short fiction

The Anatomy of Longing / Pip Haines

Everything,

 

I left this story for you where I knew you’d find it, next to the coffeemaker; If you’ve chosen to read it, then I hope my words find you kindly, and that this gives you some clarity to what you find yourself currently immersed in.

Best,

Something

Every now and then crazy things happen. I’m certain a scholar like yourself is no stranger to some of the oddities this world has to offer. I don’t pretend to know your life and every weirdness you’ve encountered, but the story I am about to tell you is the strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, and even stranger it’s all true.

Some people are born without hearts, and I’m not referring to people who are just plain rotten the moment they burst forth from their mother; I’m talking about people who are completely healthy but heartless. It’s an odd thing, at least to me, but it’s important to note the misconception that you will die without a heart. You won’t die; you can just keep on ticking as steady as a clock, and that’s a promise.

Here is the absolute truth (as I know it): a heart does little to keep you alive, and for most people it’s a troublesome organ. People who’ve got one spend approximately seventy percent of their time trying to figure the damn thing out, another twenty wishing they could rid themselves of it and whatever time is left over they spend thinking about all of the other things that they should have been thinking about all along. Maybe that’s just me, but I think you probably have some idea of what I’m talking about now. But before I completely discredit the organ, I will say that it’s not useless. I once used mine for something, and for good or ill, I used it.

I digress, and perhaps truth is the wrong direction to go in; you never put much stake in it anyway. So, here are the facts: A heart circulates blood, gives me a beet color in my cheeks whenever I’ve embarrassed myself. How would you ever know when I’ve made a fool of myself if I lacked one? See. That’s proof of it’s usefulness, and clearly that’s what I was referring to.

Anyway, I also know this for fact: the scientist was born with a heart. I’ve been under the impression, which is neither truth nor fact, that at some point in his life his heart was broken and removed for fear that the shattered pieces would flow into his bloodstream and clog an artery. The removal of his heart left his skin blindingly white, and when sunbeams fell through the window of the basement where we worked, I swear his skin glowed. His skin aside, he was an odd looking man of even stranger mannerisms and hobbies.

When I first came to work for the scientist, he dragged me to the nearest mirror and hypothesized what I could expect him to look like in the coming years.   He thought it was vital information that would influence my decision to remain in his employment. As the years have come and gone, his blue eyes have, indeed, begun to gray and have grown heavy with their age. His rusty hair has lightened and thinned, and his poor posture has developed into a permanent slump. While his predictions were not among his more brilliant accomplishments, he was not far wrong that day.

I know the scientist to be a genuine man; subtle and humble despite his undertakings. He is an inventor of sorts, though that seems too narrow a title. I’ve known other men to look at a collection of bits and bobs and see nothing beyond the pieces, but the scientist will see something special. He sees the best and worst in things, what they are and what they can be. On one occasion he told me that it is his intent to help all things reach their full potential, which is limitless and easily manipulated if only someone would make the attempt. He also said that all things have an unforeseen end, making his work ceaseless, equally satisfying and exhausting.

I have worked for the scientist for just over a year, serving as his everything, as he so plainly puts it. I have done just that, becoming in many ways that which he had lost years before. I am a woman of strange talents and interests, some of which led me to accepting employment as a heart, and many of which are unnecessary and go unnoticed by the scientist. Most days he is surprised by my competence. Despite my abilities I have often wondered why he had decided to hire me of all people to be his sole employee, his everything. Now I think I finally know.

My first day on the job was without question the strangest day of my life. I remember standing in front of the large farmhouse, staring down at the help wanted ad that I had found in the local newspaper a few days prior and checking to see that I had the correct address. The house was old, aged wood poking through the faded white paint. It was two stories with a wraparound porch on either floor. There were plants out front. The smell of fresh mulch hung in the air and weeds had been pulled and thrown into a pile by the porch. Curiously all the plants had broken stems and were more brown than green. They all lay dying in the garden, and I wondered if sprucing up the house was going to be part of my job. I remember trying to imagine what the house looked like when it was in its prime. It must have been lovely.

