Captured Memories- Inspired by a masquerade ball scene from an advert on TV.
“And this, of course, is the old Lord of the Manor.” The tour guide gestured to the large, gilt framed painting behind her. It took up most of the wall, the painting in tones of deep reds and mustards. An elderly looking man was sat in the centre surrounded by velvet draping. Though the man looked aged there was something in his eyes that glinted of youth and a small smiled played on his thin lips. “This way.” The guide continued on down the hallway.
Emily was about to follow the guide when something caught her attention. A cold draught made her shiver and as she looked to her left for the source she noticed a seam in the wall. On closer inspection Emily could see it was door shaped. If it hadn’t been for the breeze she never even would have noticed anything different. There was no handle, no hinges and it blended into the wall as if invisible.
As the murmuring sound of the tour guide got further and further away, Emily continued to stare at the door shaped seam in the wall. She felt around its edge but apart from feeling the chilly draught once again nothing happened. With a frown she took a step back. Without realising the heel of her boot connected with a loose tile on the flagstone floor. There was a small, click, then the hidden door began to shift.
Emily covered her mouth with her arm as a torrent of dust imploded into the now visible doorway. She peered through the clouds of grey dirt to see a room beyond. After quickly scanning the halls to check she was alone, Emily stepped forwards. As soon as she was inside the door swung shut and once again vanished into the wall.
It became quickly obvious that this room hadn’t been used in years. Emily wondered if the new owners even knew about it. It seemed unlikely as the mansion was more of a museum then a home nowadays. The room was large and rectangular in shape and easily would have fitted the whole of the downstairs of Emily’s two bedroom house. A small, round, raised platform sat in the middle. On it was a pianoforte which Emily guessed was once a shining black but now was grey as was most of the room. A cold settled over the area that matched the dull tones that seemed to have settled over every wall and object.
It was a grand room, possibly once hosting parties or balls. But now it was nothing more than a badly kept relic of past times. Even the broken panes in the large arched windows didn’t seem to let the sunlight break through.
Emily walked across the floor, her clicking footsteps indicating that beneath the decay of age was wooden floorboards. She stepped onto the dais and inspected the piano closely. A thick layer of dust made the instrument look as though it was made of stone. She reached out to touch the keys but then pulled her hand back. It seemed wrong, somehow, to disturb the heavy silence that had obviously hung over the room for many, many years. It was as though the quiet and dust had captured the memories of those who once inhabited it and disturbing that might break it forever.
In the end, Emily decided it was probably best just to leave. The more she thought about it the more she realised that it might not even be safe. With signs of rot on the floor and cracks lining the plastered walls, it was slightly worrying to realise it could come down on her at any moment. So, she stepped off of the platform to make her way out.
Emily was frozen in her steps when the unmistakable sound of a piano note chimed throughout the room. Her body had tensed so much her shoulders hurt and her teeth ground together. When a higher note rang around her she finally turned to look at the piano. Dust still fell heavily over the instrument and there was no sign of it being disturbed.
The tension that had seized Emily began to fade and be replaced by curiosity. The next musical note sang out to her and before she realised she was once again stood by the piano. Her fingers were shaking slightly as she reached out slowly towards the keys. She hesitated a moment, her index finger hovering over the middle ‘C’. With a sense of urgency she pressed down.
The room exploded into colour. The grey walls were now glowing in warm candlelight from the crystal lamps hanging at equal intervals. The floorboards were polished and mahogany in colour complimenting the red furniture and gold framed paintings. Along with colour the room was filled with noise. It was the sounds of people: laughing, talking, whispering, dancing.
Emily was stood beside the piano, now the shiny black she had imagined it once had been. Although the music was playing and the keys were being pressed in complicated order there was no one sat playing it. Emily stepped back in fright only to almost topple from the platform. She was caught in a pair of strong arms and she twisted round to see who had saved her from the fall.
The man was tall with broad shoulders, a strong beak like nose and incredible, almost golden eyes. He was dressed in a suit of the darkest, midnight black a handkerchief of silver folded intricately in his jacket pocket. Though his hair was dark brown it glimmered auburn in the candle light and even though it was slicked back a few curls coiled around his temples. His thin lips formed a smile as he stared down at her obvious shocked expression. It was when Emily finally managed to look away that she realised although there were the loud sounds of people at a party, there was no one else in the room.
Emily’s attention was drawn back to the stranger as he held out a hand towards her. He exuded a kind of warmth, like the tempting heat of a roaring fire after being in the cold for too long. She frowned at the offer of his outstretched hand covered by black gloves. The tune from the piano had slowed into a haunting melody that seemed to whirl around the room. All of the chattering and laughing had also died away leaving nothing but the music and the stranger.
What harm could there be from just one dance?
The tour guide glanced at the painting of the Lord of the Manor, who was obviously once a handsome man in his youth. His strong almost owl like features gave the impression of someone who always got what they wanted. She quickly pulled her gaze away, a feeling of guilt pressing down on her heart.
A few more steps and the guide stopped again. The obvious signs of disturbed dust lay across the stone floor. Her gaze shifted to the side looking to where the hidden door blended seamlessly into the wall, no longer visible to anyone but to who it chose.
When the guide had done a head count at the end of the tour one had been missing. A pretty girl named Emily Patterson had not made it out of the manor. This did not cause panic in the guide, instead she felt only sadness at this realisation. And now, as she looked at the wall where the door had once been, she knew with certainty what had happened.
Emily had accepted the dance. She’d become his partner.
Just another one of the girls to fall to the temptation.
Just another one to be chosen.
Just another captured memory.