‘It was just stuff, after all, just things. Belongings don’t make a home, people do,’ she told him, gripping his hand.
‘In a strange way, it’s liberating, cleansing,’ he said, wiping tears from his eyes.
They moved back from the heat and she thought about her melting memory sticks. She looked up at the sky and wished she’d saved to the “Cloud”.
He sniffed wood smoke and wondered if he was inhaling his piano.
The fire engine came and doused their shared history.
When the building was declared safe they went back in. They argued about what was salvageable. He said nothing was but she kept picking up blackened twisted remnants as keepsakes.
They were insured, their house was remade and they could buy everything new.
He got a more expensive piano that didn’t stick on B flat, but somehow lacked the personality of his old one.
She started saving to the “Cloud”. She missed her dress with the pink spots she’d worn for their wedding day.
‘I didn’t think I was materialistic,’ she told him, sitting on their garden bench, the only thing that had escaped the blaze.
‘We have each other,’ he said.
‘That stuff was part of my heart,’ she replied.
The doctor came and told her she had to go away.
He looked around the empty house. Things didn’t matter, people did, he told himself. But now the only important person had gone too.
He knew what he had to do. He hunted car boot sales and charity shops and Ebay to find exact copies of what they’d owned. When he couldn’t find items he drew pictures of them and hung them up. He wasn’t a very talented artist, nor did he have great visual recollection but he drew with determination and passion. He drew each ornament on the mantelpiece, he drew the rickety armchair she loved, he drew their wedding photos, he drew everything that was missing except her.
After a month she returned, thinner and tired-looking. He took her hand and guided her into their illustrated home.
‘What do you think?’ he asked.
A breeze ran through the house and all the drawings on the walls rustled and shivered. ‘I love it,’ she said, then looked up at him with glistening eyes, ‘No more matches?’ she asked.
‘No more matches,’ he agreed.