Below the Surface

A property in the country. What is the strange story attached to that place and the people who have successively called it their home? For that we have to go right back- to the distant past that connects it all.







   The morning of this particular day had started a little differently from those of late during the closing summer of this particular year. The curtains of a moonless night were finally lifting over the rural and rather quiet part of England, But a mist was shrouding all and left the morning's light somewhat defused into a blankness 


     Not only were those first honey coloured rays  which made sparkle the dewy pastures missing, but the songbirds dawn chorus failed to begin. Not a chirp from tree or bush could be heard even to locate its whereabouts. Only silence. It was as if the day had misfired and would have to be re-set again. Somewhere here was the familiar skyline that made up this side of Lynly. Gone were the rise and fall of the surrounding pastures,the gnarled old gate posts sitting in overgrown hedges that accompanied the lesser travelled lanes. Hedges that were randomly punctuated by the occasional old house. It was a clump of trees together like family members in protective discussion,which signified the location of each house or cottage. Between the branches,only perhaps the dusty indigo peg tiled rooftops or greying thatch with ridge line, faltering like an ageing spine could be glimpsed,the rest lay hidden in green and shadowy seclusion.But on this daybreak, all that stood more than a stones throw away remained shrouded, enveloped in the silky wafers. Everything now  was somehow uncertainly faded. And  nearby  revealed only cold damp pasture disappearing on into pale and unfamiliar looking woodland from where, hardly a stirring came. It was as if all was unsure how to start out on a day that had broken so vaguely, almost reluctant to be. For today would indeed be a day that led to regrets.


   And in that isolated quietness,small,but sure enough,the sound of a van rasping its way around the distant country lanes grew ever closer. It was the Royal Mail postal van,making its mornings deliveries through Lynly. There had been rain recently and,finding no room in the sodden ground,the water ran capillary-like, in shingle streams alongside the old and eroding edge of tarmac heading for a little ford way down at the bottom.And somewhere down there,the tyres of the van could be heard slushing along the glistening roads' surface as it proceeded.But now,the warmth of sunrise,somewhere behind the blank veil  was beginning to lift vapours. Even the cows over in the nearby fields,along with their cloudy breath surrounding them, had steam radiating from their soaked hides. Scarcely moving in the fog awaiting a better condition,they stood like shadowy megaliths .From somewhere out there a mournful mooing came like a fog horn on unfamiliar waters.


     As its engine pottered ever closer,finally the vans' hazy headlights were presented at the bottom of the  hedge rowed lane way. Only when the familiar scarlet red with yellow crest came ambling up close to a house out from the etherealness, did it seem physically real and not a wistful notion.


    The postman pulled up outside the entrance to a secluded leafy property- the old Cat Woman's cottage, all these years later, still serving as someone's home. He turned off the engine and carefully hauled himself from the van, avoiding a swollen puddle below his car door. He then stooped, leaned in again and retrieved a parcel.  Immediately he was then caught by a splatter of rainwater which had burst its overloaded crevice above in the branches. From the top of his head, it deflected and then trickled down  both  the back of his neck  and  over the parcel he held in his hands.

 “Bugger,” he cursed as he tried to shake the water from inside his navy and red Royal Mail issue storm jacket. Rooks nearby, who never harboured ambitions for the songbirds chorus, broke the empty silence. Already in dispute with each other, their cawing filled the fog as the postman deliberated for a second, shaking the water from the parcel's address. He stroked the greying stubble of his chin and mumbled to himself. Finally it was dismissively placed in the old wooden mailbox  which was itself lodged in the side of a moss-blanketed drystone wall. Back in the van he climbed with a grunt ,started the engine and then on he drove. As he went off up the country lane, he disappeared. Engulfed,it seemed by giant clouds of ghostly tree foliage.






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