Wednesday 9 May 2012
I don’t know where this one will go after this, but I get the feeling that it is only the beginning for the Lady.
What were once simply empty spaces were now inundated with everyday clutter that only served to prove the existence of its lonely owner. Her life had come to this: rubbish, odds and ends, bits and pieces, all strewn from one side to the other, in every room of the formerly grand manor house. Virtually unrecognisable compared to the house in its past glory, Millbourne Manor was reminiscent of an upmarket and historical rubbish dump.
Lady Edwina Carter-Millbourne would carefully manoeuvrer around the piles of ancient newspaper clippings, and unworn clothing in one room to get to the next, equally as squalid confined space. What used to be grand and spacious had not been so for a good twenty or thirty years, and that coincided with the last time she had seen her husband alive.
Her children had deserted her, as had her friends, none of them eager to fight their way through the rubbish in order to find a place to sit.
‘You, mama,’ Caroline, her eldest had derided, ‘have turned into the equivalent of a crazy old cat lady, only you’re the crazy old crap lady. Where is your pride?’
‘My pride,’ Lady Edwina replied, ‘died with your father. What have I but memories now?’
She looked forlornly around the sitting room as she remembered Caroline’s words. Millbourne Manor wasn’t a home anymore. It had lost its ambience and comforting atmosphere when Lord Francis Carter-Millbourne III had passed away. He had been her everything, and life hardly seemed worth living without him in it. So, she had stopped living, choosing to get by instead.
Collecting the stuff, as her children referred to it, was a way of filling the void that Francis had left. It wasn’t necessarily a good way to fill the emptiness, but it would suffice. Initially, she had started by bringing together everything that she could find pertaining to Francis, from newspaper clippings to old photographs to exhibition pieces from the local and surrounding museums. How the other stuff came into it, Lady Edwina wasn’t entirely sure, but it had and it came in floods.
She remembered another conversation with the youngest of her children. Richard had insisted that she begin to clear the Manor of the historical debris she had collected.
‘No,’ she snarled back, ‘I will not.’
He shook his head in disbelief.
‘How can your bear to live in this squalor, mother?’ he asked.
‘It is my home, that is how I can bear it.’
He picked up a handful of newspaper clippings and tossed them wantonly around in front of Lady Edwina. She scurried to retrieve them and set them back in their place.
‘Leave it alone,’ she screamed.
‘One day, mother dear, I expect to get a call from the police informing me of your death. This place is a fire hazard, and every day that you insist on living in this debris, you put yourself at risk. Clear it up. Throw this rubbish away. It is of no use to anyone. It. Is. Garbage.’
She gasped for air, horrified by Richard’s words, but more horrified by his demands to clear the house. He watched, emotionless, as she was brought to tears.
‘This stuff as you and your siblings call it, is my life. It reminds me of your father. It filled the space he left, took my mind off of him. If you take this away from me, Richard, all of this,’ she motioned to the items that filled the room, ‘you’ll leave me with nothing but empty spaces.’