(As told to Libby Page by Miss Fashionista)
“Do you have any questions?”
I looked around the flat. No I didn’t have any questions.
“You should know, we sometimes get rats.”
Yes, definitely no questions.
“This is the sitting room. As you can see we have three sofas.”
Three grey sofas huddled in the carpeted room around a boxy television. The sofas wore a sad expression and a jumper of stains.
“If you follow me out this window we get to the balcony. It obviously isn’t great now but in the summer…”
At this he trailed off, leaving the end of the sentence hanging in a question mark in the air. In the summer… In the summer you could sit outside among these margarine tubs filled with soil and suspicious looking plants, and admire the view of the rear end of a block of flats.
“If we climb back inside…”
I followed him back through the sitting room and up the stairs.
“Be careful of the wires. Now, this is the bathroom.”
My eyes headed straight for the dark patch of mould creeping across the ceiling.
“We do have a bit of mould. But don’t worry, the landlord said he might fix it.”
I tried to imagine myself standing naked in this damp room. Maybe I would just have to shower with my clothes on.
“And if you follow me next door, this would be your room.”
Putting my head around the corner of the next door I saw a bed. But no room.
“We used to have a desk in here…”
I think he noticed my eyes widening at this small miracle.
“But Callum decided to take it out to brew beer instead.”
So that explained the large vat of yellow liquid standing on the shelf above the bed. I was quite relieved.
“As you can see it’s a fine room. Now this is your wardrobe.”
He opened a cupboard just outside the room to reveal a broken clothes rail and a heap of indiscernible items of clothing on the floor.
“And you saw the kitchen on your way in. So that’s it really.”
I followed him downstairs and we stopped in front of the door.
“So is there anything you want to know before you leave?”
Resisting the urge to cry, I forced myself to speak.
“How have you found living here?”
A noise, any noise, is more reassuring than a pause.
“Yes it’s fine. So are you interested?”
“Well I’ve got some other flats I’m viewing this week,”
(I’m lying. Can he tell that I’m lying?)
“But I’ll be in touch.”
I was never very good at lying.
“Ok well I don’t know how long it will be left for. I’ve had lots of other people looking around actually. So far no one has got back to me. But I have more people coming round.”
“Well thank you very much for showing me around. I’ll be going now. How do I get out?”
He opened the front door and pointed down the corridor to a heavy metal door, “You need to press the emergency exit button because the door isn’t working. And when you get downstairs watch the bikes as you leave.”
“Ok, thank you. Bye.”
I walked quickly away from the flat. At the end of the corridor I managed to get the door open and then made my way down the concrete steps. I tried to ignore the smell and the puddles. Once at the bottom a cluttered rack of bikes nearly got in the way of my escape. Pushing myself up against the cold wall I squeezed past and burst out into the street.
Freedom tasted like smog.
I gripped my umbrella close to my body and walked as fast as I could back through the graffiti jungle. All I wanted to do was get home and have a hot shower.
“So,” I thought as I emerged back onto the main street, all visions of a Cath Kidston decorated loft apartment with a roof garden faded into nothingness, “the search continues…”