Chapter 1

Written by: Mrellan

Albert, the handy man, turned at the sound of the powder room door opening and was startled by the pregnant young woman’s scream. He caught as she fell. Gently picking her up, he carried her outside and laid her on the white wicker loveseat on the porch.

A cool breeze blew across the porch and rustled the leaves of the big elm tree in the front yard. It was easy to imagine summer days, glasses of lemonade, and dainty teacakes served to gentile ladies in decades past.

“Gretchen, are you okay?” asked Matt. His love and concern were obvious as he patted her hand.

Albert looked on from the end of the loveseat.

Gretchen felt very foolish. She explained how she thought Albert was a ghost. “I guess a ghost wouldn’t have carried me outside though,” she said with a wry smile.

After a few minutes rest, Gretchen felt well enough to have Matt give her a grand tour.

“This house was very special to me as a child,” Matt explained, “Old Mrs. Whitaker became Gran Whitaker to me.”

Every day he rode his bicycle past her house on his way home from school and she often waved to him then invited him to have a cookie and cup of chocolate. She was a tiny woman who wore long black dresses and knitted shawls and a smile and warm hug that cheered his heart.

Each room had a story. The living room with its grand furniture upholstered in red silk brocade and large Persian rug covering the polished wood floor was where a huge Christmas tree stood for those passing to see through the big bay window.

An ancient wood stove was monarch of the kitchen. He pointed to a chair in the corner beside the stove. “I sat there many afternoons in winter and got warm before I rode the rest of the way home.”

The frame of a big oak four-poster bed still sat in the master bedroom. It didn’t take much imagination to see it adorned with handmade quilts and pillows over a thick feather mattress. Between the bedroom and the bath was a small dressing room, an old-fashioned black dress, an apron, and a knitted shawl hung on brass hooks on the wall. It would be a perfect nursery until the baby was old enough for its own room. Gretchen clasped her hands to her chest and her eyes glowed as she pressed herself into Matt while pointing to the three other rooms on the second floor - perfect for the children to come.

She wrapped her arms around Matt. ‘It’s perfect,’ she breathed.

 Jen, the realtor, caught her enthusiasm and smiled.

In the garage there was a large baby cradle. Gretchen ran to it and brushed off the cobwebs as she declared it was a sign that the house belonged to them.

As they said their good-byes Matt promised the realtor he would make an offer before the office closed that day.

Mrellan Harahan (USA)

Comments

I think this serial has started really well with a good opening chapter that looks at the characters and starts to explore their feelings. There is also an indication of atmosphere and tension to come. Who knows which way this story will progress. A nice job Mrellan.
I'm confused. First it's the new guy Albert's story, then Gretchen takes over and then we're deep in Matt's past. And then finally, after an intro where she desperately doesn't want to be in the house at all, Gretchen falls in love with it? I know pregnant women are hormonal - but what?
I thought, according to the agent, that Gretchen was waiting for Matt before she went inside to veiw the house. I didn't think the chapter was that confusing. At least there are a couple of threads for the next writer to pick up and carry on.
I have to agree with Annette on the confusion regarding Gretchen's feelings. In the preface, she clearly has feelings of dread, that suddenly turn to amour. There's only the faintest suggestion that her feelings of foolishness or perhaps Matt's presence may be the cause of this very abrupt change. Also, Gretchen's eyes 'glowed'? Why? I felt this was an odd word to use. However, there are a number of threads available to the next author.