Alice walked through the front door of the eleventh house she had viewed that day. Expecting yet another boring, and unimaginative space, she was surprised by what she was seeing. The outside of the house was appealing with its country-cottage quality, nestled as it was amid slightly over-grown shrubs and ivies. There was even a climbing rose in on a trellis next to the entrance. But this! This amazing room with the hardwood floors, open-beam ceiling and enormous fireplace was… well it was a home. At least, it could very well be. It certainly felt right.
From her position at the entrance, Alice surveyed her surroundings. Off to the left was the kitchen – a bit too sterile-looking with its stark white walls, but that was nothing a bit of paint couldn’t fix. Through a wide garden door, she saw the snow covered yard and imagined it in the summer with a vegetable garden and squirrels nattering in the trees. A broad hallway in front of the kitchen led to two bedrooms, a bathroom and laundry room.
She envisioned her round entry table, her mantle clock, her favourite photos and, most importantly, her ceramic bust of Beethoven in the corner window where he would preside next to her grand piano for which there was plenty of room. In short, it was perfect.
Being the practical woman that she was, though, Alice turned to the real estate agent. “What’s wrong with it?”
Ted, a seasoned professional, cleared his throat and took a few steps into the room. “To be honest, Miss Turcotte, it does need a little TLC.”
He shuffled a sheaf of papers and handed them to her. Among them was the description and photo of the property, a list of approximate annual expenses, including estimated taxes and utility costs, and a disclosure form where, Alice noticed, far too many boxes had been checked off. She ran her eyes down the list and determined that TLC was just a bit of an understatement.
While her heart tugged her toward its charm, her mind was tallying the cost of upgrades and repairs the house would require to make it liveable. The asking price was modest, but the renovations were bordering on astronomical. Alice sighed. She needed a place to live, but she needed a place she could move into without having to practically rebuild it from scratch. Tired and feeling defeated, she handed the papers back to Ted and turned to leave.
“Don’t you want to see the rest of it?” Ted asked.
“It really is a lovely little house, but from what I can see it wold cost a fortune to fix it up. There’s electrical problems, plumbing problems, the roof leaks and the foundation is sinking. I love it, but I don’t want to buy myself an expensive project. I think I’ll have to pass on this one.” She opened the front door to step back outside. Sadly, she was trying to choose from one of the other ten houses she’d looked at that day. None of them had even remotely interested her, but time was running out and she needed to live somewhere. The next best option was a split-level on a large corner lot “close to shopping and schools.” Alice shuddered. The whole area was filled with uninteresting boxes that were barely distinguishable from each other.
A gentle snow was falling as she stepped off of the small covered porch onto the top step. The street lights were flickering on up and down the road, casting a soft yellow light over the neighbourhood. Small foot prints could be seen coming from the side of the yard and disappearing through the open gate in the scalloped picket fence. Alice followed them through the fresh snow while Ted locked up.
The front yard was not large. Clusters of trees and immaculate garden beds had reduced what little lawn there would be in the summer to an asymmetrical splash of grass that resembled lop-sided butterfly wings on either side of the cobbled walkway. When Alice reached the footprint path from the walkway onto the lawn she stopped short and smiled.
“Ted,” she said as he came up to her. “I think I’ve changed my mind.”
Ted followed her gaze across the snow. There, between the trees and garden beds were three perfect snow angels. Below them, written in stones and twigs was the word, “Welcome.”
And Alice knew that she was home.