Chapter 1 : Life at 11
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Brilliant chapter image by Lady Malfoy at TDA.
Do you ever wonder about a different version of your life?...
What would happen if something changed when you were young?
What would happen if you made a different choice in a life altering path?
Do you wonder? Or has it never crossed your mind?
Everyone thinks they will lead a normal life.... but no one does. No one knows how unpredictably our lives can change, who's lives we end up changing. We don't know who will walk into our lives and who will walk out...
For seven generations, our family had lived in this house. Its classic Victorian look and feel still breathed as if one had walked into the past through our front doors.
My family was a rather odd family, then again my whole neighbourhood was.
My parents were quite anti-social, or dignified to put it mildly. My mother never wanted to associate with our neighbours simply because her mother never did, and so she never bothered.
I was of course too curious for my own good, but we'll get to that later...
Mother rarely approved of anything. She encouraged me to read as she often said it was lady-like. I snorted when she wasn’t looking.
Lady-like indeed! God forbid any boys should read.
She also passionately hated comic books and burnt them when the boy who used to do our gardening lent me his. He was immediately dismissed of course. I loved everything novel I could possibly read that liberated me from old classics I knew only too well.
In her youth my mother was home-schooled while her sister was sent off to boarding school. An odd arrangement, I suppose. I joined a public school. However, after I made friends with the ‘wrong sort of people’ my mother thought continuing public education after fourth grade was ‘not in my best interest’.
Enter Governess Elliot, well versed in the modern languages, math, history, art, geography and horse riding, except she was a total witch!
No matter how hard I tried, it was never good enough for her. During tea she would tell my mother how fantastically she pronounced her French and if only I tried I’d do just as well!
Although I liked my father’s company better he was away in Germany where the company he worked for paid him great sums of money to manage their work. I only saw him at Christmas. His work kept him busy so his letters were seldom. My only friends at home were Alonzo our butler, Sonnet my canary and Denver the dog.
I often wondered if my neighbours were like my parents, or whether they were normal. I had never seen them and so had no idea what they looked like... so really I didn’t know if they were normal or not.
Then again normal for me only existed in story books and fantasy tales. But I loved the characters. I saw my young self as part of the tales. I lived in those stories where the magic existed in the belief and faith of those who knew its power, where good always triumphed over evil and the heroes saved the world.
For an eleven year old there was no greater thrill that living in those magical ink and paper moments.
I was however more charismatic and adventurous than I pretended. I could never picture myself as a Wendy being rescued. Instead I was always eager to fight alongside Peter and the Lost Boys.
You must be wondering where the fantasy tales came from for surely my mother would not allow such things to spoil my mind. Well, my aunt Agatha was not remotely like my mother, she was kind and considerate and loved making people happy. It’s too bad she never had any children or I would have had some wonderful cousins for sure.
She hardly visited but when she did I felt like the young girls in the books, happy and carefree. How an eleven year old was supposed to feel. She brought me books and contraband items like chocolate, gum and coconut ice and she made the most wonderful cookies.
I often felt guilty for the times I caught myself wishing I was her daughter instead.
She was coming over again in two days to visit my mother after coming back from Italy. I believed the only reason my mother put up with Aunt Agatha’s visits was because of the large number of expensive gifts she received from her.
Despite not being married and not having a family Aunt Agatha was very rich, I had no idea what she did to gain so much money for all I heard was,
“I live to paint darling, I love painting... It brings me such joy and of course as you can see the pay is very good”
Even for an eleven year old, that didn’t make much sense.
Well, there I was sitting in front of my dollhouse in my room, reading Alice in Wonderland for the hundredth time trying to grasp a hidden meaning between complex storylines and twists. I had read each and every story book I owned at least a dozen times. I dearly wished Aunt Agatha would bring some new books with her and maybe make some more apple crumble while she stayed.
The picture showed Alice sitting at the tea table with Hatter, The Dormouse and the March Hare. I raised my head, bored from the familiar book and looked through the window at the neighbour’s house.
As it had been for the past ten years that I had stared through my window at the No.13’s, the dark drapes were closed and the windows stayed shut to the outside world.
I returned resigned once again to my book, in my room, on the second floor of No.11, Grimmauld Place, London.