Inspired by a returned package at work. The seller’s signature was progressively worse, and there were telltale tears on a few pages. So, here’s what I imagined. Names are changed, quite obviously.
The pen quaked in her hand, matching the staccato of her rasped breath. She tried as hard as she could to write her once proud signature on the line as perfect as ever, but the tears splashing on the legal documents got in the way. Evelyn Feighan, at the age of seventy-six became a widow three years ago, when her husband Robert passed away upstairs, first door on the left. Since then, the house and her health became a burden, and she just wanted to get rid of the “damn place”.
But, now, the reality of it had hit her. With this final stroke of the pen, all her memories of her six children Ruthie, Markie, Dana, Leslie, Paul and the other boy would be gone. She couldn’t stop in the double landing between the kitchen and the living room just before the thirteen more steps upstairs and see where Ruthie, Dana, Leslie, Paul, Robert and the other boy grew up, marking their heights almost daily, just to see how much they grew.
She was glad to have the signing in her home, and knew that there were still a few days before she had to vacate the home. But, a few days doesn’t give one time to go over fifty-eight years of memories. For the third time, she dropped the pen, and excused herself to cry in private, away from the four strangers in her home.
Stephanie Guinness’ hands shook for in excitement. Her first home and at the age of twenty-six, she’d saved for years to buy her own home, and there was so much character in this home, so much love she could feel, she knew it had to be hers. She had a bidding war with another couple, but, there was no way they’d love it anywhere close to what she would. They would think of this as a house, a place to start out, a place to exist for a few years have a few children and move to something bigger.
For Stephanie, this was it. She’d lived in an apartment her entire life, shuttled between broken home to broken home. She’d barely known her mother, her father was a stereotype of deadbeat dad, and the rest of her family, she only knew in passing. And yet, this house, this home; her home would stand forever.
But now, her tears fell too. She stood and followed Evelyn into the kitchen, where the sink ran and her back bobbed up and down. “Mrs. Feighan?” Stephanie started, sweetly and somewhat quietly.
Evelyn plunged her hands into her sink, and pulled out a soapy dish, rinsing it off and putting it on the towel next to her. “Oh, dear. I’m sorry. I forgot I’d eaten a beet for lunch. They stain you know,” she replied turning, her mascara running down her cheeks. Stephanie walked to her and hugged her, a hug returned with all the strength Evelyn Feighan’s seventy-six years and arthritis could muster.
“I wouldn’t dream of buying this home until you showed me every bit of it.” Evelyn took her hand, and smiled.
Over the next few hours, Evelyn and Stephanie walked the house, showing every nook and cranny. Where Ruthie fell in the attic and nearly lost a leg. Where her first granddaughter, Dagmar was born. Where Robert Jr and Markie fought and broke two windows sometime in 1955.
The two new friends laughed as Evelyn told Stephanie about Robert Sr. bringing her over the threshold the first time, and falling rump over teakettle. She talked about the neighborhood, the new people moving in and the people who left as they stood on the front porch in front of the giant oak that was terrible in autumn when the leaves fell. “But, so pretty.” Evelyn added with a smile and a pat of Stephanie’s hand.
The suits were exasperated, waiting for Evelyn to sign the final document. They begged with their eyes, and pleaded with body language but never said a word, despite their apparent impatience. What seemed like hours later, Evelyn sighed, returned to her chair and scribbled her name one last time. The suits sighed as they collected everything and handed Stephanie the keys.
“Thank you for letting me purchase this home,” Stephanie said, smiling.
Evelyn waved her off and hugged her, shooing her out the door. She could have sworn she felt a hand on her shoulder as she stood watching Stephanie walk away. She smiled and touched the hand, swearing it was real in spite of herself.
“Good job,” she swore she heard on the breeze, and that comforted her even more that she’d made the right decision.