Wednesday, May 13, 2015

So far, so what? or The Story of Her Heart

Chapter 1

Like any young, naive girl, she first gave her heart away without thinking. He was such a handsome and mature-seeming boy. He took her heart readily and kept it to play with. She'd feel her heart soar when he tossed it in the air. It was exhilarating! She looked more closely and realized that sometimes the heart whizzing over his head was not hers. He had more than one? Oh, yes. Several. He was juggling. She asked him about it and, without answering, he simply let hers fall to the ground and kept walking. She looked down at it, then at him, and thought What. An. Asshole. 

She picked up her heart and felt its familiar warmth and weight and softness. As she dusted it off, she noticed there was one little hard part from its impact with the ground, but otherwise it remained the heart she knew. Let this serve as a reminder, she thought. I shall never give you away so quickly again.

She tucked it away where it belonged and continued moving forward.

Chapter 2

She was much more selective now. There were many people about; some moving slower or faster, some going backward or not moving at all. She found her pace and there were a few moving at the same speed. She gave her heart to none of them. Those around who noticed started talking. Saying things like, "Maybe she doesn't like boys. Maybe she likes girls." To which the girl, in her mind, said, "I think i might like girls...but i know i like boys." She liked that boy, the Second.

They settled in a pace together, different from everyone else. She thought, What if i just show him my heart? I don't need to give it away. And so she did. She showed him how soft and warm it was. Let him feel its weight. She showed him the hard part. She opened it and let him see things inside no one else had seen. And then he did something that had never occurred to her might happen - he took out his own heart and showed it to her. Let her run her hand over his own rough spots. He opened his too and she got to know him better than anyone else. She thought his heart was beautiful, even with the hard parts. She decided to let him have hers after all. He would have none of it. He thought they should share both and take care of them together. She thought she was lucky to have found him, and so young! They could walk together for so long now, being guardians of their hearts.

The times they couldn't be together, they would sometimes trade. She would spend hours examining his, learning about him, filling it with little bits of hopes and dreams and laughter. Little bits of silliness and sadness and of things that scared her. He did the same. When they would trade back, she was always so excited to discover what he had left her. Their hearts were each other's favourite thing.

He was older, though, and his pace picked up before hers, so their time apart became longer. There came a time he came galloping back to trade for his own heart back when he didn't fall into her slower pace and pass some time. He simply took his heart back, kissed her forehead, fumbled something into her hand, and was gone before she knew it.

What the hell is this squishy thing? What are all these hard parts?! She sat down looking at the thing in her hand a long time before she realized it was her heart. She gingerly opened it and heard his voice, through sobs, apologizing. Saying it wasn't fair to her to be sharing her heart with someone so far away. Maybe, he said, when her pace picked up they could be together again but he was doing this because he loved her. Because she was so young and deserved better.

She ran. She screamed for him to stop and see that, for her, there was nothing better. Things were fine just how they had been. How dare he take back his heart so full and soft and warm with the things she had put in and leave her with this...this...whatever this was? She couldn't catch him. He was gone. She stopped. She dug inside her heart for that maybe that he had left, that hope of some day, and she ripped it out. She left it lying there as she shoved her heart back in its spot and slowly, slowly, with eyes ever downward, walked forward.

Chapter 3

She stopped moving a lot. She would take the vile, heavy thing that had been her heart out and try to figure out how she had ever held it precious. It was ugly and squishy but hard, and no longer warm. She thought she might be better off without it. So when out of the corner of her eye came a familiar dark, ugly man who insisted upon seeing it, she handed it over without so much as a thought.

