“What if they fail us? Then what?” I asked Tom as we stood in our empty house in Wyoming.
“They won’t,” Tom answered.
I started to nibble on my fingernail. There is no way I’d ever bother with a manicure. It would be destroyed in less than an hour. “But if they fail us—”
Tom was probably right. We paid for a cleaner, after all. See, when you live in base housing, you have to clean the house before you can move. Some people do it themselves. Other people hire cleaners. Like us.
“They’re here,” Tom said, staring out the window.
Sure enough the housing vehicle pulled up and parked in the driveway. I chewed my lower lip. This was it. The moment of truth.
It was a woman and a man. The woman looked friendly. For some reason I had pictured an old woman who would swipe her fingers against the counters searching for dust. This woman was young and I watched as she started opening and closing kitchen cabinets. She didn’t say much, she just walked around and checked things off her list.
“I’m nervous,” I whispered to Tom.
“It’s fine,” he assured me.
The woman went into the garage. We followed behind her like lap dogs. She opened the back door and opened the trash can.
“Did you wash this?” she asked, her eyes narrowing.
I knew Tom had washed it a few days before but who knows if the antelope messed with it?
“I did,” Tom confirmed.
“There’s a residue that needs to come off,” the woman said.
So we had to wheel the trash into the house and wash it off in the kitchen since our hose was packed.
That was fun.
The plus? That was the only problem she found. As soon as she checked that we cleaned the trash can, she signed us off.
“You’re free to go,” she said.
It’s a strange feeling handing over the keys to your home that you lived at for nearly five years. I felt my heart squeeze.
“What’s wrong? You do know we passed,” Tom said, easily handing his key over.
I tugged the key loose from my keychain. “I know. But this is the house where we brought our daughter home from the hospital. I still remember walking through the front door and setting her over there.”
I expected Tom to be moved. Instead he was like, “Could you hand her the key so we can go?”
I passed the key over to the woman. “I’ll miss this house.”
She didn’t seem moved either.
She just pocketed the key and handed us over the paperwork that showed we were cleared from the house.
It was no longer our house.
It belonged to the military again.
We headed for the front door. Before I walked out and turned and stared at the empty walls, at the indentations where our couch used to sit, of the spot where Natalie started to walk....
“Amber. Are you coming?” Tom was sitting in the car.
There was the spot where Natalie smiled for the first time. Where Tommy wrote his first sentence. The kitchen where Tom swung me around and said he’d love me forever..
“I’m coming.” I blinked and closed the door for the last time.
Tom noticed I was down when I got in my seat. “It’ll be okay,” he said. “It’s time for a new house. In Oklahoma.”
I nodded. “I know. It’s just…this home has so many memories.”
Tom backed the car out and I watched the house. There was the front yard where Tommy learned how to ride a two wheeler bike...
“But I guess it’s time to make new memories. In Oklahoma. So goodbye Wyoming house. You were good to us,” I continued.
Tom frowned. “I recall a lot of things breaking down in this house.”
There was the issue with the sink. And the toilets that seemed to always run water. And the carbon monoxide alarms would always go off and I’d think we were going to die in our sleep....
Still. I’ll remember the good, not the bad.
“Onto Oklahoma,” I said to Tom with a smile.
He smiled back. “Onto Oklahoma.”