As I walked up the steps to the house, I heard a muffled yelp beneath my feet. It startled me into skipping three steps and leaping to the porch. The steps rattled and soon a man emerged from beneath them. My eyes were wide with surprise as were his. He stood before me in a muddied t-shirt and jeans. His gloved hands held a small spade and gardening fork, which he held out from him defensively and then dropped them to the ground. He looked like a middle-aged man going on twelve – youthful in his eyes and movement. He looked guilty.

“I’m sorry. I understand that I may have frightened you. Did I?” he asked as he put his hands behind his back and looked at me sheepishly.

“Yes,” I replied not quite hearing the question. I continued watching him as he stood there nervously shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “I mean. No, it’s all right. I’m sorry; Are you the gentlemen who placed the ad?” I asked holding out the newspaper clipping.

He nodded. “Oh yes. I did do that, didn’t I? I mean, yes. Just yes,” he answered and removed one of his gloves. He stepped forward with his bare hand outstretched to shake mine. “It’s, ah…” he coughed and his eyes evaded mine, “nice to meet you.”

I don’t believe I wanted to but I impulsively took his hand in mine and shook it. It was limp and lasted only a second, and would be the most physical contact I had with him in the following year.

“So, is gardening in the job description?” I asked with a nervous laugh.

He looked around at the mess in the yard and shrugged. “Oh well, it’s mostly my hobby,” he affirmed and turned back to me. He seemed as though he was worried that I’d take his gardening privileges away from him.

We stood there in silence, both staring at each other. I had half a mind to quickly excuse myself and leave, but admittedly while I found his mannerisms slightly worrisome, I thought him very curious. My interest compelled me to speak first, this time more bluntly. “I’m sorry, Mr.–um…”

“Doctor,” he corrected.

“Dr.–um…” I paused though did not receive a name. “But what exactly is this job you’d like me to do?” I looked down at the ad again. “You wrote that you need ‘someone with more patience than God and with impeccable organization skills.”

He pressed his lips in a hard line before responding. “You must be worried and confused. The others were, but please, bear with me,” he said it as if it were a normal non-psycho killer thing to say and then sat down on the bottom step. He leaned against the banister and looked up at me. “You see, people, such as yourself, have boxes in their chest, in which, as it is my understanding, they put complex ideas that befuddle even me,” he said.

I was feeling very nervous, but still I answered, “A heart.”

“Yes, a heart. I no longer have one; which as you can imagine, makes reasoning my emotions a difficult and continuing problem.” He began to fidget with his hands.

I had never heard of such a thing happening and had never met someone without a heart before. Oh was all I managed to say.

“This is where you come in. I need someone to help me with this disability. As of late I have been cataloging my preferences in a vast filing system in my basement. I simply can’t remember how I feel about everything, and so I must think through even the littlest of things one at a time. I record my conclusions and keep them for future reference.”

I don’t remember sitting down beside him, but suddenly I was, and I was listening intently.

“I can reason through my feelings toward a peanut butter sandwich on my own, but there are greater things I wish to know about myself. I will require someone to help me with this.”

I was awestruck, and why did I want to believe him? “What is it like?”

He tilted his head to one side and placed his hand over his mouth pensively. He took a moment and seemed frustrated by the question. “How should I put this?” he asked himself. “Hmm…to not have a heart, is not to say that you are without emotion, only that there is no filter, no structured method of seeing your feelings. I am a capable man, useful in many ways. I am a thinker; I am imaginative, perceptive, and reasonable. I am conceptual and skeptical; I have moods and cognitive maps. I have understanding toward many simple complexities like control, curiosity, and social cognition, but all of this chokes the bloodways of my brain due to my present lack of a heart. It’s just too much to handle all at once.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant, and I wasn’t certain that he knew exactly either. In all actuality, I thought he was full of himself, and I enjoyed it. I sat and thought, having no real understanding of how I could possibly be of service to him. “I–I don’t know that I can help you,” I replied being completely insecure in my abilities and rightly so.

