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Respected Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 1 of 55

I am hanging on by my fingertips waiting for updates. This one was so long coming and is so short I will be having anxiety attacks while waiting for the next chapter. LOL!

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Re: House in the Valley

Message 2 of 55

Chapter   (Word prompts: hindsight, recognition, reality, decisions, stubborn, heat, breeze, watermelon)


She was looking at me as though expecting some explanation. If that was the case she was going to be very disappointed. Even the few facts at my disposal seemed to have no baring on the missing fox, or Peter’s birds for that matter. It crossed my mind that there was a wild-life collector thief, but was wise enough to stay quiet.


At first I thought it was another clap of thunder, but then I heard voices coming from the other room. I could tell Katherine was startled too as she jumped up from the sofa, facing the direction of the sound, just as a breeze swept some of the loose photographs to the floor.


I recognized Peter’s laugh before I saw the two men come around the corner. In hindsight I could see that they were just as surprised to see us as we were them. I guess they hadn’t seen the cars in the back.


“Kathy, what are you doing here?”, said the one I learned was Jeff while he glared at me with much the same expression as his sister a while earlier.


Peter strolled over to the fireplace. I could have been wrong but I thought I caught a glimpse of a sort of smirk showing he was enjoying this little scene. “Let’s get some heat in here”, he said as he struck a match to the pile of logs already set up. It was only then that he introduced me to the group.


“I see you made some coffee”, he said looking at me. “I hope you have a couple more cups. It appears there are some decisions to be made.”


I headed toward the kitchen to put on a new pot and grab some more cups. On the way I noticed one of the photos that had fluttered to the floor earlier and picked it up. It was a picture of several children enjoying watermelon on a picnic table. I was certain two of the children were the brother and sister in the other room. I tried to see if Peter was a part of the group. I thought I saw a slight resemblance to a chubby child, but I couldn’t imagine this had once been the tall slim man that I had gotten to know.


I could barely hear the conversation that was going on in the other room until I heard a rather loud voice, that I took to be Jeff speaking to his sister. “Now you are just being stubborn. We’ve got to look at reality. It’s time for us to do something with this place. Just having it sit here is not good for anyone. It’s not even good for the property to be unoccupied so much.”

“Well, from what I can see it hasn’t been unoccupied. Does someone want to tell me what’s been going on?”


I decided that was my cue to appear with the coffee, although I wondered if caffeine was needed by anyone.


(To be continued)


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Re: House in the Valley

Message 3 of 55

Chapter 45   (Word Prompts: generations, thread, spider web, mud, upturned, thunder, porch swing, overgrown)


Of course I had no idea what this fox was but I immediately thought of the other things we had discovered were missing. I walked over to the piano and looked at the space where Peter had said the birds had occupied. I had never taken a close look at the photos displayed there, but I thought I would have noticed a larger one displaying two small children sitting on a porch swing. I knew I would have remembered it as it reminded me of my own grandmother’s porch and the time I had spent there.


Katherine was examining the book shelves, picking up several items but apparently finding nothing amiss. I wondered if she had even glanced at the couch to see that the quilt was missing. That’s when I noticed the photo album on the table. I hadn’t noticed when I put the coffee down but it was now upturned. A crest was very prominent on the cover that I hadn’t seen before. I tried to remember if Peter had looked at it when we were here before, but I didn’t remember him sitting anywhere near it.


I continued to watch as she examined various objects and wondered what she was looking for. I noticed she didn’t disturb anything on one shelf where I could see a spider web highlighted by the afternoon sun. I wondered if this meant she was checking to see if things had been moved around rather than at the individual objects. It wasn’t until she reached what appeared to be a hand carved box that she settled down on the sofa. I took it as a sign and sat beside her and poured the two cups of coffee, hoping it was still be hot enough.


I have to admit that my curiosity was in overload as I waited for some sort of explanation, or even for a request of information from me. It seemed I would have to wait a bit longer. A loud crash of thunder sounded at the exact moment that she lifted the lid of the wooden box. Thoughts of Pandora didn’t seem that far from reality at the moment and I would have been less than surprised at anything at that moment.


I was relieved that we were not suddenly attacked by overgrown insects nor were we buried in an onslaught of mud. If she had any thoughts along those lines she kept them to herself as she began to empty the box of it’s contents. The first item to find it’s way to the table was an ancient spool of thread. I knew it was handed down from a past generation. I remembered similar spools in my grandmother’s sewing basket. There was a small box with a clear plastic cover so I could see that it was filled with buttons. I thought it would be rude for me to open it, no matter than my fingers could almost feel their texture.


