You learn more from your mistakes than your successes.
So here I am to try, and to fail, so I can learn.
Paul Fail. For The Win!

28 September 2013

#FridayFlash: Lost Estate

Lost Estate
©2013 D. Paul Angel
985 words

He shook the Estate's elaborate wrought iron gates, impressed that they remained tightly and firmly locked.  Unfortunately his long absence meant that the walls surrounding the gate's pillars had long since collapsed, rendering the gates themselves little more than useless ornamentation.  Sighing, he took the easy path proffered and avoided the hassle of unlocking the gates.

Walking up the long driveway he saw the weeds were well on their way to overtaking the cracking asphalt.  Their ivy brethren as well were already hard at work reclaiming the classical statuary lining its broad, gentle curves.  He couldn't help but stop at the fountain in the driveway before the Mansion, it had, after all, always been a favorite.

The statue of a Greek nymph pouring water from a jug was largely intact but heavily stained with moss and lichens.  The pool was now green and polliwogs skittered about just below the surface.  There were many good pictures here he thought, chagrined at his decision to leave his camera behind.  But then, he reminded himself, this wasn't a trip to create, but to deal with what he had started.  After all, the Estate hadn't decided to crumble of it's own accord; that had been his decision.  Not even a decision, per se, but simply a matter of neglect.  But even neglect was simply a decision unmade, was it not?

He wasn't surprised that Entropy had won another battle against him, he had never been particularly good at the constant vigilance required to truly fight it.  Knowledge alone wasn't enough to assuage his feelings of loss though.  This place had had so much... potential.  He both embraced and loathed the word.  It hinted at so many promises, but was ever at the mercy of the ubiquitous "if's" that were forever interrupting Life's simple paths.

He flicked the water, scattering the polliwogs and bade an unseen frog jump further away before continuing to the Mansion itself.  Its huge, unfinished wings loomed in mocking reminder of wasted potential.  Or was it merely over ambition?  He had to admit to himself a small cottage with a simple garden would have been far easier to maintain than a lavish estate.

He walked around to the back of the house mulling his own hubris.  The Mansion and it's skeletal wings stood on a rise from which he could see the various fields and ancient woods.  Barley, for when he finished the distillery.  Hops as well for the unfinished brewery.  The now wild grapes might make someone happy someday too, but he would never see a bottle of that vintage.  The vegetable garden had long since gone to weeds, and if he hadn't planted them himself, he never would have known that hot peppers once grew there too.

He turned to the green behind the house and between the wings.  It was the perfect locale for a party.  The three sides of the Mansion had pulleys built into them as well to support awnings for Winter gatherings.  He walked through the tall grass, picking his way through larger weeds and tramping over wide swathes of dandelions.  He thought of the parties he had dreamt having here, regretted as always that he never actually held one.  Only this time, he knew, there would be no "next time" to ameliorate his disappointment in himself.

He pushed through the french doors, wincing at the creaking struggle required for their opening.  The ballroom stood empty, its cavernous walls dully echoing his footsteps.  It had held more workers than guests, he was sad to admit; but that was why he had come.  To embrace the sadness, to feel it, and then (he hoped) to let it go.

Through the catering kitchen, past the mini theater and sunroom, he came to the foyer.  The grand staircase still stood, although its balustrades were now merely home to spiders who knew not of the class of neighborhood in which they awaited their prey.  Or perhaps, he mused, maybe they did and enjoyed their meal all the more?

His moment of whimsy was quickly forgot as he rounded the folding table, incongruously set between the intricately mosaiced floor and lavish crystal chandelier.  No amount of dust could dilute their elegance; no amount of cleanliness could impart anything close to the same on the table.  It was, after all, only there to display the Estate's blueprints.

He opened the roll of blueprints, smoothing down the edges he unrolled them.  He traced the walls and plans with his finger in a shaft of sun through the upper floor windows.  As late as it was getting, he had to look through them.  All of them.  Page by page he turned, studying his ambitions writ large in white lines on a deep blue background.  Most he remembered, though some had been wholly forgotten long, long ago.  All pained him in one way or another, but some hurt with the rawness of a deep gash thrust into salt water.

He cried a bit, but only just.  Too many tears had already been shed on his journey back here.  There simply were no more to offer.  That was when he knew it was time.  His mind stilled and he methodically went about his preparations.  The small can of lighter fluid was more than sufficient to soak the plans.  He started to lay them back on the table but then decided against it.  The table was what did not belong, everything else did.

So he struck the match and lit the plans before dropping them on the floor.  He watched as the fire's consumption smeared ash across the floor's scene; watched until only a frail pile of char remained.  Then he took the table, and walked out the door.  The table would fit in well at his new place.

It was a small cottage with a tiny garden that could only just see a hint of the sea through the trees.


  1. This is beautifully poignant Paul, the imagery so vivid I felt I was walking through the estate with him. Knowing that feeling well (of letting go of what was, what might've been), I can say that you nailed it!

  2. I think his cottage by the sea will bring him far more happiness than the grandiose mansion would have anyway.

  3. Deanna - Thank you for coming by! The "Estate" was this very blog. I'll have another post up shortly, but I'm shuttering shop here and moving things over to WordPress, my new little cottage by the sea.

    Steve - Thanks for the comment! I can guarantee he will be happier in his little cottage! I'm setting up a new blog via WordPress which is going to be simpler in its own way. Post on that coming up!


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