Anyway, this house is only 26 years old. Imagine another 200 years on that history and what one would find? Imagine what my character who is living in an old house and eventually restoring could find... and how I could link it to the other stories in this complex novel?
So I pulled myself away from the walls and typed up two pages. I'm posting this now. I will probably delete it whenever this novel gets any closer to a public display. One could say there is a spoiler embedded in this inspiration ... but to appreciate the spoiler, one has to read a whole bunch of other scenes to get the context. Anyway, here is a taste of what's to come, hopefully, when I continue this momentum brought on by summer house projects.
Oh - and if you have anything to add about the detail of mascara in the early 1920's, please feel free to comment.
Aggie saw the light at the end of the hallway. It seemed unusual, though she had seen it before when Ms. Grayson lived in that room. Aggie never went in there – she only saw the light from down the hallway, something she remembered when she saw it again and heard the ripping sound.
Miss Langdon – Helen – was seated on a footstool, barely three inches off the ground. It looked funny with her long legs bent uncomfortably in those funny trousers she wore. She took in a breath of her cigarette and then leaned back towards the wall with a pair of shears, stabbing it under the wallpaper.
Aggie was only there for a few seconds to comprehend the activity when Helen turned her big brown eyes to her and smiled. She took another quick inhale of her cigarette before stabbing it out and curving her smile into mischief. “I don’t like this wallpaper,” she pulled off a strip of the flowered design, exposing the plaster and wood beneath it.
Aggie giggled as Helen winked and bent down to poke another edge with the shears. “I didn’t like Aunt Pauline. This reminds me of her,” the brown eyes wandered to Aggie. “Did you like Pauline?”
Aggie bit her lip. She looked down and shook her head.
“No, I suppose she wasn’t easy to live with,” Helen let out a sigh and loosened the base of the wallpaper. “She was a very sad woman. She brought more sadness on herself and never had the grace to learn from her difficulties.”
Helen let out another sigh and stood up from the footstool. “Do you want to pull it off?” Helen looked at Agnes.
“Yes,” Aggie lifted the edge of the paper and watched as it tore in uneven streams toward the ceiling.
“Perfect,” Helen loosened more and offered Aggie another chance to expose the wood and dust. “Do you know your letters, Agnes?”
“Mavis taught me my name,” Aggie watched as Helen surveyed the top of Pauline’s dresser. She uncovered a small jar, sniffed it, and brought it back to the footstool. “What is that?”
“Pauline’s mascara,” Helen sat on the stool and gave the jar to Aggie. “Use your finger and write your name on the wood.”
Aggie dipped her index finger and proudly made an “A” on one of the narrow strips of wood. She looked at Helen who nodded as she lit up another cigarette. Aggie carefully made the rest of her letters, getting dust mixed on her finger with the black ink. She looked back to Helen when her name was done and offered her the jar. “Can you make an “H?” she exhaled a cloud of smoke over her left shoulder. Aggie nodded, prompting Helen to point back to the wall as she sucked on the cigarette. “Then an ‘e’ like in your name.”
“Then ‘l,’” Aggie guessed. She went ahead and finished Helen’s name, proud that her recent study was on display for her new favorite person.
“It’s beautiful,” Helen took back the jar and went to Pauline’s dresser. She lifted the cap to the jar, but set it down again, taking one of the tiny brushes and going to the exposed wall. Aggie turned her head and watched her paint several letters on a vertical slat.
“What does that say?” Aggie tried to decipher the strange combination of letters.
“Rosa rubicundior, lilio candidior, omnibus formosior, semper in te glorior,” Helen picked up the cigarette she left in the ashtray. “It’s Latin.”
“You’ll study it when you go to school. “
“So are our letters,” Helen rested her hand on Aggie’s shoulder. “They will stay there forever, hidden under the next sheet of wallpaper. Our secret, forever hidden in this house.”
Aggie liked that. She liked that she had a secret with Helen. A secret no one else would ever know.