🙂 Tuesday = #Blogbattle
#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration. Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey. Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.
This week’s word: Bathtub
The Life of Vivian Buchanan
The realtor is waiting for Mark and Jennifer on the front stairs as they approach the house. They are looking to purchase a house to renovate. Over the years, Jennifer knew which house was right for them, she could feel it and Mark always deferred to her. But this time it’s different. They are purchasing a house that they will renovate together. Mark is the professional when it comes to renovating, so Jennifer needs to defer to his knowledge this time, and not what makes her feel good.
The realtor introduces himself as Steve Ramsey and begins to rattle off facts about the house non-stop. He’s not an unlikable guy, but does have the aura of a used car salesman. The first thing that comes out of his mouth as they enter the home is, “I’ve got to tell you folks up front, the house could be haunted. Several people have bought it, and started renovating it, but just stop for some reason, and turn around and sell it.”
It’s amazing Jennifer gets a word in edgewise, but she insists, “Maybe it’s not haunted, maybe the right people just haven’t bought it.” As they continue to look around each room.
“You might be right. Story goes that something tragic happened in this house, there are all kinds of urban legends floating around, ranging from a jealous husband, to jewels being stolen, to just about anything you can imagine. If you Google it, you’ll be swamped with results. But one of the previous owners has compiled some factual documents that you’ll get if you happen to purchase the house.”
Mark walks up to Jennifer and rests his hand on the back of her neck, leans in and says quietly in her ear, “Sounds like the makings of a good story.” With that he kisses her on the temple, takes her hand and gives it a squeeze as they go into the next room.
Steve does get quiet at some point as they move from room to room. Just pointing out all the things that sell a house. Most of the rooms are not done, and the ones that are renovated are not complete. It’s like in the middle of the workday, the workers just dropped everything and ran out.
They make it up to the top floor, half the area is taken up by this lavish bathroom, or at least it was at one time. The old claw foot bathtub sits under a huge stained glass window. Steve chimes in, “Pretty extravagant huh? Story goes the husband built this bathroom just for his wife, Vivian, to have a place to pamper herself so that she would stay young and beautiful just for him. He supplied her with the finest of soaps, lotions and perfumes, and allowed her the time every night without interruption to pamper herself.”
As Steve tells the story, Jennifer walks over and runs her fingers over the porcelain of the tub. The energy coming off of it is very strong, and it fluctuates from positive to negative. She doesn’t let on to her husband what she has felt. Just then he looks at her and says, “This would make a nice space for you to write, what do you think? Or…we can restore it and keep it as a lavish bathroom just for you, so you can pamper yourself and keep yourself young and beautiful just for me.” Waggling his eyebrows.
She gives him a playful push, laughing at the very thought of pampering herself, and knowing he is teasing her, she replies, “Oh yeah, right.”
“Well if you folks do buy it, you can restore it any way you want, and it will be beautiful, it’s a real gem.”
“I know it is.” Mark replies, knowing that they will be buying it. His wife has spent the last half-hour, touching and looking at every detail. Now she is standing in the middle of this bathroom, with her arms folded across her midsection like she’s giving herself a hug. Yeah, she’s home.
“And yes, we will be buying it.” He adds. When she hears that, she looks at him, and gives him the smile that is just reserved for him. As she walks towards the window she gives her hips an little extra sway just for him to show her appreciation, knowing that neither one of them are listening to the realtor as he goes on and on about how happy he is.
~ * ~
One day during demolition, Mark calls Jennifer upstairs. The walls have been demoed down to the studs, with the removal of the plaster and lath, half the floor is removed. She walks in and he is standing over a hole in the floor, right in front of the tub. He points down, and says, “Thought you might like to see this.”
“Mark, it better not be anything creepy.” She walks over, hesitantly peeking into the hole. But what she sees, she gasps, and falls to her knees and begins pulling out several old dusty journals. She opens one and skims over the first few pages. “Mark, oh my gosh, this is incredible. These are hers!! These belonged to Vivian.”
As she proceeds to get up, she cradles the journals in one arm, and rests her other hand on the edge of the tub to help herself up, but the energy is so strong that she has to pull it away. Mark asks, “Are you alright honey?”
“Yes. Uh Sweetheart, I need this tub to stay in one piece when you remove it, can you do that?”
He knows the look, rubs the back of his neck, and hesitantly says, “yes…and what would you like us to do with it?”
“Put it on the back screened in porch, please.” The two other guys working with him give him a look, and he just says, “You heard the lady.”
Before she leaves, she walks up to him, and kisses him on the lips. Not just a peck, but a passionate kiss filled with so much love and gratitude, it makes one of the guys let out a slow whistle. When she steps back she looks him in the eye, caresses his cheek and whispers, “Thank you.”
She spends her days poring over the journals while she sits in the bathtub. The energy that flows around her from the tub allows her to absorb every detail, she feels every emotion pulling at her heart, as she reads the life of this woman. Sometimes it is so overwhelming, the sadness, that she doesn’t know if she could give this woman’s story justice. But the nudge on her conscience makes her realize this story must be told.
As the renovation continues, they encounter some trouble as the inspector threatens to shut them down, on an unmerited violation, even though they have completed more work than most. It doesn’t make any sense to Mark, but he sees what he can do to comply.
Jennifer has read some of the documents that were provided by the previous owner, which confirms that the inspector is one of those treasure hunters. This turn of events leads her to believe that there is, in fact, treasure here, and that they must be getting close.
While reading the journals one day, she falls asleep but is awakened with a start as one of the journals falls from the table, next to where she is sitting, and opens to a page. She begins reading, and everything is explained.
What she finds is that Vivian was in love with someone else, and planned to leave her husband. The other journal entries alluded to a narcissistic man, but he was pure evil. He lead everyone to believe that he inherited a handful of 2-carat blood red rubies, 6 of them to be exact. One night Vivian got him drunk and somewhat seduced him into telling her the truth. As his great-grandmother was nearing her end, he coerced her into changing her will, appointing him the sole heir of the jewels. Then he killed her. When any one of the rightful heirs tried to disprove his theory, he made their lives miserable.
Vivian planned her escape by taking the jewels and hiding them in the library, She wrote the whole plan in her journal. On the night of the escape, she secured the journals under the floorboards in her bathroom, in the event something happened to her the truth would be known.
Jennifer closes the journal and grabs the folder with the documents in it. She sifts through them until she finds a newspaper clipping folded in half. When she unfolds it the headline reads Tragic Accident at the Buchanan Home. She scans over the article to where it says Vivian Buchanan was found dead in her bathtub. With a hand to her mouth, she gasps, and whispers, “then that means….” She drops the paper, and rushes into the house calling for her husband, “Mark!!”
© 2016 Carrie Ann