A house is just a house, if you are all alone,
It’s a family that makes a house a home.
What a wonderful house Carmen thought to herself as she looked through the Happy House estate agents online profile. The house suited their needs to a tee. They would even have a spare room that she could set up as an office or a games room for Lucy. The house was exactly what they were looking for and the even bigger bonus was the price. It was listed for just over half the original asking price. They were currently living in the two bedroom flat they had been in since her and Greg were married ten years ago and since the arrival of their daughter Lucy seven years ago it had started to feel a bit cramped. Greg worked on the oil rigs and was away a lot of the time on a four weeks on, four weeks off, rota. Now that Lucy was getting older it was starting to become a game of sardines when all three of them were home together. Greg was making good money and they could finally afford to move to a bigger place. Carmen looked through the house profile again and printed off the details and bookmarked the page. Greg would be home in a week and she hoped to God that the house didn’t sell before she could show him it and they could arrange a viewing. She emailed the website to Greg so he could have a look at the house himself before he came home. The internet signal was sketchy at best on the rig so it was unsure if he would see the house before he came home. Carmen was sitting in the dark with just a candle and the screen of her laptop to light the room. She blew out the candle and used the laptop screen as a torch to guide her way to the bedroom. She looked in on Lucy, as all parents do, and she kissed her on the head once she found her amongst the pile of teddy bears and dollies that littered the bed. Lucy was clutching a large Peppa Pig in her arms as she slept and Carmen was excited to be moving to a bigger place and it would be a great new start for them all in a nice big house.
There wasn’t much sleeping went on that night as she was so excited about the house and in her head Carmen was redecorating the rooms and planning where the furniture would go. The spare room would make an excellent study where she could retreat to write her poems. Poetry had been a passion of hers since she had been a child. She had a natural ability to make things rhyme. Even though she had been dyslexic as a child she had overcome the problem with her love of the written word. Ironic that the one thing you loved was so difficult to get to grips with. Carmen imagined herself with a solid oak bureau typing her new collection of poems. She was giddy with excitement and the next morning Greg replied to her email saying that she should book a viewing before someone else snaps the house off the market ahead of them.
The next morning, after Lucy was dropped off at the school Carmen went straight to the Happy House estate agent. She explained to the other parents at the school gates that a fantastic house had come up for sale and she was going to check that it hadn’t already sold. Carmen was exited as she walked up to the estate agent’s. The estate agent’s logo was a green house with a smiley face in it; Carmen smiled back at the sign as she entered the building.
The estate agent was a large lady named Gloria who dressed like she was a stewardess on an airline. Her fat ankles squeezed out of her shoes as she walked. The bloated estate agent informed Carmen that the house had not had anyone else interested but, due to the recent drop in price, interest was expected. Gloria took Carmen’s details and arranged a viewing of the house for the following Monday when Greg would be home. Carmen had a tendency to ramble on about how they had been living in the flat and how they were falling over each other. Carmen looked at Gloria, trying not to notice her collection of chins, and asked, “Why is the house price so low?”. Gloria looked evasive at first but then, after consulting her computer, she informed her that they have reduced the price of the property as they want a quick sale. “They will get one at that price”. Carmen laughed nervously. “I hope no-one beats us to it”. Gloria smiled back at Carmen but Carmen didn’t think it was a sincere smile. There was no reason in the world for Carmen to hate this fat woman but she did. She didn’t trust her and if the house wasn’t such a good deal then she wouldn’t entertain the bitch, but in life you came across all manner of unpleasant folk and that was how the world was. Gloria had been pleasant enough and hadn’t done anything to upset Carmen in any way at all, but there was something about her that seemed unnatural whenever Carmen mentioned the house. It’s probably all in my head she thought; it’s probably because of her immense size she wondered. Carmen had never seen anyone that obese in the flesh before and all manner of thoughts went through her head: how does she wipe her back side? Her arm seemed not quite to reach, is she married and is her husband as fat as she is and if so how in the hell do they have sex? A horrendous image flashed into Carmen’s head of Gloria and an equally fat man pressing their sex parts together in a futile attempt at intercourse. Carmen then felt a little bit embarrassed and made an excuse to leave. “I’m a fattist” Carmen thought. “I’m not prejudiced in any other way, but I must be prejudiced against fat people, really, really fat people” that was what Carmen had calculated was the reason she had hated Gloria. There was no other explanation that she could think of.
The truth of the matter was that Gloria hadn’t been completely honest about the house. There had been killings in that house and if this young skinny cow with the fit husband and lovely angelic child had known what had gone on in that house she wouldn’t want to set foot in the place, let alone live there. Carmen had picked up on Gloria’s awkwardness but not recognised it for what it was, deception. Gloria was hoping to sell the house and get the paperwork done ASAP before her and her husband found out about the murders. She could always play the ‘computer didn’t inform us of the house’s history’ card. As Carmen was leaving the estate agent, Gloria opened up the file for the house on her computer screen and deleted the details of the house’s bloody past. Gloria smiled and muttered to herself, “I’m finally going to sell the death house”. The house had been on the market for years now and it seemed everyone knew what had happened in the house and it was enough to put off any would-be buyers.
