Mist rolled over the hills with the slipping sun, and in the dusty light of the evening, Michael took to his age old rocking chair on the back patio, and smoked his pipe. It’s smoke bellowed and disappeared, one with the mist down the hill. He lived alone these days, as he had always done most his life. Retirement suited him some days, while others, he wished he could still play the string and let the troubled world melt away.
He had what anyone would call a privileged life, born and bred into a rich house; his every want and whims tended to, while the luxuries traded with him in return asked him to excel in everything, school or extra curricular. He chose to excel in violin. He was good at it. Soon, all the money in the world brought endless lessons and practices that shielded his mind from the horrors of an abusive and ever absent father, and a mother who drowned her self in keeping busy, socially. No one had time for him.
They still didn’t. Years of shows and accolades later, Michael was as alone as the day he stood there watching his governess walking away as he was too old to need her anymore. As if a child ever stops needing its mother. That was the decision made for him, and days later he too was shipped off to a boarding school.
What had become of the young Michael Sanders, the one who had wanted to run barefoot on the yard, swim in the public pools where his friends went, to cinemas on cheap Tuesdays and eat stall popcorns. He who had wanted to be normal, as if normal was the thing to strive for: the ideal happy family in suburbia with their average kids. That Michael never got the chance, to express his thoughts and desires, and by the time he’d figured it out, he was content in being a violinist who had inherited his family home, courtesy of an accident that took his parents.
Now, Michael Sanders was a seventy year old bachelor who’d just come back from the doctor’s with a bad taste in his mouth, and a heavy soul. He had but a few months to sort his affairs, which for him were just paperworks and trusts. There had been a time when he’d wanted a family of his own; dreamt he’d be loved and mourned when his time came. Alas, that wasn’t meant to be. So he smoked his pipe, one of the finer wretched things in his life.
‘Your time’s coming soon enough,’ he heard a familiar voice speak beside him that evening, and thought himself crazy, or delusional, of both. Hear voices. And now, in the dim of the evening, he swore he could see her, wrinkled and gathered in her chair just like she used to be when he’d visit her at the nursing home. ‘Why do you punish yourself, Michael?’
Micheal took a long drag from his pipe and watched the old woman winch. ‘What else have I got to do with my time?’ He turned to the phantom next to him. ‘You would have loved this place.’
‘I do love this place,’ Governess Kitty said. ‘Do you just wish you could turn back time and do it all over again?’
‘So you could do things differently. Make something of your life, instead of this!’ Her waif-like hand waved his way.
‘I did do something with my life.’
‘Where are the wife and the kids you used to talk about? The Levis and the Romeos? You sold yourself out. This is not the Michael I knew.’
‘What did you want from me?’
The hills silently stared back at him, like strange silhouettes in the distance. ‘Go back and do it again. And do it right this time.’
When darkness fell completely, all that remained was the ghostly voice and a strange longing in Michael’s heart. What if he could? If only he could? Would he chase Celeste? Would he leave the music world behind and go into research, like he’d always wanted? Would he have children he named about figures that fought for their dreams? So many regrets.
Michael stubbed out his pipe and went inside. His answers weren’t on the hills. He was a lonely old man at the end staring at the reflection he barely recognized. Where had things gone wrong? So very wrong?
‘Guess I’ll never know.’ He muttered into the darkness after turning out his light.