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Dollhouses (entry to the Billybuc writing contest)
For her sixth birthday, June’s father had gotten her the most coveted gift ever: a dollhouse. Not any ordinary dollhouse, mind you, but a gigantic Victorian affair with ten rooms that filled half of her own bedroom. It wasn’t new, but almost, and her father, who traveled a lot, had found it at a flea market in a neighboring state. June played for many years with her dollhouse and at an early age, she made the promise to herself that someday, she would live in a house just like it. And she eventually would…
In the summer of 2000, the Carrington house named after its builder in 1907, a Victorian mansion on Hill Road, had come up for sale. Harvey, whom June had married right out of high school, had seen the “FOR SALE” sign as he was driving his truck home from a job. He wanted to surprise the woman of his life and put down a substantial deposit without telling her. June only found out the day they closed on the house, and tears of joy ran down her cheeks as she signed the deed making her and Harvey the new owners.
The following years were spent bringing the house back to its former glory. Harvey, a very capable self-employed carpenter, worked on the exterior, replacing rotten posts and damaged gingerbread, while June redecorated inside with a sure hand, English country style. She created a home that was featured in decorating magazines all over the world. Shortly after moving into her full size dollhouse, June purchased a sewing machine and taught herself how to use it. There wasn’t a single week when she wouldn’t be seen at the local Calico Corners fabric store, purchasing yardage of chintz or gingham fabrics.
Over time, June and Harvey created the most beautiful, romantic and comfortable nest. Their marriage was the textbook version of the quarterback wedding the prom queen. They had met in high school. It took Harvey almost two years to declare his love to her, and by that time, she already knew he would be the man she’d marry.
When the house was finished, there are only so many cushions and tie-backs one needs, she wanted something else to do to fill the long hours while Harvey was away working on other people’s houses. She already had the sewing skills so it was a natural move to start making things for others. She rented a spot at the local flea market and on Saturdays, put up a folding tent and piled up dozens of custom made cushions and pillows on folding tables. In no time, she became successful so the largest room in the basement of the house was turned into a sewing studio, where she worked at least eight hours every day to the sound of her favorite romantic ballads. She was a happy woman!
Her only regret was that she couldn’t have children. She had consulted with several specialists to no avail. So, as she turned 33, Harvey and June sat down and made the decision to adopt a child. To celebrate their decision, they made love passionately that night.
For Harvey’s 34th birthday, she broke her fat little piggy bank and got him the 1956 Austin-Healey he had always dreamed of. Like her dollhouse years before, and her real house later in life, the English built automobile needed restoration, which was the whole point. The car was one of very few that would fit through the narrow doors of the detached garage on the side of the house, she had measured carefully. She was proud of herself and the way she had ferociously negotiated with the seller. Now, Harvey would have something interesting to do in the winter when the weather was too cold for him to work outside. And he deserved it anyway. Hell, wasn’t he the guy making her so happy?
The day the car was delivered to the house, it was immediately put in the garage. That evening, when Harvey came home, she sent him to the garage under the pretense of picking up a bottle of wine in the adjacent cellar, and that’s how he got acquainted with his new toy, shattering the bottle of wine on the concrete floor in complete shock.
There is a public park by the river, on the outskirts of town, fitted with permanent barbecues and concrete picnic tables. Early spring, on the very first warm sunny day after a long winter, local people would flock there to have a family picnic. One day, a few people saw a strange looking man, driving by the park in a no less strange looking vintage convertible car. He was wearing a leather helmet, aviation goggles and a sheepskin lined heavy leather jacket. What mostly caught people’s attention though was the fantastic condition of the beautifully restored bright red automobile.
The car disappeared as the driver made a right turn on Hill Road. He slowed down some while passing in front of a magnificent Victorian house. He looked at the house and almost stopped, but then regained some speed and continued on. Two miles further down the road, he stopped and got out of his car. He walked slowly for a minute before stopping in front of a stone. A large flat stone with words engraved on it: In Memoriam June Prentiss-Chalmers 1977-2012. a loving wife, a dedicated mother, another innocent victim of drunk driving. You are missed. At the bottom of the stone, a sheet of paper with a childish colorful rendition of a Victorian house, held in place by four little rocks, one at each corner…
The gentleman, his manly face covered with tears, lowered himself to pick up the two year old little boy, all bundled up in a woolly coat:
- Come on, little buddy, let’s go home, Daddy will fix you some hot chocolate…
Copyright 2013 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns.
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