The Summer House – a well-respected, luxurious boutique hotel that is often sought after to host celebratory events. Premium prices with exceptional service, it is home to an on-site restaurant and indoor pool. Simply put, it is the perfect place for a happy couple’s perfect day!
During a summer’s day, the sun radiates around the grounds and ample garden. It reflects off the many pristine windows of the hotel itself, glimmering into the conservatory. Vibrant hanging baskets consisting of a multitude of flowers adorn the entrance to the garden, with steps leading down to a perfectly cut lawn. A rockery is filled with wildlife, the soft hum of bees filling the surrounding area. Finally, a stream sits at the bottom of the garden, flowing with a gentle trickle as mallards sit atop the water, bathing in the light.
By night, the hotel is transformed into a trendy hub of artisan distilled gin and indie music. A sense of relaxation fills the air, as civilised guests chat about their busy days and unwind.
Today was a little different, as The Summer House hosts its first wedding of the season. Mr & Mrs Smyth to-be had chosen the highly-sought-after venue for their special day. It was everything that they had hoped for, and all was going swimmingly. They were indeed now Mr & Mrs Smyth, and would remain that way for the rest of their lives.
As the day comes to a close, the specially-erected marquee stands proud in the garden, floral archway at the entrance. The remnants of a live band (with many of the members preferring time at the free bar) play love songs through the ages; and the bride lay at the bottom of the indoor pool.
Stone cold. Dead.
~ ~ ~
A collection of white ruffles lay floating in the pool, moonlight pouring in through the rooftop and reflecting off the water and its inhabitant. Today’s bride, the newly-wed Mrs Georgina Smyth had seen better moments. Her skin cold and blue, heavily made-up face leaking into the water as she lay face down. Golden blonde hair sodden, her slim figure hidden by the floating wedding dress. She had dieted for months to fit into the dress, but little did she know she would never wear any other garment in her lifetime. One drifting shoe sat atop the water, diamantes shining proudly onto the body.
A mirror image of Georgina Smyth sat hunched over at the side of the pool, her sobs echoing out onto the tiled walls. Same run mascara, bare feet and overall drowned rat appearance.
‘What’s happening to me?’ she screamed, staring up to the open ceiling into the universe for an answer. Surprisingly, no reply was given. She scrambled to her feet and headed towards the exit when she was met at the door by a young woman – a cleaner, she presumed.
‘You can’t be in here’ the cleaner stated, matter-of-factly. She was young, early-20s, ebony skin, dark braided hair taken and tied roughly to the top of her head. She wore a crisp white uniform complete with apron, with the emblem of the sun on one corner with ‘The Summer House!’ stitched in a matching golden thread. Her name was Charlotte Williams, but almost everybody knew her as Lottie. She looked at the figure in front of her, wondering why there was a very damp bride to the side of the indoor pool when all of the other guests had now retired to their rooms.
She shrugged, walked casually past the woman and into the room that housed the pool. Whatever the woman was doing, Lottie decided that it wasn’t her problem. She was here to do her job, get payed, and get out as soon as possible.
‘I think I’m dead!’ the distressed blonde woman hollered from the doorway, repeating ‘DEAD!’ one more time just for good measure, gesturing at herself dramatically.
‘Dead?’ questioned Lottie, baffled. ‘You don’t look dead to me – just very wet’ a smile crept out of the corner of her mouth as she tried not to laugh at the woman in front of her. She knew the type well: perfect family; perfect looks; perfect life – didn’t even notice the lowly cleaner until they needed something and even then they spoke to her like sh-
‘PLEASE!’ her thoughts were interrupted as the woman came towards her once more, this time reaching for the cleaner’s hand. Something peculiar happened. Georgina tried once more to make contact. Failed. Her palm slipped straight through that of the other woman’s, again and again – and again. Half a minute passed as the deceased bride wafted her hand through the confused cleaner’s body, Lottie’s eyes growing wider and wider.
Finally, Georgina collapsed to the floor and began to wail once more.
‘Wow’ uttered Lottie under her breath, trying to process what had just happened. ‘What the hell was that?’ she spoke eventually, approaching the ruffled mess on the floor.
‘You have to go and find Patrick, bring him to me’ ordered the sobbing Georgina, with the absence of any tears. Of course, Patrick being the love her life, the Mr to her Mrs. For the first time, her Queen’s English accent became apparent to Lottie as it was no longer disguised by her own screams.
‘Who?’ questioned Lottie in disbelief ‘No, wait a minute. Excuse me, but what the hell just happened there? You just put your hand straight through my body. Are you trying to tell me that you really are dead?’ her harsh voice growing louder.
Georgina barely nodded, and gestured to the body laying in the pool behind the pair of women.
‘Oh my days!’ the cleaner took her head in her hands and turned her back, heading towards the wall. Silence endured for a couple of minutes whilst both parties attempted to grasp the magnitude of their situation.
‘Ok- Ok-‘ spoke Lottie at last, regaining composure after a few deep breaths were taken with her head in-between her knees ‘You’re dead. And I can talk to you. I can see you. And you’re here, but you’re also there-‘ she waves over to the pool averting her eyes ‘How does this work exactly?’
‘I don’t know’ Georgina replied, deadpan, her sobs finally tailing off.
‘What do you mean you don’t know? You’re the expert, you’re the dead one!’
‘Thanks for reminding me’
‘Well, if I can see you, that makes me a freak too!’
‘Too?’ she scoffed.
‘Look, I’m sure you were-are-were a great woman-‘ Lottie’s sense of confusion almost overwhelming ‘but right now you’re dead and somehow still alive and you’re talking to me so I’m sorry if I do call you a freak!’
‘Fine’ sighed Georgina, defeated.
‘So what now?’
~ ~ ~
Today was not only the day that Mrs Georgina Smyth would meet her end, but also the day when a certain Charlotte ‘Lottie’ Williams would discover her gift. A supernatural gift. She could not only communicate with the dead, but see them in their final state. But why now? Why had she reached twenty-three years of age without encountering this gift before? And why was she now stuck with a ghoulish companion so unlike herself?
So there we go! The first ever chapter of this new venture posted #ontheblog. It’s certainly different to be writing this way, pantsing your way through a story and posting it out into the world. There may be errors, it won’t always be perfect but I think that’s the joy of real honest writing. No spending painful hours going back over old work, just doing what you love and sharing it with the world!
Join me next Monday ; 8th July for Chapter Two of Paper Roses
I can’t wait to see you there!