Ch. 5 Owen comes home from playing hockey and discovers that his and Mara's shoes have been damaged.
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The Other Side
I came home from work to the sound of Owen humming and singing, "Don't worry be happy."
The minute he saw me, he handed me the newspaper. An ad was circled in red.
"Split level. Three bedrooms. Master bedroom has an en suite and walk-in closet. Large open-style dining room/living room. Spacious yard. Move-in immediately." It was a dream home, but, "We can't afford this."
"Sure we can. The rent's only two hundred dollars more than we're paying to live in this nightmare."
"I phoned the real estate agent and she'll show it to us tomorrow."
Real estate agent Ms. Strong, in a power suit and carrying a briefcase, met us at the garden gate. Flower beds lined the sidewalk. The flowers were tiny and colourful. Beyond that, I couldn't describe them. I'm not a gardener. The only flowers I can identify are tulips, daffodils, and roses. A rose bush with bright red petals stood a few feet away from the front door. I breathed in the rich fragrance.
Ms. Strong unlocked the craved wood front door and ushered us into the foyer--yes, there was a foyer--and up the curving staircase to the living room/dining room. That room alone was the size of our entire basement apartment.
Besides the master bedroom, there were two more bedrooms. Two! Enough for both Owen and me to have a study or a home library or a craft room or... Whatever we wanted. I wanted to stay calm but it was so hard. I'd already fallen head over heels in love with the house.
Ms. Strong lead us into the kitchen. The stove looked brand-new--like it was right off the showroom floor. Through the kitchen, we went to the backyard--a carpet of thick green grass, birds sang, a spruce hedge provided privacy. I squeezed Owen's hand and he squeezed back. We both loved the place.
We went back into the living room/ dining room. The first-floor roof extended past the living room's picture window. Looking out the window, I noticed something shiny. "Is that a...a...knife?"
"They must have moved out really quickly," Owen speculated, "Out the door and even out the window."
"And the walls look like they--."
Ms. Strong cut me off, "I'm authorized to offer you a reduction on the rent if you agree to paint the walls--the former tenants were smokers--and if you don't badger me with questions."
"Lower the--?" Owen shot me a look--a quick translation, shut up.
"How much?" Owen's voice was calm. He's a good poker player. "This is a large room. It's going to need a lot of paint." Owen was trying for a royal flush.
"Just nine hundred, eh. It'll take us a long time to paint this large room."
"You saw the foyer. There's also a finished basement."
"Well, can we see it?"
"It's a basement--painted drywall in the rec. room, linoleum flooring throughout."
"I'd like to see it."
"I do have other potential renters due to arrive within the hour."
There was that look again.
"We're interested in renting this house," Owen told her, "but I'd like to see the basement first."
"Seven-fifty," Ms. Strong said as she led us down the stairs to the foyer and through a set of doors to the basement.
"This would be a perfect space for your office," I told Owen and got that look again.
"How big is this room?" Owen asked Ms. Strong.
As Ms. Strong consulted her notes and helped Owen locate the phone jacks, I explored further. A door off the hall led to a laundry room. Washer, dryer, the same old, same old, but something about it pulled me inside.
Voices drifted into the room from the hall.
Owen looked in at me. "Oh, Mara, you're in here."
"This is just the laundry room," Ms. Strong informed us. "You've seen the entire house. Shall we go back upstairs?"
For some unexplainable reason, I had no desire to leave the laundry room.
"What's up with all those racks on the ceiling?" Owen asked.
"The former tenants stored their camping equipment and kayak down here. Now if that's everything, I do have those other--."
I looked at Owen; Owen looked at me. "We'll take it," we said. We signed the tenancy agreement and the house was ours.