Every couple of weeks I like to give myself a writing prompt challenge to work on in. This week:
They toured the house with the real estate agent.
“We love it,” he said. “Is there anything we should know about the house’s past?”
The agent looked down.
Should she tell them? Deb felt nervous, her stomach in knots. She could tell the couple adored the house–just look at them, for heavens sake. Wide-eyed first time home buyers: the wife gazing around, Deb knew, picturing where her furniture would go and where she would hang the pictures. Naïve enough not to ask why this beautiful, three-bedroom house in an affluent part of town was still on the market for such a steal.
Deb exhaled. She knew her boss wanted this house sold. She knew she was in for a fat bonus if she sealed the deal. She knew all she had to do was smile a big smile, laugh, and say something like, “All you really need to know is the house’s future–with you in it!” They would sign the papers, money would be transferred, the happy couple would move in. They probably wouldn’t go crazy like the last tenant, right? That could have been any number of official mental illnesses, after all. There were plenty of legitimate, medical reasons why people heard voices and saw fairies who moved the furniture and painted on the walls and–
“Deb?” He interrupted her chain of thought and her head snapped up. She plastered a big grin on her face.
“No,” she said. “In fact, the last resident hated to go.”
This was not exactly a lie. Technically, the last resident had hated to leave–she’d been removed forcibly by the police and put in a mental institution. Deb still remembered the picture in the paper, of the woman clinging to the door frame while two flustered cops pulled on her legs.
But this couple was new to the area, and hadn’t seen the papers or heard the gossip around town. One lady going crazy was newsworthy, of course, but what really got tongues wagging was the fact that it wasn’t one person. It was seven, in fact, over the last decade. Seven residents all with the same story: voices, tables up-turned, small scale fires set in the linen closet. All blamed on the fairies. Pesky problems that turned into full blown disasters, making most people leave feeling a little unnerved and others–like the last resident– lose it completely.
But this woman, she seemed like the kind of person who might get along with fairies, right? She was sort of plump and she smiled all the time and her eyes had a far away look to them, and–
Deb stopped herself. What was she doing, likening this woman to someone who might enjoy fairies? There were no such thing. She pulled herself together.
“The house won’t stay on the market long,” Deb lied. “It’s the perfect place for you.”
The couple looked at each other, smiling dopey smiles, and nodded.
“We’ll take it,” he said, and the wife jumped up and down a little, clapping her hands.
Three weeks later, the papers were signed. At the closing that morning, Deb had shaken their hands, collected her bonus, and got on a plane to somewhere tropical. It had been a stressful month for her, making sure nothing went wrong in the process. During the home inspection, the inspector’s camera kept switching off, and every time he reached for his pen to make a note, he found it in a different pocket. During the final walk-through with the buyers, every time Deb touched a door knob, it fell off. And one of the walls in the master bedroom had inexplicably turned purple.
But the new residents were happy, walking into their house for the first time. Carrying in boxes, watching as the movers brought in all the furniture.
“Do you like it?” He asked his wife when the last of the things were brought in.
“I do,” she said. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him, then grabbed a handful of throw pillows to bring upstairs. She had already made the bed in the master bedroom, smoothing the comforter as she did and enjoying the way the sun streamed in through the window. When she walked back in, she found all the sheets and blankets in a rumpled pile on the floor.
“Well,” she said, and surveyed the room. The linens weren’t the only things amiss. The windows had all been cracked open and the boxes piled in the corner had all been taped shut again.
Without another word she went down to the kitchen and rummaged around in a box. A few minutes later, she set a small bowl of honey and a little pile of sugar on the table. When she passed by an hour later, the honey and sugar were gone. In it’s place were flowers.
Deb had been right about the buyer. She was the sort who understood fairies. It looked like the house–and its inhabitants–had finally met their match.