Pine Street Episode 45

Allison walked with her iced coffee up the street three blocks, then zigged and zagged until she stood in front of it.

The house she’d decided to buy.

Dark green, with white trim, an old roof (that’ll probably need replacing), and a brick red door. An overgrown yard, mature trees, a patio out back that would be sheltered from the prevailing winds. A front porch that sloped precipitously toward the street, as if to propel any occupants out at high speed. Yet the house seemed to Allison the most welcoming place she’d ever seen.

The simple fact that there was no For Sale sign didn’t daunt Allison at all. Sooner or later, the house would go up for sale. The market here was heating up, as the town finally recovered, lingeringly, from the recent recession. This town had clung to high unemployment and lower wages like an insecure lover, hanging on much longer than most other places in the state. But no longer. The town had done its therapy, read its self-help books, and reinvigorated its old gung-ho attitude.

People wanted to live here, where the cost of living was still about two-thirds of the big city, where neighborhoods had high “walking indexes,” where acreage outside of town shared water rights and wells and views of two mountain ranges ringing the valley. Where the big city was ninety-some miles away, two hours of driving time (a commute not much longer than many suburbs far closer yet with far more congested highways), and high-speed internet could compensate for the wintry days when avalanches closed the mountain pass. Property values were perking up, housing stock was coming back on the market, and Allison’s only question was when the green house would formally become hers.

This Saturday in June, Allison stood with her coffee staring at the house she already called “my house,” unaware of anyone watching, allowing tears to roll down her cheeks. She was single, about to complete a master’s degree that would have very little value in the commercial world, seeking something she could not name but something she was certain waited for her in the green house.

Strains of music from an acoustic guitar barely registered in Allison’s consciousness. The green house sighed, wishing it had been invited to the wedding party next door.

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