The Glass Palace
It was the year of the pandemic. Everything around us seemed to pause and hold its breath. The world stood still and all futures were uncertain.
In February that year the future of our family home was uncertain. With heavy hearts we travelled down to South London to empty the house. The first thing to move was my beautiful piano that my father had bought for me back in the 70s.
As I looked on, my husband and two strong sons pushed and pulled the heavy upright down the steep Victorian steps. It was a bright summer morning when it first came into our new home. I remember it well. Once the piano was in, all the children rushed up the steps with Samantha barking wildly behind.
The house was filled with sunlight and the smell of new paint seemed to be everywhere. our excited voices echoed through those empty rooms. After exploring every inch and getting under our mothers feet, we were sent off to the park with sandwiches and a bottle of squash.
We had gone straight up to the old Crystal Palace ruins with their statues, staircases and terraces, and sat down by one of the huge Sphinxes eating our lunch. To me it was enchanted ground. Anything could happen. The past was tangible. At least to me. The others soon rushed off to the maze down the hill. When I reached the entrance, I stopped to read the familiar riddle on the gate:
“Enter this maze and stand in awe before the days that went before.”
Eventually we all met in the middle, but John who was always impatient was keen to get to the dinosaurs. Little Kathy rushed on and we hurried not wanting to lose sight of her.
As we passed those gates we stepped into another time. It was winter. And there it was gleaming in the sunlight with its crystal walls of glass. I thought I must be dreaming. But there it was, more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. It took my breath away. All of us were speechless.
Amazed we made our way through the crowds all dressed in the most Victorian style, men with hats and canes and women in bright bonnets. How we held on to each other as we were swept up that great staircase onto the upper terrace. I can still hear the Salvation Army band singing Silent Night, as we passed those great doors into the palace.
It was as if we had entered a great cathedral with glorious light bathing everything. From the balconies hung bright coloured flags banners and tapestries. There were white statues everywhere. Green foliage, tall trees and exotic palms fragrant flowers. The sound of birds and rich perfume filled the air. And in the very middle stood a crystal fountain sparkling bright and scattering rainbow rays through the water. It was a magical sight.
As we wandered around looking at the exhibits from every corner of the world and weaving through the many ancient courts that were there. We lost all sense of time. Above the sound of many voices a nightingale sang and I looked up at the great clock that hung there. The time had come for us to go home.
As we stepped out of all this wonder, Doreen said, “I knew one day we would get there”. Snowflakes had begun to fall and the sun was setting.
We hurried down the staircase towards the maze and as the rest ran in I turned to take one last look at the palace. There on one of the terraces stood a very tall Angel looking like beautiful stained glass. In that twilight moment words came to me:
“You will remember this day forever. It will be a comfort and strength in times of trouble.”
And at that moment I felt a great sense of peace and hope for the future.
Now here in the future, the piano reached the last step. I shouted, “Stop! Take the piano back up. We are keeping the house, we are meant to be here. This is our home, this is where we belong.”
Deep down inside I always knew I had lived under the shadow of something great.
“This is a Christmas short story that I wrote. I have just finished a beginners’ writing course recommended by Rest Less. It was amazing. Thank you for the opportunity. One day I hope to write a novel based on my short story. Merry Christmas, and blessings to all.”
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