The large windows and French doors brought in the last rays of the day, bathing the room in light shadows that accentuated the empty spaces of the large room. A long wood table extended out from the oversized fireplace on the northern wall. I walked over to investigate. While the fireplace was the largest I had ever seen, it would not accommodate a person. I wondered if any that large existed outside the realm of stories. The fire fought the evening chill but I could not be sure it would drive away winter cold.
I turned my back on the brick feature and scanned the remaining space. The table, set for seven with plenty of room, barely stretched over half the length of the room. The space called for real garland dotted with red berries, candlelight and waltzes. Children’s laughter echoed through the ages.
I pulled out a chair and began to sit when I noticed the card on the plate ‘Meg’. Assigned seating, interesting. I found my name two seats down, next to David. I continued around the table – Thomas, Vivica, Greg. The setting at the head lacked a card.
I sat and waited for the show to begin. Edward had taken residence standing near his chair to help guide the others as they came in. The Hierarchy already in play. Vivica’s face soured when she discovered she’d been sandwiched between two peers. Greg looked at Edward as if he had won some great prize. Meg laughed and took her seat, chatting non-stop with anyone close. David sat, delighted to be surrounded by women. I held in my laughter.
“Dr. Schenk,” the man who sat down across from me was unmistakably the son of Edward. He had the same slim build, lanky and sinewy. His hair, slightly shaggy, drew the observer’s attention to his eyes. I couldn’t recall Edward’s eye color but Thomas’s were an unusual shade of grey, nearly green but distinctly grey, a paradox I could get lost in.
I gave him my full attention. “I am so excited you’re here. I’ve read everything you’ve written. In fact, I’ve read ‘The Romani Truth’ so many times, I’ve had to replace it twice.”
“That’s sad,” I replied, “I thought it was better bound than that.”
We chatted as three young women served the meal – a bowl of simple clear soup strong with garlic, a plate with pork tenderloin coins on mashed potatoes next to fresh greens, tomatoes and fresh baked rolls with butter, and a cup of bright yellow custard topped with nutmeg and cream.
It took just a bite to leave me contemplative. I listened as Thomas and David talked about schooling and life away from the island. Vivica commanded much of the audience with tales about herself. Meg interrupted with her own stories, unaware of Vivica’s glare. All in all, it was jovial, no true sign of contempt – they came as equals with no need for competition. That wouldn’t stop their inner desires – acceptance, dominance, a father’s devotion.
“You’re awfully quiet.” I turned to meet those eyes which had become distinctly more green.
“I prefer listening.” I took another bite of the potatoes, resisting a moan.
His smile warm, inviting – a predator with his prey in sight. “A woman of your stature should be the center of attention? Don’t you agree, David?”
I turned to find David watching us. He smiled. “I’m not sure I could truly say that,” he stammered, his London accent more pronounced, “not that I wouldn’t love to hear what she has to say. You are terribly contemplative.” He had turned his full attention to me, working to avoid Thomas’s gaze.
“Well,” I said, “I suppose I save all my thoughts for journalling.” I patted David’s hand resting on the table. I leaned toward Thomas and said in a stage whisper, “there was a time when no one was interested in my thoughts.” I turned my attention to the custard that remained. I took a bite and sighed. If everything else about my visit would be so delightful, I was never going home.
A servant girl returned for dirty plates, while another set glasses of wine in front of the diners. I could see they were sisters, late teens or early twenties. The older was beautiful, according to current sociological standards. She could have played Esmeralda with her long dark curls and almond shaped eyes. Her body moved like a dancer. The younger appeared older in posture. Her hair pulled into a tight bun at the nape of her neck. Her features plainer than her sister. My heart went out to her.
Another came in with two plates. She set one at each end of the table – cookies. Hard, sweet cookies perfect for finishing a meal. I, desperately, wanted tea instead of wine. I picked up my glass in one hand and cookie in another. The wine was sweet enough to compliment the cookies but not overpower the palate.
Vivica squealed, “Cookies and wine, are you determined to make me fat?” She laughed, a little too loud. Voices buzzed with compliments. All the attention was on her, well not all.
“You don’t like the wine.” I looked up. Thomas’s eyes meet mine.
“It’s fine. Lovely wine, perfect really. The cookies are delightful, did the cook make them?”
“No,” he said shaking his head, “we picked them up when we were on land. I can have the girls get you something else.”
I patted his hand after setting down my empty glass. The wine made me light headed. “There’s no need to bother them. I’m fine.”
Adelaine Day One
I have arrived. Glass Island has been myth, fantasy, until now. The origin story that few hear. One of my own ancestors may have come from this very place and I am in a position to uncover her story.
It is just an island. I’m unsure of what I expected. The stories conflict, this is where the G’s originated or where they retreated to escape the inquisition. Flying makes impossible things possible. Based on what I see of the Glass family, I suspect the latter is true. I have so many questions, as if that was unusual.
The manor is stone, not wood. The island is full of trees so why did they choose stone? How did they build such a magnificent manor, given that they were fleeing? Why a mansion on the island? Why here?
Do these questions really matter? My teachers would say no. I am impetuous and I think too much. Tonight, I feel like rebelling but I am tired. I feel lost and disconnected, untethered. How do I find myself when I don’t know what’s missing?
So what happened today? Isn’t that why people journal?
Rael left me on the dock this morning. There’s a hole in my heart that doesn’t seem to heal. He’s in the city, not as far as home but still too far away. He’s always too far away.
I spent eight hours in a small cabin with the team. The late spring wind off the ocean was too cold for me to stand outside. I would have rather watched the water than stay inside.
There is nothing wrong with the team. There are 4 – Meg, Vivica, Greg and David. All strangers, setting off on a new adventure. All recent graduates. All here to help develop a plan for the island. All together.
I am here for a different purpose and yet, the same. Our goal is to save the island, for the Glass family, for posterity, and for the organization I work for. What I want is to save myself. I wish I could write the words so that you can understand the humor in all of this. The laughter that pre-empts the tears. I’m too tired. I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I keep saying I am done. It’s my time but it’s never my time.
I pulled my favorite pair of pajamas out of the drawer – red fleece pants dotted with fluffy white kittens and a solid red t-shirt. I showered away the trip and all the grime I had collected from the day. My fuzzy head shifted to the world of dreams as I dressed and brushed my teeth. I might have considered the magic that got me under the covers if I had been conscious enough.