Exhausted, Kate sank wearily into the rickety wooden kitchen chair, stopping long enough to straighten the worn cushion as it shifted. She’d spent the entire day getting her new apartment cleaned and painted. Eyeing the soft sage green on the walls, she felt a contentment that had been missing for a few weeks. Her eyes took in the new color of the carpet, which had gradually changed with almost a week’s worth of steam cleaning. The worn matching floral love seats and couch were covered with crocheted blankets, hiding the worst of the wear. All in all, she was satisfied with the transformation of her new place.
She hadn’t expected to have to look for an apartment, let alone in a new city, quite so suddenly. A former co-worker had given her the tip about a vacant apartment, which Kate followed up on. The landlady, a sweet, elderly lady named Mrs. Brown, had gladly shown Kate the apartment. She’d been having some difficulty renting it out due to the damage left behind from the former tenant. It was worse than what Kate had expected.
“I know it looks bad, dear,” Mrs. Brown apologized as three sneezes escaped her. “But as you can see, I can barely stand to be in her before my allergies flare up.” Three more sneezes. “Mrs. Pendle was our building’s cat lady, as you can tell,” she emphasized by nodding at the fur covered couch.
“Oh, I can see that,” Kate had agreed. Her heart sank as she thought she would have to pass on the apartment.The rent was beyond reasonable, in a quiet neighborhood, and near her job. The mess however, was overwhelming.
“It’s not very big. Let me show you the bedroom,” Mrs. Brown continued, sneezing in three’s as she walked towards the bedroom.
Kate followed, not expecting to feel better upon seeing the bedroom. She was pleasantly surprised to find the bedroom almost the virtual opposite of the living room and kitchen.
“I think Mrs. Pendle spent most of her time in the living room with the cats. When I’d come to collect the rent, I can’t recall seeing the bedroom door open.”
“What happened to Mrs. Pendle?” Kate asked as she walked over to the window to look out.
“Oh, her children finally came to pay her a visit. They didn’t come by very often. I guess when they saw the state of the apartment they thought it was time for her to go to a nursing home. I think,” Mrs. Brown sniffed, wiping her nose with a worn handkerchief, “if they’d bother to include her in their lives more than once a year or so, she probably wouldn’t have taken to all these cats.”
Kate nodded. “I see. What about her belongings? Will they be coming to pick them up?”
“I doubt it. They didn’t really say much to me outside of they were taking her to a nursing home. I’ve called them several times but they either reject the calls or it goes to voicemail. Neither her son or daughter has returned my calls. I suspect they aren’t going to do the right thing so-” she trailed off, shrugging.
“Is the building owner going to use her deposit to repair some of the damage?”
“No,” Mrs. Brown sighed. “He really has no interest in this building. I think it’s more for a tax write off than anything else. His best offer is the next tenant doesn’t have to pay a deposit if they take care of the mess. It’s really not as bad as it looks. I mean, it’s mostly cat fur and the carpet just needs a good cleaning.”
Katie walked around the small apartment, slowly, trying to make a decision. She had a couple of more weeks left to find a place. No need to jump right into this one. Still, she did want to move on with things.
“Will I need to sign a lease?”
Mrs. Brown laughed. “Oh no, dear. Mr. Landry, the owner, doesn’t want to be committed to anyone by signing a lease. I think he plans to either tear this building down or sell it sometime in the future. He doesn’t want to have to wait for leases to expire.”
Kate chewed on the inside of her mouth. She headed back to the bedroom, hearing Mrs. Brown sneezing. She stood by the window, looking down. It really was a good location. She could clean up the apartment with some hard work. She’d store her things in the bedroom until she could tackle the living room and kitchen. She’d made her decision and went to let Mrs. Brown know.
Now it was two weeks later and the apartment didn’t resemble the mess she’d walked into. Grabbing the greasy take out bag on the worn kitchen table, she tried to convince herself not to think about Kyle. It was because of Kyle she was in this tiny apartment.
No, no, it’s not Kyle’s fault I’m here, she reminded herself. He doesn’t know what’s really going on. I would have done the same thing and had the same reaction.