The Other Side – Chapter 2 – Greetings!
Izzy goes to stay with her Dad and her step-family that she doesn’t like, her step-mum Siobhan and especially her two children, Harmony and Melissa. She had a bad feeling before she got there and now she’s there she knows her gut feeling had been right!
Izzy put her seatbelt on and felt her Dad staring in the rearview mirror, but ignored him and lowered her head, her auburn hair almost covering her face.
“Hi, Isobelle. I’m sorry I know this is not ideal for you, but, I hope we can try and put the past behind us and start again.” He paused, waiting for a response, but there was only silence. He cleared his throat. “Please give me a chance to sort this out,” he pleaded.
“Don’t call me Isobelle! Everyone calls me Izzy! I’m not ten years old anymore, I’m no longer a child,” she said, her green eyes wild with fury.
“I’m sorry Izzy, you have grown up so quickly, you’re a young adult now. We need to talk and…” He replied, quickly glancing at the road ahead.
Izzy fumbled with her phone, inserted her earphones and looked in the rear-view mirror, his voice faded as her music took over and watched his mouth moving silently.
He looked up and saw her blank expression and wires leading to her ears and sighed. The rain fell heavier on the windscreen. This wouldn’t be easy, and should have expected it, his ex-wife Dancha, had told her the truth when she felt Izzy had become of age to understand. It couldn’t be hidden forever. He knew that and had agreed and promised Dancha one thing…one thing…and now was that time. He had a duty and he had to face up to things. He owed them that.
Dancha stood in a red silk dress that hugged her hourglass figure. Her long natural raven hair tumbled across her shoulders and electric blue eyes stared up at him with passion, trust, and love. He’d never seen her look so beautiful, so intriguing. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. The vows they made to each other were important…more important than he ever imagined.
She gazed into Michael’s brown eyes as their hands lay across each others and said “I give you my heart, my soul, my love endlessly for all eternity to witness. You are my keeper and I am yours.” She took an intake of breath and continued. “We will live entwined together as one and only one. I will feel what you feel and together we will stand united. Our hearts will be our sacred bond and the love that runs through our souls will hold us close as husband and wife.” She breathed deeply and sighed.
Michael fixated on her eyes replied, “I give you my heart, my soul, my love for all eternity to witness, you are my keeper and I am yours. He took a breath. “We will live entwined together as one and only one. Together we will stand united. Our hearts will be our sacred bond and the love we have will bind us as husband and wife.”
The priest smiled and lit a strange small white bundle in a metal cup that hung from metal chains and swung it delicately around them, wafting the smoke over them both with his hand, before he spoke with a solemn tone,” Do you both understand your blessings and take each other as one?” He asked.
“Yes,” they replied.
“You may kiss and be as one,” replied the priest.
Michael put his hand around Dancha’s waist and held her tight as they kissed. The roars of applaud exploded in a distant hue.
That was it, the night he made his pledge to her, a night he would never forget.
The Thunder clapped louder, pulling Michael from his thoughts. He accelerated a little more, even though the rain lashed against the windscreen and he struggled to see through the harshness of the rain that pelted down. He glanced in the rear-view mirror. Izzy’s head was slumped and as he turned a corner her body moved freely, she was asleep! It was for the best. They had plenty of time to talk.
After another two miles, they reached the outskirts of Eastham, The rain eased and the sun started to peak between the charcoal and orange tinted clouds. He sighed “Thank god we beat the storm.”
Izzy made a slight groan in the back. “Hey sleepyhead, we’re almost there.” He said in a more cheerful tone than when she got into the car. Maybe it was because she had fallen asleep and he hadn’t been able to verbally hear her inner thoughts or put up with the venomous stares in his rear-view mirror. She glanced out the window.
