Just before the quake, all the horses left the fields. The Winston’s employees had left them put to pasture but they had no idea of knowing they would behave so strangely right before and after the quake. They never came back and only a couple could be retrieved from other farms. People were too busy attending to the wounded to worry about some horses. The family had not had any casualties but their offices in the city had been destroyed and that was devastating enough. They lived on their bank and their bank was now destroyed. They had data and other offices but it would take time to put everything in order again. Everything was in chaos though, and what remained of the building had been looted once and again.
Jonathan and Peter, father and son, had decided to leave for the city immediately, in order to focus on the retrieval of data from their other offices in order to rebuild. So they left Regina and Vivian, mother and daughter, alone with their staff. Only the lifetime gardener and one maid had stayed with them. The rest had, comprehensibly, left their jobs to be with their families. Every single family had at least one casualty so people were just gathering and looking to be together, not to split or fight because someone had been lost. The air was also contaminated with this worry, this sentiment of grief and death. Many said that the city, once a thriving metropolis, was now an enormous graveyard and that all efforts should be concentrated on that, because they needed to go back to normal and that was impossible with that feeling in the air.
The two women waited for days and later weeks. But Jonathan and Peter wouldn’t come back. The last time they had heard of them, they had said that it was better for them to go to their offices in Hong Kong, where all back up was stored in order to put everything back into place but the women had not heard anything from Hong Kong either. They had called them there and the people at the office assured them that no one had come from the main offices to retrieve anything. Regina just asked them to call if they ever knew anything but they never did because her husband and her son would never go there. She was alone with Vivian and they spent the days, wondering and pacing.
Finally, on one rainy day almost a full month after the quake, a man from the police came t tell them the bad news. Apparently Jonathan and Peter had been caught up in a skirmish of victims against security forces. The first ones were complaining because of the poor medical attention that was being paid to the people. It was obvious many officials and firemen were used to help the rich get their things back, so the mobs went for everyone. Father and son were there when it all started and they were two of first victims, only identifies until recently. Regina fainted as was helped by the policeman and Vivian went very white and just couldn’t say a word.
Now, the two women were all alone. They had lived like queens but now their reign was over and they had to face the truth. With the bank collapsing as it was, with former friends becoming their enemies, money started to run out. The house couldn’t stay perfect, as it had always been, forever. So they had to take the difficult decision to sell it, and use part of the money to buy a country house, way smaller than their mansion, in a town nearby. The gardener and the maid had to go too and the day they left, it was the first and only day that the women treated them like family. Finally, one day in autumn, the two women took all that they had not sold with the house, and left their manor forever. Neither of them looked back not even for a final glance at the grand house.
Regina still hoped they could get some of the money back, or at least keep one of their many business. But when people heard they had been left with nothing, they started to pull off from every single business they had ever established. It all went to hell and the women finally realized they had never had any friends but just people that saw them as a trampoline to make their own lives better. They didn’t resent them however, because Regina knew very well that was what her husband had done with many of them too. They were just paying them with the same currency and she couldn’t blame them for that, even at sight of their awful prospects in a house that had nothing on the manor.
It wasn’t the poorest house in the world as they had two floors, a kitchen, two bathrooms and a small patch to grow vegetables. But that was not how they felt. Fortunate would not have been a word either of them would choose to describe their situation. Vivian was especially sensitive, as she had been courted by a very handsome and rich man just weeks before the tragedy. And now, of course, he had disappeared in thin air and she knew she would never again have such an opportunity to make her life better. Now, no man with prospects would ever look at her and she would be condemned to marry some nobody or to stay alone and bitter.
But they couldn’t just mourn and complain. Because the money they had saved would run out soon if they didn’t find a way to get things in order. So Regina decided to start growing several types of vegetables in the garden and asked Vivian to go around town and look for a proper job, something decent but with a handsome pay. Vivian complied but that was an impossible task to fulfill. There was no work as many had left to the city to rebuild. She walked all over town until she got to a bar and realized they were looking for a new waitress. She knew that it wasn’t a great job or a well paying one but it was the only thing she could find. Besides, she could really use a drink or two.
When Vivian told her mother, Regina wasn’t happy but she wasn’t sad either. She just sighed and realized that life is not what would like it to be and that we just have to do what it’s necessary to keep on moving. She started growing her veggies and in a short time she started selling them to the shops in town. People recognized her and most shut their door on her face, when they knew it was because her and her husband that many of them had lost their life savings. That it was their home, their cursed manor, and the one that had caused all of their misery along the years. No one wanted to help the woman that had been there and did nothing and she felt miserable because they weren’t wrong at all.
Tired and with her feet hurting, she tried one last house and when they opened she realized whose house it was. Because it was her former maid Rosie the one that had opened the door. She didn’t know what to say and was about to run away but Rosie grabbed her hand and made her come in. Regina didn’t know Rosie had a convenience store in her home, were she sold flour, sugar, rice and many other things. She sold vegetables two and, without any further talking, she decided to buy the vegetables Regina had brought with her. The former rich woman could not believe her ears and she was even more surprised when Rosie told her they would need veggies very often as many people in town were being hosts of their city relatives who had lost it all.
The two women signed a contract and, before parting, Regina hugged Rosie. She told her that she did not understood why she was so kind with her after all those years together but she thanked her with all of her soul. Rosie just answered that she had been a nice person to her and that it wasn’t in her heart to let someone starve simply out of spite. Besides, she had never invested in Jonathan’s bank, so she hadn’t lost any money. Regina laughed at that and discovered on the way home that it was the first time in many months that she laughed. The only people that could do that were her family and now she only had Vivian.
They had never had the best mother-daughter relationship, but now someone could have confused them with sisters or best friends. Vivian would tell her mother everything she had seen or heard at the bar and Regina would tell her daughter about all the anecdotes and jokes she learned with Rosie when working with her, because Rosie had also realized that, in their mutual benefit, they needed a larger patch of dirt to grow the goods, so she was helping Regina to make that a reality. Vivian was doing great at work and was respected and adored by her employer, an old man that had seen more of life than he wanted and realized he only needed a glass of beer in one hand and his wife Ellie in the other.
Eventually, mother and daughter lived a respectable life, full of happiness and enjoyment. They once thought their former life was the only thing that could make them happy but they realized they had only being happy when Jonathan and Peter were there. They still remembered them often and cried for them but not for long because now they had reasons to live and that’s what they were going to do. Just live.