I was able to see the photographs as she removed them one by one. They all seemed to be very old. Some of them were faded and yellowed but obviously precious. It took very little time for the box to be emptied as it wasn’t all that big. It was only then that she looked at me before reaching for her cup.


“I was hoping my fox was in there”, she said with the tears forming once more.


(To be continued)


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Re: House in the Valley

Message 4 of 55

Chapter 44   (Word Prompts: fox, invent, disappearance, camera, ignite, magic, elusive, adaptable)


We entered through a different door this time. I assumed it would be considered the front door and probably only used by visitors. I wondered why she chose this entrance, but then I saw the camera installed and decided perhaps she wanted a photo of me in case there was a problem. I wondered if I had missed any other surveillance equipment. If there was it might help solve at least one of our mysteries. Perhaps I would ask her later but there were things to be taken care of first.


The house seemed colder than before. I thought she was going to ignite the fire but she just turned up the thermostat on the wall beside it. I was still standing near the entrance waiting to be invited in, but she just stood there looking around. She seemed a stranger in this place that should have been familiar and I wondered what she might be thinking.


I was yearning for some coffee and tried to invent a good reason for my knowledge of where everything was but I gave up on that, as well as receiving an invitation to join her. The entrance to the kitchen was on my right and she seemed to not notice my heading in that direction. By the time I returned with mugs and the coffee my hostess had disappeared.


I was about to call out when I heard a sound come from the bedroom area. It was somewhere between a cry and a shout, but the dismay was impossible to miss. I hurriedly put the tray on the table and headed to the back of the house in search of my elusive hostess. I passed the first bedroom where I had seen Matt standing the day before. The room was now empty and appeared to have a masculine feel that I assumed was Jeff’s. The next door was open and now I could hear the muffled sounds of movement.


I stopped to listen and it was a good thing I did. It probably saved me from being knocked to the ground. As if by magic the banshee was back, standing in front of me demanding to know who had been here.


“I don’t know”, I said. She looked at me as though she knew I was lying. I was tempted to leave right then, wondering if the person in front of me was a rational being. Hoping for the best and trying to be adaptable myself, I tried to explain. I felt I owed her as much of the story as I had.

“Why do you think someone has been here?”


I really wasn’t expecting much of an answer but she surprised me.


“My fox is gone”, she said with tears running down her cheeks.


(To be continued)


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Re: House in the Valley

Message 5 of 55

Chapter 43  (Word Prompts: cherry, petals, anticipation, dreaming, future, floating, nostalgic, conversation)


It was almost like a dream where you know the alarm is trying to wake you up and you try to ignore it. But the second time the voice was much more demanding and as much as I tried to concentrate on the water lilies floating before me, I couldn’t ignore that my peaceful time was over.


It was the closest I’ve ever had to an out-of-body experience. Here I had just been having a delightful conversation with a frog while enjoying the serenity of this sanctuary when I was attacked by a demon in a cherry colored blouse with lips to match. There was a part of me who was watching the scene from above and was able to see the humor of the situation. Perhaps this is what saved me from what could have been a very unpleasant experience. I was tempted to laugh when I glanced over and noticed Felix the Frog had decided to explore other petals.


Luckily I resisted temptation and was able to return to the present and avoid what could have been an uncomfortable future.


“I’m sorry”, I said to the banshee. “I didn’t intend to disturb anything.” I began to gather up my belongings, thinking it would be better to leave of my own accord as soon as possible. Perhaps that was what saved me because almost instantly the screeching ceased and I noticed tears beginning to flow from the eyes which had been aflame just a few moments before.


I had the impulse to put my arm around this stranger who had been verbally abusing me just a few moments before. That dreamlike feeling was taking over again and I wanted to pinch myself to see if I was truly awake. Instead I just stood there, not knowing what to do or say.


She began to walk toward me. I knew the threat had passed but I still had no clue on how to proceed until she almost collapsed on the bench near where I had been sitting. I took it as a sign that I should join her and took my place on the other end.


“No, I’m sorry”, she said in a very different voice from the previous one. “I guess being here has thrown me into an abundance of nostalgia. I didn’t anticipate anyone being here and then when I saw your car I thought perhaps my brother had made it after all. I’m afraid I totally over-reacted.”


“Are you Katherine?”


She looked completely bewildered even as she confirmed her identity. I introduced myself and told her I’d been one of the group who had been here before. Of course I’d assumed Charlie had reached her and filled her in on the situation. If anything, she looked even more confused.


“You haven’t talked to the sheriff?” A firm shake of the head was the only response I got.


