I can’t help it. Every time I see a sign, I stop. If the house is mid-century, I’m a goner. Must be my Wonder Years fixation. Garage sales don’t satisfy, but ESTATE draws me to the door as if the knob is a portkey or affixed to a magic cupboard. To Narnia and beyond.
Who lived here? Are they still alive? I wander through rooms filled with copper Jello molds and Corning Ware casserole lids. Sheets folded on the dresser are flowered and faded. A dusty Singer reveals a crafty grandma.
A bargain hunter unfurls a yard of vined green cotton. “What was this?” she asks. I avert my gaze. She holds a homemade balloon shade, plastic rings hand-stitched to the hem.
I say nothing.
She drops the item.
I shake it out and check for stains. Usable. Even pretty. With a tactile sixth-sense, I can see the hands that stitched it. Nimble fingers wield a small needle. The thread whips through the plastic ring over and under. The knot pulls tight. I feel the sting as she snaps the thread against her palm.
A man enters holding a blue-lined waitress pad. “Can I write you a ticket?”
“No.” I smooth the cloth back into even squares. Whatever it is I’m searching for, I haven’t found.
I deduce that the former inhabitant didn’t smoke, ate at home, only replaced what was broken. The curled formica on the kitchen counter testifies to her longevity. She wasn’t much of a gardener. The backyard is a forest of empty clay flower pots, six inches or less in diameter. She liked celebrations. The garage is full of Christmas, glass glittered bulbs in 1960s cardboard boxes with cellophane lids. A four-foot tree of spiky synthetic retains a few icicles. And dust.
There’s always dust.
The Frigidaire hums. Someone nukes lunch. The lady at the table by the door greets a new voyeur. I exit. Still making up stories and searching for Oz.