Mairhaven---Part the First
"Hello. You must be Alexandra. I am your Uncle Maximos. Your father Julius is my brother. I haven't spoken to him in so long, and he never visits...my wife will show you to your room."
I felt like a ladybug among black widows. "Hello, Alexandra. I am your Aunt Evelyn. I will show you to your bedroom. Follow me."
Great. My aunt was Morticia. I half-expected Thing to crawl onto her shoulder any minute. I was relieved to find the house wasn't as scary on the inside as it was on the outside. Some rooms were actually quite cheery. However, I tried to remember that this was the daytime, and there was no doubt in my mind that this place would turn nightmarish at night. "This is your room," Aunt Evelyn explained. She spoke with a grim tone of voice, as if someone had just died.
The room was welcoming enough, and I was grateful to not be having to sleep in a casket. After Aunt Evelyn had left and I had unpacked, I decided to do some exploring. The house was a rather large house, after all.
I stepped outside my room and spotted a staircase leading upstairs. To where? An attic, probably. It intrigued me nonetheless. I was about to go up... ...when I was stopped.
"Don't go up there." These words came from a boy who looked about my age.
"Why? And who are you?"
"Jason," the boy said simply. "You must be my cousin, Alexandra."
"You can call me Alex." "Okay...Alex. Well, anyway, don't go up there. You're not allowed."
"Why? What's up there? A ghost?"
Jason's face twitched. "No. There's no ghost. You just can't go up there."
His demeanor was friendly, so I didn't push it. "Okay. So...what is there to do around here?"
Jason shrugged casually. "I dunno. Stuff. I don't really do much...just...y'know...hang out." Jason's idea of "hanging out" was standing by the pond in front of the house and staring at the water.
"So...this is what you do all day?"
"No. I do school, too, the rest of the year. Mom homeschools me. Dad works as a stockbroker."
"Really? I would've thought he was a mortician..." "So...are you an only child?"
Jason hesitated. "No."
"Really? Well, where's my other cousin? Or cousins?"
Jason didn't answer. Instead, he turned and headed back to the house. Jason refused to speak to me when I followed him back to the house, so I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the house while it was still daylight.
In one of the rooms, I stumbled upon a black Persian cat.
"Hello, there! Aren't you a cute kitty? Black, that figures...you fit in perfectly with this family."
The cat blinked his eyes at me knowingly. He couldn't be bothered to stay, however, and promptly trotted off. Meanwhile, I became distracted with a very old-fashioned piano on the other side of the room. I sat down at it, but with barely any piano knowledge, the best I could do was plunk a few keys. My fingers became dusty as I did so. Apparently, the piano hadn't been played for a long time. I left the room with the piano and found myself in the library where I had been met by Aunt Evelyn earlier. It was filled with shelves of books that all looked either uninteresting or ancient. Or both. The room failed to hold my interest and I moved on again. I made my way upstairs and faced the second staircase again. What was on the third floor? Now that I had been forbidden to go up there, I was even more intrigued. Something was up there. Something my creepy relatives didn't want me to see. But what? My explorations were interrupted by the call of my aunt to come eat dinner. As she served Uncle Maximos, Jason, and me hot plates of spaghetti, I couldn't help but ask a burning question of mine.
"What is the history of this place?" I asked suddenly. Everyone stopped and stared at me.
"That's a very...broad question, Alexandra," Uncle Maximos observed as he folded his hands together in front of himself. "I know...I'm just curious." It was genuine curiousity. For such an interesting place, Mairhaven no doubt had an interesting history. "Well, curiousity can be a good thing...to an extent. But I'm glad you asked. There's quite an interesting history behind this house."
Jason scooted closer to his father so as to hear every word he said, and Aunt Evelyn leaned forward with anticipation, as if they hadn't all heard it before. "You see, Alexandra, this house was built a very long time ago. Its entire history is not known, but in 1910, when he was 26, your great-grandfather Marwood Mair had this house refurbished from its worn, decrepit state. He began living in this house the following year, and stayed until the day he died, in 1966 at the age of 82."
"Wow...he lived in this house a long time, then." "So he did. A very long time. Never moved, never even traveled away from it once. Not overnight, at least. He died when I was just four years old, so I don't remember him at all. My father Euxenio took me to see him often. He loved children."
"What's with all the odd names?" I asked, trying not to sound rude.
"They're Greek. It is a Mair tradition to give your child a Greek name, although 'Marwood' is English." "So...all of us blood Mairs have Greek names?"
"Yes. My name is more unusual than yours or Jason's. Or your sister Eleanora's."
"I'm glad. No offense, but I wouldn't like to be called 'Maximos.' Or even 'Marwood.'"
Uncle Maximos chuckled. "They get stranger. My aunt's name was Menodoria."
My eyes widened and Uncle Maximos laughed harder. "Yes, be grateful your parents tried to find tamer Greek names. Aunt Evelyn and I did the same when we named our children..."
He paused, staring at his plate. Then he jerked his head up as if he had just woken up.
"Lovely weather today, don't you agree, Evelyn?" he said in a strained voice.
Aunt Evelyn gave a curt nod, but continued to stare intently at her lap. After dinner, I headed upstairs, yawning, to get ready for bed. At the top of the stairs, I noticed Aunt Evelyn heading up the second staircase carrying a plate of spaghetti. For whom? Or what? As I climbed into bed, I thought about everything that had happened that day. The mysterious third floor. The black cat that spent most of its time making itself scarce. The unusual ending to the conversation at dinner. The intriguing founder of Mairhaven. Uncle Maximos may have given me the history of Mairhaven, but I still didn't know all its secrets yet. And I was determined to find out.
To be continued...
Mairhaven---Part the First
Mar 24, 2007 by TabbyDragon
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