I rang the estate agents early in the morning, and arranged a viewing for later on in the day.
We’d already seen the flat – but I just wanted to see it again. I wanted it to feel real again.
I’d planned over and over what it looked like, where I’d put my furniture that I didn’t even own yet….
When we viewed it months before, the lady from the agency had said it was really popular, and hadn’t been empty for long. She made out that it would be off the market quickly so we should put an offer in then. But it hadn’t gone, and was still ready.
It was like it was waiting for us.
I crossed my fingers all day, wished on the clock when it was 11:11.
Said in my head over and over that it would be ours.
But I still didn’t know how we were going to afford it.
I just hoped something would happen and we would get it.
Neither me or Ryan slept well in that big bed that night.
It was funny really – we’d been desperate for a proper bed for so long, yet when we got one it was too weird to adapt to. We hadn’t slept lying flat for ages.
Mum poked her head in the bedroom and offered a cup of tea. She was already up and pottering about.
She suggested we go to the beach for a fry-up.
Two hours later and we were on our way, Ryan was getting arsey again but I wasn’t sure why. I think he just felt a lot of pressure to feel light-hearted and ‘have a laugh‘ but he was as nervous as I was that things weren’t going to work out.
It was hard to laugh and feel carefree when we knew Monday was coming and we couldn’t afford to get to Liskeard again unless it was to get the keys.
That said, when we parked up in the car park next to Looe river, and Mum began getting everything ready for a big breakfast we got involved with it all.
Once we all had a plate, we did relax and started to enjoy ourselves.
The sun was shining and the food was amazing.
It made a welcome change from all that fucking soup!
We laughed and chatted and I honestly felt a million miles away from the lay by in Plymouth. I just felt like we were on holiday, and hoped it was an omen for times to come.
We all went quiet for a moment, and Brad was collecting the plates to put back in the car, I saw a Tesco re-usable bag.
My mind went back to the food package from Sarah, and I got a heavy feeling in my full stomach. Our car had gone from the lay by, and I wondered guiltily if anyone I’d spoken to before would be worrying about me right now – and here I was having a great time by the beach.
* * * * *
After our big breakfast we left Mum, Brad and Tom to explore Looe by themselves.
We drove over to Liskeard, smoothing our clothes over and wiping our faces.
We’d showered the night before but even being in the car made me feel dirty now. Everything was just a bit grubby, or greasy. There was a layer of dust that just wouldn’t budge with my furious baby wiping.
I eyed the car nervously.
‘ Maybe we should park elsewhere and walk to the flat ?‘ I suggested.
‘ Yeah that’s what I was going to do.’ He replied.
We parked by the train station in the end, at the opposite end of the town.
It was the only bit that we knew was free to park, and we made our way down to the flat.
We were way early- but so was the young guy who would be doing the viewing.
He was really jittery and seemed quite shy. I got the impression he didn’t usually do the viewings and was eager to come across as professional. I glanced down and noticed his shoes, he looked young anyway but the fact he was definitely wearing school shoes made me hold back a giggle.
He was so skittish that his hands were shaking as he tried the keys in the door. He had a whole bunch of them but seemed to keep using the wrong ones.
It was making him even more nervy but now it was just funny.
Even he was laughing at himself anxiously.
5 minutes the three of us stood at the black door when he gave up and realised he definitely did have the wrong set.
‘ I’ll….. I’ll just nip up and …um…. get another set of keys…’ And he bolted back up the road.
‘ Won’t be a minute..!’ He called over his shoulder.
We burst out laughing.
‘ What the fuck was that about ?’ Ryan laughed.
We stood awkwardly by the door for a moment before the antiques shop opposite caught our eye.
It wasn’t so much an upmarket antiques shop that you’d assume, but rather a really old fashioned second hand, rag and bone type place.
It looked like a hoarders house – with everything you can think of piled on top of each other in a precarious fashion. The door was open but you could only step inside, browse from the door and point out the items you liked. Really you couldn’t walk any further into the shop !
That was the first time that I met Annette, and I still remember it so well.
