When Mum and Tammy have to walk to school from the other side of town, Mum begins to wonder about the motives of a very smiley real estate agent with unnaturally blue eyes.
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Mum and Tammy were walking home from the panel beaters. Mum had run over a star picket outside the gym, and her skirt panel needed to be replaced. It was a sore topic with mum. She was very angry about that star picket.
Mum liked to process her feeligns and be rational about them, but that process could take time and in the meantime she would be irrational. Tammy, indeed everyone in the family knew not to mention either star pickets, skirt panels or the cost of panel beating to Mum until she had fully rationalised her emotions.
But they were enjoying the walk. It was different to the walks they normally took. It was the through an industrial area they never normally went. Even Stanley, the dog was enjoying it. There were so many different things to smell.
Mum and Tammy looked about at the wreckers yards, mechanics and wholesale organic produce businesses with interest.
‘There are so many interesting things to see here,’ said Mum.
‘There are a lot of weeds,’ said Tammy.
‘That’s because it’s an industrial area,’ said Mum. ‘People are too busy being industrious to have time to do the weeding.
As they made their way up to the main road there were less businesses and more houses.
‘Eurgh,’ said Tammy.
‘What’s wrong?’ asked Mum. Mum was fluent in the language of Tammy so she knew ‘Eurgh’ meant Tammy was upset about something.
‘This is the road that all the school buses travel along. Everyone will see us.
‘Everyone always sees us when we walk to school,’ said Mum.
‘Everyone from our side of town sees us when we walk to school,’ said Tammy. ‘This is the other side of town. Now everyone on both sides will know how embarrassing you are.’
‘I’m not embarrassing,’ said Mum. ‘I’m awesome.’
‘That’s why you’re embarrassing,’ said Tammy. ‘Most mums don’t say they’re awesome. They just try to appear normal.’
‘It’s the long socks, isn’t it?’ said Mum. Mum liked to wear long socks because she would be going to the gym later and she had a tendency to scrape the equipment on her shins.
‘No, it’s not the long socks,’ said Tammy. ‘It’s the long socks, with the stupid t-shirts and the ridiculous tights.’
‘Lots of Mums wear active wear,’ said Mum.
‘They don’t buy it at aldis,’ said Tammy.
‘They’re black tights,’ said Mum. ‘No one can tell where I buy them.’
‘Hmmpf,’ said Tammy.
A bus drove pass.
‘That was the tropical fish,’ said Tammy.
In their town, all the school buses had different animal signs so that kids who couldn’t read yet would know which bus to catch.
‘Ryan catches the tropical fish,’ said Tammy. ‘I’m never going to hear the end of this.’
‘Oh dear,’ said Mum. ‘I am so concerned.’
Mum was not concerned. Tammy was irritating her but she was sincerely trying not to be irritated. She was trying to concentrate on how nice it felt to be warm in the sunshine. But if Tammy kept this up much longer she was going to snap, then there would be wrestling.
Mum looked about at the houses they were passing. There was an over-fifties retirement community across the street, but on their side, they were walking towards a house with a ‘for sale’ sign out front.
As they drew alongside, they both turned to look at the sign. There was a large picture of the real estate agent who was selling the property in the middle of the picture. She was a young pretty woman smiling happily. A red SOLD sticker was placed carefully just below her picture.
‘That real estate agent has beautiful blue eyes,’ said Mum. ‘She looks very happy.’
‘Well she just sold a house,’ said Tammy.
Mum looked up at the house behind the sign. It was an ordinary looking family home on a quarter block. Probably thirty years old - with three or four bedrooms, but nothing fancy.
‘Do you think the people inside the house are as happy as the real estate agent?’ asked Mum.
Tammy looked at the house. This was a strange notion. She didn’t know what to think. ‘I suppose,’ she said.
‘But what if they didn’t want their house to be sold,’ said Mum.
Tammy looked at Mum. She wanted to know what she meant, but she didn’t want to ask and encourage her.
‘What if that pretty blue-eyed real estate agent came along and sold it without asking them,’ said Mum.
‘How could she do that?’ asked Tammy.
‘She put up the sign,’ said Mum. ‘That’s why she’s smiling. Because she’s so good at selling things. The people inside were really annoyed when they came out, perhaps they were going into town to get some milk and they saw the sign out here, and that’s how they found out their house had been sold.
‘The real estate agent would have to give them the money,’ said Tammy.
‘Yes, but what if she’d sold the house for much less than it was worth,’ said Mum. ‘Much less than the home owners had paid for it.’
‘Why would she do that?’ asked Tammy.
‘Well real estate agents work on a percentage,’ said Mum. ‘So she wouldn’t care. 3 % of not much is still money in the bank. That’s why she’s so smiley. She’s figured out you can sell lots and lots of houses all the time if you sell them for a quarter of what they’re worth, they’ll be snapped up in no time.
