Bequeath My Estate

Entry by: quietmandave

6th December 2016
I thought I was immortal. You were always that tiny fraction ahead of me. When we lined up to run the hundred metres at the school sports day, I knew you would beat me into second every year by a hair's breadth, however much I trained. You chose the brightest, most beautiful boyfriends at university, and when you'd drunk your fill, you'd pass them down. Your daughter was born a week before mine - Annie, she was of course named after you. What other name could I give her? Your husband died a week before mine. You'd lost the only two men you had ever loved in a week. I thought you were immortal. Even a week ago, it was you that reached the bus first, by a nose.

I knew as I threw the handful of dirt onto the lid of your coffin that I too was no longer immortal. I don't believe in fate, but I doubt I have long now. Endless years stretching into the future have now been condensed into the length of a short term love affair. One of those lost weeks in bed with a handsome stranger. If only.

In the space of one day, the house feels no longer mine, in limbo to be passed on, but to whom? Annie, did you not want all this? Last year, when I knocked at your door and you pretended not to be at home, when he made you pretend not to be at home, did either of us realise that I could no longer give you what should have been yours? I sat in that hotel, seven minutes walk from your house, and knew I had lost you. You could have come to see me, you could have found an excuse. There's no longer any time to get you back, and I'm damned if he's getting any of this. You should have answered the door. I'm your mother. I'm eighty two.

I cross to the hallway, and wander as if in an art gallery. Of course, this could be an art gallery, I made it that way. The lighting is perfect for the row of gilt framed paintings of the loyal and affectionate hounds I have owned over the years. I run my fingers over the thin ridges of paint, feeling in my memory the soft landscape of their coats. One by one, I am transported to woods and fields, in the Cotswolds, the Chilterns, the Black Forest, and the Mar Estate. Finally, the last two sit in the Peak District, Winston poised to bound up Shuttlingsloe, Clementine lying in the summer sun of the Goyt Valley. It was the light I loved.

Into the living room, which I have not changed in any way since John died seven years ago. If I sit in the dark green Chesterfield and pour myself a whisky from the decanter that has survived since our wedding day, he could still be there, always content, always smiling. But he was a bastard at times. I'm not sure I would have left him the house had he survived me.

There is a photograph in the spare room, upstairs, and I'm standing facing it. The date is the tenth of May, nineteen forty three. It is the final photograph from my primary school. Of course it is black and white, but I have inked in a boy's hair in the shade of brown that I remember. The spare room faces north, so the hue has never faded. The names are listed below, but I do not need to read the names to recall the young faces. As always I am drawn to the inked hair. Jonathan Hardy. How does it feel to have your heart broken at ten years old. Few can understand; it's too young, can't you see?

The sun beat down. We were running through the fields, close to where I lived. We were four or five of us, free and wild in the expectation of eight weeks of summer. He took my hand, and we stopped under an oak tree. In that moment I knew, I felt my heart compress, and even at ten I wanted him to kiss me. There could never be a moment so perfect again. And then you, Annie, you ran past and grabbed his arm, and whisked him away in a screaming whirling adventure that lasted all summer.

But he was mine first, and if he knocked on the front door, I would bequeath all of this to him.