Brady Jackson’s black Pontiac Firebird slowed down as it pulled into town, the engine growling as Brady shifted to a lower gear. The car turned right at the first intersection and rumbled slowly past the neat well-kept houses that stood on both sides of the tree-lined street. Halfway up the street the car stopped suddenly, reversed direction for a few yards and then pulled into a slightly unkempt yard with a house a little less pristine than the ones surrounding it. The rumble of the engine died out and for a few moments the car sat quietly. Then the doors opened in unison and the two people inside climbed out; tall, blonde-haired Brady on the driver’s side and his girlfriend Amanda, black haired and nearly as tall, on the passenger side. They gazed at the little house in silence for a moment.
“Home at last,” said Brady. “Thank God Almighty, home at last.”
Amanda laughed. “That might be overstating it a little,” she said, slamming the passenger door closed. “Let’s look inside,” she said, stepping onto the cracked, uneven walk leading to the house.
Brady followed suit and a moment later was turning the key in the front door. The handle turned easily and Brady pushed the door open. “After you,” he said, and let Amanda step in front of him. She entered slowly, with Brady right behind her. They stood just inside the door and surveyed the living room. Heavy-cut pile carpeting, pale green and well worn stretched from wall to wall and into the hallway that led to the rest of the house. The long wall across from the picture window wore an off-white wallpaper, yellowing slightly with age, and the accent wall at the far end of the room appeared to be painted the same colour as the carpet. Brady flicked a light switch and a bright fluorescent light behind the valance above the window came on, bathing the room in a somewhat ghastly blue-green glow. Brady flicked the switch off.
“That’s gotta go,” he said.
Amanda grinned. “I’ve seen houses just like this in Transcona,” she said. “It’ll be nice when we get some lamps and whatnot.” She walked over and leaned her back against the wall, then slid slowly down into a sitting position facing the window, her knees drawn up to her chest and her arms wrapped around them. “I like the view,” she said. Brady walked over and slid down beside her and followed her gaze. A weeping willow towered at the edge of the yard, so large it covered nearly half of the front lawn, and the willow’s branches together with a giant evergreen across the street nearly obscured the house directly opposite them.
“It’s almost like living in the country,” said Amanda.
It was Brady’s turn to smile. “Almost, but not quite,” he said.
Amanda turned to look at him. “Would you rather live in the country?” she asked.
Brady shrugged. “Living in the country is fantastic till the boredom sets in and starts to drive you crazy, and living in the city is exciting till the noise starts making you nuts. So maybe this’ll be the perfect balance. Or maybe I’ll spend half my time being bored and half my time with the neighbours driving me crazy. You never know till you try.”
Amanda smiled and sat in silence for a minute. “I just hope it works out,” she said. She leaned over and let her head fall on Brady’s shoulder.
“Hope what works out?” said Brady. “Everything,” said Amanda. “Your job. My
job. Us…here…together…” Brady turned and kissed the top of her
head. “That’s five things,” he said. “Don’t be greedy.”
Amanda leaned closer. “OK,” she said. “How many should I drop?”
Brady thought about that for a second. “What would happen if you cut back to three?” he asked.
It was Amanda’s turn to ponder. “That would leave us, together, and either your job or my job,” she said eventually.
“My job then,” said Brady, and felt Amanda smile next to him.
“That would be my preference,” she said. “So what do you think? That’s three out of five. What are the odds?”
“The odds are strongly in your favour,” said Brady. “I think we should invest heavily.”
Amanda turned and looked up at him. “How much?” she asked.
Brady leaned down and kissed her. “Everything?” he said.
Amanda kissed him back. “OK. Everything. I have great faith in my investment adviser.”
The sound of a truck turning onto the street came in suddenly through the open door and a moment later the truck pulled up on the street in front of the house.
“There’s Randy with our stuff,” said Brady. “It’s time to move in.”
“Brady?” said Amanda. “Mm, what?” said Brady. “Are you happy?” she asked.
Brady grinned broadly. “Thrilled,” he said. “Good,” said Amanda. “Me too.”