My face creaks, paint pale white and brittle old, begins to stretch in the gold dipped warmth pouring in through my open window. I swell and bend in the lovely sun, groans and creaks not even heeded by my young occupant. They are sprawled on an old new bed, theirs now after four previous owners…. Just like myself. I watch the slim happy figure, all bone and flesh and poise as they sing softly to themselves, pulling dark hair back to better see their book. They haven't lived here long. My floor is bare but for the bed, no cabinet, desk or bookshelf yet. Just three big cases holding their life, now open and sprawling.

They have come to me like many before; hopeful and homeless and a little heartbroken. So I wrap my walls around them ready to become a place for growth and fun and just a little healing.

Before this young thing of poise, a young woman had lived here, small and angry with a shock of curls, but a heart, now patched up, as big as the curve of the world. She had lived here quite a while, from a time of great smallness, something she called childhood. In fact she still lives here, moving from room to room of mine every few months. She has lived in more rooms than anyone else who has ever come here. She comes to one of my wood doorways and smiles at Young Poise. Angry Curls hands Young Poise something folded and they talk a while. I enjoy hearing humans talking. They do so many things that I would never think of.

And then there is the other girl. Once she had been a little girl as well. Smiling wide and singing too. But broken underneath, buried deep. The little girl, less little now, works with Angry Curls to bring Young Poise and others to me. They find lost people and point them to my door, where I can watch them live a while until they do not need me. Then off they go, into the world.

I pull my walls in a little closer, holding my humans tight and consider the people who no longer live here, who have moved on in life.

A young man, tall and thin and, his heart was oh so broken. Things in plastic bags and scrounged up boxes, spread across my floor like a heavy jacket. People had been cruel to him. People who should have loved him had done horrible things to hurt him. That's why he came to me when summer heat cooked the tiles of my roof and the humans celebrated Christmas. Never quite the happy time they pretended it was. When he had lived here, my walls were often heavy with smoke and smelt like lonely alcohol. I never saw the sun when that man was my tenant.

Then there was a young woman, whose body of flesh had never been that kind to her. She was angry and scared and trying to enjoy what people kept calling “the joys of adulthood.” Her laugh would ring around my walls, though some of that was nasty, it was such a frequent sound, like that of her tears.

After that, they came in twos. Two girls, like my long-term tenants. Together they did everything, grew and learnt and laughed and fought. The part of me they lived in quickly became dark and cluttered. Together they would sit in it and let all time drift by. And together they would bicker, laugh, defend and flutter, feeding their small puffy birds and waiting for their life to start. Then finally, there was a tall young man. Dark hair, dark eyes, bright smiles. A happy person bogged down a bit by fear. He had been excited, excited to find my walls. A fitting culmination of a friendship with that now-not-little-girl and grinning, Angry Curls. He filled his room with things, colourful and sentimental and each one meaning ever more, for he had worked so hard for them. Relentless was this tall young man, in a quiet and determined way. He never stopped, relentlessly working, relentlessly helping and relentlessly kind. He left me not that long ago, doing as people do. Being here while they need me then growing and needing me no more, though I feel sure that, him, I’ll see again.

A sound pulls me back into my soft warm present. The feeling of my wooden door gently shutting. It clicks. And now I am all empty, until the dark time hits. Just three lives held in me and soft warm sun to warm me. If I can hold my old wood and plaster strong then I will get to hear the soft half-muttered song of my latest broken heart.