He stared at me for a long moment. His eyes were narrowed in contemplation like he was trying to decide something about me. “I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, you want to help me.”

I nodded in agreement; after all, he was certainly interesting. “But I’m not qualified to be – to be a psychologist or something.”

“You misunderstand. I am not looking to be analyzed in such a scientific manner. I am looking for a companion, a guide, someone who will truly care to learn about me as I learn about myself. As you can see, social cues are something of a miss. I must be socialized, and I can only effectively do so with someone who will treat me as a person.” The way he spoke gave me the idea that he had been alone a very long time. My insight is off the charts.

He drew in a deep breath and sighed. “I will not think less of you if you decline; this is not an easy job.”

I had made up my mind. I lifted myself from the step and picked up the spade. “You look like you could use some help.”

He titled his head at me curiously and touched a hand to the smile forming on his face.

The scientist was right; I did want to help him, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to. You may be thinking that I must have been pretty desperate to take on such a task. However, the reason I accepted the position as his heart had more to do with what I saw in him than my financial state. I have been told most of my life that I am attracted to certain oddities; the scientist was no different. No matter the reason, I found myself moved into the second floor of the house, which he had converted into an apartment for the comfort of whoever would become his employee.

The first few months were the most difficult. Being his everything was sometimes a 24-hour-a-day undertaking. It’s funny the things you wish to know about yourself when you know absolutely nothing. In the following months he and I went through what felt like everything, and yet there was still so much to learn. We kept files on every little detail of his life, and I had written down all of it, even things I could have lived without knowing. And what was worse was that his opinions on things were subject to change, which led to extra work.

In a fairly short amount of time I felt like I knew all there was to know about him, from the serious to the ridiculous. Things like how he thought Honeycrisp apples were the kings of all apples, and how he believed that the perfect cup of coffee was made with ¾ level scoop of grounds per cup of water. However, even though I had devoted so much of my time to learning about him, I felt as though I was beginning to realize myself through him. It is difficult for me to articulate properly, but like so many other things, I think the scientist saw some potential in me.

He was at times quite frustrating, unpredictable, and insensitive. By that I mean I wanted to kill him many times in a single day. It had snowed one afternoon in early January, and he had decided that a walk would be nice. I will never forget this day; being the day that I first felt that I was beginning to truly know him.

We landed ourselves in the hospital that morning. He had slipped on the ice and had broken his arm. It was 6 A.M., and we were sitting in the waiting room of the closest hospital. I hated him very much in that moment. I was standing by the window staring out at the accumulating snow and was still very sleepy. The scientist had an annoying habit of getting up at two o’clock and then puttering about until 4 or until he just didn’t know what to do with himself, and came to bug me.

He was seated on the sofa with his broken arm held to his chest and was flipping through the local newspaper with his good hand. “Wentworth died,” the scientist noted.

It took me a minute to react. “You mean that basket case from across the street?” I asked and looked over my shoulder at him.

He looked at me disapprovingly. “Yes, he was a bit of a recluse.” The scientist knew what that was like.

“You know he died like a month ago, right? That paper must be old.”

He nodded and folded the paper closed. “It’s not in the paper. I just decided that I’m prepared for a discussion,” he said, and tossed the paper onto the coffee table. “You know, his children didn’t buy a headstone for him? He’s buried right there next to his wife, and nothing’s there to recognize his existence except for some overturned dirt.”

“Maybe he didn’t want one,” I suggested.

“I don’t understand.”

“I don’t know the story,” I said as I crossed the room and sat on the sofa beside him. “I can make one up if you want.”

He shrugged. “I do enjoy your thought exercises, but I will decline.”

“Well, what don’t you understand?” I asked. It was only a matter of time before he got up and started pacing. “Dude died. Kids buried him. What do you need to know about it?”

He was on his feet walking from one side of the room and back. “I don’t understand why he doesn’t have a headstone.”

I was puzzled, not being quite clear on the problem. “Okay–”

“He should have one. People should know he’s there.” He was staring at the floor as he continued crossing the room repeatedly.

