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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest · #1894626
For a contest entitled New Home
New Home

It was the first evening of fall. This was my favorite time of the year. And as I sat in the car driven by the realtor, I couldn’t help but think of all of the work I would need to do if I moved. I would go far beyond my budget. Things would have to be fixed in the house if it was not taken care of by the previous owner. I would also be totally alone. There would be no landlord to get things fixed. Big deal. My present landlord took two weeks to fix a leak.
I could tell that the realtor was getting antsy because we had driven all over this area and had looked at five houses already. Nothing seemed right. I just couldn’t get the good vibes that I was hoping to get.
“Well Shirley, I know that you must be tired,” said Rhonda the USA Happy Home Realtor. “I see that this house just recently came on to our list. It was owned by a little old lady who had to go to a nursing home.”
I just cringed with the thought that some dear old lady, who might have been someone’s grandmother, was forced to leave her home. The outside lawn needed mowing. Limbs were scattered all over from the storm we had last night. And there was a gray cat sitting in the flower bed. He looked like he could use a nice bowl of food.
I decided that I needed to stretch my legs a little so I agreed to get out and look at it. As I walked closer, I noticed that there were a few cracks in the outside bricks. Experience told me that there might be a foundation repair bill in someone’s future.
The realtor got the key out of the lock box and turned on the lights that were near the front door. The air that came out the door from inside seemed a little musty. Our footsteps were muffled by old carpet that was on all of the floors.
“I guess the last realtor must have turned off the AC.” Rhonda responded as she looked all around for other light switches and the AC control. She walked down the hall and turned on a switch that she assumed was for the AC. The air came on and more musty air with a little dirt smell enveloped us.
I walked into what I guessed was the living room. The ceiling was high and had a beam on it. But what attracted me was what I saw through the sliding glass door. There was the back yard that had grass that was a beautiful green. I opened the door and saw a patio with a nice roof. As I went further into the yard I saw that it was filled with beautiful rose bushes that were starting to wilt. Each bush seemed to say, “Oh I would love some water please!” I couldn’t help thinking of the plant nursery that my grandparents had. I used to visit them for a couple of weeks each summer and help them with the plants.
I felt a nice breeze flow through the yard. The leaves on the tree seemed to rustle a sweet melody to my ears. The sun was going down and its light was beginning to fade away. I seemed to be getting that notion that could only be the beginning of the ‘I must have this’ process.
I walked back into the house and the realtor came out of the back bedroom. She tried her best to put on the salesman smile.
“Well I know that we have been at this for a couple of hours, but I think this house might be just for you.”
I didn’t want to appear overanxious so I walked through the three bedrooms and the kitchen area. There were not major defects in the house, but it would take time and money to make the house just right. Again I thought of my budget and what sacrifices I would have to do to get this or any other house that needed fixing up.
“How much?” I asked as calmly as I could.
“You know, we set a price for top limit and I see that this is above your limit.” she answered nicely.
“How much over?”
“Well, about $30,000.” replied Rhonda with a now irritating smile.
My heart sank. There was no way that my paltry teacher’s salary could pay mortgage, electricity, insurance and God knew what else I had to pay for. But instead of saying a definite “No.” I said “Let me think about it.”
We both knew that there was not much either of us could say because it was time for me to go back to my apartment. I was just lucky that the next day was a Saturday and that I could sleep late.
I did not get the best night’s sleep. It does wonders for anyone when you have neighbors who play their music at top level most of the night, and then start arguing after they turn it off. After that, the upstairs apartment tenant decided to vacuum her bedroom that was directly above mine at 6:30 AM. The coup the gras was having children run through the courtyard at 7:30 AM with their fresh, loud voices.
But since I was awake, I tried to review the houses that I had seen on my personal leave day. Each house was nice. One was in a bad neighborhood. The next house had been close to a bowling alley. And the others didn’t seem right. And then there was the last house that remained in my mind. Location was pretty good. It had enough space. And the back yard was so lovely.
