She always said that the house chose her.
Although she lingered in front of the estate agents for months, humming and hawing over the cost, the number of bedrooms, the location; the moment she stepped over the threshold the house was sold.
The walls whispered her name. And very few people ever said her name. Days, weeks could pass without her being addressed but the house knew her name and used it from the moment they met.
She moved in six weeks later. According to the experts that was unusually fast but to her it felt like an eternity. A return to being nameless and unacknowledged. The house greeted her as she heaved her boxes in to the lounge. Said her name appreciatively as she knocked down cobwebs and cleaned the windows to let the light in. That first night she sat amongst the boxes and treated herself to a glass of wine.
“Should I paint the walls blue?” she asked the house.
“Green?” she offered.
Silence. She thought harder. Tried to match the mood of the house.
“Yellow?” she asked eventually.
“Yes.” Replied the house and breathed her name .
She felt pleased to have made the right choice. She knew she wouldn’t have acted without the house agreeing.
Each day she went to work and went back to being nothing. A girl with no name. Part of the furniture. Bland. Ignored. Nameless. It both bothered her and didn’t bother her.
She wasn’t bothered as she now had something who knew and appreciated her. If she counted the number of times she was ignored during the day she knew that she would be doubly acknowledged when she got home. But at the same time she was bothered. She had become accustomed to being noticed by something. Mattering. She had become used to hearing her name said aloud. Her name savoured by someone, said with love, lulling her to sleep.
She lavished the house with love. It started as reciprocation, she wanted to thank the house for seeing her. For wanting her. For choosing her. Then it became a need. She wanted more. She wasn’t even sure what more there could be, what more could a house give her? But she felt there was something else so she pushed, doing more and more in case she could earn it. She treated the house, kept an eye out for things she thought it would like, wanting it’s approval. Wanting all it had to give. So she dusted and polished and sewed and swept.
She rushed home from work and polished brass. She spent lunchtimes pouring over colour charts. She laid tile samples on the floor and felt calm as the house whispered to her.
Finally she was ready for her final act of love. She felt the house deserved fine wooden floors. The house agreed with her. Actually the house seemed very keen on this idea. It was the happiest she had heard it. She rented a sander and struggled home on the bus with it. She didn’t feel like an inconvenience or stupid as, as usual, she was ignored by the people around. They simply moved around her to stand on the bus and squeezed past her to get off at their stop. She didn’t even muster an ‘excuse me’. People looked blankly forward as she bounced the sander down the steps and no one batted an eyelid as she yanked the power chord free in the nick of time as the bus pulled away from the kerb.
The house welcomed her home and she began to rip up the carpets. The house cheered her on. She ripped up the tired hallway carpet to whoops of happiness. The living room carpet was removed to shouts of joy. By the time she had been working for a few hours the house was positively animated. It shouted, yelled, almost screamed her name. The name that had remained unsaid for so long echoed from the walls.
Things reached a crescendo as she tore up the carpet in the dining room.
‘I know’, she soothed the house. ‘Think how smart you will be with your new floors.’
The house shouted until the floorboards began to vibrate with the sound. She put her hand on the floor to try and calm the house and to steady herself. As she wobbled forward her fingertips brushed against a ridge.
‘Yes.’ The house said.
She pulled on the board and the house roared it’s approval. She lifted and there beneath the floor sat a man on a low stool. He looked at her and she looked back. Her heart swelled with love.
“You’ve been calling for me” she breathed.
“You’re not who I thought you were.” Replied the man who was no longer a house.
It turns out that Sarah is a very common name.