Ryan stood listening to Kate as she tried to make sense of the broken mirror on the floor.
“I have no idea how this happened.” Said Kate.
“I was the last one in here yesterday and look, the hook is still fixed to the wall. This is really strange.” She sounded both embarrassed and annoyed about the situation. Kate Donovan was the local estate agent and had been trying to sell this particular piece of property since the death of its previous owner, Harry McDermott. They were stood in the spacious lounge room of the cottage, which was empty apart from a few pieces of furniture.
“Don’t worry about it Kate, I’m sure there is a perfectly simple explanation for this.” He replied in his polite neutral accent. Ryan had been born in Ireland and grew up there until he was eighteen years old. He decided then to make the most of his life and go travelling. It was something he had always wanted to do, but being an only child and having the responsibilities he had, it was impossible for him to do just that. He never thought he would return to the island to live again, not after the circumstances in which he left. For so many years he had felt trapped and restrained by one person, his father. Ryan had lost his mother when he was eleven to cancer, and was left to care for his frail pitiful father. Ryan’s father was for the most part of his childhood a strong and able man but after his accident he became absorbed in self-pity and lost all hope in himself and the world. His father worked the family farm all his life and when his own parents had died, Bill, Ryan’s father, was left it in their will. One day while he was tending to the cows, one of them kicked him so hard in his groin area it left him paralysed form the waist down. Ryan was only eight when this happened and too young to work the farm. Bill got help for a while but it all went wrong for him so he decided to sell the farm and move to a cottage in the area. He became depressed and drank a lot, and there was nothing Ryan or his mother could do to help him. He had passed the point of no return when Ryan’s mother passed away and was lost to himself and the world. When Ryan’s mother died, he was left with the responsibility of taking care of his father. Bill’s sister would call a few times a week to check on them, but she too had tried everything for her father but realised it was a futile task and had accepted there was no point trying to help him as he was beyond that. However he felt about his own life, she was always worried about her father’s well-being.
Ryan would hear her tell him:
“He's a very selfish man. May the lord have mercy on his soul! You are a good lad Ryan, you do not deserve this kind of life.” And then she would be gone before Ryan could respond and ask her what he had always wanted to ask: To be taken from there and live with another family or with her. He never got the chance. Ryan’s father drank himself to his grave at the youthful age of thirty-four. Ryan was sixteen and still attending secondary school. He decided he would complete his studies, then go travelling. Since he left Ireland all those years ago, he had only returned a few times. It felt strange for him to be standing in the living room of this cottage in Ireland, and he thinking about buying it.
“So Ryan that’s it, what do you think?” Kate asked. She handed him a sheet of paper that had all the details of the property on it, and also had her card attached.
“If you have any further queries about the place, just call me. My numbers are on the card attached to the sheet of paper I gave you.”
“Thanks Kate. I do like it. It's exactly what I'm looking for. It will be perfect for my work.” Ryan answered and did not recognise he was talking as if he had decided to buy the place, but subconsciously he had.
“What work would that be Ryan?” Kate had to ask.
“I’m a writer Kate, but only just. My first book was only published last year. I'm working on my second book which is due in a few months.” Ryan told her, and she looked at him as if to say Wow or something like that. Whatever she wanted to say, Ryan knew by the look on her face that she was impressed. She asked him where he was from, as she could not tell from his accent, or lack of one.
“I’m Irish. Born and raised. I left here when I was eighteen, so that may account for the lack of an accent. I’ve travelled since then and I never really stayed anywhere long enough to pick one up.” He told her.
“I’ve always wanted to travel but never really got the chance to make the break. I went into real estate as soon as I finished university, and then started my own business a few years ago. I've been able to see a few cool places though when I’ve gone on holiday, but I guess it’s not the same eh?” She said with a little jealousy in her voice.
“Of course it is. Always remember it could be a lot worse.” With that Kate smiled and nodded at Ryan and they walked to the front entrance of the cottage.
“Thanks again Kate for showing me around, I will be in touch as soon as I've decided.” Before Kate could respond a dog ran passed them and into the cottage.
