The doorbell chimed as I was finishing with breakfast. I glanced at the clock -- eight-fifty-eight -- and frowned, taking the bowl to the sink and emptying its contents. I downed the rest of the milk as the bell chimed again and I decided to simply ignore it. It was, I'd discovered, the best way to get rid of unwanted visitors: pretend like they don't exist. Even if they know you're at home -- and my Pontiac was parked in the driveway, still sparkling from the previous night's rainfall -- they give up eventually.
A third chime, this time as I headed towards the bedroom.
I stopped. I was still in the white t-shirt I'd gone to sleep in, but I had on pajama bottoms. Not the greatest attire to greet visitors, but there was always the possibility that something was wrong. The thought that Carla or Jamie might've chilled me, but I pushed it aside with the simple logic that millions of people use every day: it just couldn't happen. I smiled, perhaps a little too forcefully -- it certainly felt forced, and I gave it up after a couple seconds -- and turned towards the front of the house, hesitating.
The bell rang again. The sound was monotonous, of course, but even the intervals between chimes was steady, as if whoever was out there had all the time in the world. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a little relieved at that; if it'd been an emergency, the bell would've been ringing nonstop.
I finally sighed, making up my mind. I had more I wanted to write, and I hated not to write when I was actually in the mood, which I had been so infrequently as of late. Probably it was just another group of Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses, and I could shoo them off with a smile and a firm shake of the head.
Accept a copy of The Watchtower one time and they become your best friends.
I walked to the door and glanced through the glass. All I could see were three shapes, one very round, the two behind it rather thin. They stood formally, no slouching, and I sighed as I opened the door.
In front of me stood a smile with a woman attached. She was round -- that was the only word I could think of, round -- and heavily made-up, her auburn hair sprayed perfectly into place. She wore a burgundy blouse and a loose black skirt that trailed down below her knees. She stood in high heels that should've cracked under the weight of her. Her eyes -- surrounded by more eyeliner than I thought a human face could allow -- were wide and blue and shining with such a friendly intensity that I knew she was here for business, not pleasure.
Of course, it was her smile that I noticed first and last. That wide, shining smile that seemed to stretch impossibly wide. I thought, for a moment, that my glasses were dirty, that the lenses were warping the light and distorting her features. But a subtle turn of my head suggested that, no, she was actually smiling like that.
A young couple stood behind her, in their mid-twenties. They were clearly naïve; you could tell it by their absent smiles and shifting eyes, the paleness of their skin and the thrown-together attire they wore. Compared to the woman in front of them, the couple had no presence at all. I can't even tell you what color the woman's hair was, or if the man wore glasses or not. He had a big nose; I remember that much. And she was pretty in an off-handed sort of way, the kind that may arouse catcalls from construction workers, but little else.
They were a young couple in love, and they were entirely forgettable.
The woman in front, however ... she filled the doorframe, almost filled my entire line of vision. She waited for me to say something, I suppose, but I could only stare at her, not really thinking of much except the book I wanted to work on and how I could fit that smile of hers into it. There was an evil prince who could smile like that, right before he decapitated the princess's lover.
And then she was speaking, fast and fluent, her words coming out sounding completely natural and yet somehow divine. It took me a moment to catch up to her, and even then I had to make her repeat a key sentence that made me forget what little I remembered of her first few words.
"I'm here to show the house," she said.
"Show the house?"
"Yes, yes." She laughed. "These are the Carpenters. Nine a.m. on the dot!"
"I ... " I glanced at the Carpenters, then back to her. "Who are you?"
"Vivian Underhouse!" she said. I swear the exclamation mark was pronounced.
I nodded. "Vivian Underhouse. And ... and you're here to ... "
"To show the house, of course!"
"Show the house."
"Why, yes! Nine a.m. on the dot!"
I glanced at my driveway, saw two cars -- one of them a white Buick, clearly a realtor's car, the other some kind of beige sedan, as plain as its owners -- parked around mine. I looked back at the woman in front of me.
"Ms. Underhouse ... ma'am ... " I smiled at the couple, who smiled hesitantly back at me. "Ma'am, I'm afraid our house isn't for sale."