“Perhaps he spoke with Jeff.”


“I just spoke to Jeff and he didn’t mention anything. I had hoped he would join me here but he was held up.” She was still looking a bit confused but I was no longer in fear of her fainting from the shock.


“You haven’t talked to Peter either?” This brought an even greater response.


“It seems you know more about this place than I do at the moment. Would you please explain to me what’s going on? I just came here to pick up a few personal things before my brother and I place the property on the market for sale.”


“Would you like to talk here or would you rather go inside?” Even as I asked the question I wondered how it was I was suddenly acting as the hostess, but she got up and began to lead the way back to the house.


(To be continued)


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Re: House in the Valley

Message 6 of 55

Chapter 42   (Word Prompts: cherry, petals, anticipation, dreaming, future, floating, nostalgic, conversation)


I knew I was heading in the right direction when I spotted the flashing light of the Wasp’s Nest up ahead. There were two cars out front, the first time I’d seen any sign of life and was tempted to stop and have a look, but realized I was in no mood for conversation right now. Perhaps it would be interesting to stop on the way back. A woman headed toward one of the cars as I passed. Something about her looked familiar, but it was her cherry red jacket that caught my eye. It was the color of my favorite coat when I was a child.


I passed the driveway to Theresa’s house while still thinking of that coat. I’d gotten it for Easter one of the years when it came early in the season and we knew it would be too cool for the usual frilly pink dresses that were Mother’s favorite. I had been pleased since I favored red much more than pink.


Two more drives until I reached what I was now thinking of as my cottage. I couldn’t deny the anticipation that filled me at the thought of that willow tree and sketching the water lilies with their petals of pink and white. Now that was something I wanted to paint much more than anything I’d seen on the mountain.


I was relieved to find the parking area empty. I hadn’t mentioned my trip to anyone and also had no information as to the plans anyone else might have. It seemed strange to be here alone. There had been what I could classify as a crowd on my previous visits. I had no plans to go inside and headed directed toward the tree, not even stopping to look at the daylilies that seemed to float around the base of Peter’s sculpture.


An intense feeling of nostalgia settled over me as I sat on the bench beside the tree. It didn’t seem odd that I would have such feelings for a place I’d only discovered a few days ago. I tried to think how many days it had been. Was this Wednesday? I was chuckling at myself and my inability to remember the day as I pulled out my pad, pencils, small paint box and the bottle of water that I could use for painting and for drinking.


I began a sketch of the lily pads and placed a pale blue watercolor wash in the negative areas. It had been a long time since I had been this much absorbed in a project, when I was completely in the present with no thoughts of the past nor the future.


A small green frog emerged from behind one of the lilies and was studying me. I wondered what he would tell me if he could talk. Perhaps he knew the secrets that I knew this place held, but I had no interest in those right now. I also had no interest in any of the mysteries on the mountain. I would let others solve those for the moment. I had all I needed right here. Somehow I knew this was the place I’d been dreaming of.


It was wonderful while it lasted. I had no concept of time but I’d made a nice start on my painting when I heard a car and then the door close. But I found I had little care about that either until I was hearing an unpleasant voice behind me asking what I was doing there.


(To be continued)


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Re: House in the Valley

Message 7 of 55

Chapter 41   (Word Prompts: faceless, burrowing, widow, cottage, charming, reflection, obligation, dancing light)


On the way back to our cabin I looked at all the faceless people heading in a similar direction and wished I knew more about these people. I wanted someone I could talk freely to about all these thoughts and feelings that were flitting around my head like dancing light. I was suddenly feeling very lonely and I knew it had nothing to do with Blair or my children. It was for my old friend, Linda.


We had known each other for years, since right after college when we were both married and starting a family. We met while taking tennis lessons and became partners in life as much as on the tennis court. She had become the older sister I had always wanted and, upon reflection, she had treated me as her little sister. We saw or talked to each other almost daily and I felt closer to her than any of my family, knowing that she was family by choice rather than from the obligation of birth.


We had continued to live just a few miles apart until she became a widow five years ago and decided it was time to make a major life change. She had packed up and moved to the beach. She still lived only about three hours away and I had visited several times. In fact her charming little cottage had made the ideal hide-away on those times when I needed to get away. We would feel like kids again, burrow ourselves in comfort food and laughter until we both felt refreshed and renewed. Perhaps I should have gone there instead of thinking that an art workshop would provide the clarity I needed.


But it wouldn’t be the same now. Linda had fallen in love again, something she thought would never happen. And she had left the little cottage for a larger house and garden. I had visited there too, but it just wasn’t the same.


