By J.A Weymouth
Outside the old mansion, a car pulled in. The radio’s I need you tonight blared from the car and echoed throughout the courtyard, interrupting its peace. Henry sang innocently to the song’s lyrics, (“I need you tonight! Because I’m not sleeping. There’s something about you girl, it makes me sweat…”) as he stretched out a map over the dust board, tentative of his current location.
During his stay in the nearest town, he had asked around, investigating the town’s local ghost stories. He had heard from friends back home that the area left remembrance of the war. Shattered buildings in ruin and homes forgotten in their despairing state, he had hoped for something he could work with. As a photographer Henry found beauty in such derelict sadness and therefore found himself at present outside an old mansion with its garden overgrown, vines entangling the once proud structure now crippled by an unpleasant past.
Henry had been guided by a local, hoping he had followed true to the woman’s directions. When he arrived, despite being unsure if this was the correct place, the mansion appeared to fit the description and with a shrug he stepped out of the car. Kit in hand he made a mental checklist and walked towards the gate.
It wouldn’t budge. Henry attempted to climb the gate only to find himself entangled by persistent vines causing him to fall in a clumsy mess. ‘Goddammit!’ he cried as he ripped the weeds away from his ankles. Rubbing the soreness from his backside as the frustration encouraged him to try again, Henry estimated the complicated entry. While thinking about how he could climb over he came up with an idea and then checked his camera to see if it was damaged and then made his move.
After successfully climbing over the gate (by the third try), he pulled himself together and set foot towards the mansion but stopped in front of its doors. The gate wasn’t the only thing that had been covered in vines and age. Half the building had been torn away from decay or the by the effects of war.
The doors were sealed and while he checked to see if there was another entry he realised it was no good. Window ledges were laden with broken glass but inside he could see the last remnants of a home; lost. Bits of furniture still scattered one of its rooms. A glimmer of light shone and reflected from the decaying room that drew his interest.
Henry pried the sealed door open with a force he didn’t know he had in him. He succeeded with a final pull. Half the front door came with it which took him by surprise and made him tumble backwards, though he was able to quickly catch his feet. He made his way into the hallway.
The mansion was grand indeed and Henry couldn’t help but pull out his camera and start clicking away. What especially had moved him was the oddly placed stairway that opened itself to the rooms above, its stance still eerily maintained since its younger days.
Henry went up stairs, careful to avoid the cracks missing floorboards and nails waiting for a nasty trip, though just as the thought passed and was about to reach the next step his foot clipped a jagged edge causing him to lose his footing and fall face first onto the landing. Dust blew up in his face as he landed and coughed, particles floating up into the air and glittered in the sunlight. The air flowed into the gap of a door – ajar – drawing his curiosity to the room inside. He entered to find himself in a place he had earlier seen from outside.
The collapsed ceiling appeared in a more advanced state of decay then what Henry had seen from the courtyard; glass scattered across the floor, glistening in the sunlight as the last fragments of a window and as he looked down the wood by his feet appeared more rotten then what was left in the building.
Henry walked into the room careful to avoid the debris and the sharp, smirking edges of the broken glass. He removed his camera from his back-pack and organised himself for some shots. The room was long and quite narrow as he meandered around with the camera to his eye, the lens amplified his environment. The same vines that tripped him out front had covered themselves around half the room. Pepper green wallpaper still maintained some of its colour in the corners. He could tell that this place had once been a grand room indeed.
He turned to take photos of the door from the way in and found something he had surprisingly missed. A lone mirror stood proudly in dust and dirt like everything else but fully intact.
The preposterous mirror appeared out of place as well as a good portion of the room surrounding the mirror remained unscarred bar a few pieces of glass and tattered furniture. There were no cracked floorboards or debris lying at the foot of the mirror and the paint had not peeled back from age. Only this area of the room and the mirror remained pristine.
Henry went over to inspect the mirror. Stroking its golden, elegant frame he pondered over its mystery and wondered how it could survive the devastation that surrounded it. The perfect mirror merely glimmered in silent response.
The mirror became the subject of his work.
Henry tried to take the perfect shot only to end up frustrated. As he was trying to take photos of the mirror there had been a speck of dust or a spot light which obstructed his focus of the subject. Giving up, and with more photos then he expected Henry left the mansion to move onto his next destination unsatisfied and hoping for better luck.