“Why do people need to know that he’s there?” My job at times only consisted of me rephrasing what he said as a question.

He glanced up at me, and then continued his conversation with the floor. “I-I don’t know,” he started slowly, “Maybe that’s not important.”

“Why don’t you sit down? You’ve broken your—”

“I don’t want to—you’re not asking the right question.”

I sighed and re-situated myself on the couch. “Okay, let’s try this again, shall we? Let’s see…” I shook my head and thought. “If they had decided to cremate him would that have made a difference?”

He raised a brow and paused. “Yes.”

“Why does cremating him make a difference?”

“Because it shows that someone made some effort to take care of him after he died.”

“So, you’re saying that no one cares to him. That’s what bothers you?” He stopped pacing; I knew I was on the right track. “Are you scared that no one will care about you?”

“Is that wrong?”

“Only in that your conclusion is wrong. Loads of people will care about you. Hell, you’ll probably be famous after you’re dead. You may have had trouble getting someone to fill my role, but you’re not short on people who like you. I mean, who would steal all of my money at poker night?” Poker with two people is just sad.

He chuckled.

“Come on, let’s see that poker face.”

He was stoic for a moment before his laughter got the best of him. “I don’t have a poker face,” he forced out between breaths.

“Yeah, laughing manically gets me to fold every time,” I said.

He nodded and smiled. “You know, my arm really hurts.” I suppose that it did.

We were sitting together in one of the patient rooms. It was much smaller than the scientist would have liked; I knew this because he kept turning his head to each of the four walls and looked at them as if he were desperately trying to envision a scientist-shaped hole in the plaster. I had helped him out of his many layers of shirts. It was rare that he wore one layer of clothing, only while doing yard work. He had certain issues with his body due to the large scar on his white chest. He disliked me seeing him unclothed, and I could only imagine the panic he felt as we looked on at the nurse across from us. She wore aquamarine scrubs that were decorated with kittens that roamed in and out of boxes. Some of them were poking their fuzzy heads out of their boxes, and they were judging him. She sat on her stool and looked back at us with an odd expression. It was as though she wanted to ask us questions unrelated to the scientist’s mangled arm, and I was certain that the scientist would be delighted to entertain her.

“So how long have you two been together?” she asked with a large smile. I expected as much. Normally, I would have been accused of being his daughter; however, I do not regularly help him off with his clothes.

The scientist tilted his head. “Well, there’s a first time for Everything,” he said as if everyone should have one of me. He faked a chuckle and nudged me with his good arm.

I tried my best not to laugh. The nurse looked at me with a confused, dopey grin that attempted to cover up her steadily rising danger sense. I shrugged in response; the scientist and I had an arrangement in situations such as these, and I would let him do the talking.

The nurse cleared her throat. “Well, Mr.–” She looked over her horned-rimmed glasses, down at the clipboard in her lap.

“Doctor,” he corrected before she could read off the rest of his name from his file.

She let out a strained nervous laugh, and the breathed a low Jesus Christ. “My apologies. Anywho, what seems to be the problem?”

The scientist frowned and looked down at his arm that was turning shades of blue. He sighed heavily before he began his story. “I slipped on the ice when crossing the street in order to collect some glazed donuts from my favorite little bakery, Pistachio Dan’s,” he said, wanting to be perfectly thorough and provide relevant information.

“Pistachio Dan’s! The place with the green donuts?” the nurse interrupted with more enthusiasm than anyone should have at such an hour.

The scientist looked at me wide-eyed and bewildered, but he quickly turned back to her and answered, “Yes,” as if it were vital to his diagnosis.

While this was all very entertaining, I found it strange that I wanted to speed up the process more than the man with the broken arm. I was about to nudge him when he spoke up again.

“Excuse me, but if we could just keep this ball bouncing…” He looked at me and crookedly grinned, being proud of his wide (if occasionally faulty) knowledge bank of idioms. “My colleague here is a very bright woman, and she believes my arm to be broken. I, however, believe it to be quite broken,” he told her while nodding vigorously at our clearly correct diagnosis.

