Word count 433
THE NEW TENANT
The stranger standing at her gate asked how much her house was worth.
What a peculiar question, Rebecca thought. The “For Sale” sign had been planted in the yard for so long that the paint was peeling off, and weeds sprouted at the base. He could call the agent listed. Why bother me?
“Oh,” she said, “what it’s worth; well the real question should be; what is the asking price?”
He smiled. “My name is Patrick. Your home is lovely; you must be very happy here.”
No one had spoken to Rebecca for many years. She was content to sit on the porch, watching the world unfold before her. In fact, she was sure that she was practically invisible to passers by. The old lady knew that she blended into the faded shingles, unseen and ignored.
“Truthfully, Patrick, I don’t know what the price is. It has been reduced several times. My grandchildren are handling the details.”
He pushed the gate; it opened with a squeak.
She leaned forward in her chair. “My name is Rebecca. Please join me. I get lonely with no one to talk to.”
“I understand. It seems that people look right through me.” He sat on a rusty metal chair and began fanning his face with his sweat-stained hat.
“It’s nice to see a well-dressed man these days. Not many men wear hats, so long out of fashion.”
“I certainly am a bit out of fashion, Miss Rebecca.”
“I must tell you, they say my house is haunted.” She peered at him from the corner of an eye. “Would that bother you?”
“I would like nothing more.”
As they sat quietly on the porch, enjoying a comfortable silence, a car pulled in front of the house and two women got out.
“Oh dear,” Rebecca said. “My granddaughter, with the realtor.”
A woman in a dark suit began straightening the sign. “We’ll have to spruce this place up a bit if we ever want it to sell.”
“Yes,” said the younger woman. “I get the distinct impression that my grandmother is somehow discouraging buyers.”
“Let’s see what we can do about the inside,” the neatly dressed woman said.
They stepped onto the porch, walking past Rebecca and Patrick.
“Grandmother’s been gone for several years, now. I wonder if she misses this place – and us?” whispered the young woman.
“Probably,” said the realtor, waving her hand in front of her face as they entered the dark and dusty foyer.
“Rebecca,” Patrick turned to her. “I would be quite pleased to live here.”
“Welcome,” she replied. “I was hoping for some company.”