“I love you,” he said.

But she frowned and shook her head. He had said it so many times that his message trickled off, and she didn’t hear it anymore—like a waterfall so beautiful the eye grows tired of it. To accept a love like that required action, and she didn’t want to be forced to do anything to pay it back. She gritted her teeth.

She ignored what she heard around town about his affections for her, but the buzz became too much, and so she abandoned her old house in the country, her town, and him—not that she had ever been with him. From a young age, she had just thought she should be.

While she struggled for a different life in a far-off place, word came back to her about him. He worked in construction and renovations, and she heard his hands dripped blood for her. But it must have been intended for someone else, whatever it was he was building when he hurt himself. Why would he create something special for her? She was already gone.

She sought love elsewhere on her own terms—the kind of love that matched hers—and found it came in many packages: messy, frightening, exacting. But all of those loves took her farther than she wanted to go and kept her longer than she meant to stay.

At last, she left them all. But the years were eaten up, and she was dry, used, and her looks were faded. Now who will want me?

Then through the grapevine, she again heard talk about his faithfulness. Maybe the story of his love had always been told, but because she had come to the end of herself, her hearing had sharpened. They said he wanted her, he had built something for her, and it was finished. And now he waited for her to come home.

She was curious.

One day, she hopped into her car. She would drive back to look at the old property. Maybe the thing he had made for her—the thing that had caused his wounds—was waiting there.

After many hours, she steered the car onto the familiar, winding road. And there it was: her old, broken-down house. She pulled into the driveway, put the car into park, and stared. A wave of failure washed over her. She had never been able to maintain it alone, and it was worse than ever, this home she had never invited him to enter. He had knocked many times, but his love for her was too pure—too undeserved—and her place was always such a mess. She sighed. But then something caught her eye. Off to the side, in a pool of sunlight, was a small structure. She squinted. What was it?

She sprang from the car, her eyes trained on the form. As she approached it, she could see it was made of wood. An architectural model. A replica of the dilapidated house that stood only yards away. But it was different. Beautiful windows replaced the dingy, slanted ones of the original. She peered at the craftsmanship of the miniature: the trim work, the crown molding, the costly tile, the exotic wood floors—everything she wanted. He had thought of it all. Even the smallest details were healed.

As she drank in the hope, something rustled behind her. And then his warm gaze settled on her back. For the first time, she wanted it. But she couldn’t turn around now; she hadn’t showered that day or put on makeup. So she dashed through the old house’s unlocked front door, slamming it behind her, and dropped onto the tattered sofa, creating a plume of dust. Her heart pounded.  

A knock at the door. The familiar knock.

There was nothing left for her, so she stood, strode across the room, and unclasped the door.

“Come in,” she said.  



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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.