Real Estate

It was like her mind had been torn from one dimension and awoken in another. He had certainly gotten her attention, abruptly and powerfully, like a fire alarm had gone off.

“What’re you doing later tonight?”

Those were the words he said, the ones he used, right after she had finished explaining that the space she was gesturing toward was intended as a breakfast nook.

“Excuse me?”

And that was her response, after a moment of chest-fluttering hesitation. She pushed her black-rimmed glasses up a little further on her nose, like she always used to when she was younger, and more prone to such nervous tics.

“Ah, never mind,” he shrugged with a polite smile, and slid his hands into the pockets of his black slacks. He was tall. He wore a dark-green dress shirt. His name was Jackson Miller. He was some kind of artist, but he conducted himself like he knew his way around the country club scene.

He was looking for a home in the area. His temples were beginning to gray. He turned away from her, his gaze meandering absently over the other features of the house.

Her name was April Lakeland. She was finally beginning to find her groove as a realtor, after three years of evening appointments and performance stress and coworker spats. She had thought this was just going to be another ordinary appointment, but she now found herself smoothing out her pencil skirt with her hands while he wasn’t looking. She was self-conscious about her belly fat. She cleared her throat.

“The neighborhood is nice,” she said with little enthusiasm. She checked her clipboard, going over a list of bullet points. It was difficult to focus on the words. They were turning all blurry and inconsequential.

“So, um,” April muttered, as she approached him gingerly and brushed a few strands of blonde hair back into place behind her ear. “Did you want to see the yard, or have any questions?”

Jackson sighed. He crossed his strong arms over a broad chest as he stared out the window at nothing in particular.

“I know this place downtown. You’d think it was a real hole-in-the-wall joint, all thrown together in brick and glass, but they have the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. They use these authentic spices from Iztapalapa that take hours to prepare and mix properly. It’s amazing. You can order a plain burrito and it’ll be better than any other burrito you’ve ever had. I think there’s this sort of racist assumption, on Mexican food, that it’s supposed to be cheap, but… done well, it rivals French cuisine for the amount of care and flavor that goes into it.”

There was a pause.

“Anyway, I’m not sure where you live, but I could really go for a good burrito and some good company to join me.”

He turned his head, and the two locked eyes with a sudden tension.

April swallowed.

“Okay,” she said quietly, and curled her lip through her teeth.

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