Dancing with Jasper
AU AH Alice's gran has just died and she has to clean and fix-up her house ready for selling. The problem - she has a horrible phobia of the house since a child. Will her dancing partner make her fear worthwile? (Horrible summary, its just a one-shot so just give it a go!)
1. Chappie uno ;)
Rating 0/5 Word Count 1811 Review this Chapter
As a child I hated even the thought of going inside her house, not even Riley our dog would go inside. He used to whimper and lie down on the floor of the car, refusing to budge. He was my excuse not to go inside – I couldn't leave my poor beloved doggy alone in a car by itself.
But, the truth was, I felt I couldn't go into that house. It wasn't as if I was hated or has has bad experiences in the old house, I just always felt someone behind me, hands on my shoulders – just slightly, like the ghost of someone's hands – shushing me out of the best rooms It was as if I shouldn't be seen or even be in certain rooms. Almost as if we had some important people to dinner and I had to stay in the upstairs rooms with Riley.
I wasn't a child any more, though, I was an adult. 18, an age that when my great-grandma was little, was a very good age to be married at. Of course 16 or 17 was even better, but still, 18 was almost perfect.
Gran had just died, and obviously, I had been devastated. She had spent so much time and energy coming to see me and, recently, I had grown closer and used to take her out. There grew between us an unspoken alliance of sorts, she gave me the feeling that she knew what I felt when inside her home. She saved me from the unwelcomed hands and the feeling that presented themselves when I approached her door. She came to my car and other times we met round the corner and walked to our destination. I just wish I could have repaid the favour before it was too late.
However, now, she couldn't protect me from it – I had to fix her house up ready for selling. Dad had gone to war and never came back, so he couldn't do it, and my mother had gone mad with grief at my father's death. All I had had left was my gran, and now I felt like an orphan. I was all alone.
Finding the courage to deal with a death is always hard, but add to that facing a place yo have avoided all your life and and well, out them together and what I had to do was almost impossible.
Pulling strength from a place I didn't even know existed inside of me, I approached the massive house, which had been in the family since the Victorian period. Pulling the large worn key from the brown envelope stored inside my bag, I pushed it inside the lock, a sense of dread chilling the blood inside my veins and sending shivers down my spine. Horror flashed behind my eyes as it seared everything went silent: the car engines stopped making their grumbling sounds; I couldn't hear the voices around me; the man's flat workmen's boots, that had been echoing down the road, had disappeared. The only sound that my ears picked up was the click-clack of a pair of woman's heels and a lovely humming tune that was as beautiful as it was terrifying, that came from inside the door. No one else had a key, there wasn’t anyone else who could have a key. The only one in existence was in my hand. But someone was inside; I could hear them. This was real, and I had never been so scared.
With my hand still on the door knob, now locked in a vice like grip that had turned my knuckles white and brought sweat glistening to my palms, I turned my hand. Under my fist the door handle moved, and the door swung open, dragging me inside since my hand was still attached to it, this dragging me into the black, open-plan space.
Using the thin sliver of light spilling in through the doorway, I guided myself along the perimeter of the vast space before me. As I felt along the wall, I knew that I had to find the curtains that I had seen were closed, cutting the light out of the house when I had arrived in my car just five minutes earlier. Finally after several minutes of patting wallpaper, I grasped the thick, old cloth of heavy velvet curtains and pulled, coughing as a cascade of dust flew around my head. The dust filled the air forcing me to cough, and cough again, until finally I breathed.
Even with the curtains back, the filthy windows allowed only a small amount of light into the room, just enough for me to inspect the dust particles floating in the thin beam of light.
Stepping back in an attempt to find cleaner air, I realised I was moving further into a house had - and I realise how silly it sounds - a phobia of. I froze awaiting the pure fear that I knew was going to hit me like a train - but it didn’t, nothing came. I just stood there with nothing at all touching me, as if I’d made it all up. The heels; the humming; the touching: all of it. Relief filled me at the thought that I didn’t have to worry about being here and I could get my job done as soon as possible and not let this drag on. Now, I realised, all the that had filled me had evaporated the second I had stepped over the threshold.
Whereas, as a child, I had felt pushed out of the house, I now felt encouraged to come inside. It felt like my birthday and the party was for me, no one is turned away from their own party.
I felt relaxed and excited and nervous at the same time and I had a sense of overwhelming . . . love? But no one loved me, my dad wasn’t around to, my ma didn’t have the capacity for love any more and my gran was in the same limbo my dad was. And what was more curious, this love, it wasn’t the love for someone dead, or even for family. The person who loved me seemed to be standing in front of me, moving, dancing with me. I hadn’t even realised I was moving until right that second, and I could see the man I was dancing with in front of me, as plain as day . . . but then, not clearly, at the same time.
My dancing partner had thick brown curls, he looked about 20, with eyes of blue that were as clear as a sapphire sea. He wasn’t there in my sight more like a shadow, or to touch but I felt traces, hear whispers, he felt like smoke but at the same time his grip was so strong, as if he feared I would disappear any moment, or blow away in the wind.
A fresh breeze from the still open door effectively stole him from me, when he was gone, I felt empty. No warmth. No love. Nothing. Just pure simple emptiness. Another gust blew my hair around my face. A smug breeze, as if it was laughing at what it had taken from me. Taking a deep breath, I then expelled it, releasing my anger, and I hurried forward to immerse myself in my task.
At the same time, day after day, we danced. An hour was all that we got, then he would fade and disappear. It took me 2 weeks and 6 days to get the house ready and empty it of all gran’s stuff. It had already been sold and it was part of the deal that it should be cleaned up.
‘And on the 7th day she rested’. I walked around the bare and newly-cleaned house. I didn’t actually have to be there, I just wanted to see him for the last time. We had never spoken, I wasn’t sure if we even could, but today I had to say something, make him realise I wouldn’t be coming back.
It was already past the time he always arrived, perhaps he already knew and had thought I wouldn’t be coming back.
The woman who’d opened the door for me as usual, hummed a different tune today. Her voice had always managed to turn my blood cold no matter how many times I brushed past her. She never hurt me, but I always wanted to avoid her if possible.
I looked at my watch again. He was 10minutes late! He had always been on time before, he had never been a second out of schedule. I realised he had abandoned me, and my heart sank. I knew I couldn’t leave without seeing him one last time, but . . . Suddenly the handle to the door started turning, the speed was snail slow, and yet it was moving much too fast for my liking. This must be the new family James, Victoria and their son Laurent, coming to take possession of their new home. They would make me leave, force me away from him - forever! I had to escape, I didn’t want to wait to talk to them, to hand over the key. I knew the back door wouldn’t work, the key was always getting stuck. They were at my only exit. If they were coming in, I didn’t stand a chance of escape.
As the door swung open, I saw a black shoe - designed for the male gender - step into my line of view. As the muscular leg that the shoe belonged to emerged, I inhaled a sharp gasp of breath. When the rest of the body was through the door, the back of the man’s head was towards me. All I could register was his thick, curly brown hair.
He moved forward into the light from the sparkling clean window. This version of him was real, my dancing partner wasn’t just a figment of my imagination. When his head turned, our eyes met and we saw each other as if for the first time. I whispered the only word that seemed to fit at that moment, it was a name, a name that would connect me and a man who had his hand held out to me, and a half-smile shining through his features; “Jasper.”
I slipped my fingers through his and he led me out the door. The door locked with a soft click and we left to the sound of the beautiful hum, that I had first heard on this very doorstep, and this time the hum had no terror hidden in the tune, it was peaceful and filled me with joy.