| Vacancies |

Vacancies: Chapter 6

What did Laya of the $300 shoes need that commission for?

Talia was still unpacking the boxes. It shouldn’t have been taking so long, just her stuff and Esti’s. But it wasn’t dump, fold, next; it was stop, appraise, consider, wonder which of her belongings she could afford to sell. She’d joined the eBay community — this time as a seller. Every dollar helped, didn’t it?

The window — curtainless — cast a square of sun on the carpet. Mid-afternoon already.

What did other agents do on days without viewings? Her lips twisted. They probably had friends, family. They probably had lives.

She was trying to make a life.

Remake a life.

She examined a pair of Nikes, never worn, they’d pinched her toes. She put them in the pile of things to list.

She’d bought them on the fly in the outlets. When had she let herself act on a whim? It was part Yosef, she had to admit. She’d followed him into the sunset, but he was a schemer-dreamer, always chasing another dream, success tantalizingly close but just out of reach. At the end, they had nothing. Dream dust and disappointment.

And that’s why she had to do this, she thought bitterly, wear herself thin. She shoved the Nikes deeper into the pile. Soon they’d be okay, she’d be supporting them. When she earned that commission. If…

Her phone rang. Out-of-state number.

The caller spoke clipped and fast. “Good afternoon, Barry here, I gave it some thought. I don’t need a storefront after all… could just as well be on the second floor somewhere.”

Oh, the podiatrist. But….

“I think we may have found something, just out of Bayton. That storefront did seem nice, but, uh, once I heard the location is haunted…”

“What?”

“Look, I’m not superstitious. But I couldn’t do it. For my old mother’s sake.” He made a self-deprecating, scratching sound. “She believed in these things, you know, never let us take that shortcut through the woods as kids…”

“Oh,” she said, even as she should’ve been firing questions at him. What are you talking about? Who told you that? Was it Laya?

It must have been Laya.

That sound again, and then, “Thanks. And by the way, don’t worry, I’ll recommend you to colleagues if I hear they’re looking to move, you don’t need to—”

“Uh, thanks,” she said stiffly, jabbed off the phone and sent it arcing onto the bed.

She was that transparent. Was the desperation in her eyes? Good thing she’d returned those outrageous shoes to Tziptoes, nothing could help.

As if in response, her phone flashed. Regal Realty. Got a call from mall owner that storeowner from next door is bringing someone over tomorrow. Just wanted to keep you in the loop.

Storeowner from next door. Laya.

Who thought the store was haunted, who’d told Barry that pack of lies? She’s bringing someone else over.

Unless she only told some people those stories. The sort of people who owned businesses that would attract an older, more practical clientele. Not the kind to buy dress heels.

Her head hurt.

Why? What did Laya of the $300 shoes need that commission for?

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 658)

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