“Hey.” Kate shouted after the dog but it had vanished from sight.
“Damn it.” She said then looked at Ryan in embarrassment for saying it.
“Want me to come in with you?” Ryan asked her.
“Would you mind Ryan, I’m not too fond of dogs myself, bitten by one as a child.” She said and showed him the scar on her arm to prove it.
“Wait here and I’ll go get it.” Ryan told her and went in search of the dog. He entered the cottage again and walked down the corridor towards the living room, whistling as he went and calling out to the dog.
“Here boy: or girl. Here.” He called out but he could not hear anything. He walked into the living room and there sat on the floor by the broken mirror was the dog. It wagged its tail when it saw Ryan and Ryan saw it was a he. Ryan patted his leg and called the dog again, but it refused to move. Instead he looked down at the broken glass on the floor and began to cry.
“Hey what’s up fella?” Ryan asked with compassion in his voice. Ryan loved animals, especially dogs but never had one of his own. Whilst away travelling he had decided that if one day should he settle down and buy a house, he would then get himself a dog. The dog remained looking at the mirror crying. Ryan approached with care and knelt down beside him then placed his hand on the dog’s head.
“Hey fella what’s eating you then? Why so sad?” Ryan spoke to the dog as if it were a person. The dog looked up at Ryan but not at him. His gaze was fixed behind him and suddenly the dog stood up and wagged his tail so fast that Ryan thought it might fall off. Ryan thought Kate might have ventured in and that was who the dog was wagging his tail at. When Ryan turned and looked behind him there was no one else in the room that he could see. Ryan felt a chill and wondered what the dog was looking at so intensely.
“What is it fella, what do you see?” Ryan asked.
“Are you ok in there Ryan, do you need help?” Kate shouted from the front door sounding concerned.
“No it’s all ok, I think.” Ryan told her then stood up from his kneeling position. He patted the dog’s head again and then his back. The dog seemed to like it. There was no collar on the dog so Ryan could not tell if someone owned him or not.
“Come on fella, let’s get out of here.” Ryan spoke to the four-legged creature that seemed so happy and sad all at once. Just then the dog took off out of the room and up the corridor towards the front entrance.
“He’s coming your way Kate.” Ryan called out to her and hoped she might stand out of the way in time. Ryan looked around the room again before leaving. He walked towards the front entrance and just before the last doorway he came to a sudden stop.
“Are you ok Ryan, what’s up?” Kate asked him as he was not far from where she stood. Ryan just stood there and seemed to be frozen to the spot. He felt a warm air around him and could smell the aroma of pipe weed.
“What is it?” Kate asked again feeling somewhat afraid now at what she was seeing in front of her.
“I don’t know.” Ryan replied.
“I can feel warm air here and smell pipe weed, can you?” He asked the scared looking young lady stood in the open doorway in front of him.
“I don’t think so Ryan. Come on lets go.” She told him and stood aside to let him pass her.
“Did the dog come out?” He asked her and she told him that he had. With the door locked behind them they both walked towards their cars. Ryan looked back at the cottage for a moment, then thanked Kate again and said he would call her. They said their goodbyes and got into their cars. Kate was the first to drive off. It took Ryan a few minutes more to get moving as he was still staring at the cottage wondering what had just happened and where had the dog disappeared to? He began to drive off slowly, then headed back toward the town. He wondered about the cottage and if he should buy it. He was looking forward to having a place where he could escape life and write his books. It was because of his first book that he was able to buy a place here and even though he had a house in England, it just did not give him that escape he needed to write. He was beginning to feel the pressure now as he was working to a deadline for his current book. It was a sequel to his first book which was under negotiations to be made into a film but the movie people wanted to read the sequel before making a decision. This is why he had to get the manuscript completed, and only had three months. He had chosen Ireland as it had what he needed, and despite all that happened in his past there, he missed it.
“Hello Ryan. Well how did it go for you?” Angela asked him as he entered the guest-house. Angela was the proprietor and extremely inquisitive, but friendly and kind all the same.
