It was our wedding weekend and Wesley and I had just jumped the broom. Wesley had thought it a silly tradition, but I insisted. My parents and grandparents had done it. So had his parents and grandparents…so to me, it only seemed tradition. After a lot of hemming and hawing, he agreed only on the condition that I take him to an open house sometime after we became husbands, so that we could look for a house. Looking back now, I think that’s when the weirdness began.
You see, almost immediately after I agreed to take Wesley to an open house, it seemed like something changed in the air. At the time, I chalked it up to hypersensitivity to the event and my surroundings. The very next day after the wedding, though, I received a piece of mail. Now generally, if I’m not expecting mail, it generally went in the trash. However, that day, I felt strangely compelled to go through every piece and check that nothing was important. That was when I saw it. It seemed innocuous. It was a pre-printed postcard for a new subdivision called Idyllville. On the front, it read in bright red letters: Make your new home in the Idyllville neighborhood.
What a silly coincidence, I thought at the time. Then I thought that it couldn’t possibly be for me. I don’t know many neighborhoods that would actually advertise this way, especially since…I’ll be honest, Wesley and I didn’t live in the best neighborhood. We weren’t poor, but we most certainly weren’t rich. Then I flipped the card over, thinking that, maybe if I knew some of my neighbors, I could get the postcard to the correct person. It was funny though, I didn’t expect that the postcard would’ve had my name on it, and that wasn’t even the weirdest part. It had my new married name printed clearly on the back; including my middle name: Watson Harold Younger. This should’ve been impossible, you see; It had only been a day since Wesley and I had been married, and the paperwork to file everything hadn’t even been mailed yet. No one should’ve known how we planned to combine our last names…unless the postcard was sent by friends of ours, and as far as I knew, Wesley and I didn’t have any realtor friends.
Despite this, I decided to show the postcard to Wesley when he got home from his parents’ house that day. He’d gone over to pick up a few things, and we had planned to sit down and decide which neighborhoods we were going to try to buy a house in. We knew it would be a long shot wherever we went, so the discussion wasn’t long. There were a few neighborhoods within our price range, so those were at the top of the list. They weren’t everything I ever wished for, but as a person who had been living in apartments for his entire life, the prospect of getting a house…any house sounded enticing to me. Then we got to the extremely long shot neighborhoods. And Wesley was all for it. I, however, felt afraid of the possible rejection of even trying. Wesley did his best to push me to at least try. “Go for it.” he said. “The worst that can happen is a denial, and that’s not even bad. It’s just a thing that happens. Don’t freak out about it, its not a big deal.” So, I relented.
During that time, the postcard popped into my head. I suggested we should maybe go look at this… Idyllville. If we were going to try some longshot neighborhoods, why not try Idyllvile. It was still in development, and the houses that were built looked really nice. The postcard didn’t list prices, but I knew they were expensive from the sheer square footage of those homes.
The next day, Wesley and I went to several open houses. The neighborhoods were cute. They felt safe, which, logically I knew meant nothing; but the illusion of security is a nice thing to have, right? After nearly a full day of browsing and not being totally and completely sold on any home, Wesley suggested we go see Idyllville. I obliged, expecting more of the same result we got from the other neighborhoods.
But then, we got there. These houses were decadent. They were huge, too huge for just the both of us if you would have asked me. They were all seemingly wrapped in these ornate and almost vine-like designs. It was stunning, unlike any home I’d ever seen. Wesley fell in love with them immediately.
I was so enthralled with the outsides of these homes that I barely noticed the sheer amount of eyes that followed us. It wasn’t that there were a lot of families spending time together outside. I mean, if I’m being honest, I don’t think I saw a single person outside. I just happened to notice the fact that every home contained at least two statues of…presumably nameless people. There were no placards that described who these people were. The statues were just there, and the deeper we drove into the neighborhood, the more I felt like the statues were watching us. Wesley seemed completely oblivious to this. He displayed some kind of…hypnotic gaze, really. I called out to him several times and he didn’t respond…he just, kept driving with this blank stare adoring his handsome face.
