I’ve decided I might have to do some story plotting this week. If you have ideas, feel free to speak now! Today’s segment is continued from here. A complete list of installments is at the bottom.
It’s the smell that hits me when I step into the tiny, whitewashed house — the smell of mildew and unwashed work socks and faded fried egg. Overtop of it all is a sour, yeasty odor that seems to be coming from a large glass jar on the counter.
“A kind of pickled cabbage,” Mr. Baecker explains, somewhat apologetically.
He’s brought me here to tour my future home, and I try to force myself to imagine a life here. I could hang curtains, I suppose, so the kitchen window didn’t stare directly into the plank walls of the neighbor’s wall. And I could clean. At least that’s one thing I know how to do.
“It’s nice and bright,” I say. I know I have to say something to take that half-hopeful, half-embarrassed look off his face. But as I say the words, my eyes fall on a knothole in the kitchen wall — a hole that leads directly outside.
“The wind comes through a bit in the winter, but there’s a good stove,” Mr. Baecker says.
I feel another pang of sympathy for him. He looks like a schoolboy trying desperately to impress his teacher. It scares me a little. Who am I to live up to all of these expectations? Sure, I can cook and clean for him, but this man wants to hang his life on mine, all the basis of my blonde curls and a few letters that weren’t even from me.
I suppose if I were Mattie I could tilt my chin and lower my eyelids and purr, “A little wind won’t matter, honey. We can keep each other warm.”
I blush at the thought of it, and Mr. Baecker — darn the man for watching me so closely — takes my elbow. “It’s hot today. Maybe we go back to Mrs. Jennings’ home and have a drink together.”
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