They traveled a small, narrow, winding road, that only looked wide enough for one car. The overgrown hedges and bowing arched trees blocked out most of the sunlight, but a hint of the sun shone through branches almost blinding Izzy. She slid her hand in her pocket and put on a pair of sunglasses. It had been Summer a few hours ago, which had lasted three weeks or more and then Storm Ivor had hit the U.K.
The movement of the car felt slower than when she first got in and he seemed more relaxed. Maybe he had the chance to put things into perspective, but then he’d had years to do that!!
Izzy watched as green trees and hedges whizzed by. A bump in the road made her jolt slightly from her seat. “Shit,” she murmured.
“Sorry! What did you say? Michael replied, turning the radio down. “Apologies about the potholes, these county roads need a bit of work!”
“It’s fine,” she replied solemnly.
“We are about ten minutes away,” Michael replied.
“Cool. What time is it? My phone has just died!”
It’s almost six O’clock. I was a little later than planned getting to you got because of a five-car pile-up on the motorway, and it the road was still congested on the way back, so it’s taken a little longer”, Michael replied.
She gave him a ‘thumbs up’ that he acknowledged in the mirror.
Izzy didn’t care for his excuses, she’d got used to them. Whatever he said she really didn’t want to hear, she wanted to get where she was going, shut herself away for a few weeks and she was done, back to normality…home…end of!
They drove the next few minutes in silence. Izzy was still taking in the slowly passing scenery when she noticed a little girl out the corner of her eye, standing at the edge of a lane that led up from the country road. The child was dressed in a flouncy ivory and wine dress, tight across the bodice, and flared from the waist down with what looked like it was held in position with an underskirt or hoop, attached around her waist was a wine coloured ribbon that matched the dress. She stared as the car drove past and Izzy looked out the back window. The girl held a rag doll as limp as a dead flower, in her right hand and waved with her free hand. Izzy waved back.
“Who is that little girl on her own?” Izzy asked.
“What little girl?” Michael asked. “I didn’t notice. I was too busy concentrating on the road…Oh, here we are!
“What age was she and what did she look like? I might know her, there are not too many children in this area!”
“She looked around six, maybe seven…”
“Oh no, there’s no children around here that age, Only Clarisse, and our Melissa and they are five and seven and not allowed out on her own!” Michael replied. “Most children here are about to hit teenage years or are young teens!”
Izzy frowned. Well, she knew what she saw. Weird, maybe some kid had wandered off from a party, as her dress suggested, even if a little old-fashioned for 2018, but then some parents like to live in the past and to be ‘traditional’.
“We’re here!” her dad said with an upbeat tone.
She could hear the gravel crunch beneath the tyres as they pulled in on the large drive.
“Oh great The joy!!” Izzy muttered under her breath.
She stared at the huge house, its stone walls, untainted by the weathers elements and the whole front of the house illuminated by its indoor lights. The clouds had overtaken the sun again and blocked out most of the sunlight and overshadowed everything but the outline of the building.
Izzy raised an eyebrow, mum would have a fit her if she left one light on that shouldn’t be! And then she noticed the three silhouettes; large, medium and small by the front door and her heart sank into her doc martin boots.
“Great, the welcoming committee,” she murmured.
She gulped, okay Izz, put your false happy, smiley face on. Here goes nothing. She took a deep breath and smiled.
Siobhan greeted her in a white blouse that hugged her slim frame and ¾ length khaki trousers with matching coloured shoes!
“Oh hello, darling, it’s lovely to see you again, it’s been so long!” Siobhan cooed and hugged her briefly.
“Yeah, likewise!” Izzy replied back trying to hold back her anger and breathed deeply.
“Play it cool, be nice, you have been brought up the right way! Be polite Izzy, no matter what!!” Her mum’s words came catapulting to the front of her mind.
As she hugged Siobhan she glanced at the two girls. They both had dark black hair that was swept back off their faces and held in ponytails. They glared at her with dark eyes and as Siobhan looked at Michael going to the car, the eldest slyly put her middle finger up and the youngest poked her tongue out.
