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She No Longer Lives Here

There was an unexpected knock at the front door yesterday late afternoon. My 6 year old looked out the window and said, “It’s a lady I don’t know.”

I opened the door, and sure enough, there was a middle-aged woman standing there. Her minivan was parked in our driveway; the side door was open, and I could see a young child in the seat.

The woman said she wasn’t sure she had the right house, but she was looking for the woman who gave music lessons. We bought this house over six years ago, and I know the woman of the family that lived here then taught piano out of this house. I explained that the woman who taught music no longer lived here, and hasn’t for six years.

“Do you know her name?” this woman asked.

I have a vague recollection of the name, but it’s four or five syllables. I said, “I think it’s something like,” and I tried to pronounce it two or three ways. I doubt any way was the actual, correct way. I apologized for mangling the name beyond usefulness.

The woman standing on my porch asked was I sure I didn’t know the name. I said I was sure. She asked if I knew where she lived. I said I didn’t know. She asked, “But she doesn’t live here?” I paused a moment, confused by the question. “Right,” I confirmed.

This woman then explained that the music teacher taught her older daughter, and she wanted the teacher to teach her next daughter. “Yes,” I said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to get up with her.”

Then this woman asked if I had anything with the music teacher’s name or address on it. “No,” I said, “it’s been six years.”

“Wouldn’t her name be on the, . . .” she gestured with her hands, “contract, or whatever the papers are?”

At this point, I was about to laugh. This was absurd. This woman just seemed disbelieving that she had the right house, but was six years too late.

“Yeah,” I said, “her name is probably on the paperwork. But it’s filed away, and would take a while to get.”

“Would take a while to get,” she repeated.

She stood there a few moments as if hoping I’d go find the papers. After several seconds, she must have realized I wasn’t going to do it, so she just thanked me and walked off the porch. I watched her go back to her van, and then closed the door.

That was an interesting encounter.


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