I came home today to a handwritten note from a local estate agent, looking to buy our house. Good morning! she'd written. I am guessing she's a woman, her cheerful cursive reminds me of the girls I tried to copy in school. I never quite managed it. She filled the a5 page with her note, neatly penned in blue biro. I was so charmed by her effort that I considered her offer, for a brief minute. To come and value our home, visit and put a price on someone else's imagined happiness. I've already paid the price for mine.
I imagine her having neat hair, a small car, maybe a Fiesta or a Yaris, a suit from Dunnes Stores, raggy, bitten fingernails. I wonder who else's doors she's slipped notes under. She can't have written to the whole road. When one of our cats went missing I made flyers and put them through everyone's letterboxes. And that took ages. She can't have sat down and written a note to each of the neighbours. She'd get a cramp.
But it wasn't photocopied. I checked. I ran my finger over the small indentations left by her pen.
The note said that she was sorry to have missed us. The ESB and the gas man say that on their notes all the time too, but they just post them through the door and never ring the bell, I know because I've been here when they've pretended to call. Our cottages don't have hallways, so having something shoved through your letterbox when you're at home on the couch feels unpleasantly intimate. We get few cold callers but when they knock, everybody has to be very quiet.
I don't know what I'd have said to her had she called, had I been home. I might have asked her in, shown her around. We have a big garden, I'd have said, aren't we very lucky?
We're here almost a year now, in our new house. You've probably been here too, I can't think of anyone who hasn't. It's been that kind of year. I am immensely proud of it, so much so that I am afraid to say it. Instead I say that the rooms are small, the windows badly fitted. They are. But we have a beautiful home. I have not had bad dreams since we came to live here.
I'd have told her we've only just moved in. I'd have told her about the problems with the plumbing and the bollocks in number 38, about how Dolly's house is vacant and how I suspect Mrs. Brady might be dead (really dead this time) but that she should ask Susan. Not that it's any of her business. I'd have told her how much we paid for it because that is, after all, her business precisely but she'd know that anyway, it's a matter of public record. It might be why she put the note through the door in the first place.
I'd have told her we're not interested, thanks. It's what I remember my mam saying any time someone called to the door selling something when we were kids. Back then it was travellers, mostly, which seems quaint now. There was one woman, Peggy, that she was friendly with and always had something for, but everyone else got short shrift. We're not interested, thanks. Dad would fish a pound out of his pocket and come away from the door with a holy medal. He didn't answer the door too often. Someone selling metered electricity called to the door the other night while I was out at college. I told him I didn't know what we pay, Andrew said, that you deal with that, so he said he'd call back at eight. Tell him we're not interested, thanks, I said. He didn't call back.
I like to imagine I'd have offered the agent a cup of tea but I wouldn't have, not in a million years. But I like to imagine. It would be nice to have a professional assess what we've done with the place. I cried my eyes out on our first night here, cold and snotty on a blow-up bed, the cat staring anxiously at me and the dull smell of other people's shite seeping up from under the floors. I worried my skin grey. But we got there, Andrew and I, with help from family and friends. There are still pots of unopened paint and plenty of pictures waiting to be hung, but when Caroline comes to visit she claps her hands and says I LOVE YOUR HOUSE with such heart that mine bounces in my chest.