"Oh!" She waved a hand at me. I expected her to follow it up with "poo!" She did make some sound -- roughly like "poo" although, and I can't explain how, a little dirtier, a little seedier -- and said, "Of course it is! Of course it is! We'll just come on in -- "
"Really, ma'am, you've got the wrong house. My family and I are very happy here. We just moved in a couple years ago and aren't even thinking of selling. I'm afraid you've got the wrong address."
She had clipboard at her side -- I hadn't seen it at first because it was hidden by the pure bulk of her -- and she lifted it to her face. "1420 Rosewood." She glanced at the numbers hung next to the door. "1420." She glanced back at the street. "And I'm sure that's Rosewood."
I nodded, swallowing. "Yes. Yes, it is."
"Well, then, I've come to the right house! Now, I'll just show this nice young couple around and we'll be out of your way in no time!"
I'm not sure why I stepped back. Maybe I was afraid that if I didn't move she would trample over me. She brushed against me as she came in, almost knocking me over. I was amazed at the force of her. I wrote it off to the spontaneity of her appearance, but I watched her carefully just the same, and made sure the Carpenters had enough room to squeeze in without touching me.
As I closed the door behind them Ms. Underhouse said, "This, of course, would be the foyer. Very lovely, isn't it? And look at that mirror there -- why, that had to cost a small fortune!"
The Carpenters murmured in agreement, and I wondered why she had even bothered to point it out; even if the house had been for sale, the mirror and other furnishings wouldn't have gone with it.
Ms. Underhouse tapped a shoe on the tile. "Solid. I see a little wear and tear, but nothing you can't buff out or polish over."
I opened my mouth to say something, but she was already leading the couple to the left, into the living room. A picture window opened on the front lawn -- which I usually described as "immaculate" whenever the opportunity arose -- and the trio automatically went to it.
"Beautiful white lace curtains," the realtor said, running one through her fingers. "Feel that, Caroline. Isn't that wonderful? And look at the lawn. Not perfect -- it could definitely use a small garden -- but it's workable, don't you think?"
"Excuse me," I said, standing in the entryway to the living room. Ms. Underhouse either didn't hear me or ignored me, her back turned in my direction. She pointed out the television, the fireplace, the sofa, and the recliners. "A very lovely room," she said, "very lovely indeed." She ran a hand over one of the recliners. "Not real leather. Good. You don't want real leather furniture; it tears too easily, you have to watch it too closely. And, oh my, what a big TV! Thirty-two inches, if I'm not mistaken."
Thirty-six, I thought, and said, a little louder, "Excuse me."
She finally turned. "Yes, dear?"
"This house isn't for sale."
"Why, of course it is!" She tapped her clipboard. "I have the address right here, and you yourself verified it, did you not?"
"Well, yes -- "
"Then, really, I must show this lovely young couple the home!"
What bothered me most wasn't what she said, but how she said it: she wasn't the least bit upset by my denials. She carried on in the same cheerful manner as before, with absolutely no undercurrent of hostility. Something sank in the pit of my stomach at this; even the nicest realtor should've been bothered by my intrusion, especially if something shady was going on. But Ms. Underhouse remained polite, her smile unwavering, as friendly towards me as she was her clients. I sensed no threat of danger in her whatsoever, and that made me feel like running to the phone and dialing 911.
Of course. I didn't have to call the cops -- I prayed it wouldn't come to that -- but I could call Carla and see if she had listed the house without telling me. She was known to do things randomly; never anything as major as this, of course, but perhaps she'd thought it would be funny. I couldn't possibly see how, but Carla was Carla and prone to such misjudgments.
"I'm going to make a phone call," I told Ms. Underhouse, as I left the living room and moved to the phone in the kitchen. "Feel free to let yourselves out."
She waved a hand at me, not in dismissal but in acknowledgement, and I turned the corner and went down the hall, into the kitchen.
Carla was at her desk. She must've detected something in my voice, because as soon as she knew it was me she said, "What is it, Roger?"
"Honey ... you didn't list the house, did you?"
"With a realtor."
"I don't get you."
"Did you put the house on the market?"
She was silent, and in the background I could hear Ms. Underhouse commenting on the carpet. "Not my favorite color, of course -- white shows far too many stains -- but you can always rip it up, put in something new. Beige is good, as is light gray. Something to create more space."
"Roger ... you aren't thinking of moving, are you?"
There was the hint of panic in her voice, and I went cold. "You didn't list the house?"
"I thought you were happy there. I thought you could write there."
