A/N: I don't own what you recognize. I am trying my hand at modernizing Mansfield Park. This story will be set in a fictional town called Mansfield Park, Michigan, which will be home to the Bertram family, a very wealthy family whose money goes back several generations. Annabel Price, the Fanny character, will be the Bertrams' goddaughter whom they raised for reasons that will be revealed through the plot of the story.
A large part of my inspiration for this story comes from the quotation "I think I've always been taking pictures-even before I had a camera" from the 1995 movie Sabrina.
Title: Through a Different Lens
I haven't been back to my parents' house since I was thirty. This is entirely by choice. When I was thirty, my father and my twin brother, Nicholas, had a vicious argument over something that shouldn't have been a big deal. Unfortunately, Dad turned it into a big deal and successfully offended Nick and the girl he wanted to marry. Nick and Annabel walked out the door and never returned to 1814 Maple Crest Drive again. I followed them out shortly thereafter and never returned until my parents' lawyer contacted me to inform me that my mother had died and I had inherited the house on Maple Crest Drive in Mansfield Park, Michigan.
I'm sixty-five now and I never thought I'd see this house again. Once it was full of life. Children ran up and down its stairs. Even looking around the house, you can tell that it is filled with memories and that someone used to live here. But now it is an empty house filled with furniture. No one lives here. No children climb the slightly ironic oak tree in the front yard. No barefoot little girls have played in the tire swing dangling from the maple tree in the backyard.
Walking into the house was like walking into a flood of memories. I could almost see Maggie and Julia running up and down the stairs yelling at each other and spraying perfume in each other's faces. My mind flashed back to my childhood. My father was never home. My mother and her sister would be in the stuffy living room gossiping and acting more like characters in some silly BBC period drama than two suburban women who had married wealthy men who didn't mind silly wives. Nick would be either reading a book in the library or playing soccer in the backyard. Maggie and Julia were forever bickering in their disturbing and somewhat symbiotic relationship. And Annabel Price, the mouse that roared and unintentionally (and probably slightly unwillingly) crushed whatever sense of family had ever existed in the dysfunctional Bertram family, would have been either reading a book while sitting on the tire-swing or up in her attic bedroom reading a book that carried her far away from our family.
But in the present, the library was coated with dust, the tire swing looked old and pathetic, and there were no relationships dancing around the Bertram house. So I called Nick and suggested that he and Annie come over to the house to help me figure out what to do with the old monstrosity.
Until Hugo called me and told me to come to the old Maple Crest Drive house, I hadn't even really thought about the old place in almost thirty years. I had walked out of the house the day that my father told me I couldn't marry Annie and hadn't returned since. I was sorry about how I'd left things with my father, but I also knew that if he couldn't accept my wife, then I couldn't accept him.
Walking into the house assaulted my senses. My mother had not been keeping the house in good repair, a fact that saddened but did not surprise me. My father had been dead for fifteen years and after his death, my mother had probably let things slide. That was her way; she never was the type to run things on her own. If she had any help it either came from Aunt Marge or Julia.
Annie flinched as she looked around. "So many memories," she whispered. "It's hard to believe that I used to live here."
I nodded. My hair had long been silver but in front of me hung a picture of myself when my hair had still been dark brown. Looking at the picture of my twenty-five year old self, I found myself touching my hair self-consciously. Annie laughed and swatted my hand away from my hair with a maternal air that I had long come to consider as part of her personality. "I still think you're handsome."
I kissed her cheek. Contrary to what the young may believe, romance can still exist even after thirty years of marriage. "It's just weird to think that that person lived in this house. And I'm a little surprised that my parents still had pictures of me on their walls even after my explosion."
"You are their son. They still loved you. But I highly doubt that they have pictures of me anywhere in this house. I'm probably listed in the family history as the person who destroyed their family."
"After more than thirty years of marriage and four children, you still say that," I said sadly. "And I still disagree with you. I think that we've built a new family out of love rather than blood. And it is a family that I very much love."
She smiled as we walked into the library where Hugo was standing looking over the shelves. "Do you think that Mom had any idea of the value of everything in this room?" he asked as he took a book off the shelf and blew on it.
"It seems unlikely," Annie replied as she picked up a frame from my father's desk. It was a photograph of Hugo and me that Annie had taken when she was about twenty-two and we were twenty-eight. "She could have sold this for a lot of money."
My brother took it from her hands. "An original Annie Price, these go for thousands of dollars now."
Annie laughed. "I know. I am Annie Price-Bertram. I know how much money I earn."
Hugo and I both smiled. I looked at the faces in the picture and my mind drifted back to the way things were when 1814 Maple Crest Drive was a home and not simply a house.
A/N: Please review! Chapter one will be coming soon.