Standing on the sidewalk looking up at the third-floor dormers and tower beside them, Angela knew this was where she was meant to be.
“Ready?” the estate agent asked, smiling. “This house has 5 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, separate dining room, and 3 full baths—one on each floor. The attic can be used for storage or as another bedroom if you want.”
Walking up the stairs leading to the front wrap-around porch, the hair on Angela’s arms raised causing her to shiver slightly. She knew this feeling. Hope it’s not like last time, she thought, not wanting to live through those six months of hell again.
“Everything is original to the house,” the estate agent began as they started their walk-thru. “Follow me and I’ll show you the best parts of the house. Mrs. Fairbanks kept an immaculate house while she was alive.”
Thirty minutes later, after they had seen everything except for the attic and basement, the estate agent began making her pitch.
“No need for that,” Angela interrupted. “I’ll take it.”
“Of course,” she replied ecstatically. “Why wouldn’t I at this price?”
“I just—” the estate agent began. “Let’s go back to my office and we’ll get the papers drawn up.”
When Angela returned to her small apartment on the backside of a 9-story walk-up after signing the papers for her new home, Angela couldn’t shake the feeling that her life was about to change.
“For better or worse, we will set a new course,” she told herself in the hallway mirror pushing the hair out of her eyes.
Each night after work she would walk past her new house and look up from the sidewalk, dreaming of the day she can finally move in. For the next week she collected boxes from the bodega down on the corner and packed one box at a time inspecting each item and determining if she really needed it or wanted it in her new home.
“Oh, Mom,” she began while looking through an old photo album from their trip to Yellowstone. “You should see my new place. It’s huge! It’s beautiful! And most of all, I don’t think he’ll be there.”
I remember this one, she thought, we waited over two hours for Castle to erupt. We passed the time by telling stories and making fun of all the people who walked past and gave up because ‘the park forgot to turn it in’.
“You’ll be there with me too, won’t you?” she asked the picture in the obituary that went into the box last, so that it would be the first thing she saw when she unpacked her good memories.
At long last, move in day arrived. Angela’s friends were roped into helping her lug boxes from her old place for the price of a six-pack of beer, and into her new place for the low, low price of a pizza from Francisco’s. It’s amazing how fast two guys will move when beer and pizza are waiting, she thought as the last box arrived in her new living room. When the beer and pizza had disappeared, the three friends began inspecting the new place.
“What’s in the basement?” John asked.
“Don’t know, we didn’t look during the walk-thru.”
“It’s where they hid the bodies,” Andrew joked.
“Shut up. Let’s go look. It’s my house now.”
The door to the basement sat just off the kitchen by the pantry. The old door looked like it might have been original to the house. Screeching as John opened it, the three looked at each other with the same ‘isn’t this how horror movies start’ look.
“Well, go on, John. Men first.”
“Typical feminist,” John muttered under his breath, searching for a light switch.
Creeping down the stairs, huddling for protection from whatever ax murderer may be waiting for them, the gang stood frozen at the bottom of the stairs in disbelief.
“What the hell?” Andrew asked, already knowing the answer.
Flower wallpaper framed the floral carpeted room; while a floral-patterned couch and recliner greeted them. No one except Angela noticed the elderly couple sitting on the couch smiling and gently giggling at the spectacle in front of them.
“It looks like my grandmother’s old house threw up in here!” John exclaimed. “This is going to take some work to get rid of.”
“Nah, it’s fine the way it is.”
“Your choice,” Andrew murmured, shrugging his shoulders. “This would give me nightmares.”
Hours after the boys left, Angela built up the courage to return to the basement.
“Hello, dear,” Mrs. Fairbanks said with a pleasant smile. “I take it you are the new owner?”
“Yeah. Um, is that okay?”
“Why on Earth wouldn’t it be okay?” Mr. Fairbanks asked, motioning her to join them on the couch.
“Well, I…I just can’t go through it again…and he took my mom—”
“Don’t worry dear, we know all about what happened.”
“Your mom told us, when she found our house for you.”
“Think back, dear, when did you first see our house?”
Ashley thought for a moment. When did I first see the house, she asked herself, searching through a cloudy memory that she would rather forget. The funeral. I saw it the day of the funeral. Mom.
Mrs. Fairbanks laughed gently, patting Ashley on the shoulder. “Your mom wanted to always take care of you.”
“Yeah, I guess she did.”
I Will Always Love You began playing from Ashley’s pocket. That was her mom’s old ringtone, but now it belonged to John.
“Hey, tired of being alone in that big house yet?”
“Nah, I’m just relaxing with my new roommates. I’ll see you tomorrow at work.”