Afflictions: Part Two

Welcome to Season 3 of Earth 2! Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

Vanessa sat in the back seat of Arte’s car with Anastasia, and watched as the familiar wrought iron gate slowly swung open. It had been a year since she’d been here, and it was definitely bringing back memories. She looked out at the lawn, and saw patches of grass were dead. The fountain wasn’t running, despite the fact that it was summer. There weren’t as many people around as there used to be.

Arte followed the driveway up to the front door of the house, and turned around to look at them. “Alright, give me a call when you’re done. We won’t go too far.”

“Good luck!” Ashley smiled.

“Thanks for the ride.” Vanessa nodded and got out of the car. Her dad had offered to send a car to get them, but the last time she rode in one of her dad’s cars she spent the next two months in a concentration camp, so she passed on the offer.

As they stepped up to the door, it swung open. There stood Gregory, wearing a navy blue suit.

“Thank you for coming.” He bowed his head, then gestured inside. “Please, right this way.”

“Is Jean here?” Vanessa asked. It was a little strange for Gregory to be the one greeting them.

“Jean decided to retire after his medical leave last year. Mr. Smith appointed me as the new head of staff. I hope that my services will not disappoint.”

“Oh, okay…” She was hoping to run into Jean, since it had been a while since she’d seen him. She couldn’t believe that Jean had retired. He was getting older, but he seemed to be in good health when she last saw him. Then again, Gregory did mention medical leave, so that could’ve played a hand in it. She resolved to ask her dad when she saw him.

“Please, right this way.” Gregory gestured inside again.

“Gregory, would you mind if we took a walk around the house first? I don’t know how this talk with my dad is gonna go, so I’d like to get the reminiscing out of the way first.”

“Certainly.” He turned to a man inside and nodded. The man ran off around the corner.

“Thanks.” Vanessa smiled, and led Anastasia inside.

Gregory fell in behind them, as they walked into the foyer. It looked about the same as it had before she left. The rug was clean, and the paintings on the walls were dusted.

“I kinda thought your dad would be the one at the door…” Anastasia whispered to Vanessa.

“Well, I planned ahead for this, and asked him to just wait in the dining room. I wanted a little time beforehand to see the place again, in case I don’t come back.”

Her heart was racing. She took a few deep breaths. She still had time before she would talk to him. There was no need to freak out. She could leave if she wanted to, so it was fine. She felt a hand on her shoulder, and turned to see Anastasia smiling reassuringly.

“Alright.” Vanessa nodded. “Let’s go.”

Vanessa led Anastasia through the halls of the first floor. As she’d suspected based on the appearance of the lawn, the pristine cleanliness ended in the foyer. The staff had cleaned a direct path from the foyer to the sitting room as well as possible, but gave the rest of the house more of a light cleaning. The floors had been vacuumed, but there were still cobwebs in corners, and some of the paintings were covered in dust.

She followed the halls to the back of the house, and stepped out onto the patio. Moss had crept up onto the patio itself, and all of the patio furniture was filthy. She went forwards to see the swimming pool, and saw it was drained. Judging by the appearance, it had a thriving ecosystem in it yesterday, but they hastily scooped it out and moved on. She looked back at Gregory, who was visibly uncomfortable, and decided to move on.

She stopped in at Paul and Jude’s old room, and saw that it had been restored to its default state. She thought about looking in closer, but decided against it. She glanced over to Anastasia before she moved on, and saw her staring into the room with a nostalgic yet sad smile.

“Don’t waste any more of your thoughts on him.” Vanessa took her hand.

Anastasia nodded quietly, then smiled. “You’re right… Let’s move on.”

Vanessa decided to limit their tour to only one more room, to save Gregory any more shame at the state of things. Realistically if her dad had cut back on staff, there wasn’t too much even Jean could’ve done to keep the estate as pristine as it used to be. She made her way upstairs, and towards her old bedroom.

Inside, everything was exactly as she had left it when she moved out. The bed was stripped, the closet and dresser were empty, and everything felt desolate. It was a weird feeling looking at where she lived for so long. It was something like what she used to feel when she’d walk into her mom’s office. A feeling of mourning for the person she used to be, and the life she used to have.

“Well… I think I’ve seen enough.” She nodded, and looked over to Anastasia. “Is there anything else you want to see?”

“I think I’m good. Whenever you’re ready.”

Vanessa took a deep breath and sighed. She’d put this off long enough. It was time to go see her dad.

She turned to Gregory, who was standing in the doorway. “Alright, let’s go.”

“Of course.” He pulled out his phone, and typed something out, before turning back to Vanessa. “Right this way.”

Previous Part ______________ Next Part

Hoo boy! I may have planned my time irresponsibly this week, so here’s an underwhelming blurb!

Photo Credit: Original

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