7 June 2012

The Viewing

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.  


  1. Beautiful, lovely, charming.......I love your writing and I hope you took the flat.

  2. Excellent imagery; I felt I was there with you. Very odd that a real estate agent would wear flip-flops and think that was appropriate attire. You made both that large woman and that warm apartment spring to life in this short piece.

  3. Nice. Love the last few lines in particular. When you get it so right I can't imagine it being better. This the flat you are in now, or one you are trying to get?

  4. Lo - Thank you. We didn't get the flat, unfortunately... but I did love it, and here's hoping another comes along soon.

    Hillary - She was odd, indeed! Glad I brought her to life for you. Thanks for your kind comment.

    Philip - What a compliment. Thank you, as ever, for your support. We tried to get this one, but offer got declined. Maybe not quite meant to be... There must be another with our name on it!

  5. This flowed so well and I loved the final sentence. I'm sorry to see that you didn't get the flat on this occasion but fingers crossed you will find the right one for you soon. x

  6. Hi am new to blogging...this is such a lovely post! xxxx

  7. You have a way of painting when you write. Magic, that is.

    And there will be another flat, Fate is kind to hearts like yours...