Finally, we decided to stop admiring the homes from afar. We stopped at this large, grandiose house with a huge Roman archway. The home looked to have been made out of marble and pieces of limestone. It was also the most beautiful house I’d ever seen. It had a four-car garage, and it was two stories tall, like a lot of homes, but, this house was so large, though, that those two stories may as well have been five. Wesley drove us into the long tree-lined driveway, and we parked. As he stepped out, that hypnotic gaze seemed to leave him, and he began to practically push me into the house.
As we walked underneath the arches, I noticed the two bronze, seemingly obligatory statues that stood in the front of every home. One of the statues was of a woman with an updo who seemed to be mowing a lawn. The other statue was of a man who seemed to be imitating the action of flipping a burger.
A macabre thought crossed my mind. I thought that these statues seem like a couple who could’ve bought this place. We then got close to the realtor, who said nothing, and only indicated that we should go inside. We did a quick tour of the house, and I was impressed even more by the beauty of it.
And Wesley, well, Wesley seemed happy, no, overjoyed at everything the realtor said that the house had to offer. I mean, I couldn’t blame him. This house seemed to have everything we had ever wished for in a home. It had a spiral staircase, lots of natural light, and backsplashes in the kitchen that would make any interior designer green with envy.
And we admired the home, the realtor stepped into view and said one of the few sentences that she would utter that day.
“Would you like to make an offer?” The realtor said. She phrased the question as really more of a command, which I thought strange, and out of seemingly nowhere, the realtor pulled out a thin stack of papers.
Wesley responded and grabbed a pen and began to initial and sign on all the dotted lines.
I shot him a look of anger. How dare he sign that paperwork without getting my approval. What about a credit check? What about mortgage financing? I said. But it all seemed to fall on deaf ears.
We should at least find out the actual price of the house, I said to him. I wanted a house and all at that point, but this was something I did not want to pay on for the rest of my life. Even as I said all this and his face turned to seemingly pay attention to me, I could sense that this was no longer Wesley. There was a blank stare behind his irises—something…not quite human.
The realtor then turned to me, and waved her hand, pointing at various lines and x’s indicating that I needed to sign. While this was happening Wesley stared at me, giving me a look that I hadn’t seen since we first got together in our sophomore year of college. It was a hopeful look. I didn’t sign the papers. I couldn’t. It seemed like it was wrong, like I would suffer if I did.
I begged and pleaded with him to come with me. To follow me to the car so that we could get away from that creepy realtor. Wesley didn’t respond; he simply gave me that same dead-eyed stare and blank expression.
“Will you be staying the night in your new house?” the realtor said as she turned her head to stare at me with that devouring smile.
I ran. In truth, I would’ve stayed there waiting for Wesley, if not for the fact that I couldn’t believe that that dead-eyed…thing that was in that house, agreeing to stay the night, was my husband. The realtor and my husband waved at me through the window as I drove away. It was then that I was sure that whatever was masquerading in the body of my new husband would never let him go. I drove. I drove far away…far enough away, that I thought I would be safe.
I went back to the Idyllville the next day, hoping that Wesley had come to some sort of sense or that, beyond the slightest of chances, that Wesley would be returned to me. I drove towards the driveway and the house and saw that there was now another statue. This one seemed familiar. It was of a man, jumping a broom. I inched my car ever so slightly forward, and that’s when I realized. It was Wesley. I drove away from the neighborhood and called the police. They questioned me first and then drove to Idyllville to question…whoever was there.
The officers searched the neighborhood and saw the same statue that I’d seen. They took samples and interviewed all of the people who I hadn’t seen while we were there. In the end they conceded that it was…strange that the neighborhood had a sculpture of a person that resembled my husband, but, they also told me that there was nothing they could really do. They’d tested the statue and found no trace of Wesley. Not a single drop of blood, nor hair. It was as if he was never there.
It’s been 3 years since that day, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of Wesley. I like to think he’s still there in front of that house. I imagine he greets every new young couple that comes searching for a home in Idyllville. Wesley had always wanted to be a part of the welcoming party to the new family in the neighborhood, and now, I suppose he always will.