The argument was there, just waiting to rear its ugly mug. Part of the reason we'd moved from the old house was because I hadn't felt comfortable enough to write in it; I'd had to write at my office, in my spare time between student meetings and classes. Carla hadn't particularly wanted to move, since it meant enrolling Jaime in a different district. I'd been adamant, though -- perhaps too much so -- saying that I couldn't possibly write somewhere I wasn't comfortable; and since my novels had the potential -- and only potential, I would come to realize -- to bring in more money than her accounting job, logic dictated that we live somewhere I was comfortable writing.
We'd fought over it quite a bit. We hadn't even touched the subject in two years, since it hadn't been a problem; apparently, though, it had remained in Carla's subconscious, because she sounded ready and willing to bring it up again.
"Carla -- "
"Roger, you said you could work there. You promised me you could."
"I can -- "
"I won't move again. I won't put Jaime through that, not even moving to another house in the same school district -- "
"Carla, goddammit, that's not it!"
She stopped. "All right, then. What is wrong?"
"There's someone here showing the house."
She didn't say anything, and I could hear Ms. Underhouse's voice, moving into the dining room: "What a lovely table, simply lovely, don't you think so? You could sit a family of eight there comfortably. And it looks old, too. An antique dining table! How beautiful!"
Why do I get the feeling she's not just selling the house, but everything in it as well?
"There's a realtor showing the house?"
"It must be a mistake."
"She has the right address. I checked."
"Well ... "
Her voice trailed off, and so did my thoughts. Well indeed.
"Is she still there, Roger?"
"Yes. She's showing around a young couple. The Carpenters. They're very mundane."
"What agency is she with, Roger?"
"I ... " Shit. Good question, damn good question. "I didn't ask."
"Maybe you should."
"Yeah." She was getting angry and justifiably so this time. "I'll call the agency, tell them there's a mistake."
"Get her out of our house, Roger."
"I'm planning on it, Carla. I'll call you when I figure things out."
I hung up and went into the dining room. Mr. Carpenter had opened Carla's grandmother's cabinet and was turning one of the plates over in his hand, not being very careful about it either.
"Sir, could you put that back, please?"
He glanced up at me, completely indifferent, then put the plate back and closed the cabinet door with a harsh thud. I looked at him a moment longer, then turned my attention to the realtor, who was showing Mrs. Carpenter one of the placemats.
"Ms. Underhouse, what realty agency did you say you were with?"
She turned to look at me. "Why, I'm not sure I did."
I waited, but she kept smiling at me, so I said, "I don't suppose you have a business card on you."
"Why, of course I do!" She took one off the clipboard -- convenient, very convenient -- and handed it to me. "Here you go."
I glanced at it:
Living Waters Realty
9756 Lincoln Avenue
"Making Your Housing Dreams Come True Since 1982!"
"Living Waters Realty? I've never heard of you guys."
She shrugged. "We're very exclusive."
How could I list my house with you if I never heard of you? Can you tell me that, Ms. Underhouse?
"I need to make another call," I said, "and figure this thing out."
She nodded. "I'll just show them around some more."
Of course you will, I thought, and went back to the phone. I dialed the number and cringed when I received a loud beep and a vaguely feminine voice telling me the number I'd dialed wasn't in service. I frowned, hung up, and tried again, reading the card carefully, but got the same results.
I placed the phone back in its cradle and grabbed the phonebook we keep on top of the refrigerator. I glanced through the Yellow Pages under "Realtors," but couldn't find Living Waters Realty. I flipped through it again, reading each entry -- there were several dozen, far more than I'd known operated in the county -- just in case Living Waters Realty had been filed out of alphabetical order. No such luck. I went to the white pages, but the closest entry was the Living Well 24-Hour Gym.
I closed the phonebook and left it on the counter. I played with Ms. Underhouse's business card, staring at it, going over each word and number carefully. It wasn't a fraud, I could tell that; or at least, if it was fraudulent, then someone had gone to great effort -- expensive effort -- to make it so.
Lincoln Avenue. There was a Lincoln Avenue in town, but I didn't know about a 9756 address. Nor was there a town listed on the card.
How many Lincoln Avenues are there in Illinois? Quite a few, even more if you substitute "Street" or "Drive."
A paranoid thought, but the number was an Illinois number.
No area code. An Illinois number, but no area code.
