Theo sighed and collapsed into his black office chair.
He stared dejectedly at the colorful wall that had once filled him with joy every time he looked at it.
The surface had been covered with a mural of sorts. All across the wide, flat expanse, Theo had painted vibrant, detailed pictures of himself and his wife, Julie.
It was a collage of memories, each more heartfelt than the last.
There were images of the pair at home and on vacation, thrown together like an ad for the perfect domestic life.
Bright blues and reds and greens danced across the surface, sometimes melding together or swirling away from each other.
As he cast his eyes on the painting of Julie smiling cheerily at him from the Bahamas, Theo could almost taste the salty sea spray.
His brother Alexander always said that the images were so realistic, he half expected to feel smooth skin or soft, pliable leaves instead of cool, unyielding plaster whenever he touched them.
Theo thought back on the hundreds of arduous hours he spent laboring over the painting, the basketfuls of ruined clothes, the countless sleepless nights.
He had almost rendered himself completely nose-blind from the acrid smell of paint.
The man had poured his soul into the wall.
Theo loved Julie with all his heart, and he used to believe that there was nothing she could ever do that would make him love her less.
But that was before he discovered she had been having an affair with his best friend for eight months.
He remembered the exact moment Julie had told him.
"I'm sorry," she had sobbed, shaking her head slowly. "I don't love you anymore."
After effectively expelling them both from his life, Theo had spiraled into an unending pit of grief and rage.
He had thrown out everything in the house that reminded him of Julie, but he simply couldn't bring himself to destroy the mural.
It meant more to him than just his spouse -- it was nine happy years of his life.
Sighing again, Theo glanced over at the bucket of white paint he had set in the corner of the room.
His stomach twisted painfully, but the tears had stopped coming a while ago.
"I love you, Julie," Theo whispered into the still air. "I love you, but you don't love me."
Somehow, it hurt more saying it now than it had when Julie first uttered the words.
With a heavy heart, Theo picked up the roller and opened the white paint can.