A Little Private Room

On the second walk-through of the house, Simon paused in front of a closed door upstairs and turned to the real estate agent. “What’s this door? A closet?”

It didn’t seem to lead to any of the rooms that they had already seen, and as Simon stood and tried to visualize the floorplan of the house, he had the distinct feeling there was an unvisited space in the second storey exactly where that door would lead. Not a huge space: not an entire bedroom. But bigger than a linen closet, perhaps ten feet by ten feet.

“Oh,” said the real estate agent in a casual, dismissive tone. “It’s just a little private room.”

Simon tried the knob, but it wouldn’t turn. Then he noticed a little keyhole underneath. “Do you have the key?”

“I don’t,” said the real estate agent. “But there’s nothing really in there. It’s just a little private room.”

The repetition of the phrasing struck Simon funny and he decided (as he sometimes did) that he wanted to be stubborn about it. “Well,” he said, suddenly aware of the folded offer letter in his hand as he spoke. “I’d really be more comfortable if I could see inside.”

He was forty years old now, after all. He wasn’t married and he didn’t expect to be. But he was buying the first house that he would own, and he didn’t want to be incautious about anything. He didn’t want to be forty years old with a house that he learned too late had some unpleasant surprise.

“I really don’t know if that will be possible,” said the real estate agent. “I can call the current owner and see if they have a key. But I’m showing the house to another couple this afternoon, and they are extremely interested in the property. That’s why I was so eager to get you back in here this morning.”

Simon shifted his weight from foot to foot. He didn’t know if the real estate agent really had another showing that afternoon. He didn’t know if she really didn’t have a key. He didn’t know if there was some reason she didn’t want to show him the room.

“It’s just a little room?” he asked. He couldn’t bring himself to use that word she kept repeating. He couldn’t bring himself to call it private like she did. “There’s nothing bad inside? No mold, nothing like that? Nothing that would need to be disclosed?”

“No,” laughed the real estate agent, pushing a strand of hair away from her face. “There’s nothing bad inside. It’s just a little private room with drawers and cupboards and a countertop. A lot of houses have them. You can use it for a closet if you ever find the key.”

“Well,” said Simon, as he tried to decide if he was being too stubborn. But of course, there was still the home inspection to do. He could still back out if something really bad was found. “Okay. I guess it doesn’t make much difference, if it’s just a little room.”

“That’s right,” said the real estate agent, holding out a pen so he could sign his offer letter. “Just a little private room.”