Romy’s wheelchair didn’t fit through the door between the apartment’s entry hall and the living room, but she told Harrison they should take the place anyway, that they’d find a way to make it work. “I can always crawl,” she said, half smiling.
“Funny.” He looked away from her. “You can’t make a decision like that, Romy. First, you haven’t even seen it yet. And even more important, we aren’t renting an apartment that you can’t get into.”
The realtor, who had led the way into the space, stepped further into the apartment, out of sight, discovering a sudden, intense interest in something on her phone. Harrison looked after her, appreciating her discretion, but annoyed by her all the same.
“Romy,” he said quietly. “We can’t live here. I should have measured all of the doors before bringing you here.”
“We’ll just keep my old chair inside and leave this one here, in the foyer,” Romy said. That old one has a slimmer profile than this fancy ride.” She leaned forward and peeked into the room. “This is the only place you’ve sounded at all happy about.”
“There are other places.”
“Harrison. Carry me inside, bring the chair in and let me look around. Maybe it’s just this door that’s a problem.” She wanted to see the apartment, knew it was the place she was supposed to live. She couldn’t tell Harrison, but she had seen it — had been seeing it for weeks — in her dreams. Harrison didn’t believe in messages, in portents, in anything that couldn’t be held and nailed down like the butterflies and beetles in his cherished collection.
She hadn’t counted on the small doorway, but it was only a detail, a silly one. Why would she have been seeing the building lobby, seeing the apartment number, seeing the showy whorls in the tin ceilings if she wasn’t supposed to live there?
Harrison, frowning, lifted her and set her gently on the living room floor, then collapsed her chair and brought it inside. He moved to lift her again, but she shook her head, pointed.
“Check the doorways first.”
He smiled and wheeled the chair down the length of the room. Romy leaned back on her elbows, looking left at the wall of windows that she knew from her dreams would give a view of a cloister-like courtyard at the center of the building. There would be Lilacs and Hydrangeas planted in odd groups at the corners, a narrow gravel path forming a Celtic cross with a fountain at the center.
“Every other door,” Harrison said, bringing the chair back and stooping to lift and re-seat her. “Why would you know to think that? Why should it be true?”
She reached up and stroked his cheek. “This is my place, Harrison. We’re supposed to live here.”
“Just like that.”
She nodded and wheeled away from him to explore on her own. She hadn’t dreamed the entire apartment, so was surprised by the odd trapezoid shape of the bathroom, pleased to find bookcases built in around the bedroom fireplace and a mirror with delicate floral etching inlaid above the mantel.
“You’re already decided,” Harrison said quietly. She did a little spin in the chair and smiled at him. “You’ll get a lot of writing done in that little office off the dining room,” she said.
“The door, Romy.” It drove him crazy how casual she could be, how readily she dismissed things she considered “details.” He begrudged her that ease because he always felt obligated to worry about exactly the things she dismissed. He was supposed to look out for her, protect her. And to her, that idea was so ridiculous as to be unworthy even of her dismissal. It never even made it onto the table for consideration. From the moment they’d met, she’d rejected his desire to help her, make her path easier.
“The door, Harrison, the door,” she mocked. “The door is nothing. So much nothing. I’ve already solved that problem.” She cocked her head and looked at him closely. “Is there something else you don’t like about this place?”
She was certain the only problem was his overbearing protectiveness. She needed to get out from under that, get free of it, hoped it didn’t mean getting free of Harrison himself.
“The place is beautiful,” Harrison said, calling for the realtor to join them.