The Scent of Dead Roses.
The memories came flooding back, how long had it been, oh so many years since she had walked up these cold, bare, stone steps to the room at the top ,as she had called it as a child. She had spent long hours in that dreaded room kneeling and contemplating her sins, as her father had told her to.
The Reverend Daemon Hardwick was a stern, difficult man, who had made her childhood so hard to bear.
The flowers, which were on a small window ledge, halfway up the steps, were dried and had probably been there for years, another sign of the neglect in the house. She glanced at them and feeling cold inside she passed them by and opened the door, which creaked and shuddered beneath her hand. She looked into the room, it felt suffocating she could hardly breathe. Slamming the door shut a she ran back down the steps, taking deep breaths as she ran. Now she need never go into that room ever again, the ghosts would be laid there in the morning. She ran to the front door breathing in the fresh air, standing for a moment glancing around the tangled garden, until her heart had stopped thudding.
Tomorrow the bulldozers would move in and this house of misery would be raised to the ground, she smiled, what a relief that would be. But before that happened she must go into her mother’s bedroom as she had promised she would, the last time she had seen her mother, to find the case her mother had hidden for years under the floor in her huge Victorian wardrobe, would it still be there she wondered? It was the first time that she had been back to the house since her Mother’s death, and then her father had not allowed her back into the house.
She had escaped from the Old Rectory on her sixteenth birthday; the day after her father had locked her in the room at the top, for the whole night in the bitter cold, kneeling on the marble slab in front of the Altar he had erected there.
Her mind went back years to the time when her younger brother Henry, had climbed the Horse Chestnut tree, laughing at her efforts to stop him. He had kicked her in the face as she tried to pull him down, she had watched terrified as he climbed higher and higher. Leaning over and laughing at her begging him to come down. Then leaning over too far, he had missed his footing and had come crashing through the tree, bouncing from branch to branch until he reached the ground with a sickening thud. She had rushed over to him but already the blood was oozing from his head. She had screamed and screamed until the gardener came running from the back garden, he had knelt down by the boy, shaking his head as he told her to run for the Doctor, but knowing it was too late.
That terrible night the Reverend Hardwick, had almost lost his mind in his grief. He had blamed her for not looking after her brother properly. When she had attempted to explain that she had tried to stop Henry, but he had kicked her in the face and laughed at her. Her father had called her a liar and had slapped her across the face so hard that as she fell she had hit her head on his desk and been knocked unconscious. When she came too she was lying in the cold room at the top and her father was standing over her with a birch rod in his hand, he had beaten her severely. Her mother had tried to stop him but she had been knocked across the room and then dragged down the steps to her room, where she too was locked in. The next day, when her father was away from the Old Rectory, her mother had let her out of the room and told her she must leave her home at once. They had packed her case quickly and her mother handed her some money, a bank book ,and she had given her an address to go to, then she had almost pushed her daughter out of the house, dreading that the Reverend would return before she had got away. She had begged her mother to go with her, but she had refused. Her mother had forgotten about the case which she had hidden, but there was no time now, so she begged her daughter to go while she could. The girl had fled terrified her father would find her and stop her, but she had managed to get away.
The address her mother had given her was that of a much loved aunt of her mother. She had been welcomed with open arms and had made her home with Aunt Nell ever since. They had both written to her mother several times, but neither had ever had an answer. Then David had told her of her mother’s death, he was the only person who had known where she was. David was her childhood friend and protector, he was Dr Henslowe son.
Dr Henslowe had put a piece in the paper asking her to get in touch with him, a few years later. When they met he had told her that her father was dead. The Old Rectory and everything else was left to her, as it had come from her mother’s family and her father could not touch any of it.
So here she was back at the Old Rectory for the very last time. She shook herself it was all in the past she need never be scared of him again. Gritting her teeth she went back into the house and opened her Mother’s bedroom door. The aroma almost knocked her backwards. A large vase of dead roses stood on her mother’s dressing table. The roses had almost turned to dust and as she touched them they crumbled ,the scent of the dead roses was heavy and pungent. She shivered and quickly walked to the wardrobe then bending down she tried to dislodge the floor of the centre panel. Suddenly she felt hands around her throat, she tried to pull them free but she couldn’t she was being strangled and was losing her senesces ,then with a splintering crash the door burst open and David lifted her into his arms. ‘Darling, oh my darling, why didn’t you wait for me before you came in here. He carried her out into the garden and sat her down on the old seat, holding her close.
‘Are you alright Carrie what happened in there?’ He was stroking her face lovingly, which was wet with her tears.
‘David he tried to kill me, I thought that he was gone but he tried to kill me.’ I was shaking and he held me close until I stopped.
‘Darling he is dead, he’s gone.’
‘That is what I thought, but look at my neck it really hurts.’
There were red marks around her throat and David was shaken. ‘There must be someone else in there.’he said
‘No it was him I know it was. But I must go back in will you come with me?’
‘You are not going back in there my darling. I will get whatever you want.’
‘But I must, my mother was so insistent that I find that case, although I have no idea why.’
‘Tell me where it is and I’ll go. No you are not going in there again.’ David insisted as Carrie tried to get up.
‘’Ok, it is in the middle section of the wardrobe in my mother’s room, under a false floor. Please be careful David he may still be in there.’ She whispered as though someone might be listening
As David disappeared into the rectory Carrie held her breath, what if something happened to him she would never forgive herself. She got up from the seat to go to the door just as he came out, she ran to him.
‘Thank goodness you are alright. There was no one there? She asked.
David put his arm around her. ‘No one there, but it was extremely cold and smelt really fusty in the bedroom, I was glad to find the case and get out. Here it is darling.’ He handed her the little case.
Opening the case there were only a few pieces inside, there was a letter and a little box and some baby clothes. Carrie opened the little box first,inside was a small silver locket and inside the locket there were two pictures, one of a baby and the other was a young man, in a uniform. Then she opened the letter, reading it silently until suddenly she cried out. ‘So that is why he hated me so much, he was not my father at all’. She handed the letter to David.
As David read the letter they heard a dreadful shattering crash and as they watched windows burst from the old house, glass showering like sparkling diamonds in the sunlight and walls began to tumble.
‘Let’s get out of here darling the house is about to crash all around us.’ David shouted above the noise.
Carrie’s face was deathly white as she stared at the old house, she could never call home.
‘It is him ‘, she cried, ‘he always had the last word.’ But David had already started the engine and the car pulled with screeching tyres out of the drive, as she looked back all she could see was dust and rubble, she would never look at the old house again, the ghosts had been laid now and forever.