Transaction (March 2020, Week 3 Day 1)
It was a quiet town, and not in a good way. It had the quiet of sadness and loss, of empty houses and storefronts. The quiet screamed that things used to be different. As Tia drove down what had to be the main road she saw more street signs than people. It wasn’t completely abandoned – there were open shops between the boarded up windows, and a few people meandered their way on the overgrown sidewalks. All of them turned to watch her drive past them and none of them smiled.
She remembered when it was vibrant, and she had been there for the beginning of the decline. Back then she’d known most of the shopkeeps and couldn’t walk or drive down this strip without pausing for hellos or at least returning waves. It was home and it was wonderful until it wasn’t. Leaving had been her response to the town’s shifting status, and yet here she was, rolling into town a decade later.
Under the baleful eye of an old lady with an ornate cane, Tia slid into the spot directly in front of a real estate agency – the real estate agency as all the rest had closed. Staying open in a business based on houses changing hands wasn’t easy when no one wanted to move into town. Tia dug around in her purse for a full minute before she wrapped her hands around a tube of lipstick. She ignored the scandalized look from the old lady and carefully reapplied the bright red paint onto her full lips, giving herself and the old lady a wink before tossing the lipstick back into her purse and zipping it shut. Tia waited to leave the car until the old lady rounded the corner – she didn’t want to be responsible for shocking the woman into a heart attack.
Inside the office, standing in the window, Will watched the car, the old lady, and who could only be his eleven o’clock appointment. The woman behind the wheel didn’t exactly match what he’d pictured based on their phone call, but he’d been right that she would stand out in the town. When the car door opened and a garish high heel that matched the newly painted lips emerged he let a smile play beneath his mustache. Leave it to Wiggins to have a tart like this inherit his house. What someone who would choose those shoes would do in this small town was beyond him. Will wanted nothing more than to get out, to start over somewhere that was still alive. He was trapped here until he sold his way out and, given how flat and forgotten it was here every day felt like he’d be stuck there forever.
Doing transactions like what he expected this woman – Tia was all she’d given him over the phone – to want was what he was used to. The only exciting thing about it was likely to be her shoes. He took one last sip of his coffee, winced at its burnt taste, and moved to open the door.