Victorian Writings- A Draft
… I may have gone a little heavy on the adjectives- but I wrote whatever was in my mind, on the page!
I can hear the soft sighs and the slow piano wavers of the music that is coming from inside of the cab; and the moment that I step out; straighten myself up and crane my neck to get an eyeful of the exquisite building that lay before me, I know that I feel right at home.
My first impressions of Von Peep graciously knock me off my feet; and they cordially torture any previous expectations that I had of it, like the image of a cheating soul mate caressing his mistress for his wife, and for the entire world to see. If I close my eyes, plug my fingertips into my eardrums to block out the clouds of present day noise that are gushing around me, and fantasise in complete silence; I can hear it, as if it is a reality. Oh, how I can imagine how it used to be, living as a maid here in the old days; waiting a pebble throw away from a pair of love struck teenagers dressed in secretive bloomers and lace trimmed tunics. I can visualise how she observed them from this exact spot where I am standing, sometimes she may have caught them frolicking in the lavishly kept gardens beside me. I can hear the creaks and clip clops of the old fashioned horse drawn carriage, the magical jingle of the bell incrusted reins; and the strong aroma of musk and fuchsia as the wind carries it kindly to my nostrils from an empress that reaps sex appeal; she is sitting amongst the blood red sateen overcoats in the back of the carriage.
I can subconsciously feel the presence of the building lurching over me; the scratchy frills and fiddly buttons of my gusset causing me to fan myself into a hot flush, my hook eyed velveteen boots growing heavy on my ankles; the rosebud bushes shedding old, tired petals in preparation for the next bloom. I can hear the prickling shrills of little children laughing and playing in the distance; feeling the thud of a one second time gap as each side of a metal hula hoop clangs onto the bricked courtyard, like the intervals between slow, passive breaths that are inhaled during a severe anxiety attack.
My cheeks are burning, and they are heavily dry from the layers of dusted powder that has been blotted to my skin; dozens of tight, flawless ringlets bounce and blow in the night breeze as I turn my head wearily to rest my eyes upon the structure that makes me feel as if I am a young girl committing an unlawful sin by simply being here unattended. If I look at it directly for too long; maybe the maid will grab my arm and usher me away in fear that I will, too, fall into a passionate love affair with a gentlemen, much like the stray fetale of whom is under her lock and key, sprawled across the grass of the gardens with ruffles of silk around her ankles within this exact moment. Maybe she and my father think I may ruin my chances of being seen as the pure, respectful daughter of a gentry’s scholar; in this day and age being pure is a very different matter, after all.
As I silently cast my eyes around in the dark night sky and look out across the pitch black fields, I feel as if I want to run through the greenery; run for miles and miles across the gardens until I can run no further. I wish I could run so swiftly that my heart begins to pound in my chest, I wish I could feel every inch of stress and life worry fall away as I run, as if the knotted segments of built up anxiety could flow down the lengths of my outstretched arms, and whisk away across the fields along with seeds of the sunflowers and the daisies that are spreading at the beginning of germination. If only the land was bone dry and it was a hazy summers afternoon; and if only I had nowhere to be, no one to make conversation with or no time to follow, then I could carry on running until every stress has been shaken from my body… if only.
As I am walking through the over grown grass, little trickles of water are splashing up and around my bare ankles; I feel as if I have weights on the tops of my thighs as I lift each stiletto heel from the grass, leaving a trail of perfect indentations in the dewy ground. I pull the rim of my tiered velvet tea hat down with the soft palm of my left hand; I balance it at a slant on top of my tight ringlets, so that only the right side of my eyes, nose and lips are now visible, along with a single defined spiral of brown hair. I pause dramatically when I reach the grand entrance to Von Peep, adjusting my hat for one last time so that my face is unobstructed; I give the dapper concierge a playful, flirtatious smile with my eyes whilst I am contemplating where to go next.
My guilty spirit, which is stuck inside the photograph of my outer body experience, snaps and breaks away from the maid’s gripping hold; I now feel entirely free to take in as much of this addictive model as I would like with no dictations or commands to go elsewhere, I am leaving the other young girl behind; to play away and to be dealt with on her own. My pulse is skipping curiously as I take in the greying manor, which stands like a mystical giant, casting a dark cloud in the middle of the sky.
To clarify to myself that I am no longer dreaming, I smooth my hand along the intricate, webbed railings of a hollow, ring shaped summer house that is to my left of the entrance; it looks identical to the shell of a gleeful carousel, which I imagine would have been very popular in the Victoriana era. Perhaps this is the type of thing that the architects of the building took a lot of the inspiration from all those years ago; it seems impossible to me that they could have created such a heart possessing work of art, purely from creative whims and hunches. It seems impossible how they could have built it all with their bare hands; the one-of-a- kind beams lined with gold leaf, the sculptured oblong balconies entwined with ivory scroll work and the ghoulish gothic window frames.
My mind wonders as I am trying to contemplate how the builders could have crafted statuesque columns so tall, and I try to fathom how they taught the vines of ivy to weave up the sides of the walls so elegantly. My fingers wind and curve freely around the sculptured cast iron, my fingertips bobbing gently as they hit balls in the surface; they feel slightly muggy from the layer of weathered dust that I swept off; the railings probably haven’t been touched for tens of years. I don’t even know how I stumbled across this summer house, why would anybody usually notice such a small feature? It seems to be lost in the array of fantasy décor and mesmerising horticulture that ripples and echoes from the manor and through the gardens; with its rich burgundies, burnt tangerines and olive greens that forces the beholder to wallow into an image of a deep, steamy autumn afternoon.
I realise that I am now standing alone in the middle of the gardens, holding my gaze with the same amount of pressure that I am using to hold down the undercoat of my dress; which is now struggling to flutter around and is threatening escape within the clutch of my hands in the evening wind. It also hits home that it is not a hot autumn afternoon in the 1800s; but a bitter cold evening in present day Britain, and the stems of my nude heels are sinking further into the pristine grass with every second that I stand in the same spot.