“I’d like you to meet Paul,” was all she said on a day that started out rather normal in its monotony. Paul was carrying several buckets of Ralph Lauren Paint that Marina had offered to pick up from the store. We had begun the renovation of the house in Hyde Park. My mother had decided we should “Go first class with the product, baby. Let’s add a touch of texture as well as color.” I really had no interest in what she chose. I could have left the house as it was but Mom wanted to make it more modern and livable, cheerful, and most importantly…clean and safe.
It was an anti-house. A house of darkness, where Vincent Price from the old black and white horror movies, would emerge with his sinister elegance. It was the house that floated between reality and shadow, clinging desperately to the town of Amityville. But I was not afraid. The other world was where my Jake was now. Even though he had not materialized since I came to live here, I firmly believed that I was under his protection. Felt protected. I liked that the house was in disrepair just like my heart. My outer world a reflection of my despair. I liked that it was the antithesis of my McMansion with Jake.
Of course, we got it for a steal. And I liked that too. I was done with extravagant spending. I would find my true self once again, my simple self. It also seemed a good fit that a woman had lived there alone and now I would take her place. As soon as I saw the house, even in shambles, I felt drawn to it. We hired contractors who hired Mexicans to tear everything out and put in Home Depot appliances and yuppie fixtures from Lowe’s. The heat came through floor furnaces; so burnt bare feet seemed a hazard on the rare cold day. An attic fan was the only device to stave off the oppressive heat. It was an easy decision to put in central heat and air and we covered up the floor grates with tile and carpet. We leveled and stained the heart-of-pine floors and bought complete rooms of furniture from IKEA and Rooms to Go as a way to distance this fresh start from any resemblance to my former Designer’s Showcase interior. We took on projects we thought we could handle ourselves. The smell of fresh paint surrounded us for weeks, a safe and familiar smell, a hole torn in time, this scent resembling the smell of a new house.
Straight out of a Dickens novel, an elderly spinster by the name of Viola Parker had let it go to ruin. She had lived to be an amazing 97 years old and had accumulated a startling array of vintage stuff that included closets full of clothing that could costume shows like Thoroughly Modern Millie and Cabaret. Elaborately carved wood desks and bureaus that had been neglected for years and were full of wormholes and nicks. Antique tables from India and China. Cabinets with etched glass doors held gold-trimmed and flowery patterned porcelain—possibly museum quality.
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Genre – Contemporary romance, Magical Realism
Rating – PG-13
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Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.