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Old 28th May 2003, 13:50   #1
Palimpsest_Features
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Default Isabella's House, Chapter 1 - by May Falkin

Isabella's House

Chapter One


The house looked unappealing. Once it had been a beautiful villa, now it was hardly anything more than a ruin. The windows were blurred with dust and dirt. The paint came off the outer walls and the garden was overgrown with weeds. This was it. This was her house. Isabella sighed and carefully opened the front gate. She forced herself a way through the nettles that left irritated red spots on her legs. Isabella wanted to sit down on the veranda, but the all chairs looked as if they could collapse any minute. She walked up and down the stairs of the veranda as if she had lost an earring. Isabella was wondering where her grandmother’s notary could be, she was supposed to meet him here. Suddenly she felt the desire to look through one of the windows. With her left sleeve of her coat she tried to wipe off some of the filth. The view was not much better than before; all she could see was her own reflection. Then she saw something moving but she could not make out what it was. All of a sudden she realised that the moving thing was not in the house but that it was standing behind her. She quickly turned around and stood face to face with an attractive young man. Older, but not much.

“Hi, I’m Olav Benson, you grandmothers solicitor,” he said smiling shaking hands with her.

“Oh, I see, Isabella Foster,” she replied, “I’m my grandmother’s, eh, grandchild.” He laughed at it as if it were the joke of the month. Isabella felt slightly uncomfortable. She desperately wanted to go inside.

“Well, shall we go in?” she asked.

“Off course, here are the keys.”

The front door jammed a little as if it had not been opened for a long time. The hall was dark and poky but the floor smelled freshly brushed. There was scarcely room for two in the hall and that urged Isabella to enter the living room.

“It is quite dark, is it not,” said Isabella, seeking for the light switch. Just before she could reach it, the solicitor switched on the lights.

The room looked gloomy and outdated. Dark brown curtains, murky brown wallpaper with hideous flowers and armchairs and sofa in the same dreadful fashion. Isabella’s heart sank at her boots at the sight of the room.

“Are, all the rooms like this?” she asked.

“I am afraid so, Miss Foster.” replied Mister Benson.

“Well, in that case, could you give me an indication about how much the house would bring in when I sell it?”

“I’m afraid not very much, seen the condition of the house. You could have let it taxed, but I must warn you. It will not bring in very much in this state. But if you really plan to sell the house I would advice you to clean up the place, redecorate it a little before having it taxed.”

“I see,” she murmured. What a disappointment. Isabella had planned to sell the house for she had no intentions to live there. Her friends recommended her to look at it first before making the decision whether to sell or not. But at the very first glimpse of it, Isabella knew living there was out of the question. She really wanted to sell the place and now this handsome solicitor advised her to redecorate this mess.

“Well, maybe it might be best when I come back tomorrow. Then you can give it a thought and get use to the idea that this is your home now.” said Mister Benson.

“Oh no, I’m fine. I just feel a bit awkward, that is all.” Isabella quickly replied. All of a sudden she did not want him to go. “You have not shown me the rest of this, eh, my house.”

“Well, to be honest I haven’t spent much time here. Actually, I have only been in the living room and the kitchen before, when your dear Grandmother was still alive.” Mister Benson replied. He was honest and it was as if he had been close with her grandmother.

“Please? It is that just I feel a bit awkward here, you see.”

“Ah well, it can’t be that complicated and with a cup of tea it must be a piece of cake.” he said when he showed her the way into the kitchen. To Isabella’s surprise the kitchen looked bright and fresh. The windows were clean and everything blinked. The curtains were newly washed and although the furniture was as old-fashioned as in the living room, it was less revolting. Isabella in fact began to feel a bit comfortable and at ease. The copper kettle already stood on the cooker and in one of the cupboards Isabella found the tea and teacups. All the teacups matched with the teapot

“Your grandmother was a proud woman and the kitchen was her favourite room. She spent much time cooking and baking all kinds of delicious meals. I bet you will find a unique collection of her recipe-books in one of the cupboards.” Mister Benson said to break the ice.

“To bad, I’m not much of a kitchen princess,” answered Isabella. “Did you know my grandmother well?”

“Quite well, yes. My father was an old friend of hers. He was actually her solicitor before he retired.”

“I see.” Before she noticed Isabella was chatting away with her grandmothers solicitor in her grandmothers kitchen. No her own kitchen. Time flies when you have a good conversation and at the time Isabella let the solicitor out she realised that her stomach was complaining about being neglected.

“Mister Benson,” Isabella shouted, while he was fighting his way through the nettles. “Do you by any chance know a good take-away around here?’

“Call 60223.” he screamed. “Chinese!”

“Thanks!”

A little hour later Isabella finished her Chinese take-away diner. She thought about the afternoon and what had happened. The pressure fell of her shoulders and it all did not seem that bad to her anymore. She tried to picture herself in this house and although she tried very hard she could only imagine herself in the kitchen having Chinese take-away diners.

Not much later when Isabella explored the bedrooms to make out which one looked the most appealing the phone rang. It was Jenny, her best friend.

“This place is like hell!” yelled Isabella. “Everything is so dark and old-fashioned, you should see the place.”

“So you’re selling it?” replied Jenny.

“No, that is yes.”

“Yes or no?”

“It is quite complicated, before I can sell it, it needs to be cleaned up and redecorated a bit.”

“Oh, what a shame!

“I know, but I was wondering whether you would like to come over for the weekend. Than you can see the place and give some advice. By the way, there is an excellent Chinese take-away around here!”

Then, finally, Isabella fell asleep on her grandmothers bed. She was so tired that she forgot to change.

When Isabella woke up it was nearly noon. The sun peeped through the curtains and outside in the garden the birds were making a noisy fuss about something. It took a while before Isabella realised where she was, that she was at home. Slowly everything became clear to her and at the thought that this was her first day of cleaning up she closed her eyes again, acting as if she was still asleep. But there was no mother, or nurse to tell her that it was time to get up. With a big sigh Isabella climbed out of the bed. She felt a bit dizzy and her stomach was rumbling again.

“Oh allright!” she mumbled to her own reflection in the bathroom mirror. After a quick shower Isabella decided to do some shoppings. She couldn’t carry on having take-aways for diner every night. Although she wasn’t a bright cook, Isabella knew how to make tasty salads. That was actually the only thing delicious thing she produced in the kitchen.

Other than the day before, the wether was marvellous. The sun was shinning and it almost looked like summer. In the sunlight the house looked half as bad. The garden remained a jungle, but the veranda only needed a bit of paint. On her way to the grocery story Isabella began to develop a certain love for the idea of redecorating the place.



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