Greg had returned home on Saturday, and Carmen had the details of the house and she had pictures with floor plans that she had drawn planning on where to put the furniture and how the down stairs loo would be an excellent place to display her poems; all framed for the guests to read when they spent a penny. Greg could tell that Carmen was smitten with the house even though she hadn’t actually stepped inside it. Greg moved in closer for a kiss. Lucy was sat on his knee and Carmen was next to him with her arm around him. “I tell you what, unless the house smells of fish or it looks like it could cost us a fortune to renovate we can put in an offer for the house that day if you like” Carmen was delighted that Greg seemed as keen on the house as she was. Everything was coming together. There was still that worry that someone else would beat them to the sale. They had the money saved up for a deposit and with the house being so low in price they would probably have a little bit left over for any DIY jobs that would inevitably need doing. Greg had been promoted to drilling supervisor so they were in a good financial position when they applied for a mortgage. “All systems go”, Carmen excitedly shouted and Lucy copied her in her squeaky child-voice. Carmen couldn’t remember ever being happier than she was in that moment. The problem with highs are that they always come with a low and Carmen was waiting for the rug to be pulled from her feet and it all to fall through. But it didn’t.
When they went to view the house, they were informed that they were the only interested party. Carmen couldn’t believe that no one else wanted this house especially at the low price. “The early bird catches the worm”, she thought to herself. Before they even got inside the house Carmen was ecstatic. Greg agreed, structurally the building looked sound and the roofing had been recently replaced in comparison to the house next door. Greg looked at the house differently from Carmen, as do most couples. Where the wives and girlfriends look at what the house will look like with their furniture and ornaments in it the husband, or boyfriend, look at a house and think “How much work it is going to give me? How many trips to B&Q is this house going to cost me? How many wasted weekends will I spend fixing window sills and patching up torn roof felt?” What Greg saw, he liked. The windows all looked relatively new and none of the seals had gone. The brickwork had been well pointed externally the building looked great. They waited outside the building for Gloria the Hutt to turn up. Carmen had been keen as mustard and they had arrived twenty minutes early for their appointment. Carmen had explained about Gloria’s ample frame and that he shouldn’t stare. “I’m not going to stare”, he informed her. “She can’t be that big”. Gloria arrived in a small Nissan Micra and she didn’t so much as drive the car, as wear it. She squeezed herself out of the driver’s side door and the car’s suspension gave a sigh of relief as she exited the vehicle. Greg introduced himself, and they entered the house. Gloria pulled out her tablet and started rattling out details about the house. Cubic capacity, garden size, distance to the schools and so on and so on. “Doesn’t anyone live here now?” Carmen enquired. “The former owners are deceased”. Gloria hoped that they wouldn’t ask further questions about the house’s former owner as the tale was grisly and, if she disclosed the details of the deaths that took place in the house, the skinny bitch could cry off from the sale and she would be back to square one with this cursed house. “Did they die in the house?” Carmen asked. Gloria looked at them; and the husband looked at her with that look that says, “Well, are you going to answer or not?”. Gloria wanted to sell the house without actually telling a lie; that way, when they inevitably found out what had happened in that house, they would have no legal argument to ask for a refund. Gloria looked at Carmen and smiled. The rush of resentment entered Carmen and the feeling from Gloria was mutual. “My dear girl, almost every house we sell had some poor soul pass on in it at one time or another. The secret is not to think about it”. Carmen nodded and gave a nervous smile. She felt a bit embarrassed for asking the question. Gloria continued her tour of the house. In almost every room the floors creaked under the weight of the large woman’s frame. Under his breath, Greg muttered to Carmen: “The floorboards are getting a thorough stress test” and Carmen gave him a playful slap to tell him off. Gloria explained that the furniture in the house was to remain with the building. It could be removed of course, at a charge, but it was all theirs if they wanted. Carmen became even more excited than before. Some of the furniture was not to her taste, and there would no doubt be several visits to the tip with some of the fixtures and fittings, but a lot of the furniture looked antique. There were some quite well-constructed paintings on the walls and some of them were not too bad. The bedrooms had large oak wardrobes and a chest of drawers; in the dining room, there were tables and chairs that were better than what they were currently using. This deal just kept getting better and better. Gloria advised them that there had been other parties interested in the property and if they were interested, then time was of the essence. This was a lie, Gloria had no other interested parties but the objective was to get these two love birds to sign off on the house as quickly as possible before they learned of its history. The threat of another buyer would speed them along nicely. Carmen and Greg had no housing chain as they were renting the flat they were in. “Where do we sign?” Carmen said, chuckling like a giddy school girl. As they looked around the house every room was bright, spacious and either fully or partly furnished. Except for one room. What would probably wind up as the spare bedroom, it was completely stripped. There was no paint or wallpaper on the walls, just bare plaster. The carpet had been removed and there were the cold bare floorboards. The windows were clear of any curtains or netting, and the sun should have been making the room bright without the curtains and the room was unnaturally cold and dark. A bare bulb hung from the centre of the room without shade or chandelier. Carmen was going to ask what had happened in the room to have its contents removed but decided against it. Gloria had given them the house’s full details and there was no reference to anything specific about the room. It was most likely the previous owners had just had no use for the room and left it empty.
They had no problems getting a mortgage and their deposit was already in the bank, and with Gloria getting the paperwork completed in record time, they had the house within just over two weeks.
The following week was total chaos, moving all their stuff into the house before Greg had to start another four-week shift back on the rigs. They had everything in the house and half tidied up in two days. The beauty of having a spare room was that you could pile up all of your mess in there and the rest of the house would stay relatively tidy. This was a luxury Carmen was growing to appreciate. They even had time to organise a house-warming party the day before Greg was to go back to work.