Challenge sucked at Maria. It tingled in an all-or-nothing opportunity to starve or crawl back to
. Make the deal fit through the bunghole or
starve. Yay! The nineties in north Phoenix
had been a grand old cherry pick for the real estate market. Show three houses and one would sell. That time was gone forever on pretty much a
slide downhill ever since. Last week she'd shown twenty-two houses to a
couple. They went back home to Georgia
to think about it. Michigan
Land was a different story. Nobody bought land who needed the magic commodity—a mortgage. People without financing lined up weren’t looking. Frantic from a ten-year wait at one percent interest, baby boomers fixing to retire had finally crawled out of their chrysalis, bringing their fortunes back to the land. Tough enough to endure the game called Short Sale, accustomed to patience to wait out land appreciation, buyers were solid and Maria loved them.
Killer depression soared as she watched her over-leveraged friends fall one by one into a financial abyss inconceivable twenty years ago. She'd been lucky...she didn't have anything to start with—nothing much to lose. Life for Maria was a do-over, the new part was real estate, the old part a failed marriage.
A Missing-In-Action boyfriend, sellers refusing to sell, lenders refusing to lend, a zero bank account and a recent chigger attack scrambled her brain. She trudged through the woods on sun filtered mulch, hardwoods limbs overhead dressed in eighty shades of green. Alone in a world straight from God.
buyer, interested in
seventy two acres of hardwoods for his retirement, would arrive Saturday. When they’d walked the property, they could
not determine the sidelines. He didn’t
want to pay for a new survey but didn’t want to put earnest money into a deal
until he knew where its perimeter lay. She
needed the sale, so that meant scouring the land for old survey markings. Florida
His need for an emotional comfort level made the plat, tax records, seller confirmation, or at least ancient survey markings critical to this deal. Best choice, she needed to find the listing agent who was off somewhere dancing the Macarena.
She squinted at the sun, glanced at her watch and compass, looked north. A glimpse of red stood out, forgotten storm debris. The sun began to bake.
Ascending from a ground cover of leaves that lay as fallen for countless years, silver maple, hickory, sweetgum, and black oak towered over her. Their magnificence made her woozy. Her good fairy pretended to not notice when she stomped a poofy swollen mushroom that exploded into spores. Her bad fairy’s eyes were closed.
Before wearing its web on her face, she ducked a fat yellow bellied orbweaver perched in the middle of her path, suspended in time. A length of barbed wire lay draped on the ground ahead, one end embedded in a red oak standing in for a corner fencepost. She unfolded a land lot map and noted where she thought the corner tree stood.
woods in person, how impossibly close together the limitless trees grew, she visualized
a tattered Confederate army, mostly shirtless and shoeless, running pell mell
through the woods, long rifles in their hands and knives clenched in their
teeth. Impossibly gritty and what
else? Romantic? Georgia
Better keep her mind on the present if she didn't want surprises. She scanned the ground for snakes. A knee tree artificially bent toward a dogtrot. A little further on, a second one pointed toward something.... on the other side of wire fence remnants hillocks loomed six feet long and four feet wide in two rows. In all she counted seven. An Indian burial ground. She wriggled through a dilapidated barbed wire fence and quietly approached the center mound. A piece of trash lay on the first grave among tall stalks of planted buttercup leaves, their blossoms gone for this year.
She picked it up.
No birds chattered, no leaves fluttered. Ever present squirrels disappeared. Long dead ancient eyes crept her. A sudden violet burst of wind spurted adrenaline into her veins. The sun folded behind a smudgy tin ceiling of thunderclouds. She could taste being unwanted, even though in the back of her mind fresh dry earth lying exposed on top of the leaf cover at her feet was just wrong. Funny. The woods still dripped from last night’s shower. She wanted to touch that rich dry dirt.
said her good fairy.