Norene led the way into the house, holding the door open for me. By instinct, I went to take my shoes off in the entryway, then paused when I realised Norene had already continued on, feet still shod. Taking a second look around, I reconsidered my automatic action; the place was, to put it bluntly, filthy.
“It’s a bit dusty here, because I don’t spend much time in this part of the house,” Norene explained. I couldn’t tell whether it was in response to my cursory inspection, or just because it occurred to her, and decided remaining silent was probably the better option. “I like the top floor better, because you can see all the way past the border fence if it isn’t raining or something.”
I nodded along. “How many floors are there, then?”
“This one, then two above it.” She grinned. “My room’s at the top. There are a couple bedrooms on the middle floor I’ve not looked in since I moved here, so you can use one of those if you like.”
I suppressed a sigh. If this was a part of the house Norene didn’t spend much time in, I dreaded to see the state of rooms she’d not been in since moving.
“Want to come up and see the view?” she suggested, already stepping toward a hallway I presumed led to stairs.
“Actually, while we’re down here, why don’t you show me the kitchen? I assume it’s on the ground floor.”
Norene looked surprised. “The kitchen? What for?”
I frowned. “So I can see what sort of space I’ll have for cooking.”
“Well…” For the first time since I’d met her, Norene looked uncertain. “I don’t really cook—not many here on the dead side do, since everything comes through the Distribution Office anyway, so I don’t think anything really works.”
That made no sense. “Why would they build a house with a kitchen if nobody uses them?”
“Because they used to, I guess.” Norene shrugged. “The houses here were mostly built before the city was divided, so it was probably built by living side people, and if they all cook, then…”
“Right. Well, I’ll have to do something about that.” I put my hands on my hips. “Show me to the kitchen—I may as well get a look at what I’ll have to work with.”
“Are you sure? They’d probably let you use the kitchens in the Distribution Office if you asked. That seems easier than trying to fix up the kitchen here.”
I snorted. “That’s ridiculous. If we’re to grow anything in the garden, we’ll have to have a kitchen nearby to use. It’s just silly to go out to the Distribution Office every time you’re hungry.”
“Alright, I guess. I’m not sure how you’d get everything to work, though. But if you say we have to if we’re to grow things in the garden…”
I nodded vigorously. I’d already seen how Norene went about doing things she wanted to do, and having her help me bully people into getting the things we’d need would be invaluable. “Definitely. Show me the kitchen!”