‘I don’t think she’d get away with it,’ said Tammy.
‘With eyes that blue you can get away with anything,’ said Mum. ‘No-one naturally has eyes that blue. She’s clearly a robot impersonating a human.’
‘The photo has probably just been put through an Instagram filter,’ said Tammy.
‘Why would anyone use a filter that made them look like a robot?’ asked Mum.
‘Most people don’t assume that someone with blue eyes is a robot,’ Tammy pointed out.
‘And that’s when their houses get sold out from under them,’ said Mum.
‘So you think someone one built a robot that perfectly matches the appearance of a pretty young woman with beautiful blue eyes, then programmed it to start an elaborate real estate scam.’
‘Maybe,’ said Mum. ‘Or maybe someone built a super smart robot. That robot evolved and developed independent artificial intelligence. Then it used it’s far superior intellectual capacity to built another robot that was pretty and had blue eyes so it would have some one nice to keep it company. But then the nice blue eyed robot ditched the nerdy super intelligent robot to start up it’s own project – an elaborate real estate scam.’
‘Surely a pretty blue-eyed super intelligent robot would have better things to do,’ said Tammy.
‘Yes,’ agreed Mum. ‘They’d probably want to take over the planet and subjugate our species using us as slaves for their material gain. But in their down time, they’d have to have hobbies. To unwind after a long day of planetory domination. And what better hobby than real estate shikanery?’
‘Croquet would be more relaxing,’ said Tammy.
‘That’s your earth human brain speaking,’ said Mum. ‘You don’t know what robots do to unwind.’
‘You think they sell real estate?’ said Tammy.
‘Well think of the hobbies humans have,’ said Mum. ‘Fishing – its ridiculous when you think about it. You stand in the baking hot sun for hours trying to catch a sea creature. When you catch it you have to scale it and gut it. And then what? It’s a fish. No one likes fish! It’s only just bearable to eat - if it’s covered in batter, salt, pepper and vineger and served with chips. But even then, people would rather just eat the chips. So why don’t people do potato farming as a hobby?’
‘And sport,’ said Mum. ‘Grown men and women go out in the hot baking sun and spend an hour and a half running around yelling at each other as they chase an inflated sphere. Then, when the inflated spear goes through one goal more often than the other, they care about the result. Half of them are happy. Half of them are upset. It doesn’t make any sense.
‘But a robot real-estate scam does?’ asked Tammy.
‘No,’ said Mum. ‘It just makes more sense than sport.’
Tammy nodded. She didn’t particularly care for sport. There was too much running, sweating and people being disappointed in you when you couldn’t catch.
‘Should we report her to the police?’ asked Tammy.
‘For what?’ asked Mum.
‘Being a robot,’ said Tammy.
‘No,’ said Mum. ‘If she realised we were on to her, she’d just alert the robot king and we’d be over run before the weekend.’
‘And we’re going to the beach on the weekend,’ said Tammy.
‘Exactly,’ said Mum. ‘We’ll have to hold off on reporting any robots until Monday.’
‘I only hope she doesn’t come round and sell off our house in the meantime,’ said Tammy.
‘Our house is too messy,’ said Mum. ‘You have to clean a house if you’re going to sell it.’
‘You never clean,’ said Tammy.
‘I know,’ said Mum. ‘Which is why no robots have ever sold our house.’
‘That’s convenient,’ said Tammy.
‘Convenient or was it my brilliant plan all along?’ asked Mum.
‘You’re an idiot,’ said Tammy.
‘An idiot still who owns their own home,’ said Mum.
‘Their own messy home,’ said Tammy.
‘That’s what makes a home homey,’ said Mum. ‘Your own unique brand of mess.’
‘Then the garbage dump would be the homiest place in town,’ said Tammy.
‘I’m sure it is for all the rats and cockroaches,’ said Mum.
‘Gross,’ said Tammy.
‘True,’ said Mum. ‘But the robots haven’t sold the dump yet either. Perhaps the rats are onto to something. Or perhaps the rats are in on it with the robots.’
At this point they arrived at the back gate to the school.
‘I’m going in here,’ said Tammy quickly ducking through the entrance.
‘You didn’t kiss me goodbye,’ said Mum. ‘Come back and kiss me goodbye.’
‘No,’ said Tammy sprinting up the staircase that lead into he playground. ‘I’ve never seen you before in my life.’
‘Everyone knows I’m your mother,’ said Mum. ‘I’m a beloved local eccentric.’
‘You’re a robot impersonator,’ said Tammy. ‘I’ve never seen you before in my life.’
Mum smiled, ‘Good one. See you this afternoon. I love you Tammy. Mum yelled loudly so everyone in the playground and the supermarket carpark across the road could here for maximum embarrassment.’
Tammy didn’t turn or acknowledge that she heard. Although as she sprinted away, Mum was sure she saw her ears turn red.
Mum smiled and walked Stanley home.