To the Manor Borne

by Andrew Pickering

It was perfect. As always. Ellie looked out at it from the train, so close she could see every detail. But, as always, it was more than just the glass which denied it to her.

Every day for the past six months she had stared longingly at the beautiful manor house on her way to work and every day the first thing she did when she got to her office was to check the internet, just to see whether its present owner was mad enough to be selling it. They never were, whoever they” were. And as usual she was left with the prospect of once again returning to her noisy, cramped little flat, right next to the busiest road in town. She swore the flat mysteriously compelled drunkards to congregate below it on a regular basis and to conduct loud conversations, or arguments, or karaoke sessions, or any combination of these things beneath her paper-thin windows.

Ellie hated noise. At one time she’d seriously considered installing an isolation tank but dismissed it on the grounds that it would probably cost the same as the house, and she knew as soon as it was installed the house would be up for sale, and then where would she be? She was a great believer in Murphy’s Law.

The house would be different though, like an isolation tank in itself. It looked liked it belonged in a fairytale, not too big and not too small with calm green fields on either side. Wide bay windows stood out majestically next to the rounded doorway and a light covering of ivy clung lovingly to its grey stonework. A walled garden nestled by its side and she could imagine it was the most peaceful spot on the planet.

Ellie remembered the first time she had seen the house, it was as though all of her dreams had been made solid; a fantasy in dressed stone, with windows glinting enticingly in the early morning sun. She had been so excited she had pressed her nose against the train window, like a child in front of a closed toy shop. Her breathing had quickly steamed the house itself from view, but she hadn’t cared. She had been smitten ever since.

Today she had been meaning not to look; to try to break her obsession by self denial but look she did. Just as she was slumping back into her seat, she caught a glimpse of something new. A sight perhaps even more beautiful than the house itself. A white, wooden flag gallantly bearing the words “For Sale”.

The rest of the journey passed in a blur, how many people she elbowed leaving the train, she could not say. She went straight to her computer and there it was on the estate agent’s website.

It would take all of her savings and a huge mortgage to buy it, the idea was madness but she couldn’t help it – she had to have that house, who knew when it might be sold again, if ever!

She didn’t even bother viewing it, after all, she had seen it daily on her commute and nightly in her dreams.

She made the calls, she called in the favours, she begged, borrowed and thought about stealing but then, after four months that felt like four years, she stood at the doorstep of her house. Her house.

Ellie didn’t just see the solid wooden door before her – she saw a whole way of life in harmony with nature – a peaceful country life of keeping animals, walking in the idyllic fields and dozing gently in the tranquility of her walled garden.

She went inside and paused, drinking in the silence and sighed deeply with contentment.

And then she heard the train. And a few moments later, another.

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Andrew Pickering is from Buxton, living in York. He is taking some tentative, long overdue steps to becoming a writer.

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