The following is the beginning of a story a wrote many years before I became a real estate agent. If you'd like me to send you the whole story free (as a PDFcopy), click here. If you include your address, I'll send you a beautiful printed copy.

Burnt House in High Bridge


Looking back, Alice always blames the fire on Daylight Savings Time. It was in early April and by the time she and Frank drove out to the realtor’s after work, the sun was already low in the sky.
    Darcy had five houses to show them that day.  Alice could understand why she showed them the first two houses. One was a beautiful, slightly down-at-the heels Victorian, and truthfully was almost exactly what they’d described as their perfect house. But somehow the street it was on was dingy and a bit depressing. The house needed a grander block if it was going to be in a town. Side by side it sat with bland pre-war duplexes and square brick colonials from the 1940s and it just didn’t seem to fit.
    The second house was a glorious old neoclassical, which was rare in that part of the state. It had been perfectly - too perfectly, Frank thought - restored. Somehow in the restoration the patina of age had been removed.  All the surfaces were a little too glossy. Frank didn’t try to explain this to Darcy. Instead he pointed out that the small kitchen couldn’t be enlarged, as the lot wasn’t deep enough. Darcy had gotten used to the fact that Frank had taken the role of the Bad Guy, the Picky Husband. Usually it was the wife who played this part. Darcy found that Frank’s candor refreshingly different after the tedious whining that she’d come to expect.
    The next house was a puzzle. It was a small cottage in Port Murray that had obviously been a hunting shack built in the 1920’s and hastily winterized in the 60s. It was cold, dark and small. When they drove up to the fourth house, which was really an abandoned farmhouse, complete with huge falling-down barn and 60 weedy acres, Alice wouldn’t even get out of the car. Darcy realized she was loosing her clients, and so as they drove away she didn’t give her usual realtor’s pitch for the last house. In fact, she decided to be frank.    
    “Hey, I’m sorry about this. My colleague gave me these last two listings, and I’d never seen them before. I should have checked them out first, but I didn’t want you guys to miss out on something new that might be great. So, anyway, I don’t know how you’ll feel about this last house. First of all it’s in High Bridge, and you said you really weren’t interested in High Bridge. And I have to admit, it needs work. There’s been no work done on the house for 50 years, so the kitchen is prehistoric. But it does have charm. “
     Darcy says this last wistfully, as she knows how often the term is misused in her business. She’d shown the Millers the last two houses as a favor to another agent. Gloria had done her a good turn last spring, when she’d sold a real deadweight of a listing to a young yuppie couple who had the money to deal with the flooding basement and the chronic bat problem, and in return Darcy was trying to help her move these two useless properties. 
    And so they saw the High Bridge house last. By that time, the sky was black and the street lights made a yellow path on the sidewalk. The house was empty except for a few old lamps with 60 watt bulbs on strategically placed tables. Instead of making the house seem bleak and cold, however, the dark created cozy nooks and architecturally interesting crannies. The furnace must have come on, because the house was warm and dry. Since their shoes had become muddy tramping around the farm, they shed them in the front hall. As Alice, Frank and Darcy  padded around the downstairs, it sounded as if big cats were walking through the rooms, and somehow this was comforting. Darcy thought Alice, in her all-black outfit and her bob of dark hair even looked like a cat, warily checking out it’s new home.
    Without furniture it was possible to see the beautiful old oak floors, and observe that every room had the original, unpainted wood trim. The dim lights were reflected in the wavy glass of the old windows. Upstairs, there was a view of the valley and the old factory.  The master bedroom had a lovely bay window and a small adjoining room that could be made into a bathroom. When Alice saw the upstairs sleeping porch she thought of her grandmother’s house in the country, and she started to relax and enjoy herself again.
    In short, it was their dream house. Even Frank’s usual skepticism was absent as he fingered the carved walnut mantlepiece in the dining room. Darcy breathed a sigh of relief and decided to get Gloria to dump her two loser properties. She couldn’t afford to show her increasingly sophisticated clients those properties, no matter how cheap there were.