Move-in Ready


by Elizabeth Allison


They’re snooping. I want them to, but I thought they’d go big picture, take in the bones of the place, the size of the family room, the light that fills the front of the house. Instead, the woman randomly stops to gawk. I saw her freeze in front of the framed boy on the mantel, and I felt wounded. Could she tell? She stared too long at my small tapestry, too. The one with the lemons. I bought it in Sorrento, folded it into a smooth, tidy square, tucked it under my travel pants then happily hung it over the barrel chair when I got home. I thought it was cute. Maybe it’s trite. Either way, I don’t want her scrutinizing my choices, like the faux fern on the end table. I used real soil, but I guess it doesn’t take much to spot a fake. Still, I want her surveying the twelve-foot ceilings, not my frizzy ponytail. It’s just that I didn’t expect anyone this early and he still needs my help with breakfast. I try ignoring her, but, my God, those velvet curls, the way they cascade onto her Oxford. It’s all so effortless, and I hate imagining how she would elevate this place. I mean, renovate. So I act at being blind. And then I feel devious, like I’m intentionally hiding things—the deep scratch under the area rug, the hurled accusations our sunny walls absorbed at night. I try reading the article, but all I’ve learned is that the guy who filmed the confrontation got arrested. I still don’t know why. I don’t even know how it started because I can’t get to the second paragraph. Because I’m afraid she’s missing the broad view. I want to take her into the dining room. I want her to envision how many folks could fit at Thanksgiving! Sixteen? Twenty? I’m not sure exactly. We never hosted Thanksgiving. We always meant to, then stuff happened. Spats. Elections. Betrayal. But maybe she, maybe her family could fill the room. If they all vote for the same guy. And her spouse never gets bored. I want to tell her to test the pullout slides in the the pantry. I ordered those so that I could take in the whole shelf, so that nothing could lurk in the back or dark corners. I want her to notice how massive the yard is. They can put up a volleyball net. Play baseball. A kid can spend hours out there. So long as he doesn’t have to split his time. Better yet, I want her to step outside and make out the entire façade, walk to the back fence and soak it all in, see the big picture. But she’s looking at the wrong things, and I want her to see what matters, what really matters, while there’s time.


Elizabeth Allison spent many joyful years as a high school instructor before turning her attention to her own writing. She is an avid traveler and sometimes-gardener. She has been published in HuffPost, Intrepid Times, Burningword Literary Magazine, 50-Word Stories, Defenestrationism, and 101 Words.


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