House For Sale

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A short story published in the Dublin Review

‘You must be fed up of them. Will they never stop coming?’ Tom O’Connor, her neighbour, stood at his front door and looked at her, waiting for a response.
‘I know,’ she said.
‘Just don’t answer the door. That’s what I’d do.’
Nora closed the garden gate.
‘They mean well. People mean well,’ she said.
‘Night after night,’ he said. ‘I don’t know how you put up with it.’
She wondered if she could get back into the house without having to answer him again. He was using a new tone with her, a tone he would never have tried before. He was speaking as though he had some authority over her.
‘People mean well,’ she said again, but saying it this time made her feel sad, made her bite her lip to keep the tears back. When she caught Tom O’Connor’s eye, she knew that she must have appeared put down, defeated. She went into the house and closed the door.

That night a knock came at almost eight o’clock. There was a fire lighting in the back room and the two boys were doing their homework at the table.
‘You answer it,’ Donal said to Conor.
‘No, you do.’
‘One of you answer it,’ she said.
Donal, the older one, went out to the hall. She could hear a voice when he opened the door, it was a woman’s voice, but not one that she recognized. Donal ushered the visitor into the front room.
‘It’s the little woman who lives in Court Street,’ he whispered to her when he came into the back room.
‘Which little woman?’ she asked.
‘I don’t know.’

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