I open my door for you, tentatively at first.
I donʼt often let outsiders in.
The house is a mess.
I am not sure how theyʼll react.
But you seem mildly curious and vaguely amused.
A smile that is not yet a smirk casually plays on your face.
I donʼt stop to wonder if this is a good idea.
I let you in, cautious at first,
only showing you the rooms Iʼm comfortable with.
But eventually I surrender to your charm and persistence.
I show you the bathrooms, the upstairs closet, the yard,
and finally the bedroom,
which quickly becomes your favorite room.
You like the painting on the wall.
It is of a ship sailing on the ocean.
You like boats.
In the days to come, when you visit,
you always ultimately end up in the bedroom,
drawn to the painting.
And then one day,
I come home,
and the painting is gone.
You have taken it.
And although I knew it would happen,
and although part of me wanted it to happen,
it doesnʼt make it hurt any less.
I donʼt let strangers into my house anymore.
You have taught me.
And you have ruined me.
-Written by Saratoga Schaefer, 2013