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We think our house really, really doesn’t want us to move away.

June 23, 2017


It looks like a welcoming homestead, doesn’t it?  Nice new roof, floor-to-ceiling windows, two fireplaces and a front that is gently smiling at you, inviting you to be a part of the warmth and love inside.  It boasts a gorgeous Japanese maple and a stately Chinese elm tree out front, with ornate ironwork fencing surrounding the front porch.   I mean, with over 4,000 square feet, the Ponderosa would be an easy sell, wouldn’t it?

Don’t you believe it.

The house knows we’re trying to move away.  It’s angry.  It’s plotting revenge on us.

We all got along so well for nine years.  We even gave our home a nickname, Ponderosa, alluding to its size and homeyness.  We shortened that to “Pal,” because we loved the old place so much. We treated Pal with great respect.  We had cookouts, and birthday parties, and even my son’s wedding rehearsal dinner, complete with a canopy tent and little chicken drummies.  We even had a bounce house in the back yard one time.  Those were great memories.  We used to be such good friends.

We repainted Pal’s deck and cleaned out old hornets’ nests.  We put on a new roof and I constructed a playhouse for my little girl.  We tore up old carpet and replaced two sinks’ plumbing.  We gave the best care we could give Pal.

Christmases.  Thanksgivings.  New Year’s parties.

And now this.

“I told you  we should have talked in low whispers,” I told my wife.  “It overheard us talking about the sale.”

“That’s nonsense,” countered Jill.  “Besides, it saw the real estate agent’s sign out front.”

We heard the house creak.  I believe it was chuckling.

“Somehow Pal’s doing something to the potential buyers whenever we’re gone,” I said, looking around.  “Something we can’t figure out.  I wonder if it puts footprints where we just vacuumed?”

And mess up all of my nice carpet stripes?”  Jill growled.  Yes, she actually growled.  Jill is obsessed with vacuuming these neat little rug rows before a new real estate showing occurs.  Messing up her carpet stripes is one of the Rules of the Family That You Do Not Break.  It’s up there with Putting Bread in First When Bagging Groceries.  And Not Covering Chili in the Microwave.  Any of these offenses can bring about punishment worse than death.

But the house knows this and doesn’t care.  We’ve had ten showings and the only offer was over fifty thousand below what we were offering.   We sent back the contract proposal covered with cartoon frownies all over it.

“This last showing ended up with nothing,” I said, reading the Feedback Received report online.  “They said the downstairs shower was leaking when they came through. And the guest bedroom light was flickering…”  Our eyes met.

Jill spoke slowly.  “We’ve never had a problem with the downstairs shower. ” She gulped.  “And the guest bedroom…”

“… has never had an electrical difficulty,” I finished.  We looked around slowly.  A door slammed somewhere in the house.  Sweat beaded on my forehead.  Jill leaned forward and murmured.  “It’s like HAL,  You know, in your favorite movie.”

I blinked.  “You mean 2001 A Space Odyssey? The computer that figures out that the astronauts don’t trust it?”  Jill looked side to side and slowly nodded.  I can’t be sure, but it felt like the ceiling lowered a bit, as if it were trying to hear us.  I shook my head.

“It can’t be… I mean, the movie is about a computer that thinks and reasons and …”

Jill’s gaze stayed steady on me.  She spoke airily.  “Say, Brad, why don’t we go for a ride… or hey, don’t we need to go to Aldi’s or Kroger’s for some groceries?”  Fighting the impulse to scream maniacally and dash headfirst toward the door, we casually picked up our keys and strolled through the front door and got into the van.  Only until we left the subdivision did we breath out.

I shook my head.  “Look, we’ve got to be imagining this all.  A house can’t do this, can it?”  Jill giggled and we both relaxed.  We went down to Aldi’s and stocked up on groceries.  Nothing like some MacIntosh apples and Happy Farms mozzarella to get your spirits up.

The evening went great.

Until I pulled up and unloaded the groceries.

The front key wouldn’t work.  Neither would Jill’s.

I looked through the windows at all of the well-lit rooms shining into the darkness.

I stepped forward and cleared my throat.  “Open the front porch door, Pal.”

No response.  I tried the key again.  Nothing.

“Open the front porch door, Pal.”

The lights went out one by one.

I am currently writing this blog in the local library.  The ice cream in our van is melting. If anyone would like a nice large overly sensitive house, please call me soon.  Very soon.










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