There was still something strangely compelling about the gate. The gate itself looked rather desperate, the rusty hinges could hardly bear the weight of the iron frame. As I touched the gate I could feel the desquamate paint which shed on my exposed, delicate skin like a piece of sand paper. I used all my effort to push this gate open, the hinges were creaking and groaning as if never been opened for a long period of time. I managed to fight against the resistance, I jostled and thrust it open until the space made was just about big enough for me to squeeze through to enter the large garden and follow the path, which the gate was guarding.
Recently there had been a series of long, heavy rains, and water stood over the garden. It looked such a dreary place; in the cold twilight the land was gloomy, flat and wet, bare and unsheltered. I felt a raw wind stir and strike my face; it showed no remorse. The smell of still, sodden soil, which got stronger at times and then retreated, lingered in the atmosphere. The grass was at least a foot high, while amongst the tangle of weeds lurked a few battered flowers; they were mainly fox- gloves with the occasional willow herb, that had long since died.
Bundles of shroud-like rags had been dumped sporadically around the garden. It was now late, the moon was swinging round and it’s light was pouring softly over me. I could just see outline of the old, stone cottage. The windows were rattling in their panes like the loose teeth of an ancient crone. Wind whistled and howled as it attempted it forced its way inside the cottage. The cottage appeared to be in serious need of some attention. The guttering had fallen off the wall and had rolled a considerable length down the hill.
Several tiles had completely deserted the roof while many others had been left cracked. Half of the chimney was very near collapse, leaning over at a 45 degree angle. By now my trainers were saturated, they dripped as I lifted my feet and slowed my progress towards the building. When I felt the gelid water surreptitiously creeping up my trousers, I decided to speed up my pace The door’s solid oak exterior was the only thing left looking in reasonable condition. It stood straight and tall, like a guardsman.
The door had received little weathering; despite a few scratches at the bottom it was exactly how I remembered it. The brass knocker was secured tightly against the door I had an urge to tap the door again, one last time, though I knew no one would be in. Surprisingly the door opened with little resistance, and only a small creaking noise was heard. As I stepped inside my heart sank. I was immensely disappointed. I fumbled in the dark for my torch and switched it on everything was layered with a thick coat of dust.
As I rubbed my finger across the window ledge I could feel the soft flakes of dust, mustering on my finger. As I breathed in the dusk gathered up in my lungs, choking me until, I was forced to cough. There was still only one room on the ground floor and not much remained in the cottage, there were several boxes but few boxes remained dry due to the constant dripping caused, by the decay of the roof. The floral wallpaper, which was peeling off, displayed a sense of desolation throughout the room. The red and orange was distinctly vivid, though the blue had turned into a greyish colour.
The patterned carpet was partly ripped off at the corners and was nibbled at the side, probably by some type of rodent festering inside the musty house. To the right of the room was an old dining chair. It was riddled with woodworm and the wood had begun to become warped due to the constant dampness that was subjected to all items in the room, this was only object that remained standing. Apart from a few fragmented pieces of pottery the only other thing of interest, which remained in the room, was the painting.
It was unmistakably Van Gough, I always loved the way he captured the moment the picturesque scene, a peaceful boat rocking on the ocean. You could just make out the title out the painting ‘a summers day’. This was obviously a copy as the whole picture was faded slightly and one corner in particular had a green tinge to it. I glanced to the side to see the old, stone stair steps leading up into the second floor. As I placed one foot on the step I could hear the echo around the cottage. The cold almost penetrated through me as I climbed.
When I reached the top I glanced around, there was thin partition separating two rooms. In the corner an old biscuit tin lay, as I took a closer look I could see the contents were spread around it. I picked up one of the photographs, it was a young women dressed in a fine, silk dress. She was cradling a small baby I could almost hear her singing a gentle lullaby, rocking the baby in her arms. Tears welled up in my eyes, it had been so long since I had stood in this room and although I do not remember the photo I knew so well whom the woman was. It was hard to believe that this was the place I spent my child hood.