He spoke, "I watched what he did to you. He was cruel. He did this on purpose. He wanted to hurt you."
"No," she said, "it wasn't like that..." She spoke without conviction though she knew her words were true. "He loved me. He left me a hope, a wish, that we can get back to how we were."
"Where is it?" He snarled. "Where is this 'maybe'? There's nothing here but an echo and some hard parts."
"I may have left it behind. But i can go back. I can get it and put it where he left it and maybe..." She was too tired and too scared to continue.
"I don't know why you even care. You two were never serious. He was playing with you." His black eyes sparkled as he glanced over his shoulder at her. He was tinkering with her heart and she was too broken to notice.
"But, i showed him everything. My hopes, my wishes, my fears, my silliness...that is serious." She really was trying to shake his words off, but they were coated in a slime that just made them stick faster.
All the while tinkering, he spat, "You are a child. You listen to the wrong music. You don't know how to talk to people. You trust too much. You see kindness where there isn't any. You don't know what's funny. You don't understand anything. You've never really felt anything. I can fix you and your poor, sad, shriveled heart. I can tell you what you really want. Just fall in step and never ask questions."

She was so exhausted. She gave in. She kept his pace, never really looking at him, just accepting that he now held her burden. If she didn't look at him, she didn't have to see how disgusting her heart was. At one point, he earnestly turned to her and halted their journey. He handed back to her something almost resembling her former heart. It was fairly soft and had less weight, although it wasn't as warm as it had once been. And he had changed as well. He wasn't quite so ugly and dark. She marveled at her heart, the strange magic he had performed, and barely listened as they walked on and he listed everything wrong with her.

She became comfortable, grateful even. Until all at once, he screamed, "God! You were so fucking EASY! You believed it all. I didn't fix your heart. You and that piece of shit are beyond help. Go on, look inside." And he sped away, backward, into the blackness from which he had crept.

Beyond bewildered, she shakingly opened her heart. It was full of brittle, empty things that hurt to look at it. It was mostly hollow, really. Plumped up with nothing at all. She couldn't believe she had allowed this to happen. Once again, she stopped and sat. She picked all those brittle, empty things out and one by one ground them to dust with her bare hands. It took a very long time. It hurt more than she believed possible and she was left with that heavy, squishy-hard, cold thing that she thought she could never love. She gently placed it deeper inside than she ever had before. He was wrong. It could be fixed. She could be fixed.

She carried on forward.

Chapter 4

She quickened her pace as thoughts about what had or hadn't been real raced through her mind. The Second, she knew that was real. She also knew she had lost any chance of sharing hearts with him again because of her anger and impatience. She longed to go back and find his maybe and put things back, but she knew it was impossible because of what came after the Second and the blanket of blackness and despair he left on that patch behind her. She thought that there must be others out there willing to share their hearts. Willing to look at what hers was now and not recoil in fear and disgust. And she refused to believe that anyone else could ever behave as the dark, ugly man had. She went even more quickly onward.

At last she came upon a group of people she recognised. They had walked with her after she gave her heart away the first time. They were friends, of a sort, and she slowed to observe their strange ambulation. They weren't moving forward so much as side-to-side, or two steps back then one forward, or else standing still in little clumps. A change of pace might be good.

There was a man there she had considered once giving her heart to, before she knew you could share, but he had already given his away and had someone else's back then. Now it appeared as though he had his own back. She approached him and he asked to see hers. She embarrassedly pulled it from its dark recess and handed it over. He was angry. He demanded to know who made it that way. She didn't know what to say. Technically, she was responsible for the state it was in now - hadn't the last left it slightly less fucked up? She was the one who tore it back to this. She stared at him. He offered to take it and put it right. She trusted him. He started walking sideways and she was confused. "Forward!" She shouted. "Together!" He shook his head and put more distance between them. "But...can't i have yours while you have mine?" No answer. She couldn't tell which way he had gone, so she held her position determined not to let him advance without her.

A little while later, not that long in the scheme of things, but long enough that she was feeling rather antsy and stagnant, she noticed him approaching from behind. He was keeping a quick pace with another girl. He held in his hand a gleaming, beautiful heart that was warm and soft. She could tell from a distance that it was just the right weight. She beamed, excited that he had kept his promise. He was approaching a fast clip and she held out her hands to accept her heart.

He slowed when he got close, ever so slightly. He knew what she thought. "No. This is hers," nodding to his companion, "and she has mine." They looked so happy.
"But where is mine? Where is it?!"
He was passing her now, but pointed back and over his right shoulder, "Over that way. Near some ruins. There was nothing i could do. You should have followed me. Something like that can't be fixed alone." Then, they were gone.