I decided to drive by the house that had the lovely back yard. This time I could think about it and not feel the pressure that I would have if I was sitting with a realtor.
I drove to the street and saw another car in front of the house. Just leaving was a couple and a male realtor. Everyone had a pleasant smile on their faces. The young couple looked at each other in a way that suggested that they too had to think about if this was the right house for them. They walked down the sidewalk hand in hand and said a few words to the realtor. I could only see the word ‘nice’ on the lady’s lips. They all got into the realtor’s big car and drove off.
My stomach turned and in my heart I felt an increase in its beats. The vibe I was looking for came out loud and clear. I had to have this house.
I drove home and looked for the card my realtor gave me. I called and got her voice mail. The only thing I could do would be to wait for her return call.
“Shirley! Got your message.” said Rhonda. “I am showing some houses this morning and can fit you in this afternoon. Ok?”
“Sure. What time?”
“Let’s make it 2:00.” She responded. “Oh the last house we saw got a contract last night. Too bad. It would have been nice, but I remembered you had a budget. See you later.”
If anything, my psyche kicked in, “Told you to take it!”
I moped around the house and tried to complete lesson plans for the next week. At 2:00 Rhonda and I drove to three more houses and then stopped for the day. Rhonda’s daughter had a ballet recital and she had promised that she would not miss this one.
School on Monday was a welcome distraction for me from house hunting. I could not work and think about houses with the special children I had until it was time for the unit on Indian houses. Then my mind went back to the house I saw the Friday before.
Late Monday evening, I got a call from Rhonda, who sounded pretty excited. “You will never believe it!” Rhonda sounded as if she had just run the 100 meter dash. “The people who put in the contract decided on another one.” There was a pause as if Rhonda was trying to still catch her breath. “And the owners have lowered their price by $20,000!”
I was shaking all over. This time the vibes would not stop the “Take it! Take it! Take it you fool!”
“Rhonda, give me one more look tomorrow and then I think we can swing the deal.”
I could almost hear her jumping up and down. “Okay Shirley, pick you up at 4:00.”
“No, I’ll drive there. Just meet me at the door.” And I hung up.
This time I flew though grading papers and hurried home to drop off my school bag. As a gesture of hope, I picked out a can of cat food from the nearby store, for the grey cat who I hoped would be my good luck piece.
I arrived at the house at 3:50 and started to feed the cat when Rhonda drove up. She had that wonderful smile as she watched me pet the cat and stand up straight to go inside.
This time there was no musty smell. In fact someone must have left an air freshener there because I could detect a lovely scent. The light was on and curtains were drawn.
I now tried to focus on the rooms. I had not noticed before but the curtains appeared to be homemade. They were the pinch pleated kind and made of stiff material. Inside the smaller bedroom closet were a few items that were left behind. In the master bedroom, there was a nice makeup table that had a homemade apron on it. I looked out the window. Outside there was a hose that was left on in the flower bed.
“I came by about an hour ago to water the roses. It has not rained lately and you don’t want the roses to die.” mentioned Rhonda. She went outside and over the facet to turn it off.
We talked for a few minutes and in my mind the doubt seemed to melt away. This would be my first real home. All I needed would be to put my resources together, juggle some money in some accounts and tap into the kindness of dear old mother for an initial payment loan. I was a little apprehensive but felt that my future was going to be here. And to make it even better, I already had my first pet, Mr. Jackson, the grey cat.
Like a simple jigsaw puzzle, everything fit together nicely and in a couple of weeks, I was signing the papers for my home. Everyone at the closing meeting smiled and then the moment came when I got my keys. I felt a little twitch of my nerves, but soon, I had shifted into the mode for packing and moving. This was going to be the real work.
I moved in on a cool, clear morning. After the last minute problems were resolved, I stood in the middle of my living room and felt exhausted but relieved. All around me were boxes that needed to be unpacked. Furniture needed to be put in the spaces that I had visualized. And Mr. Jackson, my new cat waited to be fed.
