Stylish blonde hair. Dull green eyes. Manicured hands usher a couple into a small house.
“So, this is it. It’s a great neighborhood. And . . . I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but there are a few great schools within a five-mile radius. A great family neighborhood.”
The young couple blush then laugh.
“Oh, it’ll be a few years yet,” the man says.
“Okay then,” the realtor smiles. “As you know it’s a two bedroom, two bath. That fireplace works fantastically, by the way. In fact, the last owners had me over for dinner a while back and… well it was amazing. Just fantastic ambiance. The smell of the fire. The warmth. Let me know if you have any questions.”
The couple look at each other then the realtor. “No,” they say in unison.
“Maybe we’ll just take a walk around, if that’s alright?” The woman says.
The realtor nods.
A spacious kitchen. Modern. Well-lit. Windows with plastic plants hanging down. The sun reflecting off each one.
“I like it.”
“I love it. Online. Now here. I love it. The minute we walked in the door. I just loved it. I fell in love.”
He laughs. “I knew you would. I think I love it too. We should make an offer. I mean, we should look at everything. We should be smart. But, I think, barring a ghost. A ghoul of some sort. We should make an offer.”
“Yeah. You’re right though. Slow. Let’s take it slow. Be reasonable. Responsible. It’s a big thing you know. I mean. We haven’t even really looked around yet.”
Master bedroom. New hardwood floor bordering newer carpet. The center elevated for showcasing a large bed. High ceilings. Door to patio. Trees being born.
“It’s impossible. It’s impossible to walk away from this. We’ve looked at how many?”
“Fifteen at least. And this step to the bed. I’ve had dreams about this. I mean, I’ve always wanted something like this. You have to be my rock. Be a stone. I’m becoming unreasonable.”
They hugged. Then kissed. Nearly a moment of passion. A crime of excitement.
Enter the realtor.
“So, you like it, don’t you?”
“It’s that obvious.”
“I’ve been doing this a while. Sometimes, I’ll be honest, sometimes I try and sell these places. I try as hard as I can. I have lists and lists. You know, like this mantel. A redwood mantel built into the house. It’s beautiful, right? Sometimes I have to sell these places. But you two. I can see it in your eyes. Good, great energy going on here.”
“You’re right. We feel it too.”
“But, just to be safe, I don’t want you guys ending up somewhere that doesn’t truly fit you. We ought to talk about the elephant in the room.”
“Excuse me?” They looked at one another, then around the room.
“You mean, you didn’t see it?”
“No, no elephants.” He attempted a joke. An honest one. This is where a realtor will usually laugh. She didn’t.
“The staircase. You can’t have missed it.”
“In the front room.”
Spiral staircase. Wrought iron. Moving up and up into darkness. Following it with your eyes is not recommended. Brings up questions about existence. About the nature of the universe.
“What’s odd about a staircase?”
“It’s a single story house.”
“None worth mentioning.”
“Yeah. There was no mention of this online.”
“You mean to tell me neither of you saw this as we walked in.”
They blush. “I guess not.”
“Sorry. It’s just, usually that’s the first thing people see. Everyone is always taken aback by it. Out of tune with the rest of the house.”
“So, what’s going on here? Does this staircase just go nowhere then? Just up to the ceiling?”
“Well, as you can see, there is a door. The staircase goes to a door. I guess the next question is where does the door lead?”
They all look at one another. The tension of an obvious question. The tension of young attractive people.
“Of course. Where does the door lead?”
“Is this a joke?”
“No. See for yourself.”
The man makes his way up the staircase. Fifteen. Maybe a thousand steps. He reaches the top. They look like ants, he thinks. A polished gold doorknob meets his hand. A creaking. A silence.
A vacuum opens in his skull. An audible sensation. He feels naked. Exuberant. Burdened. A million pounds. He’s twelve years old. Sitting in the Mojave Desert. His parents had taken a turn without him. He’s alone. The vastness of the sky is pressing down against him. The sand below looks to swallow him whole. Every direction is nothing. Every inch of him melts.
The door slams closed.
“I…” he yells down. They can’t hear him.
They switch. She climbs. Not as many steps for her. She’s always been good at skipping steps. She reaches the door. It won’t open. Foreboding.
“It won’t open,” she yells.
The man raises his hands. “No no no no.” She must be doing something wrong. They must look like ants, he thinks.
She tries again. It opens. At first there is nothing. The real kind, the boring kind. The three o’clock on a Tuesday kind. But, there it is. A light in the distance rolling toward her. Crushing space envelopes her. Bites her low. Her eyes are closed. She’s under her bed. A creaking sound from down the hall. It’s fine. It’s all just perfect. A flashlight rolls into her hand.
The door closes.
They are all standing next to each other. The fireplace tries to steal their attention. No such luck, it has been overshadowed.
“It’s absolutely perfect. I could never have imagined such perfection.” The woman breaks the silence.
“It’s absolutely perfect.” The man agrees. His words aren’t redundant though. They’re right about it. It is perfect. Who could’ve ever imagined such perfection.
The realtor smiles. “It’s all in order then. All of it.”
Michael Farfel lives and works out of Salt Lake City, Utah. His novel Tulip can be found at oldnewsrecords.bigcartel.com.