THERE IT WAS. The perfect house. I scrolled through the photographs on Zillow once, twice, three times. Four bedrooms, three baths, in a great school district, and priced within our budget. It was perfect.
I texted my wife. Found one. Let’s go see it this afternoon.
She emojiied a thumbs up. I called the realtor, and two hours later we were standing in the middle of a perfect mid-century ranch. While my wife wandered through the bedrooms, I stood in the living room, hands on hips, and took a gander. This place had a vibe. Not a bad one… but a vibe, nonetheless. The realtor came over and stood next to me. “So, do you like it?”
“What’s wrong with it?” I asked.
“Wrong with it? What do you mean?” Our realtor was an older woman who sold houses more to get away from her retired husband than because she needed the income. “Nothing’s been disclosed, and look at those floors!”
She had a point. The floors were nice. “But for this price, in this neighborhood?” I knocked on a wall. “There’s got to be something wrong with it.”
“I assure you, there’s not.” She put on her best grandma smile. “Sometimes you get lucky.”
“Yeah. And sometimes you get rooked.” I stuck my head in the hall. “Gwen? What do you think?”
When Gwen didn’t answer, I went searching. I found her in the backyard. She was standing on the patio, bawling her eyes out.
“Gwenny? Baby? What’s the matter?”
“Oh, Sammy, it’s so sad.” She turned and practically threw herself at me. “It’s… it’s… s-s-sad. So, so sad.”
Gwen and I had been together for nearly ten years now. If I knew anything about my wife, it was that she wore her emotions on her sleeve. “What’s the matter, baby?”
“Oh, Sam!” She threw herself into my arms. “You can’t see the stars,” she mumbled against my shirt. “It’s dark, and you can’t see the stars.”
Huh? I pushed back her hair and gave her a kiss. “Baby, it’s 3:30 in the afternoon… nobody can see the stars.”
She took a wheezy breath and pushed off me, embarrassed, her cheeks flushing a bright red. “I know, I know… why would I even say that? So stupid.” She wiped her eyes. “Of course, you can’t see the stars.” She gave me an embarrassed grin. “Sometimes I think I’m crazysauce, you know?”
Her emotions bother her. Part of growing up in a house where people saw crying as an unforgivable weakness. I made a silly face. “If you’re crazysauce, then I’m crazy custard… or maybe crazy ice cream. How about crazy lentil soup?”
That got a laugh out of her. “Sammy, you’re a goof.”
“Yeah, well, I’m your goof.” I pulled her into my arms again, enjoying how her body felt against mine. Gwen wasn’t skinny, which was fine by me. She was curvy and feminine and absolutely beautiful. “You okay, baby?”
“Yes, I’m fine.” She sighed. “This house is sad.”
This time I pulled back. “Sad? It looks in good shape to me. I mean, the kitchen needs updating and the paint job hurts my eyes, but other than that, I think it looks pretty good.”
“That’s not what I mean.” Her eyes got a faraway look. “I mean, it’s sad. Like, something’s sad here.”
Gwen could also be a little witchy. “All right. I’ll tell the realtor no.”
“No!” Gwen grabbed my arms. “I want the house!”
I blinked. “But you just said – ”
“Sam Donnelly, you get me this house!” Her eyes flashed as she grabbed my lapels. “You get me this house, Sam.”
I gave up trying to understand my wife a long, long time ago. I gently removed her hands and kissed them before heading back inside to make an offer.