The nurse tucked her bottom lip between her teeth. “Well, we’ll just let the doctor decide that,” she said and continued to smile as she got up from the stool. “We’ll be with you in just a moment,” she added and then scurried to the door behind her.

He waited a solid minute before asking, but I was expecting it, and he did, “Why do you think she thought we were together?”

I rubbed my forehead and began folding and unfolding his cardigan with my mind on anything but the task. “Do you have your own theories?” I asked.

He looked down at his chest and proceeded to deepen his slump in order to feel somewhat covered up. “I suppose our arrangement looks interesting to others, and explaining that you are my heart certainly doesn’t clarify the situation.”

I was standing behind him, nodding in agreement, though he did not see.

“Ask me more questions, please,” he said as he peeked sheepishly over his shoulder at me.

“About what?”

“About you,” he replied and quickly turned away.

His notion caught me off guard. I had been in his company for some time, and never had we discussed his feelings toward me. It was strange; before his request I had never thought to consider what conclusions he was attempting to draw about me. However, now that the unfinished ideas hung in the air, I simply had to know, and without any reasons that I could properly discern, I wanted him to be fond of me. I wanted to know more in that instant, than I had ever expected myself to. I was just about to make some guttural noise when the doctor and nurse came through the door. I don’t remember the conversations that took place after that. I simply watched him as they tended to his wounds. I stared at him blankly with a strange longing.

I will say this only once; this feeling was not love or anything that I had experienced before. It made my nerves feel twitchy, and I had no understanding of what to do with it. I can only describe it as an overwhelming need to know him, and I have always been aware of the difficulties in that desire.

In the months that followed I found myself not performing at my best. The scientist had hired me under the impression that I would remain unwaveringly neutral in our discussions. He did not account for the concept that I would begin to care for him to such a degree that it would affect my objectivity. However, I was aware of the issue, and I was not sure that I could correct it.

Down in the basement, where we conducted our work most frequently, I sat across from him at his desk and sipped at a cup of coffee that he had concocted. To put it most simply, it was brilliant.

He flipped through a book and scrawled notes to himself, which I could not see. He was writing much more fervently in recent months. The tension of it hinted at some change in the air though both of us were too close to the situation to fully recognize it, and one us was less inclined to. I watched him closely; it was as though he could not get the ideas out quick enough. It worried me, and it shouldn’t have.

“Does the possibility of the soul frighten you?” he asked as he closed the book and tossed his pen to the desk.

The questions were becoming more abstract; there was so much more going on than favored apples and other simple, charmed matters. It was enticing. “Does it frighten you?” I asked with a feeling of uneasiness in the pit of my stomach.

He looked at his desk for a time and then back at me. “The Ancient Egyptians believed that the heart would be weighed against a feather of the goddess, Mayet to see that the soul was worthy of paradise.” He had picked his pen back up and was twisting the cap in a nervous manner. His hands appeared to be sweaty.

I was well aware why this would bother him; concerns as these are worries to most people, and it’s exponentially more frightening when you lack something that others put so much stake in. I stared at him, knowing full well where this conversation was headed, and I wanted nothing more than to avoid it entirely. Though, instead of piping in and changing its direction, I just sat there with my mouth catching flies.

“I don’t have a heart. That must mean that I lose by default.” He stared at the cap of his pen as it rolled between his index finger and thumb.

There were words somewhere in my throat; they lingered there like some word vomit that I couldn’t get out. I leaned forward and placed my coffee on the desk. His eyes flicked to me as I moved. I didn’t know what to say to him, but he stared at me with eyes that seem to be pleading for me to pass judgment on him right then.

As I thought the situation over, I stared into his blue eyes and maybe no one else would have noticed, but they were the brighter than they were before. I could rationalize the possibility of a soul with him. I could discuss someone else’s soul, some distant no one that I would never care for as much. I knew what the scientist required of me, but I couldn’t subscribe to any line of thinking that would condemn him. So I did something that would compromise our entire arrangement. I told him what I thought he’d want to hear.