She was the owner of the shop, and pointed to the weather worn painted lettering above the windows out the front of the shop.
It said, in beautiful circus style font.
Annette was a character like no other I’ve met.
She could talk to anyone and would try and sell to anyone too.
Ryan saw a tiny gold compact mirror in the window and pointed it out to me.
Annette was hovering by us and offered to get it out for me to look at.
I didn’t really want to but before I could decline, she brandished a litter picking stick and was groping around in the window for this mirror! She was knocking all sorts off the shelves and stools and books that were all piled in the window too, but she had a sort of knack for fishing for her items and within a few seconds she was pushing the tiny compact into my hands.
I opened it and looked into the glass.
‘ It’s beautiful..’ I said. It was.
‘ Iv got ten pound on that one’ Annette said without missing a beat.
Ryan was rooting around in his pocket for some cash. He didn’t have ten quid.
‘ I tell you what, because you’re so friendly, you can have it for £5’ she said, winking at me.
Ryan passed over a crumpled five pound note and she stuffed it into her top.
The lad from the estate agent had got back then, and was waving the keys around to show us. We said goodbye to Annette, and she said she hoped we got the flat.
I didn’t know it then but Annie was going to be my first ( and only ) friend since we came to Cornwall.
* * * *
The door swung open and crashed into the wall.
It had looked battered before and I could see why now. The cramped hallway was still dark and dingy, and had a weird smell to it.
But we knew about that and just wanted to get into the apartment again.
The lad led us into the flat and here it was.
Just as we’d left it I thought.
The dark hallway was such a contrast to the actual flat we were in.
The ceilings were high and the rooms were big – especially now they were empty.
The most impressive part of the whole flat had to be the windows.
Huge sash windows the same height as me, they let so much natural light that the flat was bright and airy. The kitchen was a tiny little space. But it had a built in oven and space for a fridge. There were two bedrooms, a massive main one and a smaller spare. The bathroom was fresh and had a shower and bath.
I peered into the toilet and turned to the young lad who wasn’t sure what to say except the names of each room as we stepped into them.
‘ There’s a poo in the loo.’ I said stony faced.
His face fell and he gabbled worriedly.
‘ What ? Is there ? Oh gosh, oh no.’
I pointed him over to the loo and he looked in.
There wasn’t anything there.
The three of us laughed about it and he said ‘ I really thought one of the builders might have left it in there then! I couldn’t believe it !’
We laughed even more and then got down to the more serious questions.
I said we were interested but there were a few issues I wondered about. I pointed them out ( No parking, paint marks everywhere, a pub across the road ) and boldly asked for a reduction in the rent.
Ryan nodded along knowingly.
The lad ‘ummed’ and ‘ahh’ed’ and when to make a phone call to the landlord.
We literally held our breath while he was gone. I sat on one of the low windowsills and looked down at the street below.
Please be ours, I wished.
I just want somewhere to call home.
I closed my eyes tight and wished harder.
In came the guy and he was stuffing his phone back into his pocket.
He clapped his hands together and said –
‘ The landlord said he’ll knock £50 off the asking rent..!’
We thanked him and asked when we could apply for it.
He said there was another couple viewing it on Monday but if we paid the fees now they’d take it off the website for any future viewings. We walked up to the agency and paid £250 in agency fees right there and then.
They would check our credit ratings, collect any references and draw up the paperwork.
As we drove back to Bodmin to meet Mum we talked about it.
The money we’d just paid was non refundable. It didn’t mean the place was ours – just that we’d made an official application for it. If someone else did an application as well AND paid the deposit, and months rent… We’d lose out on the money and the flat.
‘ It’s a risk worth taking ‘ I said. Ryan nodded but I could tell he didn’t agree.
I was looking at the positive side. They would be letting us apply and we could end up in the flat by early next week. He was looking on the bad side – we could have paid the money, have our credit denied for whatever reason. And someone else could swoop in and take the flat. AND we didn’t have enough money to cover the rent and deposit, even with the discount.
It was a lot to think about.