She first noticed the creaking when they were watching television. It was on a Saturday. Mid morning. Reruns of that effete film director's coffee show. Or was it a chat show? She can't remember. His guest, an auburn maned starlet with long legs and a coquettish laugh was evading questions about her love life. They heard it right after another one of her annoying simpering giggles. creak creak creak. It went on for about five minutes and then stopped. And then started again. They had stared at each other, embarrassed. He then turned the volume up. They did not speak about it.
She heard it again the following Tuesday at 1:45 in the afternoon. She was eating lunch and watching Dr.Phil. A mother was sobbing while her fifteen year old daughter talked of sleeping with strangers in motel parking lots. creak creak creak. She stopped eating and looked up at the ceiling. Saturday morning was alright, but on a Tuesday in the middle of the afternoon? What were they, animals? What were they trying to prove?
She began to listen out for the creaking. She watched the television muted and with subtitles so she didn't miss anything. She wondered if someone was running a brothel out of their flat. When she met her neighbours at the mail box or near the communal dumpster she studied them discreetly, wondering who it could possibly be. The slightly older, fake blonde who shopped at Ann Summers? No, too obvious. The woman in complete purdah? Was she wearing Agent Provocateur garters underneath the metres of billowing black? Was it the teenage boy who she once saw buying Top heavy Mamas at the newsagent?
"We need to move out. The owner is selling up" he casually mentioned one evening over dinner.
"Move? But why?"
"I told you, he's selling the house."
"Can't we buy it?"
"What, this dump? You hate this flat"
"It's grown on me."
But the asking price was too high so they began to look at new flats, but there was always something wrong. Too small, too old, too ugly.
And then they saw it. Parquet flooring. A garden. Spacious. Light filled. The agent looked at them smugly, knowing he had found a winner. He looked at them grinning.
"Well, what do you think?"
He began to nod, enthusiastically, but she cut in
"I don't like it"
They looked at her as though she were mad.
She shrugged her shoulders.
"It's too quiet for me"