I leaned forward and placed my hands over his. “You’re wrong,” I asserted. “Nothing will always be lighter than a feather.”

His eyes appeared to be planning an escape as he gawked at me. I could feel his hands twitching beneath mine.

“You never have to worry that you’re not a good person. You are my favorite in all the world,” I said, barely thinking by that point.

I could have sworn that his cheeks turned pink, and his eyes darted away from mine. I released his hands and quickly hid mine under the desk. My hands tingled, and I immediately felt ashamed of my actions. What right did I have taking advantage, and how could I do it again?

He cleared his throat and glanced at me with an unabashedly large smile. He fixed the part in his hair and then proceeded to anxiously snap and crack the joints in his fingers.

“So, anyway—“

“Yes, yes, anyway,” I said, “more coffee?”

“God yes,” he replied, though I had already snatched up his mug.

As I stood in the next room over I attempted to master the tricky art of breathing. I was shaking as I poured the coffee into each of the mugs. I didn’t know what was happening, but when you read this it may seem obvious. It wasn’t to me; I understood just as much as he did. I was scared out of my wits, and all I was certain of was of my fear.

When I returned to desk the scientist was playing with the pen again. He glanced at me for just a second as I approached. I set the coffee in front of him and stood there taking a well-deserved swig from my own mug.

“Thank you,” he said. He was smiling at his mug.

“Anytime,” which I thought was the most honest and telling thing that I could say.

That night I lay awake in my bed, still fully dressed. I would like to say that I was too tired to change, but in reality I was simply too distracted. I stared up at the water spots on the ceiling. One of them looked like a cat, and another like a whale in a top hat. I should have been sleepy, but I had no need for sleep. I felt wired, and in few hours the scientist would be knocking on my door because he couldn’t sleep either. However, opposed to any other day, I looked forward to it. I was smiling, knowing perfectly well that I was unmistakably in love with him, and I wondered how long I had been hiding this important piece of knowledge from myself. My last thought before I fell asleep was that I was completely and unquestionably screwed.

There was a large laurel tree beside the house where I spent a great deal of my time. It was a good place to read and write things, things quite similar to this. I would go outside in the mornings to scribble notes and drawings of whatever happened to be on my mind. What I enjoyed most about the tree was that it was a place where the scientist would seldom engage me in conversation, and I could instead watch him from afar and be alone with my thoughts. I suppose he thought that I looked busy; then again, he wasn’t too fond of being in the sun.

One afternoon I was sitting underneath the tree, taking in the spring air, welcoming its return. The scientist was gardening at the front of the house. As I watched him I thought about our first meeting. I had already spent a year in his company, and so much had changed since then. That first day was awkward and sweet to me now, though I remember feeling so alarmed by him back then.

I wondered if he knew exactly what I was up to as I sat ever so innocently under my tree, and I can assure you that whether I knew it or not I was almost always up to something. He glanced my way and waved. My first thought was Oh dear Jesus; he caught me staring at him. I waved back and quickly turned my attention to the book in my lap. At that point in my life love was many things and had many stages. I was in the stage where love was anything but trust. Love was simply paranoia, which I can say on more than one occasion led to numberless hours devoted to the study of syntax and gestures in a meaningful yet fruitless effort to understand the scientist’s double negatives that he commonly paired with some awkward non-verbal. In short, I was driving myself mad and having a pleasant time of it.

I waited a few minutes, thinking it would make my intentions less obvious, and then decided to join him. I sat down on the second step of the porch and watched as he dug his hands into the freshly tilled dirt.

“What are you planting this time?” I asked.

“Forget-me-nots, and Heartsease,” he replied. “I thought they were fitting.”

“Fitting for what?” I asked.

He smirked and coyly replied, “I like symbolism.”

At times his inability to give me a straight answer was charming; other times it was just annoying. I knew well that I couldn’t resist the urge, and I would find myself looking up flower meanings at some point in the evening. I had learned a great deal since I had grown some attachment to the scientist. Most things were probably useless, but everything was important to me.

