Tuesday, November 21, 2017

House Rules

Again, I'll start with an explanation. Yesterday I wrote the first part of this dream story.  And I talked about how I had the dream, I woke up took notes and decided to make it a story. When it turned out to not be all that coherent I decided it wasn't a story. Then the next night I was back in the dream. But it wasn't the exact dream. It was the same place and the same world, just more. So here is the second dream. Still doesn't make a lot of sense, but I still think if I put it down on paper (so to speak) and let it breath I might have a story out of it sometime. For now it's just a surreal landscape of an idea.

House Rules

She was unpacking her kitchen boxes. What she really wanted to find was her coffee maker. The late night putting up Christmas decorations after the full day of moving had wiped her out. She thought about taking a nap but really wanted her house unpacked. Maybe if she settled in more she would feel more settled. 

Though maybe she should just repack everything and leave. After all this was not exactly what she had thought she was getting in to when she moved. Yes, she liked how friendly everyone had seemed when she toured the place last year, but she had no idea she would be expected to be a part of every single activity. And not just expected, but required. It didn't sit right with her, but she felt she didn't have a choice. If she left now she was out her first and last month's rent and her security deposit. She would have to dip in to her savings account quite heavily to afford a new place. If she could even find one on short notice that she would feel safe enough living in by herself.

She laughed at that thought, she wasn't sure this really counted as living by herself anymore.

She looked around her tiny kitchen. She really liked how many cabinets it had. That was an important part of living in a small space, storage. The walls were lined with enough cabinets that she thought she would have room for a few non-kitchen items as well. Maybe her holiday things could go in the high cabinet above the entry way to the kitchen. She reached up and opened that door to see how much space was there. It was already full. There were Tupperware containers and lids in one half and a first aid kit in the other. She pulled the storage pieces down and placed them in to an empty box. Obviously the previous tenant had forgotten them in the move. If she found anything else she could add them as well and give this to her landlord to forward to their proper owners.

The first aid kit looked like it was designed for the cabinet. She pulled it down to check the supplies inside. She liked the idea of having a first aid kit in the house but it would do her no good if it was empty. She opened the box and was taking inventory of the items when her front door burst open.

"What happened? Is everything okay?"

Pam, the woman she had called the "Woman from the wall" all evening, was standing in her entry way. 

"Everything is fine. What in the world are you doing? You can't keep busting in to my house like this!"

"You took down the first aid kit, it triggered the alarm. I'm here to help."

She was stunned. "What?"

"The first aid kit. It's on a pressure sensor. If you move it, it rings in my apartment. I'm the head of the Safety Committee so it's my responsibility to make sure you are okay. I cannot believe you STILL haven't read all of your paperwork." 

"It's a first aid kit. It's meant to be a tool to help yourself. If I needed outside help I would call 911. I don't even need any help right now. I was just taking inventory of the supplies."

"That is not your job. Monthly inspections happen that take care of that. You don't need to worry about it at all."

"What's the emergency? Is everyone okay?"

Now her landlord had joined them.

"She's fine, she moved the kit without knowing it would trigger an alarm. She STILL hasn't read the paperwork. I told you that she was not going to be a good fit."

"Now, Pam, it's early. Some people need more time to adjust than others."

"Yes, and people who have never been part of a unit never do. She's not former military or police or fire, she's just a civilian. A writer for fuck's sake. No history of joining any groups or organizations. After the accident she didn't even have any family left. She's solo, a loner. Loners don't work for groups!"

"Pam! That's enough, the committee decided and you are out of line."

She watched the exchange getting more and more disturbed, "What in the world are you talking about? Did you have me investigated or something? How do you know ANYTHING about me, let alone that much about me?"

"I told you we would be running checks after you put down the deposit."

"I assumed credit checks. To make sure I would be able to pay the rent. Not a background investigation. Who the hell are you people to get in to my business like this?"

"We're your community. We're part of your social fabric now. You're going to fit it nicely, I promise. I've read your books, you write about connections. We are going to help you live those connections."

She was completely creeped out. Forget the money, she would figure that out. She was going to have to move. This was not what she had signed up for at all. 

"What is this box?" Pam pointed at the Tupperware she had pulled out of the cabinet.

She shook her head. The way people changed the subject around here was exhausting. "Those are things that were left behind. I was gathering them to bring to the office later. I assume you have a way to contact the former tenants and let them know they missed some things packing."

"That's not possible. We do an inspection of each unit between tenants. There is no way that things could have been left behind."

"Well, I don't know what to tell you, Pam, but they were. Maybe the head of that committee isn't as on the ball as you are."

Pam nodded completely missing her sarcastic tone, "Yes, I guess not. I will have to bring this up at the next meeting."

And with that Pam left her apartment. Her landlord was still there. "I know it's been an odd couple of days and you are most likely thinking about moving right now. But I just want to advise you to rethink that. You have a lease with us, and it wouldn't be cost effective for you to break it. Just read your paperwork and come to me with any questions. I'm sure it will all feel totally normal soon enough. And you did have a good time last night, right?"

And that was the crazy part. She really had had a good time. It was weird and it was uncomfortable to be told where to go, but once she got there and spent time with Jay and Barbara putting up the winter village on the front lawn she really did have a good time. And the hot chocolate was the best she had ever had. 

"Yes. I did actually."

"I thought so. Look, I am rarely wrong about the people who move in here, and I do believe you will be a good fit. But you are going to have to read your tenant responsibility sheets and follow the house rules. Pam will keep being a thorn in your side until she sees you make an effort. And you don't want that."

"Is that a threat?"

"Oh no," her landlord laughed, "It's not meant to be a threat. It's just meant to be advice. I'll let you finish your unpacking. And if you find anything else that has been left behind, please let us know right away. I'll see you this afternoon at the community meeting."

He left her alone again. Community meeting? She dug out her monthly schedule and there it was, 2 PM meeting to welcome new tenants and get new community assignments. Great. Just great. 

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