The attic. Somewhere I loathed excavating, but seeing as repairs were needed to be done to the manor, I needed to sort some things out. I could have hired people to sort this out for me, yet I seemed to have one small issue with relinquishing control.
Some of these items had been here since my Aunt had passed and left me the manor. I hadn’t really gone through these crates; mainly due to there only being a few in here. Somehow it didn’t feel right sorting through her belongings. I know I was a woman who was rather accustomed to taking things that were not hers to begin with, however rifling through her personal items just did not sit right with me. Perhaps I should, it might feel quite cathartic.
As I started to push one of the wooden crates, it split, spilling its contents all over the dusty attic floor. I shouldn’t have been so forceful; it was second nature to me to move obstacles with a brute force.
I swore as Aunty’s treasures were getting dirty, also giving myself a stern telling off for feeling as though I’d been prying through her things. Taking out the rest of her contents made me realise as to why the box was so fragile. In the window that didn’t offer much light in the sunniest of days, the dismal morning had shown me some of her belongings had mould on them. Pushing the box closer to the window, it displayed that it was indeed rotted – it would explain as to why it had the strength of a crisp.
I slumped on the oak floor, disappointed with myself that I hadn’t properly stored her items. Emotions weren’t facets of myself that I dealt well with, if at all. I didn’t care about many people, however she had proved herself to be the only family member who didn’t mind me following my own path. If anything she seemed proud of me that I wanted to escape the clutches of the aristocracy. There was something in her eyes that shone to me all those years ago that made me feel as though she was desperate to do the same.
After going to grab a floor standing lamp, I began to empty all of her belongings. It was already too late to have started to do this, however it seemed now was the time to do it. I ripped through the other crates, hoping with held breath that her other possessions were alright.
I stopped dead in my tracks once I’d found a burgundy leather bound book. Opening it made my heart sink. There they were – page after page held The Crofts, faces once held warmth quickly froze over once I’d told them I was going to follow my own path.
I never wanted to marry, I never wanted to mother and I certainly never wanted to turn out like any of them. After the crash in the Himalayas, I knew I needed to go my own way. I didn’t make it out alive, forage and survive to simply become a wife. Not a chance in hell.
My anger had subsided many years ago, I simply didn’t care about them anymore to feel anything. I’d been called an ice queen in the past for much less. They had no place being in this home, even on paper. I thumbed through the photos, taking out one of myself and Aunty, and one of Winston and I when I couldn’t have been more than two or three. I smiled as I grinned from ear to ear as Winston held out my pigtails as he pulled a silly face.
Thank goodness he was with her and not with my parents. Here, he was treated with respect and as a human being. Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t play a few jokes on him here and there. He’d only be chilly for five minutes or so.
I held the album with both hands, taking it to my bedroom where the fire was crackling away. I stood in front of the dancing glow and without a moments more hesitation, I gave the album to the flames, folding my arms as I watched the edges blacken with fire.
‘Is that what I think it is, Ms. Croft?’ Winston said, coming out of the bathroom with a kit of cleaning supplies.
‘Yes,’ I paused. ‘Don’t worry, I’ve taken out the best ones.’
‘Don’t you think you’ll regret it? After all, those were the only photographs in the manor of your family. I suppose it’s far too late now.’ Winston mused as the album was disintegrating rapidly.
‘No. They’ve never regretted disowning me, have they?’ I mused rhetorically. It sounded sad to say it out loud, however it was more than factual.
Silence fell, only the spats from a flame or two filled the near air.
‘Are you alright, Ms. Croft?’ He said quietly.
‘Never better.’ I smiled at him. ‘I think it’s break time for us both. How does a cup of tea and a game or two of chess sound?’
‘Like rather a good plan, I’ll get started-’
‘No, no’ I intervened. ‘I’ll make the tea this time.’
I slid my arm through his and we headed for the kitchen without even a glance back.