“The house wasn’t the same to her anymore…”
She looked upon it broken shutters and dirt ridden windows with angst. How did this happen? It only had been a few months since she left the city, abandoned everything she cared about. And the house reflected the neglect. No one she knew bothered to keep up with it anymore? She could only imagine what was waiting for her once she got inside. The thought of creatures scurrying across the floor made her skin crawl. What a tragedy. The grass had grown up, filtering through the cracks and crevices of the fence, the wood warped and rotting away. The walkway barely visible; she needed to take a weed eater to this growing jungle. The buzzing of locusts and other bugs hidden in the greenery filled her ears as she tried to unlatch the rusted gate. Once she was successful, she used her feet to clear the sidewalk of debris. Broken tree limbs and empty water bottles she knocked to the left and right of her. She may not be able to handle what’s waiting inside.
Once, she lived in this home. She took care of this house, haunted with too many ghosts of her past. Eventually she got tired of the voices taunting her, packed up her things and disappeared. She entrusted her best friend to at least drive by to make sure no one was squatting inside. Turns out she was lying about the condition of her old home. It wasn’t until the homeowner’s association finally got a hold of her to tell her she had to come back and handle it. They threatened to tear it down; she should have let them but something compelled her to at least try. Maybe the voices were gone by now.
She was startled to see that the Victorian styled door knob was polished and shiny. She hesitated, curious as to why this was the only clean item on the whole entire home. And who would take the time to clean just the door knob. She almost knocked, worried that someone was here but how could that be? The thought motivated her to push the door open. The scent of clean laundry almost sent her running back out the door to the sidewalk. She gulped, trying not to gasp, trying to comprehend what she was seeing. A cognac leather sectional perfectly centered in front of a 60 inch LED television, a throw folded neatly over the arm. Living rooms walls white as snow were decorated with tiny framed mirrors. She used the front door as support. She felt faint from the sheer shock. The stairs were polished. The carpet fresh and so clean you could sleep on it. She almost reached over to see how soft it felt but a sound from the kitchen caught her attention.
“Surprised?” a baritone voice echoed down the hallway.
What could she say? She was too astonished to voice any kind of opinion. How could any of this be possible? And who in the hell was this man in her home?
“Your friend sold me this place. Said that you up and left it to leave some voices behind. Well, are they gone?”
She hadn’t even noticed.
“You can come in here if you like. I’m harmless. Don’t even own a gun. Are you armed? Hell, I wouldn’t be mad if you were. You come here to find out that this place isn’t abandoned at all and that a strange man has moved in at made it his own…you know what? I’ll just come to you.”
She scrambled, suddenly alert, hands fidgeting at the door handle to escape. She didn’t want to see this man, didn’t want to witness that someone else made this home. She needed to leave but it was too late.
“Oh no don’t go. Shit I’ve scared you senseless. I mean I didn’t expect you just to just pop up here. She was supposed to be interfering with the homeowner’s association and…”
She quickly turned towards him, feeling him reach out to touch her elbow. He jerked his hand away, regretting the notion. First thing she noticed about him was how much taller he was than she. If she had to guess, he was about 6’5. Second, he had the softest brown eyes she had ever seen. He wore khaki dress pants and a white t-shirt. No shoes. No socks. Very clean feet. A perfect shade of brown skin. Very clean and flawless face as if he wore makeup. How did he end up here?
“Uh…” she coughed to clear her throat, “what the hell?”
He looks at the floor with laughter, flashing the shiniest, whitest smile. “Yeah I haven’t worked out in the yard yet. I was still gathering materials to tackle that…insanity…out there. Shits crazy right? I don’t even know where to begin.”
He waves his hands around as he tries to find the words to explain the yard. She looks upon him in amazement. She needed so many answers. She needed to punch her friend in the face for keeping this from her. She glanced over the living room once again, loving the look, that something so modern came from him. He follows her gaze slowly, opens his mouth, ready to explain but before he could mutter a word, a stream of questions,
“Who are you? How the hell did you move into my house? What did my friend actually tell you prior to you moving all your shit? Did you really expect me not to return? Did you not think this could possibly be a dick move on your part?”
Soft brown eyes blink. “Well I’m Patrick. I know you’re Bre, Veronica did tell me that. She also told me that you left the house under her care and when she couldn’t take care of it anymore, she told me I could. It is a beautiful place I couldn’t let it go to shit. I threw her a few grand before I moved in. She made it seem like you knew something about it but by your actions…I guess not.”
He fixed his mouth to say something else but shut it. She could see he felt shitty about it all but he didn’t know what else to do or say. Maybe if she didn’t stand like a frightened doe, he would try to make her feel at ease a little bit. Awkwardly they stood in the entry way, avoiding eye contact. Now she was feeling shitty for her behavior towards him. It wasn’t his fault that she wasn’t truly filled in on what was going on. Besides, she left this place to rot. He wasn’t going to allow it. She should show him some appreciation for that at least. She lightly pushed herself from off the door and relaxed her shoulders.
“Patrick? I’m sorry. I – I just don’t know how to respond to all of this and it’s not your fault. Uh the place? It looks wonderful I expected the worst from outside but when I walked in, it took my breath away. All of it I mean it’s really beautiful…”
She trailed off as she saw him beam from the compliments. She also couldn’t get over how beautiful he was. Her thoughts began to wonder about his marital status or if he had a family. Who thought she would come here and discover all of this, discover him?
“I’ll give you grand tour.” He escorted her into the living room, after removing her shoes at the door, and told her of his journey to his new home.