Once upon a time, there was a house. An old house. A house that had seen many children and many familes. This house was happy but it was cold. It needed to do something drastic.
The house decided to begin whispering into the ear of the man. The man was always busy around the house, looking for ways to improve its aged appearance. And unlike most old people and all Lutherans, the house liked change. It was happy to feel the man knocking into its walls and clambering over its roof for the change the man brought was always good.
But the house knew its family was cold and it wanted to help them, so it whispered the idea of fire. The fire smoldered and burst into hot orange flames in the man's head and he began to search for a solution that would contain them and let them burn hot. He became obsessed with wood and fire and black things with names like Resolute and Vermont Castings.
One day, the man left the woman and children alone. It was a cold, snowy day, and he was gone for most of it. He came back with a heavy thing on the trailer and he somehow moved it from the trailer and into the garage without asking for help. Which was a good thing, for the house had quickly observed that the woman did not like to get her hands dirty and she much preferred sitting in a chair with pages in her hand. She liked things to be quiet. And warm. And she liked to have a drink and chocolate nearby. The house knew the woman would not have been much help to the man in the unloading, so it just watched.
The man found ways to clean the heavy thing and polish it until it gleamed with a dull black light. He brought it into the house and began banging and drilling. The man made a hot blue tent and sat inside it with tools and sweat and patience. He cut and drilled and chipped until he found the house's heart.
This heart was a clay pipe and it was protected by brick and mortar and clad with plaster and paneling and paint. The man exposed it all, and the house let him. The house was happy to show the man its heart.
And the man poked inside the heart and stuck his head in and looked up. He looked down and when he removed his head, his face was begrimed with the house's memories. He saw, then, a woman in a homespun dress bending over a cookstove that belched steam and smoke. He saw a weary old man opening a slim letter that reeked of war and death and collapsing on the floor, weeping. He saw bright-eyed children with tousled hair sneaking down to look at boxes wrapped in paper stacked under a tree. All those things and many more had been hidden in the house's heart.
The man wiped his hands on his patched trousers and stood back, his head cocked. His forehead was deeply seamed and the house feared that it had revealed itself too soon.
The man turned off his lamp and the house was left in the dark, its heart pulsing alone in the blue tent.
The house heard the man say something to the woman about PLAN B. Nothing was resolved. It was still cold. And the black thing loomed in the corner, looking dangerous now in the cold dark room.