“Very well Angela thank you. It's a lovely property and ideal for my work.” Angela had extracted as much information from Ryan since he had arrived the previous day.
“So do you think you'll buy it then?” she quizzed Ryan again trying to hide her eagerness to hear what he had decided.
“Not quite sure yet Angela, I have one more to see tomorrow then I'll decide. What do you know about the property I just saw Angela?” Ryan asked hoping she would be able to shed a light on the strange feeling he got up there. But Angela told him she was new to the area in the last six months and was not fully informed about the local area as yet.
“Do you want me find out for you?” she asked eagerly hoping she would have a genuine reason for being nosey.
“No thanks Angela I'll get that information form Kate in the morning when I speak with her, but thank you for asking.” Ryan told her trying not to sound patronising, and succeeded in doing so. Ryan decided he would go back to see the cottage after he had eaten. He ascended to his room, showered and changed then left for the restaurant.
He was so glad he was not well known yet in Ireland, and hoped it could stay that way. He was better known in England, USA and Canada, as it was there that his book had been published and promoted. He had been to all those places for signings and it was in America where the talks were held about the possibility of his book being made into a movie. Ryan was very excited about that prospect, but was also really nervous as he was not used to any of this. He had lived the simple life and only wrote as a hobby. He had never imagined that one day other people would be reading his words. It was whilst on his travels that he was persuaded by two of his friends to try and publish his first book. Reluctantly he sent drafts of his manuscript to publishers and to his surprise after about 5 or six weeks, one of them accepted his proposal and decided to publish his book. Ryan put it down to beginners luck and really thought it would not go anywhere. Yet here he was, sat in a restaurant, deciding weather or not to buy the cottage he had just seen from part of the money he had made from his book. He thought again how lucky he was to have got this chance. He had never set out to become a writer however, he loved what he did. It helped him detach from reality for a moment in time, and allowed him to live his fantasies and dreams. Ryan paid his bill and walked to his car.
He was lost in his thoughts as he drove out of town and towards the cottage. It was about 6 kilometres from town on the west coast of Ireland. Ryan had specifically chosen this area as he loved its serenity and seclusion. It was picturesque and out beautified any other place Ryan had ever been to. He also liked the town, which was really a city, but because of the places Ryan had lived during his travels, it was merely a town in comparison. He was trying to think about how it might feel living in a place like this. He pictured the interior of the cottage again in his mind and tried to imagine having it furnished to his liking. To his surprise it was a lot easier to do this and before he pulled into the drive he had the entire cottage furnished. As he regained his grip on reality, he thought how amazed he was to have been able to do that in his mind. Despite this he was still excited to be back at the cottage and would now see if he could transfer his vision. He disembarked from his car and walked towards the cottage. He still could not understand why the hell it was given that understatement as it was clearly more like a large house. It had two levels: basement and ground level. There was also space in the attic for storage should the occupier have more than the cottage could hold. The design was so unusual that when one looked at it from the exterior, one would think there was one level only to this quaint setting which stood before them. However when one rounded to the rear of the building, it showed its true colours then. There were two turrets, one on each corner and part of the basement had been designed as a pool and lounge area which boasted a wall of tinted glass that could be fully opened. The glass wall was continued up to the ground level to create the wall for the front lounge leading out onto the balcony. One would never suspect these features existed when looking from the front of the cottage. It had fabulous matured gardens and a path which led down to a private beach. Ryan could see himself sat in front of the glass wall in the front lounge writing his books, whilst being able to keep an eye on nature. He was beginning to fall in love. Only he never thought it would be with bricks and mortar though. He stood on the patio area looking out onto the sea. Just then he heard a dog bark which startled him a little. He turned to seek the place the noise came from, but he could not see anything. He walked around the side of the cottage and as he passed the window, which looked into the kitchen, he noticed the dog inside. He stopped and placed his hand on the glass to enable him better visibility. He saw the kitchen was empty so he carried on to the front of the cottage. As he rounded the corner to the front, the dog sat on the steps, which lead up to the front door. He wagged his tail when Ryan came into view. Ryan stopped dead in his tracks and stared at the dog.