The house seemed immense and its beige colored siding only added to its seeming enormity. She had to raise her head and bend her neck backwards to see the edifice in its entirety. As she moved her eyes down to the walkway she suddenly felt glued to, she noted it’s odd dirt and bark dust free cleanliness. She imagined a small man in overalls laid out in front of her on his knees, scrubbing each cemented indentation with a toothbrush. Ahead Sam was patting the realtor on the back as he jiggled around the lock box, attempting to free the key to open the colossal dwelling.
Sam flipped his head around, his dark hair, cut too short for Beth’s liking, swung with it. “Come on Beth, you’ve got to see the inside.” Beth wanted to step backwards and walk hastily past the large, perfectly kept houses, back to the main street where she could catch a bus back to the city. Instead, Beth unhinged her feet from the ground and made her way towards the door.
They moved through the living room over carpet, which Beth noted was the identical color of the siding. Sam was beside her attempting to control his excitement as they reached the kitchen. She watched his features as he took the room in. He moved his face next to Beth’s and pulled back her unmade tangled hair. As the realtor went to open the blinds, Sam whispered, shooting hot air into her ear. “Can you believe the price? We have to make an offer today.” Beth pulled her head away from the burst of warmth and grimaced.
“You don’t need to whisper Sam, he knows the price.”
“Beth, I’m just so happy we found the place.” There was a strange flicker in his eyes that Beth didn’t like. She wondered if he had always been like this and it had taken suburbia to finally expose it to her.
“I mean look at the kitchen. It’s perfect for you.” His eyes diverted to the granite countertops and then to the eight-burner stovetop, then back to Beth.
“Sam I’m not…”
He moved towards the realtor as he opened the sliding glass door to the back yard. “Brian, you weren’t kidding about this place.” Sam again patted him on the back and Brian nodded his head. Beth noticed the thickness of the realtor’s neck and how tightly his buttoned up shirt was positioned around it. The man hadn’t spoken a word to her and she was still unclear as to how Sam had chosen him. He had driven them to the house from his office in a white Mercedes that had black mud caked on the side panels above the back wheels. Beth examined the man’s face and couldn’t determine whether or not the red bumps on his cheeks were acne, cuts from shaving or some sort of disease.
Beth moved past the center island towards the large double stainless steel kitchen sink. The sink to the right was surprisingly deep and she stepped closer until she could make out each rubber flap that created the entryway to the disposal. She lifted her left hand, the one with white gold engagement band and moved it until the cold rubber was sliding past her pale white skin. Beth’s skinny wrist descended, until it seemed she no longer had a hand. She delicately swirled her fingers around the invisible shredder with just enough friction to feel the edges prick her soft skin. She began to slide her fingers with more force, the pain increased and she knew she had drawn blood.
As she continued the motion she noticed a window directly in front of her. It had four panes, all intersected by a piece of wood painted white. She focused on the glass and noticed several smear marks. She smiled and thought the man with the toothbrush was too short to reach the window for cleaning. Beth looked through the glass to the next house, which was a slightly lighter shade of the beige. Beth felt the houses were so close together, she could open the window and reach out and touch it. She moved her head slightly to the left in order to see past the smudge. Beth realized the other house was identical to the one she stood in and through it’s own four-pane window, she made out a woman hunched over a sink. Her blue sponge made a circular motion around the edges of a dish covered in suds until she had completely turned the dish three hundred and sixty degrees. She relentlessly continued the scrubbing. Beth watched as the woman made at least a dozen full circles. The woman wore a brightly colored red and white striped apron over a large green colored velour bathrobe. The woman’s eyes seemed glazed over but focused intently on one spot to the right of Beth’s window. Beth examined the identical house for a point of interest but there was only siding. Beth moved her attention from the woman to the switch to the right of the sink. She moved her right hand towards it, while turning the attention of her eyes back to the woman. As her fingers made contact with the shiny white switch, she forced her left hand harder against the jutting edges of the disposal.
Beth jolted back, pulling her hand from the drain and the other away from the switch. Her eyes shot to Sam who stood next to the realtor on the patio, who was now puffing on a cigar. He motioned for her to join them. Beth looked back to the window but the woman in the apron was gone. Beth left her place at the sink and moved through the kitchen to join them.
“You must really love that kitchen honey, I’ve been calling you. Can you believe this yard?” Sam’s face was once again covered with excitement. Beth didn’t like it when he smiled this much, somehow it made his nose seem even bigger. When she had first met him he was still working at the restaurant and he could barely produce a grin.
The yard was a perfect evenly colored green and Beth noticed the numerous sprinkler heads poking up from the neatly trimmed grass. Against the house was a large hose the exact color of the lawn. Surprisingly it wasn’t rolled up perfectly and part of it lay clumsily on the ground. She moved towards it as the men spoke loudly in the background. She picked up the end and grasped it with her other hand about ten inches down. She bent it slightly then pulled it taut. It was oddly flexible for a hose that looked brand new. As Beth moved her hands around the green rubber material she began to imagine wrapping the bendable rubber around her neck again and again until it was so tight it resembled the realtor’s shirt. The hose seemed much more reliable that the old vacuum cord that had failed her only weeks before.
As Beth gripped the hose she noticed a large red spot of blood directly under her belly. She pulled the off-white shirt out from her waist and examined the stain. Her eyes widened and a strange feeling of reprieve covered her. Her eyes shot from the shirt to the beige siding and she wanted to laugh. Then she felt it.
“Ohhh!” Beth dropped the hose and its metal mouth clinked against the concrete, alerting the two men. Beth brought both her hands to her stomach.
“You okay honey?” Sam and the realtor had both stopped smiling.
Beth turned to face them but said nothing for several seconds. “Yeah, I’m fine just a big kick.” Beth rubbed her belly in a circular motion and tried to smile. Sam’s stare traveled from Beth’s glance to the large spot on her shirt.
“Beth, your finger. It’s bleeding all over you.”
She raised her hand and examined her cut up finger. Blood quickly drained from the wound and Beth watched as it made it’s way down her knuckle, to her wrist and then down her forearm. Beth looked back to Sam expressionless. “Let’s make an offer.”
| COPYRIGHT 2006-2011
Portland Fiction Project
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED