: The First Story in the Bottle Trilogy
Legend speaks of a mysterious green bottle that brings lovers together across oceans and time.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Chapter One

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 13, 2017

Reads: 44

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 13, 2017

A A A

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I pulled over as far to the left of the country road as I could; any further and I was in danger of leaving the road altogether, to slip and slide towards an inglorious demise buried within the ferns and bracken of a New Zealand hillside.

It had been a long drive over roads familiar in my childhood but now, as a driver, strange and sometimes potentially hazardous; I was desperate to leave my vehicle and stretch my legs. The dust my tyres had disturbed on the unsealed edge of the road still hung heavily in the warm summer air, the combined smell and taste reminding me of summers past when, as a child, I had burst from the family vehicle on this very spot, anxious and excited to get the holidays underway.

Fatigue and nostalgia flooded my senses as I manhandled a large suitcase from the car's boot and struggled with its weight. It took a few seconds to locate the entrance I was seeking; the pathway down a steep set of steps under a tree canopy and lined on both sides by damp, tangled undergrowth littered with moulding leaves. The remnants of what had once been Aunt Connie’s lovingly tended border gardens struggled for life, evidenced by a few colourful blooms dotting what was otherwise a horticultural graveyard. The cumbersome suitcase threatened to undermine my descent but eventually, I made it to the little back door of the bach with barely an injury worth noting.

Struggling with my newly acquired key, I opened the door and was greeted by the musty smell of a house left unoccupied for some time. Small, dried leaves wafted at my feet, a legacy left by a careless real estate agent unmindful of the fastidious nature of my much loved, recently departed Aunt Connie. I quickly grabbed an old broom I knew to be stashed in a small closet on the landing and, in deference to Aunt Connie's house-proudness, swished the dried flora unceremoniously out the door before closing it swiftly. I could feel my aunt's approval beaming down on me and immediately caved in to a flood of memories and sadness as I sat perched on the upturned edge of my suitcase and surveyed my surroundings.

There had been very few changes since I last visited the bach five years previously. Uncle Byron had passed away and my visit had been a chance to catch up with Aunt Connie and to share our mutual grief.

The small landing gave way to an open plan kitchen and living area and to the left were a small bathroom and two bedrooms. The view from the living area was unimpeded by a large, sliding glass door allowing access to a long, narrow, covered porch which hung quite precariously over the cliff edge, supported by sturdy stilt-like foundations. This porched area was also enclosed by many glass windows which could be opened, allowing sea breezes to cool the bach on warm summer days.

The view was breathtaking and never failed to amaze me. The front windows overlooked the beautiful bay which at this moment was dotted with a few sailing vessels and several dinghies whose captains were clinging to fishing lines, trying to snag an evening meal. The waters were blue and calm and surrounded on three sides by hills covered in lush, native bushland which grew right to the beach. Nestled in the bush were other baches like my aunt's, all reasonably close by but isolated by the inaccessibility of the landscape and the desire of their occupants to remain aloof and alone with nature. And now this glorious spot which held so many happy memories was mine.

Aunt Connie had purchased her bay house the year before she met and married Uncle Byron. Together, they purchased another home in a nearby town and kept the bach for holidays which they shared with family and friends. My parents had lived in the same small town as my aunt and uncle until they moved to the city taking me with them. We still made it to the bach most years until Uncle Byron passed away. Aunt Connie continued to make pilgrimages to the bach but it wasn't the same for her and, when she too recently succumbed to old age, she left the little holiday house and all its contents to me. I was thrilled that she had remembered me in this way and this was my first visit to see what it was that I had inherited.

The long drive plus the onslaught of all my emotions left me exhausted so I dragged my case into the main bedroom and fell onto the bed for a much needed nap.

I had been more tired than I realised, awakening in time to take a glass of wine out to the balcony and watch as the night stole its slow, inky way across the bay. Most of the little boats had gone home to their berths and I sat and watched the glorious view as the hillsides gradually lit up with tiny fairy lights, the only evidence that there were other baches and other residents settling in for the night.

I felt that I deserved a top-up before preparing a meal so I headed back into the kitchen for my opened wine bottle. That is when the remaining light from the sinking sun caught my eye as it glanced off a gorgeous, green glass bottle that sat as a centrepiece on Aunt Connie's dining room table. The light penetrated the top of the bottle but not the middle which, to me, seemed rather curious. Gripping the cool stem of my wine glass, I approached the bottle for further inspection.

It was a stunning ornament which was truly appreciated on close examination. The bottle was an emerald green with a water-proof stopper and as I picked the ornament up, I was impressed by the coolness of the object and the craftsmanship the maker had brought to the diagonal pattern that appeared to be encased within the glass itself.