What I felt wasn't the first twinge of fear, but perhaps it was the first sensation of terror. I wasn't sure what was going on, didn't even have the vaguest idea, but there were three strangers going through my house, appraising my possessions, and one of them had a business card for a realty agency that seemed not to exist. A very nice business card at that.
I placed the card on the counter next to the phonebook and went back to the dining room. The trio had moved into the sunroom, however, and Mr. Carpenter had sat himself in Carla's wicker chair, even going so far as to pick up the novel that had been left on the table beside it. His wife was fondling the plants, running her hands over them. I saw Ms. Underhouse give the plants a cursory, dismissive look.
"I'm afraid those plants just don't fit the room," she said, and the worst thing was I found myself agreeing with her. "I'd go with flowers if I were you, Caroline. Lilacs, maybe. Or marigolds! Yes, marigolds would be beautiful, wouldn't you think?"
Mrs. Carpenter mumbled something in agreement, still caressing a fern.
Ms. Underhouse saw me standing in the doorway. "This is a very lovely home." She glanced at her feet. "Though I have to admit I don't think this floor should be carpeted. Even carpet as thin as this needs to be taken care of too often. Linoleum, I think. Maybe even ceramic tile. Oh!" She clasped her hands together and turned to Mr. Carpenter. "Eric, you could put ceramic tile in here! You'd have the most beautiful reading room on the whole street!"
Reading room? Who the hell needs a reading room?
Mr. Carpenter nodded and smiled that hesitant smile at her.
She glanced at me. "Yes, dear?"
"I ... " I cleared my throat. "I'm afraid I wasn't able to, uh, contact your agency."
She nodded. "Yes."
There was a certain finality in that word, and I knew I didn't have to go on but I did. "The number on the card didn't work, I'm afraid, and I didn't see a listing in the phonebook."
She nodded again. "We're very exclusive."
I opened my mouth to say more but nothing came out. She waited patiently, smiling, but when I didn't say anything she exclaimed, "Well, onward to the kitchen!"
They went into the kitchen, which opened on the sunroom. I followed them, watching as the Carpenters opened the cabinets and drawers. I started a mental list of everything they touched, but eventually decided to just wash everything in the room. Ms. Underhouse made a comment about the lighting -- "It's simply divine, isn't it?" -- and rambled for a couple minutes about how spacious it was, even though it could use a bar (it could, it definitely could). Then she led the couple out of the kitchen, saying, "We'll go upstairs now. I'm sure you'll just love it!"
They left the kitchen, heading down the hall towards the stairs. I waited until I heard them going up -- "You could hang your family pictures here, Caroline!" -- and then grabbed the phone and dialed 911.
I waited. And waited. Finally, I realized that I wasn't hearing anything and wasn't about to any time soon. The phone was silent. I hung up and tried again with the same result, and when I sat the phone back in its cradle I was officially scared out of my mind.
I began to panic, then stopped myself. I'd been able to call Carla earlier; if I couldn't reach 911, maybe she could. I picked up the phone to call her again, but there was still that silence. No busy signal, no dial tone -- silence.
Maybe she cut the lines.
"She" was Ms. Underhouse; of that I had no doubt. I didn't know who the Carpenters were, but I barely gave them a second thought. Ms. Underhouse was the only one who mattered.
My mind was racing in circles, but I forced it to slow down and take stock of my options. I didn't have a gun in the house; Carla was terrified of them, and I wasn't too fond of them myself. There were knives, of course, but I knew for a fact I couldn't stab anyone. To have her blood on my hands, her dying breath on my cheek ... even as a last resort, knives were out of the question.
Besides ... I didn't want to hurt her. She was in my house, but I'd let her in, hadn't I? And she hadn't hurt anyone yet; in fact, she'd been nothing but cordial. I felt, too, and I'm not sure why, that the friendliness wasn't a front. She was too genuine for it to be fake.
That didn't mean she wasn't dangerous. Kindness can kill.
I swallowed the bile that rose into my throat and glanced at the front door. I could leave. It would mean driving through the yard -- the Carpenters had parked behind me -- but I could do it. Run out right now, go to the police station. Ms. Underhouse couldn't stop me; I could hear her moving around upstairs, in what sounded like my son's bedroom. One mad dash out the door and this would all be over.