I thought of the house in the valley. I didn’t know why it had such an appeal for me, but I couldn’t deny it was true. This was one of the things I needed to sort out. I wondered if I would be missed if I was to get in my car and go there now. I was certain I remembered the way and I could take my sketch book and camera. Perhaps I’d find some answers and also have something for the critique this afternoon.


(To be continued)


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Re: House in the Valley

Message 8 of 55

PattyDiane,  I just read your "House In The Valley, Chapter 40" as a free-standing piece.  It was an interesting read - I loved your twist & turn of words, and how you made use of the Word Prompts.  Kudos to you on Chapter 40!   Pam

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Re: House in the Valley

Message 9 of 55

Chapter 40  (Word Prompts: Sausage, valentine, repairing, north wind, tenderhearted, awkward, shoulder, interference)


The familiar aroma assaulted my nose even before we entered the dining hall. Yet it seemed strange as we went through the line, shoulder to shoulder. I realized I had become quite spoiled since the last few times we had not been a part of the group and had received special service accordingly. Now it seemed awkward to be just a member of the large group as I was making my choices from the breakfast menu.


I spotted a tray of pancakes and my mouth began to water in anticipation of the spice of sausage combined with the sweet of maple syrup. It was the easiest decision I ever made, even more perfect when I was handed two containers of syrup shaped like little valentines. What a great way to start the day, I thought.


We were almost finished with breakfast when I noticed Charlie back again, this time with our teacher. I was disappointed when he walked right beside where we were sitting without even a nod in our direction. They only stopped when they arrived at the counter. Instead of going through the line, Dalton George called for attention.


“I’m sorry to interfere with your breakfast, but I’m afraid I have an announcement to make.”

I could tell I was not the only one to hold my breath, expecting even more bad news. Was it possible that our vandals had managed to slip by the sheriff in the dark?


“The Sheriff has reported that he has word that a storm is blowing in and a strong north wind is already making it uncomfortable up in the hills. One tree has already been blown down and I’m afraid our schedule is to be changed yet again today.”


There were a few sighs of disappointment throughout the room. I had no such feeling. Being one with nature had lost it’s appeal for me. I had thought it would help me to make some important decisions, but I had taken a turn somewhere along the way. It was not going to be the sketching of wild flowers that was going to help me repair my life. Or perhaps there was nothing that was going to help me find the courage to make the kind of change I needed. After all, there was a part of me that still loved my husband and I hated to tell him that it appeared we no longer fit together. At the same time, it wasn’t really fair to him and would be much more tender-hearted for me to tell him the truth. Easier said than done I thought.


I had been so deep in my own thoughts that I wasn’t even conscious of the plans that were being laid out for the day. It seemed he was going to give us the demonstration that was normally held on the last day and also give some personal pointers on our works in progress. I thought I wished someone could give me pointers on my works in progress, but sadly they were not the kind to be presented with paint on a piece of paper.


(To be continued)




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Re: House in the Valley

Message 10 of 55

Chapter 39 (Word Prompts: insomnia, wind, edge, change, winter, inactivity, birds, clarity)


Theresa, Barbara and I went back to the cabin. They were both yawning and talking about going back to sleep. I agreed with them even knowing that I was facing more hours of wakefulness with all the questions swirling around my mind as though blown by the wind, bouncing off of each other like those ping pong balls they use for the lottery . I pulled the covers up trying to quieten the chaos in my mind. After the cold outside it was warm and cozy. I could tell by the sound of my cabin mate’s breathing that they were having no problem with insomnia, even after the coffee we’d consumed just a few minutes earlier. I admit to a pang of jealousy.


My last conscious thought was of Charlie sitting on the edge of the hill hearing the song of night birds.


I was thinking that winter had arrived but then realized that Theresa had pulled the blanket off of me. The sun was rising and coming through the window. It seemed just a few minutes ago I’d been in the dining room and now I was being told I needed to hurry or I would miss breakfast. I saw that Theresa and Barbara were already dressed. The others had left. I was still wearing the sweats I‘d changed into last night and decided those would have to do for the morning. I would change before we set out to paint. I had gotten so involved with other things that I didn’t even remember what the day’s agenda was.


Who was I kidding? I didn’t care what the agenda was. I was much more interested in all the other matters. It seemed everything in my life was changing. I had known I had questions to be answered when I left home but since being here, where I’d planned to gain some clarity, I’d actually added even more questions. What I really needed was a day of inactivity in order to do some thinking.


Barbara and Theresa were chattering away as we walked to the dining hall. They didn’t seem to notice that I was not joining in.


(To be continued)


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