city life, countryside, despair, distraction, endurance, excursion, Flash Fiction, genetic memory, history, hobby, hope, human condition, instinct, nature, photography, remains, secret gate, structures, survival, time, toxic atmosphere
I switched off the morning news. While the TV screen darkened, I yearned to escape the gloom and the toxic atmosphere of the city. A photographic excursion into the countryside would do me good.
Picking up my camera bag, I left the flat and made my way to the garage. After a couple of stops at charming spots, I drove past a sleepy old town and slowed down when a detached sandstone house came into view. Through its open gates, a tilted For Sale sign caught my eye. Thinking this could be an interesting subject, I parked the car and entered the grounds.
The weathered signboard hinted it had been there for a while. The house looked decrepit and forlorn, its windows boarded and the paint on the front door chipped and cracked. Unkempt and overgrown, the garden conjured a strange melancholy. Taking a few shots, I walked around the building. Broken branches and decaying leaves from tall trees echoed the same neglect. Ready to leave, something behind the shrubs, along the back wall caught my attention. A pair of pale green doors which at first glance resembled a trompe l’oeil.
Something about the stately gate told me a story. It stood intact and supported by tall tapered pillars. The half-moon pebble mosaic steps that led to it boasted of history. Its ornate, solid iron body whispered tales from the past. Yet, the walls on its either side had partially crumbled, and peeking through the gaps, I saw nothing, but an expanse of wilderness beyond.
At the bottom of the steps, a pond had formed, housing an array of horsetail reed, water lilies, and sweet flag. Natural or landscaped, I couldn’t tell. It looked authentic and picturesque, in sheer contrast to the condition of the rest of the estate. Maybe the heavy rains of the last few weeks had brought it back to life.
At some point, the door that led to nowhere must have stood proud to protect a house and the people beyond it, allowing only friends and family inside. If so, what had happened to it, or its connection to the stone cottage remained a mystery. Confrontation, natural disasters, and family sagas came to mind. Nature had built a façade over the remains, if there were any, and camouflaged it to look like an extension of the massive open fields.
I tried to pull the door open. It didn’t budge. Most likely its hinges had been bonded by the threads of time. So I climbed over the wall and stepped into the meadow woven with a carpet of spring flowers. Keeping my eyes on the ground, I set out to find remains of life on the soft knolls. I picked up an old pipe, a metal button, a penny, and the broken arm of a wooden doll. They looked old. Would they be considered as clues to who had once lived here? Not really, I told myself. Such items could be found anywhere. The sun about to set, I became weary of wandering in the fields.
Slowly, I walked back, pondering on the remains that had endured time. Like the iron gates, intact and still present. Similar to my genetic memory, the will to live and hope, despite the dystopia the entire world is going through.
I debated whether to return to the sleepy town to inquire about the house and the gate. I dismissed the idea. Instinct had already told me the story about the property and myself. Why I endure, how I distract myself with photography, why the structures remain standing, like sentinels, steadfast in their duty, despite the odds.
Photo credit: Google images