Rats nests took up residence of every corner and hole in the plaster, and yet, somehow, he didn’t seem to mind. I kept waiting for the punch line, the true hidden secret pulled from the rafters or even the gaping holes in the floorboards, but he just kept talking about foundation and two-by-fours and land and how “These old bones are stronger than any cookie-cutter new-age fabrication”.
What? He bought this condemned piece of crap?
I must have turned green because when Travis turned to me, his tone morphed from exuberance for the challenge, to concern with restorative hands that were suddenly on my shoulders, though he was across the broken down room he had now crossed it in mere steps, speaking with a tone meant to soothe but put me on a crumbling edge. Knowing me enough to know I was seconds from a rambling lecture questioning his mental stability, he just kept talking, removing the opportunity for my protest.
“Think of it, babe. This house is huge. The land is worth the money alone. We’re getting a steal.”
My laugh wasn’t one of humour. “A steal?”
Again he stopped me before I gained momentum by placing his big warm hands on either side of my face, blocking the decrepit ‘once-a-house’ around us.
“Please don’t focus on what you see. Listen to what I say and close your eyes.” I paused but his pleading blue eyes full of guilt got to me and I closed them. “These ceiling are ten feet high and once the roof is fixed will hold us safe beneath it. The walls are busted up, but once I’m done they’ll be the walls we hang our first family photos from.”
This sprung my eyes open. We were inches apart, but my mind was rolling. It didn’t stop. Instead it reeled in a downward spiral as Travis got down on one knee and proposed. If only my ears could grasp onto what he was saying, it was definitely important and heartfelt, but he was a distant whisper as my sight blurred with tears when he reached into his pocket and pushed a ring I couldn’t focus on over my knuckle.
Fear struck him, I saw it in his features and couldn’t imagine why. Until I realized I hadn’t answered him. No doubt he asked but since I couldn’t hear anything, I’d missed my cue and a sobbing release answered for me. A smile crack his full lips and the corners of his eyes squinted as he flexed to his feet and wrapped his arms around me, pulling me off the ground in a crushing kiss.
Back on my feet I still struggle to breath. Shock waving over me, but he didn’t let go.
“I will take a while. We’ll have to keep the apartment and I’ll probably have to get a second job, but please, just imagine it how I do and see our future here.”
Suddenly, I could see it. Those high ceilings, the character new builds strive and fail to replicate, even a swimming image out the glassless window pane held a vision of the perfect wedding I’d never thought I’d plan, celebration in the green grass with our laughing family under a big white tent.
“So,” I managed before my voice cracked. “These old bones, huh.”

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