An old man and an old woman lived together in a small house at the top of a hill. They had been in love since they were teenagers, and although they occasionally bickered over petty things, they had been happily married for more than 40 years.
Every morning, the man would ride his bike down to the market to pick up groceries for the day while the woman tended to the garden and house. They didn’t have much money, so they mostly lived off of bread and stewed vegetables. Still, they were always grateful for what they did have, and that they had each other.
Once a week, after their usual dinner, the two would curl up in front of the fireplace and share a piece of cherry pie. It was the only luxury they would allow themselves, and some of their best times were spent together like that, sharing stories, hugging and laughing over their favorite dessert.
Oddly enough, the man only loved the crust of the pie; the flaky, buttery shell that had only the thinnest remaining layer of sweet cherry coating. The woman, on the other hand, only loved the warm, gooey filling but didn’t care so much for the outside. So, they would divide up the pie and both were happy.
It was the perfect dynamic. The way they ate their pies was a reflection of their lives together, and how they fit into one another like one hand intertwined with the other. He completed her emptiness here, while she filled his voids there.
One particularly harsh winter, the old man fell sick with pneumonia. It took a terrible toll on his health, and after a few days it was clear that he wouldn’t make it.
The grieving woman sat by his bedside in the dimly lit room, her eyes tearing up as she gazed down at his.
“There’s something I want to tell you,” he said slowly, gently grabbing his wife’s hand.
“What is it, my dear?” she said, fighting back tears.
“I love you so much.” he replied.
“Well I know that, of course!” she interjected, laughing softly. “I love you too.”
He continued, “All I wanted to do with my life was to make you happy. I hope I succeeded in doing that. And, dear, don’t be upset with me, but I’ve been lying to you all this time.”
The woman cocked her head inquisitively to the right, trying to hide her concern.
“I–I don’t much care for the crust of pies,” he said slowly, smiling.
For a moment, the woman was speechless. Then she burst out, “Then why–”
“Because,” he went on. “It gave me more joy to give you something I knew made you so happy than I ever would have gotten from a silly dessert.”
The room was quiet for a few seconds as they stared at each other, smiling. She lowered her head and rested it on her husband’s shoulder.
“Oh, my dear husband,” she said. “We are a pair. All of these years I have been trying to make you happy by telling you I love the filling…when in fact I prefer the crust.”