Except I couldn't. A house is filled with material things, items that can be replaced no matter what sentimental value you attach to them ... yet there was something here that couldn't be replaced, and that was the security of home. If I left, it would be because Ms. Underhouse had forced me out, and I couldn't do that. Call it stubbornness, call it pride, but I couldn't leave my house with her still in it. By staying, I was risking that the place would forever be tainted with her presence, but at least it would not be stained with cowardice.
So what you got up your sleeve, hero?
I had nothing. But did I need anything? She was a realtor, and she was showing the house. That was all. The Carpenters could make an offer; but Carla and I weren't selling, and that was that. Our decision was final, no matter how strange and macabre the situation was.
With this power emboldening me, I went upstairs and joined them in the hallway. They were exiting Jaime's room, and I wondered what they'd done to his toys, if they'd touched his Lego castle.
If they did, they'll be sorry.
I must have smiled at the thought because Ms. Underhouse beamed at me. Then she turned in a circle, her arms spread out from her sides. "The wallpaper here is lovely. A bit tacky, but I think it matches the carpet perfectly. Don't you, Mrs. Carpenter?"
The woman nodded.
"The bathroom," Ms. Underhouse said, pointing into the next room. "The shower curtain must go; and that toilet seat cover is atrocious, I'm afraid. I am truly sorry you had to see that, Mrs. Carpenter." She laughed. "But that's a problem easily solved! The main selling point here is the size, the double sink, that wonderful mirror. The window provides the perfect amount of light, wouldn't you say?"
They both said -- or, rather, mumbled -- and the realtor led them to the master bedroom. Usually a person will hesitate at such personal boundaries; even bathrooms don't present the same taboo that bedrooms do. However, Ms. Underhouse walked straight in, as if she'd been sleeping there the past two years. The Carpenters followed her just as easily; I was the one who hesitated in the doorway. I tried to make myself believe that I was appalled at their lack of respect ... but part of me felt that the bedroom was more theirs now than mine.
I shook it off and entered. Ms. Underhouse instructed the Carpenters to test out the bed; they did so, lying on their backs and smiling up at the ceiling fan, rotating slowly and indifferently. The posed themselves in front of the mirrored closet doors; toured the half-bath; even opened the dressers and rifled through them, not really disturbing the contents, but not minding them either. All the while Ms. Underhouse told them of the benefits of the room's size, the view offered by the window, the immense closet space, even the color of the bedspread. As usual she talked as though all the house's furnishings -- down to the linens -- came with the property.
Which isn't for sale in the first place. The thought startled me; I had forgotten.
Ms. Underhouse ushered us into the hall and to the final room: my office. I'd closed the door, but she opened it and stepped inside, flicking on the switch as if she'd known immediately where it was. The Carpenters followed, and I remained out in the hall, a mixture of dread and anger working inside of me.
I suppose I should have been equally appalled by Ms. Underhouse's intrusion into the other rooms of the house; I've long admitted (although never aloud) that my sense of comfort in my office is purely psychological. Of course it is. Often my office is the stuffiest room in the house; occasionally, when writing isn't going so well, it's the most frustrating. I should have balked when the realtor let herself into our bathroom, or when the Carpenters tested our bed. Our son's room had been infiltrated; perhaps they had tested the bed where Jaime sleeps, where he feels most comfortable. Hell, I shouldn't even have let them in the damn house.
But seeing them in my office, Ms. Underhouse critiquing the lighting (which I prefer low and soft), and Mr. Carpenter testing the springs of my desk chair, and Mrs. Carpenter flipping through the chapters I'd left on my desk ... something snapped. It started slowly, with me clenching my fist. I was overcome with a horrible case of heartburn. I swallowed it down and stepped forward, although I stayed in the hall. I couldn't go into the room with them in it.
No. That's not right. I couldn't go into the room with her in it.
My voice was low, guttural; part of me was scared that I could emit such a noise. It was enough, however, for Ms. Underhouse to stop her rant against the books I'd stocked -- many of them containing graphic content I used for research -- and turn to me, her smile still there but her eyes widening in genuine surprise.
"Excuse me, dear? I'm afraid I didn't hear you correctly."
"Get out. Leave. Go."
Her smile wavered, but only slightly. "I'm afraid I don't understand."
She meant it, too -- she meant it, and that infuriated me all the more.