Day by day the little pile of boxes was emptied. Cabinet shelves were filled. And pieces of furniture were put in other places. My bookcases soon became home to Aristotle, Shakespeare, and some light hearted collections of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts in my guest room.
In my living room, I put my grandmother’s special dragon rug that she had left to my mother. My mother gave it to me as a house warming gift. Also in the living room, was a lovely sculpture a goddess that a Greek friend had given to me. My last gift was large picture of a beautiful crystal that was presented to special members of the museum on its opening day.
Finally I had my bedroom to set up. I still had a makeup table that was left behind. I was impressed with all of the sewing the lady had done. In the bedroom there was only one spot that this table seemed right so I decided to move it. As I picked up one end, I thought that I felt something move on the bottom. I did not want the top part, which was glass to fall off, so I turned it around to see what was loose. I moved something that looked like arms and saw a secret drawer. I could not even guess what would be left behind.
I moved each arm to the side and slowly pulled out the drawer. Inside there was something that looked like a book. I gently lifted it out and noticed that it was a diary. I definitely wanted to read it but hesitated because it really belonged to the lady. I put it back and closed the drawer. I never had been so curious in all of my life.
I completed my top three things to do on my list and decided to take a break. I just could not wait any longer so I called Rhonda and explained what I found. She said that she would try to contact the lady’s nearest relative who had a power of attorney.
That evening as I finished putting my last few towels and linen in the closet Rhonda called me back.
“Hello Shirley. I talked to her niece and she lives all the way in the east coast. The lady and the girl were not very close. She said to throw it away since it can’t have anything in it that would interest her. Everything left in the house is yours.”
I was surprised that someone would not want to get closer to a family member but thanked Rhonda anyway. I walked into my bedroom and retrieved the diary that seemed to be a document of some lady’s life. I sat down on my bed and opened the book. The ink on the pages was about to fade. The hand writing was that of a period of time in which writing was a beautiful art.
The first few pages were just a summary of the lady’s late teen years. Sophie was the girl’s name. She was a proud young girl who lived in Europe with a middle class family. Her father was a baker who made the finest pastries in their town.
After about ten pages the story became one of her friendship with a young boy who was a different class and religion. She poured out her passionate love for this young man. She accounted the small gifts of flowers, drawings, and a scarf that she received from him. Her only treasured moments were when they walked to school and occasionally held hands. This ended in the summer when her town was invaded by soldiers who would change the face of history. Her last glimpse of him was as he was being pushed into a truck to be carried away.
Sophie tried to carefully find out where her friend, Otto was taken. She was told that questions resulted in suspicion and being picked up also. She finally heard a teacher say to another teacher that the people who disappeared would not be coming back. The other girls in school whispered names of many of their friends who were gone.
Sophie decided to find out if anyone was going to help keep others from being taken away. This was the day that she started her education to become a spy. She knew that this danger had only one punishment and that was death. But Sophie carried messages that people put in books, flowers in pots and even her father’s bread. Sophie did each mission with the hopes of hearing if Otto was somewhere and alive.
The diary told of a few more months and then it stopped. The last page’s entry was when she and her friends fled their town and went where ever they could to escape. After the last page was a letter to Sophie thanking her for help in this dire time. At the end, the writer had told Sophie that Otto had somehow escaped and was never heard from again. If this was true then Sophie could be happy for him.
I could not believe that I had found something that had been hidden for years and that was a secret from many people. Many people only hear about this time in history or visit museums. My destiny was to read about a brave woman who acted for her country and fellow human beings.
I decided to keep this diary in a safe place. Maybe there would be a day that it would go to a museum. Or maybe that far away relative might want to know about her mother’s sister in law’s life. It might change the way they thought about a little old lady who ended her life in a nursing home. I know I would.
© Copyright 2012 Dorianne (jumacu at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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