“How very cryptic,” I said, attempting to sound less than amused. “Do you think you can get something to grow this season?”

He sat up on his heels and looked over at me. “It’s worth a try. I think things will turn out differently this time.”

He could be quite cynical, so I always appreciated his optimism when he was willing to show it. “Oh yeah? What’s changed?”

He turned back to his project and continued digging. After filling three holes with seeds and covering them, I had lost hope that he would answer my question.

“Something’s different,” he replied, and he couldn’t have been more right. Something was different; I was different, and so was he.

My heart was beating faster than it should have been, but I couldn’t get enough of these push and pull routines. I woke up every morning and craved them; there was just something about him. “What’s different?”

“I think the dirt is ready to grow something—something really beautiful.”

“The dirt’s different?”

“Nope, same dirt, different day,” he said with a firm nod.

I laughed and volunteered my assistance. I would grow something beautiful with him if he’d just let me.

That evening I was falling asleep over his books and pondering when my adventures with the scientist would meet their end. Everything had an ending, and I didn’t know how long I’d be with him. Would I stay a few more months, maybe even years? I knew how my heart felt, what it wanted. I longed to stay in that house with him. I didn’t want to change a thing. If we never had to come to terms with these unruly things that I’d been feeling, and I could just store them away, then I could stay in his company for always. I could just pretend; I could just sit and be in silence, and it could be enough. I knew myself better than that. Things couldn’t stay the same, and when I realized that, I knew what had to be done.

I would give the scientist my heart.

It was the craziest idea I had ever had, but as with so many other things in my life, I ran with it. I knew the importance that the scientist placed on having a heart. It was something that he thought he needed. He was an academic, priding himself in knowing the wonders of his own mind, and without his heart he convinced himself that he was missing some part of that knowing. It had been my job to help him better know himself. He taught me many things, but mostly about a man who believed his life was based solely in words. He thought he was missing something, and I admit, the scientist was missing something important, but I don’t believe it to be a heart, not in any figurative sense.

I thought for days and days about what I was going to do and what it would mean for me to lose my heart. I wasn’t sure what would happen to me, but I had my theories. There are fears that I think I would have had if I had not first fallen in love with the scientist. I expect that I would have feared the inability to feel things, but I had been with the scientist for so long, and I knew that he felt more than he was letting on. Maybe someone else would have noticed without falling in love with him, but his subtleties always evaded me until I was paying an obsessive amount of attention.

Perhaps I was seeing exactly what I wanted to see, and the scientist did not care for me at all. It was possible, and more likely than I would have wanted. It made me feel sick inside, and part of me just wanted to hate him. Part of me definitely disliked him. Whenever I tried staying angry my arteries would strain, and I’d fall flat on my ass. I couldn’t stay mad at the dicktard no matter how much I wanted to. Him and his stupid head, always being so simply wonderful to be around.

I went over every action that I could take, and cutting my own heart out and giving it to someone else was the best thing I could think of. The scientist wanted me to be his heart, and I’ve done exactly what a heart would do. I’ve been rash, silly, and wild, and I wouldn’t change a thing I’ve done.

My Dearest Everything,

 

            When I made up my own heart I knew that I would have to leave you. I know that you wanted me to be your box of reason, but you have taught me that the heart was not made to be sensible. It acts irrationally, and maybe mine has now.

            I’ve known you as many things, but never as heartless. I knew that I would never be able to convince you of this, so I decided to show you instead. I know your heart whether it is physically there or not, and I give mine fully to you now.

            I realize the importance you place in having a heart. You think that it will organize your life, but as someone who possesses one, I can tell you that life is always messy, and it’s never simple. I will give you my heart, just to prove to you that nothing will change. When you wake you’ll find that things are no different, that you are still exactly as you’ve always been, still charmingly awkward and harboring some love for oddities. When you come to terms with this, I hope you’ll realize something important about me as well. And if I can compel you to do so, come after me. It may be a foolish request, but I would regret my silence more.

            I’ve played my part the best I can, and I love you.

            Best,

            Something


by Pip Haines

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