Italian: La Casa del Settimo Minuetto
A lot of movies and books have a certain pattern that they follow when there is a house in the woods. It’s more of a trope, really. Usually, someone’s first night in a house like this involves a thunderstorm and lots of howling wind. I even remember little Heidi being afraid of the wind in the trees when she went to her grandfather’s house.
I can say with great certainty that my first night in my new home was nothing of the sort. There was no rain, and the wind didn’t howl. It hardly even whispered. The trees rustled now and then in a gentle breeze, but other than that, it was the sort of peace and quiet I’d longed for back in the city. I could hear the pulse of nature outside, the owls, small mammals, things like that. It was almost too bad, because I love the sound of rain. At the very least, I was relieved that the evening was restful.
Once I’d gotten all of my keys, I’d gone back outside to empty out my car. The third floor seemed like a great place to find a room, and I chose one with a window that looked out onto the front of the property. There was indeed a four-poster bed inside, and I flopped down onto it in sheer joy. Then I had brought my personal things up to the room and the bathroom nearest to it.
The trailer was a little more work. I had a few boxes of books in there, some albums, and various framed pictures. I set those down in the hallway; I could unpack them formally the next day. As for my computer, I debated whether it should go into my new bedroom or another room nearby. I would have to look for a study later, but for now I could keep the tower and monitor in my room.
There were a few other boxes outside of my essentials; various gaming consoles, some of my favorite DVDs, and whatnot. I brought in everything just so that the car and trailer would be empty, and then drove around to the garage. It took a little work to get the trailer unhitched, but I managed; my uncle would be by in a few days to get it back from me. The garage had ample space, and it looked like it had been tidied up before I’d gotten there. I decided to grab all the wrappers and snack containers out of my car so it would be as nice as everything else before I headed back inside.
Dinner that night was lasagna. Thankfully, Great Aunt Lydia had been thoughtful enough to keep it in the refrigerator; I did not have the patience for a frozen one to bake. It tasted homemade, as a matter of fact, and I relished every bite of it. I had brought a couple of cases of soda with me, and those went into the fridge.
By the time I was done eating– and yes, I’d taken advantage of the long table in the dining room– I was exhausted. What was it about sitting that makes us become tired so suddenly? I decided that I would take Lydia’s advice and get some good sleep.
After a warm bath, of course. I couldn’t resist pouring my scented Epsom salts into the dragon-footed tub and having a good soak. It was so relaxing to be able to have a bath and read a book without having to listen to arguing neighbors or the people upstairs stomping around. Once that was done, I was ready to close my eyes and get some rest so I’d be ready to face the next day.
If you’ve ever moved, you know the feeling of waking up in a new place. It’s not frightening, per se, but you know it’s different, that you have to get your bearings first. That must be why it took me a few minutes to remember where the bathroom was.
I unpacked my bathroom-related boxes while I went about my usual morning routine. Then I went back to my room and changed into some comfortable pants and my favorite Doctor Who T-shirt. I didn’t need to look fancy that day, since it would be more settling in than anything.
Down in the kitchen, I got together some cereal and fruit and sat all of that down with my Citrus Drop. I have always preferred store-label soda, and Big K made them really well, so I usually started off my mornings with some Citrus Drop. Eating in the dining room at such a long table was an interesting experience, and I could really savor it now that I wasn’t quite so exhausted. It wasn’t all that lonely, either, since I am more of a lone wolf anyway.
The day went on like that, pretty mundanely. I made some phone calls, listened to the hallway clock chime away the hours, and took my time unpacking. I had all the time in the world to do so, really. There was a suitable office a couple doors down from my room, with an old mahogany desk where I could set up my computer. Much of the room was lined with shelves of books; old hardbacks with gold or silver lettering along the spine.
Once I had my computer set up, I took a couple hours to get the network configured throughout the house. It was a tricky task getting things to work, but I found the hardware to do it, so I put my networking skills to work. Once it was working, I took a break on the computer, checking my e-mail, letting my online friends know that I was settling in, and even playing a couple games.
I’m a writer by nature. I took up networking and computer-building just so that I would have some marketable skills in between writing jobs, and it’s had the added bonus of saving me from having to pay someone to do those things for me. I tended to have a few jobs going at once, with various deadlines, plus my own creative writing projects. Now that I lived so far out, I would have plenty of peace and quiet for getting my work done.
Most of the rest of that day ended up being spent on the computer. Granted, I’d meant to get up and do some more unpacking, but between the knowledge that I had plenty of time and the fatigue of moving, I simply decided to stay at my desk.
Turning in early that evening made for an early morning the next day. I hadn’t been an early riser since my college days, when some of the classes I’d needed for my degree were only offered first thing in the morning. Who does that to writers, anyway? Oh well, at least that was in the past, and now I had a chance to make myself an omelet.
After a little more unpacking, I decided to explore the house. The first floor was mostly living rooms; parlors, tea rooms, even a sun room just off the backyard. The second floor had five bedrooms, two of which had their own bathrooms. There were also a couple of offices, with books and tables and even a fireplace. My own office was directly above one of them, I was able to discern.
The thirst floor was the most interesting level. There were two bedrooms beside my own, and one of them had its own bathroom. I didn’t mind not having mine en suite, because at least I had the four-poster bed. There was a much larger library that took the place of the other office and bedrooms. It could have doubled as a small ballroom because it had a wide, open span of floor in the middle. There were two long tables on the far end of the room, which would have been perfect for buffets or even large study groups.
It was interesting to know that I had so much room for guests. I could host family gatherings, have friends stay over, or whatever else I imagined. With so many books, I would hardly even need to visit the public library in order to find something to read when I needed a break from writing. There was no bookshelf in my own room, but the shelves in the library still had plenty of room, so I decided I would move some of the books around. Then I would be able to have an entire shelf that was just my own personal books.
That was how I found the old tome. It was bigger than any of the other books in the library, the cover thicker. It looked like it was made of actual leather, and even had the little buckle that ancient books were known for. There was a coat of arms on the cover, but no words at all.
I opened the buckles as I sat down at one of the tables, forgetting for a while about my project. The pages were made of vellum, the ink on them old, hard to read in some places. Instead of a title page, there was another copy of the coat of arms. The first page of text was difficult to read, the ink partially blurred by time, the handwriting terribly stylized.
Flipping through the pages, I saw that the handwriting changed now and then. So did the ink and its apparent age. I’d discerned five or six distinct styles by the time I got to the last page of text. It was hardly more than halfway through the book, leaving room for a lot more writing to be added. The handwriting on that last page was a lot more legible, even modern. It reminded me of how the older generations write, taking care to make their cursive just right, so different from my own cursive, which only followed standard form when it made sense to me.
What I’d never expected to see on that time-worn vellum, however, was my own name written. I could feel my eyes growing wide as I went a few pages back, finding that my name had been mentioned several times, as though someone were discussing me, writing about me. I found the first mention of my name, about halfway through this section of handwriting, and read a few lines.
She is a small and sweet girl, so much like her own mother. It was good to have her visit the house, to have its halls fill with her laughter…
I blinked, looking up from the book, trying to figure out what it meant. Who had written all of these pages? Why had my name made it into the book? I was determined to find out, to read as much as I could in order to figure it out. It would have to wait, though, because my stomach was growling, and I needed to head into town to stock up on groceries, and I did not want to drive through the forest after dark just yet. I decided to take a break from the book and calm myself down before I came back to it, so I closed it and fastened the clasps before getting up and leaving the library.
Here is a video of one of Bach’s minuets on acoustic guitar. Happy listening!