“Okay mum, I’m trying” Izzy replied in her head.
“Wow, how you have grown!” Izzy exclaimed to the two girls who stood either side of their mum…and gave a big false smile.
“Lovely to see you Isobelle. We’re so glad you could stay with us!” They replied smiling.
Yeah right! Like you want me here like a huge spider above your bed!! Izzy thought.
“Thanks, the feeling is likewise!” Izzy replied. Her smile fading fast as Siobhan turned her back.
The three girls gave each other ‘death’ stares, while Siobhan invited Izzy into the house as Michael retrieved Izzy’s bags from the car.
The house had altered since she last stepped through the door three years ago. It had been her decision to stop seeing her Dad once a month. He worked a lot and couldn’t have her every other weekend as some friends did with their divorced parents. Sometimes she only saw him once every two months. She was fed up with missing out on parties, going away with friends and she did get homesick, she was close to her mum and she didn’t feel as if she fitted in with her step-family and didn’t get on with the eldest daughter, Harmony. She had tried, but the feeling wasn’t mutual.
Siobhan led her through the lounge and she could smell the faint aroma of paint as she walked through. It was tastefully done with cream leather sofas and matching armchair, wine patterened wallpaper made the features of the marble fire-surround stand out more, and chandelier lamp shades were dotted around the room giving off a warm glow.
It was so different from home!
“Please excuse the smell, we only finished redecorating a few days ago and can’t get rid of the paint fumes,” said Siobhan throwing up her arms and shaking her head. “I do so hate the smell, it makes me feel quite queasy.”
“No problem,” replied Izzy, raising her eyebrows at the hand gestures, while she walked behind her and the two girls. “You have a beautiful home!”
“Oh thank you, Darling,” Siobhan replied. “It’s sweet of you to say.”
Melissa turned and looked at Izzy and mimicked her silently mouthing “You have a beautiful home” and then poked her tongue out.
They walked through to the dining room which carried on the traditional elegance of the lounge. A large white a silver vase with white Lillies stood proudly on a huge black marble table surrounded by eight leather chairs. Another door led them to the staircase.
“We hope you like the attic room, it’s for when our friends stay over after a dinner party,” Siobhan replied a little out of breath as she climbed the second lot of stairs.
“Great, thanks,” Izzy replied with a smile.
At least she would have her own space and be away from the girls. That’s all she wanted! The less time she spent around them the better.
“Here it is, darling. There is an ensuite too,” Siobhan said opening the door.
“Oh wow it’s awesome!” she replied glancing quickly at the white walls, double bed and mirrored furniture. “Thanks!” but the thing that pleased her most and caught her eye was the easel.
Her dad had remembered how much she used to like to paint and sketch!
Harmony and Melissa threw a couple more ‘death stares’ at Izzy, but she rolled her eyes at them.
“It’s been a long day,” Siobhan announced, “Let’s get some late lunch.” and ushered her two girls out of the room. Izzy followed.
”People say the house is haunted,” said Harmony, giving a lopsided smile at Izzy.
Izzy shivered, not at the thought of sharing the house with a ghost, she wasn’t really sure if she believed in them or not, but the look in Harmony’s eyes, gave her goosebumps because they almost looked black.
Siobhan glared at her. ”Sometimes little girls should be seen and not heard,” she said crossly.
“Is it haunted?” Izzy asked.
”Well, umm…so we’ve heard, but it’s probably just rumors.” Siobhan rubbed her arms. ”We’ve had no problems since we moved in several years ago.”
”Really! Does Dad know?”
”Yes, darling. He doesn’t believe a word of it.”
”Who’s supposed to haunt this place then?” Izzy asked.
”Umm…err…I don’t know. Shall we go and have that late lunch?”
Melissa’s voice piped up. ”I know. Someone…”
”That’s quite enough. I will have no more talk about ghosts in this house. Understand?” said Siobhan sharply.
Melissa nodded and lowered her head.