Wednesday, December 7, 2011

KekahJ Week 81: The Apartment


Picture 1

Picture 2

KekahJ's Choice: Both


The Apartment

Her heels made a satisfying clicking sound on the hardwood floor as she crossed the expanse of the massive room. The real estate agent seemed tiny in comparison, even though he was roughly her same height. He struggled to keep her pace.

“As you can see the floors are all hardwood; a rare breed imported from--” He was silenced by her raised hand, wrist laden with expensive bangles which skidded and careened together with the movement.

“I’ll take it,” she said simply.

“Oh, fantastic. You won’t regret it. I knew as soon as I saw this place that it wouldn’t last long. I ...” He began to gush, but trailed off when he looked up and saw her shaking her head. It was the first time he’d actually brought himself to make eye contact with her and his heart seemed to momentarily thud to a stop.

“I will take it only if you do not say another word, Mr. Nelson,” she said. Her dark hair was pulled into a bun at the back of her head. On anyone else it would have looked austere and even severe, but on her it only served to accentuate the delicate curve of her jaw and make her neck seem even more long and slender. Her eyes were the most amazing color he’d ever seen. Later, he’d recall them as gold, but then decide that he must have been mistaken. No one had gold eyes.

She resumed her brisk stroll around the apartment, but instead of following her, the agent stayed where she left him.

“Let me ask you a question,” she called from across the huge room. He remained silent for a moment. Even from across the room he could see the ghost of a smile on her lips as she added, “You may speak, Mr. Nelson.” Her tone was patient, almost condescending and would have been offensive coming from someone else. Somehow from her, however, he didn’t seem to mind.

“Yes, ma’am.” He nodded.

“Tell me about the staircase. It’s not original.” It was not a question.

Mr. Nelson began shuffling through his notes, his heart suddenly racing. He mumbled something unintelligible and felt his face flush as he searched desperately for anything that would help him. For some reason he wanted very much to make this woman happy.

He started when she spoke again, this time from right next to him. How had she moved so quickly? “Do you have that information in your notes?” she asked, a hint of amusement in her voice.

“I don’t know, I’m sorry. I can’t find anything to say that the staircase is not original. The building was built in 1921. The kitchen was renovated three years ago, but I don’t have any information on the staircase. I would assume it’s original.” He finished with a shrug.

She shook her head. “It’s not. I was in this very apartment years ago, and that staircase was not here.” She pointed to the massive spiraling staircase, bangle bracelets clinking together again as she moved.

“Oh,” he said, surprise evident. “I was unaware that you’d been here before.”

She nodded. “Yes, I fell in love with the place then, and I’ve been keeping a casual eye out for it to become available ever since.” She smiled and began to pace the apartment again, this time at a slower pace. He was unsure what to say, so he remained silent.

“Well, no matter about the staircase. I can always have the original one restored later. I remember what it looked like,” she said, tapping her temple with a slender finger as she returned to his side.

Relieved, he nodded.

“I assume you’ll draw up all the necessary paperwork?” she asked.

Apparently mute, he nodded again.

“Fantastic. I’ll contact your office in a few days then to finalize everything. Thank you, Mr. Nelson.”

He nodded for a third time, and stuck his hand out to shake hers. She gave it the briefest of fleeting glances, and pursed her lips slightly. He flushed again as he withdrew his hand awkwardly. Before he could manage to say anything else, she was gone.

Relieved to be alone, he sank down to the floor, letting his notes and paperwork rest on his knees. He wasn’t sure why she made him so nervous. Was it her beauty, or something more?

The back of his neck was covered in a thin sheen of sweat, and as he reached for his handkerchief to wipe it away, his papers slid off his knees and fanned out around him. He glanced down and chuckled. Of course. The very paper that had eluded him minutes ago now stared up at him mockingly.

Out of curiosity, he picked it up. He had been right about the year the building was built: 1921. He smiled and shook his head as he continued reading. She had been right. The staircase was not original. The smile faded from his face a moment later. He struggled to think back to their conversation. Hadn’t she said she’d visited this apartment prior to the staircase remodel? Numbers swam in his head as he tried to do the math. That was impossible. The staircase had been remodelled only fifteen years after the apartment was built. That would have been 1936. How could she have visited the apartment prior to the remodel? He was unsure of her exact age, but she couldn’t be more than twenty-five or twenty-six.

He sighed and shook his head as he gathered up his papers. He made a note to himself to ask her about it when she returned to his office in a few days to do the final paperwork.
Surely she was mistaken.