I also noticed that there was a page of note paper, rolled and pushed into the bottle neck.

Gingerly and with great excitement, I removed the stopper only to find that the note was out of reach of my adult-sized fingers. Praying that Aunt Connie had a pair of tweezers in the bathroom, I gently placed the bottle back onto the table which is when I noticed a pair of long-nosed, hospital-style tweezers sitting almost cheekily, I thought, alone in the fruit bowl. Apparently, Aunt Connie had prepared ahead!

I was afraid that my fumbling fingers would jeopardise the future of the emerald bottle if I continued to clumsily paw at the concealed contents so I carefully took the bottle, the tweezers and my glass out to the patio where I sat carefully on a padded outdoor chair, the magic of the bay completely overshadowed by the mystery of the emerald bottle and its contents.

I fortified myself with another sip of wine and then carefully encouraged the paper from the neck of the bottle. Placing the stopper securely back in place, I returned the gorgeous ornament back to its place on the table.

The light on the porch was failing and the breeze was cooling, so I slid the double doors closed and sat on Aunt Connie's favourite lounge chair to examine my prize. The paper felt soft and pliable as I unfolded the mysterious note and was overjoyed to see that my marvellous aunt had, indeed, taken the time to write a letter intended only for my eyes.

Dear Wendy,

Now you have found the green bottle and are beginning to read this, my letter to you. I am sorry to be departing this life but I am so looking forward to being with my Byron again. You know how much we meant to each other and what a wonderful life we spent together and I wonder if you will believe me when I tell you that we owed our good fortune in love to this gorgeous bottle and the abilities it possesses!

Now I can imagine your beautiful brow creasing as you read this and you are wondering if your much-loved aunt suffered from dementia in her last months - I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth; you will know in your heart of hearts that when you saw me last, my mental health was perfectly sound which, unfortunately, could not be said of my tired, old body.

When we were together, you said you were no closer to finding your soulmate and so I am entrusting the green bottle to you and asking you to take, on faith, the things I am about to tell you. This bottle will absolutely lead you to your one, true love and that is a promise. Tonight, when you have finished reading this note, take a pen and paper and address a letter to the one you wish to meet. Tell him a few things about yourself just as if you have met for the first time over coffee in the local café. When you have finished your note, roll the paper and push it into the neck of the green bottle in the same manner that you found this letter. Push the stopper into place and then, on the next high tide, go down to the sea and set the bottle free. The ocean will take your note to your one true love who will, with luck, reply and send the bottle back to you on the incoming tide.

I know you will doubt all that you are reading but just this once have faith and follow my instructions. The bottle will perform its work and you will begin a magical and puzzling journey to happiness.

I only have one warning and that is to not get caught up in what you believe to be the obvious but do expect the unexpected. I know that sounds like a riddle but if you bear this in mind, you and your love will figure it all out. If I tried to explain further, you would simply throw this note away and possibly ruin a marvellous chance at happiness.

Good luck, my dearest Wendy. Because I have absolute faith in the after-life, I know we will meet again and when we do, we will have the most wonderful stories to share!

All my love,

Aunt Connie xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The letter had a full line of little crosses indicating kisses, something I remembered Aunt Connie had always written on cards she gave me as a small child.

So, somehow, I mused, I had not spotted Aunt Connie's mental demise on my last visit before her passing. I sat in my chair and went over everything in the letter and examined every little memory I had of Aunt Connie five years previously. I just didn't understand. She had seemed to be her normal self, still high in spirits and enthusiasm for life, even though her old body was letting her down.

For as long as I could remember, Aunt Connie had possessed a spiritual nature, adoring the natural world around her and praising the goodness of The Universe. Had she become too caught up in her beliefs and lost her sense of reality? No matter how hard I pictured my wonderful aunt, I could not visualize her losing her grip but then how else was I to explain the letter and its crazy contents?

The question of the letter and a mysterious bottle with metaphysical powers continued to bother me as I prepared a meal from the supplies I had brought with me. There would be plenty of opportunity to drive in to Picton but I wanted to begin my holiday without the need to go to town and I was well prepared for an uninterrupted start to my planned four-week break. I continued to mull over Aunt Connie's silliness as I enjoyed my pasta and even still as I washed up my dirty dishes and left them drying on the rack.

I was continuing to question my aunt's mental stability as I drew a piece of paper from a kitchen drawer and sat at the table that was home to the lovely green bottle. "Looks like," I said to myself with a small, wry grin, "instability runs in the family." And I began to pen the letter that I had no intention of setting free on the flowing tide the following day.


© Copyright 2017 L.J. Sirett. All rights reserved.

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