Unforgettable by Icy Sedgwick
“This part of the house even boasts a ballroom, which is something you just don’t see in contemporary homes.” The estate agent smiles at me. She is all teeth and banality.
“Can I see it?”
“It’s not in the best state of repair, but, like the rest of the house, it’ll be a real talking point with a little work,” she replies. “The usual…a lick of paint, some plaster restoration…in fact my cousin is in that line of work himself. Maybe I should give you his card. Remind me about that before we leave.”
She leads me down the corridor to a pair of double doors. A thick layer of dust coats the curlicue handles. The sound of bad R’n’B blares into the hallway, tinny and metallic through phone speakers. The estate agent apologises, fishing her phone from her oversized handbag. She mouths at me that she has to take the call and totters up the corridor toward the door to the garden. I listen to the clop-clop of her heels recede in the late afternoon quiet.
The handles whisper to me. Before I realise what I am doing, I push open the double doors. The ballroom opens out before me, a cavernous space of silence and memories. Dust floats on unseen currents, dancing down shafts of fading light. Ornate plasterwork climbs up the wall, its peeling paint spotted with clumps of mould. Cobwebs hang thick from the cornice. In the corner, a dust sheet covers an upright piano like a shroud.
My feet carry me into the room, following a well-worn path around the scuffed wooden floor. Familiar steps overtake me on my slow waltz circuit of the ballroom. I close my eyes and hear my mother’s instructions to the class, the titters of ten year old girls embarrassed to be dancing with ten year old boys. I ignore their immaturity, hearing only the soulful voice of Nat King Cole on the scratchy old gramophone.
I open my eyes and see the couples that surround me. A handsome young man with sad grey eyes dances with me. His icy hands grasp mine. We whirl around the room, following other couples, while other couples follow us. Light blazes from the chandelier overhead. It dances across the gilded plasterwork, and the room could be carved from gold.
Nat ends his unforgettable song. The young man wraps me in an embrace, his cold lips breathing gratitude in my ear. He flickers, and goes out, like a dying candle. The couples fade as the needle skips into static. The gilt peels from the walls, flaking onto the floor as the light dissolves. Dust motes dance where once there was magic. A pang of something akin to loss pricks the back of my neck. For a sweet moment, I lived inside the memory of this room.
The clip-clop of high heels punctures the static as the estate agent walks into the ballroom, the last wraiths dissolving into cold air around her. She comes toward me through their fading forms. She’s too busy fishing around in her handbag to notice.
“So what do you think?” she asks.
“I’ll take it.”
Icy Sedgwick is part office manager, part writer and part trainee supervillain. Icy dreams of Dickensian London and the Old West. She writes all kinds of nonsense about telepathic parrots, Cavalier ghosts and steampunk automatons. Find her ebooks, free weekly fiction and other shenanigans at Icy’s Blunt Pencil.