That House

My wife wanted the house down the street. “It’s just so perfect,” she would say.

To me it looked just the same as ours, but she would snort when I said that, adding some derisory comment about men and the finer things in life. I shrugged, as I have become in the habit of doing lately — why go into battle when there is a much smoother alternative, that is, to run and hide while the storm rages? The storm did pass, and Fiona did not mention the house for a few days… but then it came.


“Hmmm?” (I was reading my newspaper, and hoping that whatever she wanted, it might go away with a bit of disinterest.)


I put the paper down and sighed. “What is it, love?”

“That house down the street. Number 32. I want you to go and talk to them.”

“Me? What about?”

“You know very well what about. Find out if they’ll sell.”

“But, surely,” I protested, “if they wanted to sell, then it would be up for sale.”

“Henry, you never know. Maybe they would like a change and don’t even know it.”

I considered returning to my paper, but realised that I was too entangled in this conversation to get out easily.


She looked at me suspiciously. “Alright what?”

“I’ll go and speak to them.”

I returned to my newspaper, more in desperation than anything else, but I sensed that she was not done.


“Yes dear?”

“Now please.”

So I went and spoke to them, a lovely couple our age, and, as I expected, they were not planning on moving. But I thought I detected a sudden glint in the woman’s eye, and I definitely noticed that her husband had noticed, so on the way out I pulled him to one side and explained my desperate situation. He nodded sympathetically and said that he would see what he could do. Which was a miracle, because we ended up swapping houses, at minimal financial loss to both parties. I could not believe my good fortune.

And there it ended.

Until one fateful morning, not long after, when my wife noticed how prettily they had done up our old house.