We gathered at the doorway. Across the hall was another large opening into an equal sized room. Edward motioned. “This is the dayroom.” Furniture, in no discernible pattern, dotted the space. On the opposite wall, two sets of French doors opened to the deck that encompassed the front of the manor. “This will be where you will most likely do your work. It’s the most comfortable meeting space. However, you can use the dining room as well.”
The tour continued moving north, through the foyer, past both sets of stairs and down a hallway. “The rooms to the left,” said Edward, “are a series of rooms we believe served as offices and other such rooms. There are six. I use one in the front and the rest have storage. To our right, on the other side of the wall, are the rooms connected to the kitchen. Well, and the kitchen. There is a washing machine for you to do your laundry. No dryer but there is a line outside.”
The hallway ended in a small room. One light served the length of the hallway and another for the room. A narrow stairway stood in the corner. “This stairway is the only access to the third floor.” We followed him up past the landing for the second floor to the top floor of the manor. The set up on the floor was simple, two rows of rooms on either side of a very long hallway. French windows anchored both ends.
“This was the servant quarters, seems like they had a huge staff.” Edward stepped aside to allow the team to wander through the rooms.
I entered a room, closing the door behind me. A thick bolt allowed the occupant to lock themselves in the room. Emile had been in one such room. The rod of iron was all that kept the beast away. I opened the door. Thomas stood in its entryway. I wanted to press myself against him. Perhaps I should lock myself in the room or insist he lock himself in.
“Find anything interesting,” he asked.
“The rooms lock, that’s all. Unusual for servant quarters but then I’m not a historian.” He didn’t move as I stepped closer. I closed my eyes. The rush of blood in my brain made so much noise, I didn’t hear him leave. I felt his absence as if the light had been lost in shadow. I blew out air. Lanie, the freak, strikes again.
I followed the group back down the stairs. I stepped off on the second floor, the family’s quarters. Six rooms per side, same as ours. The space was identical. I mentally measured where the stairs began.
“Dr. Schenk, is there something wrong?” I turned. Edward stood next to the stairs watching me.
I shook my head. “Just getting the lay of the land.” Something pulled at the back of my brain but I didn’t have the time to figure out what it was.
The group gathered on the front deck. Edward spoke of his vision to use the manor to keep the island self-sufficient. It was up to the team to figure out the best use of the property. He excused himself so we could roam. I followed the others down the main path toward the water. I walked slower, observing the change in vegetation. I had forgotten the camera.
The trees should have called to me but the shadows they cast left me feeling lonely. I pressed my hand to one of the evergreens without noting anything about it. My mind was caught in memory. The evergreens close to home, the rough bark against my back, soft lips on mine. The feel of rain, electricity, and passion.
Movement under a collection of rotting material caught my attention. Crouching, I brought myself to the mass. A small eye appeared. I moved the vegetation to greet my new friend. A strange small blue-red crab stared back at me. “Hello, little fellow.” I looked to the East. The water was, perhaps, a mile away. “Strange place to find you. I bet all the people are making you nervous. It was nice to meet you.” I returned the muck and left before anyone else noticed him there. I don’t suppose it mattered. Once back on the trail, I was quite alone. I took the opportunity to return to my room and Marian’s journal.
My body continues to betray me. I am with child. I had expected this to happen sooner. The delay left me hoping my womb was barren. Mother told me of an old belief that educated women sacrificed their children for knowledge. It was a story that delighted her. I understand her feelings. What I would give to fill my head with the workings of the world and leave nothing but this book to show for it. Alas, my body disagreed. Mother says that the beast’s seed is too strong. Perhaps I will have daughters as she did. No more male children would mean we could eventually leave this island. Better to send our daughters away than to subject them to this life. At least this life will be all they know. I miss the city. I miss shopping. I miss the sounds and the smells. I miss people. We will never have a stranger in our midst or a band of gypsies pass through. There will be no gossip or tales. I want to beg to meet with the merchants that my father convinces to sail our way. Robert says they are too coarse for a delicate woman like myself. If that were only true, I would have broken by now. My shattered shards left to the wind. No, I am designed for survival, to be the strength and perch for the beast that is my husband.
He has returned to the unlocked rooms upstairs. The trips more frequent as my belly grows more pronounced. I cry too often. Little consoles me. Mother say that this is how it is. I will bring forth a boy child and weep. I ask about her time with child. There were few tears but a terrible melancholy. The women of our family, if that is what we are, who cry relentlessly all brought beasts into the world. As if their very souls understand what they are bringing into the world. I pray she is wrong.