The house looked old and dilapidated from the outside.
Tiles had slid off the roof, pigeons were nesting in the rafters, and the paint had peeled away from the walls, leaving a dreary patchwork of greys on the splintered wood. But never was that tired old line truer; that true beauty is found within.
The happy young man and woman who used to live there spent hours in front of the fire crackling from their leaking fireplace, wrapped in woollen blankets and filling the draughty house with laughter.
They didn’t have much.
And yet they had everything.
He had bought the property with a small inheritance left to him from the grandfather who had raised him. His entire childhood had been spent living in a rental where the cost only ever increased, forcing his grandpa to work longer and longer passed retirement, and the boy to leave school early to take on an apprenticeship.
So naturally, when the time came, he wanted a place to call his own. Somewhere he wouldn’t need permission to hang a picture or paint a wall. Someplace he could be free to shape into a home. When the grateful seller parted with the deed, he moved straight in and invited her to move in too, after all, there was plenty of space and he knew she was struggling with money.
She was that girl who he imagined would always be there.
We often feel that way about those we like the most. She was funny and sarcastic, but in a gentle sort of way. She could sing, and dance, and paint. But most of all, she knew how to cast out all those nasty little things that seem like nothing at first, but which gradually build into much more horrible things when left to fester on the inside. Time and time again he’d be drawn towards her caring eyes, knowing only she could bring the joy back into his life.
She became the soul of his home.
And they lived happily together in his tumbledown house.
Gradually, they filled each room with thrift store knickknacks and second-hand furniture that gave character to the dreary old rooms. Meanwhile she saved her dollars in a tin she hid behind the hot-water service. With it she bought tubes of paint in every imaginable colour, and brushes with the softest bristles.
She worked on one room at a time.
And she painted the walls into a paradise.
Tangled rainforests merged with crimson deserts. Oceans transformed into lush fields, and vibrant blue skies into swirling starry nights. Her hands spent years creating this wonderland throughout the house as he marvelled at the life which sprang from the walls. It filled the chilly house with a warmth that had little to do with temperature.
And she did it all for him.
But he was blind to it all.
It is a universal truth that if someone is in your life for long enough, you will eventually take them for granted. Their efforts become invisible. And slowly, bit by bit, we forget that they’re even there.
Sure, he loved her.
Of course he did. She was the one who picked up the pieces of his life every time someone left it in tatters. The problem was that while he loved her very much, she loved him with every single cell that made up her beautiful selfless heart.
And so she painted the world for him, because she knew she could not give him the world. Eventually he sold the house to buy an apartment with some new flame, and she was left alone in a rental with bare walls and a clanking furnace.
She became the girl who had given away her heart.
And he became the man who had sold the world.