by Liz Ryan
The house, two stories high, walls white as bone. The real estate agent, standing before the front door, smiling, teeth whiter than the walls. You approach and she ushers you in, always smiling, teeth flashing as she rushes through the details of the house.
Perfect for you, she says, and it’s clear she knows something about perfect; perfect suit, perfect teeth, perfect hair. You smile, as if you believe her, believe in her perfection.
Your teeth, yellowed by years of sugar and life, stay hidden behind your lips as you walk through the house, tracking dirt on the perfect white carpet. She pretends not to notice.
Beautiful house, you say, as if you know anything about beauty; ugly clothes, scarred face, messy hair, yellow teeth. She smiles, as if she believes you, believes in your beauty.
She goes through every room in detail, showing you the deep closets, big showers, nifty features. But all you see are the scratches in the wood of this door, rust in the bathroom sink, gouges in the floors, marks on the ceiling. The flaws stand out in an otherwise perfect room.
This in mind you look at the real estate agent. Suddenly all you can see are the wrinkles around her eyes, on her forehead, the slightly uneven height of her ears, a stain on her jacket, a flyaway hair.
Too expensive, you say, and walk out the door, leaving her white teeth to try their act of perfection on the next victim.
Liz is an emerging writer studying at Deakin University. She spent the first few years of her life toughing out the freezing winters of Waseca, Minnesota. The story of how she got from northern America to southern Australia is long and complicated. Suffice to say she did.