“A teeny, tiny little house.”
“Just a Tiny House – that’s what they’re called. Tiny Houses. It’s a lifestyle choice.”
“I can live here, be debt free, wander when I feel like it – and my snail shell will be here when I come back – or I can be like you, do what everyone else does, and spend the rest of my life trying to ‘manage my money’ and not sink.” He frowned at the look of shock on Cassida’s face as she stuck her head inside. “Maybe you should look beyond your platinum credit card and see life for what it really is.” He shook his head as he walked down the track to check if the sign was still standing.
Was it a mistake to ask his group to come here? Did he think they’d approve of his choices? Was that why?
No. He didn’t need to get approval.
Matt was here because it freed him. He owned the tiny house, he owned the land, his bio-diesel vehicle was enough to get him around when necessary. He was free.
The house was tiny. Adobe-mud walls, rounded over so from a distance it looked like a giant snail – or a desert-style hobbit house – with a semi-circular door, two main windows – and the eye-spikes at the end of the snail-walkway were helical wind turbines. The water tank was hidden below the walkway. He had water, power, peace. He had a small income from his military pension.
It was enough. Almost.
The inner sanctum had an open space on the main level. What wasn’t immediately visible was the bathroom, hidden behind the door that looked like a half-pantry. The kitchen was a sink, plank shelving that followed the curve, and his two-burner electric stove top. The crazy-pattern step-stair that followed the line of the helical shell went up to his private zone, the sleeping space. There was a barbecue outside, on the north side, near the vege garden.
It was enough. Except for one thing.
The small mound was the first thing he saw each morning on his daily walk. From the front door the rising sun sparkled on the granite. The rocks were laid in patterns of colour to reflect the spiral of the snail home shell home they’d built together. No marker.
The sign was still up, tall and clearly visible, despite the best efforts of the wind. Matt raised his hand over his eyes to check. Not many came this way, and the low roll of the hummocks of stony hills didn’t hide anything bigger than a rabbit. He’d see if a vehicle was within ‘cooee’ – nothing.
Maybe he’d have to tell Cassida it would be just the two of them. She wouldn’t like that, would she? If he didn’t tell her, and they sat down to start the work while they waited – to get ahead, he’d say – would she stay and not realise until too late?
No. She’d go. He walked back. She wasn’t outside waiting for him, so maybe she didn’t find it as claustrophobic as he’d thought she would.
He opened the door. Cassida sat at the slide-out table reading his work.
“This is so good,” she said. “And so sad.” She looked up at him with glints of tears in her eyes. “I didn’t realise Tiny wasn’t here. I didn’t realise he’d …”
“He died last month,” Matt said.
“Are you … do you … It’s just … there’s this person who went into a nursing home, and his dog … it’s going to be put down … do you …?”
Rose Brimson 2017 copyright