So this week, I'm watching The Ellen Degeneres Show and she does a feature called "Really Real Real Estate" and one of the laughs involved a "walking" closet. That stayed with me for the remainder of the week. Thank you Ellen for my #fridayflash inspiration.
Rose giggled at the typo, then swiped at her sudden tears. "Walking closet" reminded her of Papa, his gruff voice reading C.S. Lewis then taking her on an explore; his rough hand grasping her small one, his other hand navigating with a debarked branch, pipe smoke mingling with autumn fresh on their long walks. She substituted "walk-in" in her head. Lung cancer took Papa long ago; benevolent lions did not live in closets; and thanks to an overworked trucker cranked up on amphetamines, Rose did not walk.
She reread the listing. One level living at its finest. That phrase alone sold her, but the four bedrooms, three and a half baths, seventeen acres, mountain views and great privacy for less than $300,000 clinched it. Almost. For that price they probably moved the headstones, not the bodies. Still, privacy and a fresh start tantalized. A walk-in closet meant a wheel-in closet, and that meant independence. She reached into a side pouch for her phone and dialed her real estate agent, wishing a "walking closet" could be.
"The sellers are extremely motivated, though I'm not supposed to divulge that tidbit." Liz Quincy winked at Rose as she held open the door to the master bedroom. Rose wheeled herself into the room.
Liz's gaze darted from Rose's face to the chair's wheels, her expression passive as she said, "I think you'll find every room a perfect fit. And you can't beat the views!" Rose glanced toward the slider, murmured it was a nice view of Mt. Kinsey and rolled straight to the closet doors. "Oh, let me get those!" Rose heard. She tried not to giggle as her agent's heel caught on the threshold.
Shelves filled with walking shoes flanked the doorway. Rose wheeled past the shoes, swept aside garment bags to touch the back wall. Solid, nothing more than a closet. Rose snorted, angry at herself for expecting a fairy tale. "Is everything okay?" Liz asked.
"'Walk-in' closet doesn't mean a 'wheel-in and spin around' closet," Rose said as she backed her chair out of the space. Flannel brushed her cheek. A plaid hunting jacket, similar to her Papa's hung askew. "How motivated are the sellers?" Rose asked.
The Carvers looked exhausted as they entered the lawyer's office. Rose endured both of their wide-eyed gazes.
"A wheelchair, of course!" Mr. Carver said as he limped to a chair.
"Yes, Ms. Taylor is perfect," Mrs. Carver said as she fell into her seat.
Rose smiled, noting both Carvers bloodshot eyes. "Ms. Taylor is too formal. Call me Rose." The Carvers murmured "Joan" and "Steven." Ms. Quincy offered her hand and said, "Call me Liz." The lawyer passed out pens, Attorney James Nadeau emblazoned in gold.
Mr. Nadeau addressed Liz as he presented documents for Rose. "And your client's initials go here... and here... sign this one, and now, the funds?" The sellers seemed to hold their breaths. Rose signed a personal check; Mr. Nadeau raised his eyebrows.
"My injury lawyer was a tiger," she said and touched an atrophied leg. He shrugged as he presented a receipt for the Carvers. "Just this... and this." Rose noticed Steven's hand trembled as he signed the final document.
Mr. Nadeau slid the deed across the table. "Congratulations Ms. Taylor, you are a homeowner." Both Carvers sighed, their shoulders relaxed.
"Now that it's a done deal, may I ask why you sold your home at such a 'motivated' price?" Rose asked. Their lawyer shook his head at his clients.
The Carvers exchanged a knowing look. Steven cleared his throat. A red-faced Joan stammered, "We are tired of walking."
With the Carvers clothing gone, the master bedroom's closet appeared roomier. Rose unpacked her Papa's red-plaid hunting jacket, buried her face into the flannel, caught the fading whiff of pipe smoke and cherry cough drops. He would have loved living in the shadow of a mountain. As she hung the jacket, she noticed a slight jog to the closet. She snorted; secrets weren't always at the back of closets; she should have known. Her chair just fit.
The space opened into a slightly curved corridor. Rose's heart raced, thrilled to find a secret passageway. "Walking closet" was not a typo after all. Her chair rolled faster, momentum helping the descent. She almost smashed into a door.
The brass knob turned easily. The open door revealed a small workshop, sunlight spilling in between wide planks. Canes and staffs and walking sticks leaned against every rustic wall. Rose pushed herself across the room, touched a knotty staff, oiled and smoothed to natural beauty. Goosebumps prickled her skin. Not her papa's walking branch, but he would have approved. Rose grabbed the staff and tucked it between her knees. She wheeled around, wanting to bring the treasure back with her.
A tool-filled shelf commanded the space where the door had stood. Rose spun her chair, looking for an exit. Claustrophobia threatened. She swept aside canes and staffs, the clatter deafening in the small space. One wide plank leaned outward, a hook and eye-latch keeping it in place. Rose yanked the hook, pushed herself forward into a meadow, gasping for air. A gradual slope led to a distant house, Mt. Kinsey filling the skyline. The looming presence reassured her.
Rose could understand the Carvers tiring of the ascent; the mere thought of rolling uphill almost daunted her. Once her breathing slowed to normal, she seated the walking stick firmly against her shoulder and aimed the wheels to her dream home. The prickly sensation washed over her again; from her scalp to her waist, from her waist to her thighs, from her thighs to her toes.
Tingling was a start. Rose dared to believe in magic.