When my father bought this house he knew it had too much potential to waste on renovation. He saw the beauty of the broken shell.
The magic of nature taking back the world surrounds me. Nature has a patient power. It waits and bides its time and fills the gaps humanity no longer wants. In the wake of mankind the flora and fauna will fill the void we leave and heal the wounds we‘ve left behind.
My father died years ago but not before seeing the way that each new rising sun brings a different light to the magnum opus he would leave behind. He saw the light fall between the weathered fragments of the roof. It shines through the fragile leaves of gentle plants below and paints anything beneath a wonderful green. He saw the shy vixen who came for the warmth of our fire and the cubs who returned themselves the following years. He saw the orange glow of the fire dancing in their eyes and across the room we slept in.
My father saw the seeds he’d sown as a young man grow into the trees of a great forest that cushioned the house from the rest of the world. Within the house plants take shelter that would not survive outside. Down more than one hall the carpets of wild grass grow tall. In the main hall there is no space for regal men to stride. From floor to ceiling the room glows with the jewels of the floral world. The walls echo birdsong from dawn ‘til dusk and off the hall the swimming pool draws nature from all across the estate. Patience will often be rewarded with the sight of a deer come to drink. These I photograph when I have my fathers camera to hand. Most of the money I make comes from my photos which look nothing like the dull and dreary world outside.
I spend the rest of my money on keeping that world out. Ever higher rise the walls. Still the rubbish spills in through the gate. Not long ago I filled in most of the main gate, the last entrance to my sanctum of peace. I’ve thought of bricking it up completely but never do despite knowing other ways out. I made outcrop paths up the walls designed specifically for me to climb. The walls are now as high as the trees. It’s been years since anyone else has seen the house outside a photo frame.
No one else will see the house until I’m gone. Even at the gate I dug deep trenches to deter visitors. My Eden is not a tourist resort to be trampled beneath the feet of those who cannot comprehend the value of my reserve. None could survive my fury should they disturb the tranquillity of my home. This walled world is my sanctum, all I need to live. I hunt the woods with my crossbow and feed from the animals who’ve made their home here. In the walls are gaps and spaces big enough to let them in but nothing more. All I need is here from the apple trees to the rabbits that chew their bark.
In winter I am less than self sufficient but willing to forage for the scraps left by wasteful neighbours. The house is warm enough in the cold, kept so by the furnace which I keep fuelled at all times with the deadwood I collect year round. The heat is piped round the house by plumbing my father added.
My life is simple and can be harsh at times but I’d have it no other way. There are half finished buildings in the woods I climb daily. I run the wall tops I built double width and build them higher for greater challenge. From their height I see the animals that have made their home in the shelter of mine and as I do, despise the broken world outside.
The cats descended from my fathers pet hunt the mice that scurry about the hollow spaces I’d long abandoned. There are a few lingering descendants of the beautiful predator that roamed the land in my father’s days. Some visit me but less and less. I am not required for their survival, just occasional comfort. Photos of these predators are my pride, about to strike with muscles tensed. The glow of excitement shows in the curve of their mouth that seems to smile as they pounce.
If it was possible I would never leave my gorgeous home. When I do I can’t help wondering if some hateful destroyer is desecrating my domain. My only port of call outside the estate is the small village a few miles to the south. I take my latest film to the dark room there and spend some time developing the film and making prints from the last film.
The owner of the dark room, Lisa, is always very helpful and quite possibly the only human, other than my father, that I have ever liked. She sells the prints in her gallery and gives me a share of the money. From her I buy my film and sometimes food. She aspires to be a famous photographer and has expressed an interest in seeing the estate more than once. I always crush these hopes quickly though for the thought of another, even her, in my home makes my blood boil. When we talk about the estate she asks so many questions with so much enthusiasm. I wonder how long it will be before she ignores my warnings and crosses the threshold of my sanctum. Lisa is the only person I can have a conversation with though. I cherish that. She seems to share my love of nature, her work is not unlike mine although taken with a far more professional style.
Maybe some day I will trust her enough to show her the estate and it’s wonders. I’m not the trusting type it has to be said. I leave others alone when I’m in the village and spend the money Lisa gives me in the local shop on food and seeds. Other times I save my money away in a biscuit tin under my bed and keep it for use in winter. My cash is my only currency as I have no accounts and no paperwork of any other kind either. I don’t think my birth was certified either. I guess within the system of law I don’t exist.
When it’s cold and I’m hungry sometimes I wonder if I’d be better with a more normal existence. It only takes the shades of emerald green projected through the leaves of the canopy by the gold light of the sun to change my mind. Maybe I’ll see out the rest of my days in this beautiful, barren existence. Maybe I’ll find a way to leave this home that owns me. Maybe Lisa’s interest will lead to disobedience and draw her here to see what I told her she could not. Maybe I’ll spend my last breath cursing this lonely existence. Maybe I’ll become another relic of this forgotten Eden. The last trace of humanity swept away. Maybe my bones will feed and shelter the creatures of nature as the skeleton of the old house does. Will nature take the earth back and paint the world green after mankind has gone? Maybe.