The front door has many different keys, all looped together with a bit of ruffled string. The estate agent fumbles around for longer than feels comfortable, prodding each key into the door and muttering about the keyhole being upside down. I start to wonder if it's a sign. The various couples lining up behind her at the front door sigh and shift their weight from foot to foot, sun heating up the back of their necks. I stare blankly at the dandelions poking between the crack under the doorstep and wait for her to let us in. On account of the fact I haven’t eyed up our competition yet, I’m guessing I’m not fussed either way about this one.
The estate agent is a large woman with jangly gold earrings that clatter rudely as she talks. She’s decided upon a loud flowery summer dress, complete with hessian flip flops that slap the back of her heels, which I take to be a less than obvious hint that she doesn’t like viewing empty properties on a Saturday morning either. As she pushes the front door open, we each have to squeeze (nose to wall) past her enormous bosoms, to escape into the cool, dark hallway of the ground floor flat. The side wall is painted a hospital ward yellow and I immediately feel claustrophobic. Breaking off from the others, who are nodding in unison as if worshiping those jangly gold earrings, I creep off into the living room. It doesn't look like mine- it’s very cool. Vintage LPs scatter the coffee table, square clocks with curved edges and bold numerates tick on the mantelpiece, and hundreds of hardback books stake their claim of the bookcase. The sofa could look comfier, but I imagine it’s because of the two different bottom-sized holes dented in the fabric that it doesn’t look quite right to me. I run my toe along the gap between the polished wooden floor boards.
It’s a grown-up apartment.
Photos with thick mounts and sharp black frames hang along the hallway. As I walk through, I sneak a peek, not daring to stare too long in case I get caught snooping. The couple are attractive, and a bit older than us. His hand drapes across her shoulders, her nose just tucks under his chin; both look into the camera and grin like idiots. I hover in the doorway to their breezy bedroom, with crisp white bed sheets, and tall Edwardian windows. Gleaming copper pots and pans hang abstract from the kitchen ceiling, fresh herbs in terracotta pots dot the window sill. The place is small, but cosy. The fridge is decorated with gig tickets, restaurant cards and even more of their photographic memories. My heart leaps as I spy a cat flap in the back door for Bess, leading out into a leafy private garden. Just down the hall I hear Liam discussing storage space and meter readings, and I’m glad one of us remembered to do so. I look over my shoulder, but am not really worried if anyone is watching, because I have a question I felt ready to ask. I gingerly walk up to the kitchen sink and stand on my tiptoes to peer out of the window, brushing aside the pot plants gently. I gaze through the trees, allowing Liam’s voice to carry into a background whisper, until I see Bess rolling in the sun, warming her black furry belly on the patio, knowing I like to dream as I’m doing the washing up.