A Fortunate Maze

Northcourt: A Fortunate Maze by Suzette Lindsay


The valley is kaleidoscopic: greys, browns, yellows and greens of every hue surround the Manor House, and acres of a smooth beaded blanket of lawn stretches for what seemed miles.  It shows the love the keeper has for his work.  Up high are the homes to the residents that sing, tweet and blurt out their words for all to hear.  The blue sky above is heavily laden with flighty traffic as they go about their business.  Look further through the multiple shades of green branches, shading and shadowing its occupants, while many giant trunks queue and crowd with their textured layers.


In the distance, motored vehicles churn; humming and coughing, engines glide up and down the tarmac, and the changing of gears from the Land Rover adds to the music.


The paths through the huge naturalistic grounds are paved with gravel, pebbles and twigs; that crunch when disturbed and walked on.  A few deliberately placed earthen stoneware pots are cleverly displayed to enhance the already beautiful spaces, and likewise, the picturesque backdrop can be viewed from the minimal out door furniture


A butterfly takes flight from a wheelbarrow and lands on Stanley’s shoulder.  He stops.  His chest elevates slowly while his heart dances beneath his skin, observing the slow precise touch down.  Stanley stood still as it flapped its fluorescent lime wings.  He imagines it pumping the blood through its tiny veins, giving the required strength to live on.  The wind whispers and joins in with the two legged creatures, both on the ground and in the air, singing a merry song, and raising the hairs on the back of Stanley’s neck.  The gentle licks from the tongue of the wind bring the gentle scents from the background, and he inhales the powerful freshness that he would not otherwise get from where he normally lives, in town.


A sudden beam of light through the trees disturbs the moment of tranquillity, and makes the fragile beauty take flight.  His name is called through one of the many windows of the mansion.  He looks up hesitantly.  He thinks if he acts as if he hadn’t heard, it’ll go away.  The call is repeated and Stanley answers, ‘Coming,’ through clenched teeth.


After lunch the wedding party he is with disperse.  Some retire to their rooms for preparations, and others pair off to the neighbourhood pub.  He suggests that they check out the maze in the garden but there were no takers.  He puts on his Wellingtons and a walking coat, anticipating any change of weather.  At the neck of the maze he looks up to seek guidance in the aqua blue sky and sees a twinkle as if he had just been winked at. He looks ahead and starts walking. 


He had not got far when he stumbles on what he thinks to be a stone.  Curved like a curvaceous lady and smooth as silk; he picks it up and rubs it; ‘You are one to keep.’ He muses.

He rubs all the excess dirt off and immediately sparks of light and colour surround him.  Amazed and frightened he drops the stone and steps back.  In the thick shrubbery an opening appears.  Looking both sides then at the ground, Stanley picks up the stone.  Unsure what to do next he inquisitively shuffles towards the opening, holding onto a nearby hedge.  He looks in. 

A fairground of fun is ahead of him.  He loosens his grip and steps further inside.  Established over the threshold he looks back to see the opening has now closed.  He feels again in his pocket and pulls out the stone.   Someone calls his name.  He jumps.  He is frozen still, and then looks around while returning the stone to his pocket.  He hears his name again, like an echo.


‘Is it really you?  What are you doing here?’ It was one of his University buddies.


He replies, ‘How long has it been, and what are you doing here?’  With this, he completely forgets the last thirty minutes and soaks up the joy of seeing his friend again.  He is introduced to the others in the group, and Stanley and Wigmore overcome with excitement reminisce about good, and bad, times.  Hours seemed to go by.  Suddenly, Stanley became dizzy and losing his senses.  He hears someone ask,

‘Are you ok, would you like some water?’ 


It was one of the other guests.  He was lying on the floor in the garden.  He didn’t know how he got there, but is helped up and walked back into the mansion to rest.  He had a secret and didn’t quite know how to explain it to himself let along to someone else, so he decided to keep it to himself.


The wedding party were in high spirits.  Stanley’s mind, split between the then and now, looks over at the decorated maze.  They had dotted lights along the exterior and linked it with cables to the generator nearby.  They rehearse the bride’s entrance, which will be from the maze.  In a few selected places freestanding mirrors and cameras were erected, and weighted down, to record her every step.  All of this would be relayed on a large canvas screen for the entire guest list to see.    


Stanley wonders, will she come across the strange threshold as he had done earlier?  Then shrugs his shoulders and carries on. 


The pre celebration party takes up most of the ground floor of the mansion.  All Stanley could think about was what lay in the grounds, within the maze.  At the earliest convenience he made his break, and slipped away from the crowd, finding himself amongst the wilderness of beauty which now sat right on his doorstep.  Armed with a torch he searches out the entrance to the maze, and then feels a hot steamy breeze on his face.  A voice asks, ‘Come in sir; let me tell your fortune?’


Just then he feels what he imagines to be a gentle push forward in the pit of his back.  Stanley undoes his shirt collar and sits down.  He scans the room.  It is large and filled with brightly coloured, sparkly objects in every corner.  One corner is dominated with a large mirror with the word, out, in the centre of a larger picture of a heart with teardrops raining from one side.  Was this a sign of things to come?  What have I got myself into?  He thinks.  He decides to accept to surreal situation.  He doesn’t feel threatened.  He gets comfortable on the chair and faces her.


‘Young man, what brings you here?’


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It's an attempt at a short story. It came about from notes I took on a visit to the Isle of wight.
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