"I want you to leave. You are not welcome in this house and I want you -- all three of you -- out of here right now."
The Carpenters were watching me with their nervous, indifferent expressions; he had arisen from the chair, and she had put the pages of the novel down, albeit it out of order.
"Well," Ms. Underhouse said, but her tone was friendly, not haughty, and that terrified me. "Well, I suppose we've really seen everything but the attic." She turned to the couple. "And all attics are really the same, aren't they? This one isn't finished; it's really just a place to store things. Nothing fancy."
"You don't know that," I told her.
She looked back at me, a puzzled expression on her face. "It's finished?"
"No. It's not. But you don't know that. You have never been here before."
She held up the clipboard. "Really, it's all right here. You don't have to go to any trouble to explain the layout to me; I have it all here."
How was that possible? I suppose the blueprints to the house were available somewhere -- say, the company that had constructed it -- but how did a person go about getting those?
I shook my head; not at what she said, but at what I was thinking. I didn't want to think; the longer I thought, the longer she stayed in the house.
She nodded. "You're a busy man. I understand! A family man has to work very hard these days. It's such a shame." She shook her head, and for the first time her smile dipped. Then it righted itself immediately. "But the outcome is worth it, isn't it? Why, yes it is!"
She and the Carpenters filed past me. Mrs. Carpenter glanced into Jaime's room one last time and mumbled something to her husband. He nodded. They went downstairs into the foyer and gathered there, waiting for me. I expected them to leave, but instead Ms. Underhouse stepped close to the couple and talked in a low voice. When she heard me reach the bottom of the stairs she turned around.
Her smile had grown; I hadn't thought that possible, but there it was, seeming to stretch beyond her ears. I knew that was an optical illusion, but the impression was powerful and I had to look away. I couldn't meet her eyes; they glowed as strongly as her smile.
I knew, then, what was coming. I started to say something against it but she spoke too quickly.
"Eric and Caroline love the house. I just knew they would. They'll take it!"
I closed my mouth. I couldn't think of anything to say.
The realtor looked at her clipboard, rifled through a couple pages. "We have the home listed for one-eighty-seven-fifty, of course. They're willing to pay one-seventy. It's a solid offer, and I'd suggest you take it, Mr. Paulson."
It was the first time she'd used my name. I hadn't thought she'd known it. That she'd use it now, at the very end of her tour, scared me more than anything else. Her tone was as friendly as ever, and again I sensed no ulterior motive, no hidden agenda, nothing evil about it at all ... but I knew. Somehow I knew that I had no choice. The deal was done.
Still, I shook my head and told her, weakly, "The house isn't for sale."
"Not any more it isn't, you silly. It's been sold!"
She held out her hand. I shook it; there was nothing else to do.
She opened the door and the Carpenters left, smiling at me, a little more confident now. There was a strange, unsettling look on their faces. Not anything phony or haughty, perhaps, but a look of ... accomplishment?
The look of a young couple who'd just purchased a new home.
Ms. Underhouse moved in front of me. "They'll move in on Friday, of course, which gives you and your family three whole days to move out." She sighed. "And now I have another showing. Always busy!" I expected her to hold out her hand again and was relieved when she didn't.
"I wish you the very best of luck, and it was an absolute pleasure doing business with you!" She stepped out the door and turned around, not looking at me but at the house. "What a lovely home, truly lovely!" Then she walked to her car, backed out of the drive, and was gone.
I stood there for several minutes, then closed the door. I went to the phone in the kitchen, glancing briefly at the counter where the phonebook still lay. The Living Waters Realty business card had vanished. It was entirely possible that Ms. Underhouse had pocketed it on her tour of the kitchen. Possible, but that didn't keep me from having my doubts.
The phone was working again, as I'd known it would be. My conversation with Carla was short and heated; when she slammed down her phone I pulled the receiver away from my face and stared at it until it began beeping at me. Then I slowly hung it up and leaned on the counter, head down, eyes closed.
We found a hotel room Thursday night. I made sure we weren't there when the Carpenters moved in. Carla thought it was because I didn't want to see someone invade my home like a swarm of termites, using our furniture and our heirlooms and our memories. I let her believe it.
Truth was, I didn't want to see the realtor again. There was no reason for her to be there on moving day ... but I knew she would be, exclaiming how beautiful the house was, how lucky the young couple was.
And smiling. Always smiling.