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.
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.