“Will you be ok, all by yourself?” the boatman asked her with a concerned frown.
“How can I be anything but ok? I have finally come home!” she answered in her laughter filled voice. “Just give me seven days on my own, in the place I love the most. I won’t ever be able to see it this way, ever again! You won’t tell anybody I am here, will you?” she asked, her brown-black eyes pleading to his soft soul.
“But missy, there is no food, there is no water and you don’t even have a key!” the old man voiced his concerns for his beloved mistress yet again.
“I am carrying food,” she said pointing to her back pack, “inside the gate there are fresh water wells, four of them! And I learnt how to draw water from the wells, the day I turned eight.” She sighed and looked towards the massive iron gates, with their intimidating size they really didn’t need a lock to keep visitors away.
But there was a lock, a huge antique iron lock, which must weigh at least seven or eight kilograms, with huge chains hugging it to the gates. And the truth was, she did not have the keys.
“I will get myself in,” she promised both herself and the old man.
“I will wait here till you are safely inside,” the old man said stubbornly.
“And you will return to fetch me only on the seventh day?” she asked, confirming that she would be stranded on her beloved home island for seven complete days.
The old man nodded reluctantly.
She bobbed off after waving him a smiling goodbye. She didn’t go to the gate but went left instead, to where she knew a tree, unidentifiable to most zoologists, had struck roots more than a century ago. Its branches spread far and wide, and one sweet branch found its way over the compound walls of the mansion. It was this branch which was going to get her inside.
Not having climbed a tree in ages, she set about checking the sturdy trunk for firm footings. A scraped knee, a bleeding elbow and fifteen minutes later, she landed with a successful thump on what would have once upon a time, been the vegetable garden of the mansion.
She got to her aching feet and looked around. The sun was already drowning itself in the embrace of a lustrous night. Shedding its jewelery of bronze and gold for the greedy skies to claim, before they stealthily crept away into the night, like thieves proud of their loot. The west side of the mansion stood silhouetted against the red orange skyline, reminding her of a wounded warrior standing proud for one last time, before death sucked his soul away.
It was a dramatic comparison , but so true. This place which had seen her through her childhood summers, this mansion which had once housed glory and grandeur, this ancestral delight which ought to be renovated for the coming generations, would be demolished after seven days.
Yes, it was an expensive mansion to maintain. And years of neglect had covered all its glory. The place was at best a little better than some ancient ruins, yet Cara found it difficult to part with it. She had argued with her parents, even stooped as low as to appeal to the emotional nature of her mother, but eventually had lost it all to logic.
“Nobody lives there anymore. The place if not a tomb, is itself dead. The only thing alive there is wild vegetation! We are being offered a good price for something that worthless!” Her father had stated.
How could anything so alive with memories, be worthless? But she knew they were not rich enough to be able to afford the upkeep of the mansion. Woefully she had seen them sign the papers off to some greedy business man, who would demolish this structure of delight and turn it into some sort of a spa resort.
The location was ideal. Approachable only by the sea, otherwise cut off from the rest of the world. An island, which was not big enough, but not too small either! 75 acres of pure delight stranded in the middle of the sea. Where silence was a language and there was no dearth for company.