Last time, she followed with total acceptance. This time she had stayed right where she was full of questions no one was there to answer. She looked longingly ahead but knew she had to go back and find that blasted heart. Resolutely, she turned around.

Chapter 5

It was easy enough to find; the ruins were massive. Her heart was out among others but still recognizable as her own. She thought she saw it swell a bit as she got closer. But it was still a hideous thing that she didn't even realize how much she loathed until she saw that other girl's heart. So whole and full.

She picked it up and felt nothing. Well, maybe she felt a little more hollow. Did she? She put it down. Yes, she definitely felt better while it was not in her possession. She looked around. Really, she wasn't that far back. She hadn't made it to the blackness, a place she knew she might never escape. Maybe she could just carry on without it.

She looked down at the pitiful thing. She didn't want to leave it out in the open where just any trickster could find it. The ruins! She'd build a tower wall around it and seal it up tight. When it was safe, she could carry on without fear of it falling into the wrong hands ever again.

Building the wall took even longer than picking out the hollow parts had before. She set herself to the task and ignored every passerby as she worked. Even the concerned ones who just wanted to help somehow. What the hell do they know? She thought. With their precious intact hearts shoved away and protected? This is how i'm protecting mine, and i'll be a damn sight better off than any of those fools!

When it was complete, she stood back and admired her handiwork. Nothing would get to it now! She turned forward and lifted her foot to leave all that nastiness behind...but her foot wouldn't touch the ground. She couldn't move forward. She put her foot back and tried to lead off with the other. Same thing. She was stuck.

Chapter 6

Not stuck. She could move backward or sideways, but not forward. She wandered back toward the darkness, stood at the edge. She stepped in, after great debate, and it was full of foul beasts like the one who hurt her before. However, sensing they had no way to harm her without her heart, they left her alone in search of ones who carried their damage in plain sight. She made up her mind to go all the way through and look around to see if she could find that maybe after all.

She found her way out the back side. There it was! Right where she left it. She scooped it up, and it just crumbled away. But there were other things littering the ground. Things discarded from the Second's heart. Here, the time she made him laugh until pizza came out his nose. There, their first kiss. All around were things she knew had once been in his beautiful heart. It never crossed her mind as she numbly gathered them all in her skirt that he might have shed them on purpose to make room for things another person was pouring into his heart. Satisfied she had them all, she ran as swiftly as she could forward, back to her own walled up heart.

It was only as she began tearing down the bricks, that it occurred to her why all these things had been left behind. It was through a haze of tears and the shutters of sobs that she at last uncovered her giant raisin of a heart. It looked too small to hold all these things, but she remembered how it had been blown up by absolute nothingness before. She would get them in there somehow.

Chapter 7

These are mine now, she thought as she rifled through the contents. No one else can ever take them. She sewed them into a place inside and her heart once again felt soft and warm, although it looked as sickening as it always had since he left. She knew the difference, though, and that's all that mattered. Only upon rising to leave the broken tower, did she realise how much time she had wasted. She had gone unseen, unloved for so long. She had a lot to make up for and, so, began handing her heart out to just about anyone who took the time to acknowledge her on her path. Most simply handed it back, shaking their heads kindly. It didn't matter. Some day, someone would take it and she would insist upon having theirs and, while it might never be the same, it would be something. It would do.

Chapter 8

She found him - the One Who Would Do. He took her heart and handed over his so easily; it was almost magic. Magic? That didn't work out so well before... She pushed such thoughts out of her mind and tried to concentrate solely on filling this new heart with as much love as she could. He didn't exactly do the same for her, but neither of them spent too much time rustling up the other's contents, so she was satisfied continuing along with him, faster than she was really comfortable with, until it simply wouldn't do anymore.

There came a day when the new heart that the two of them created together stopped beating. She needed her heart back. She needed all those things inside that had made her feel happy once before. He had no problem handing it over to her. He didn't ask for his own back, but she was too distracted to notice. She pawed through her heart to get to that secret place and was surprised, and delighted, to see that those things had grown. They had even brought to them other warm bits of love and laughter and silliness from other places and people she had forgotten about. She reveled in them. They muted the ache from that third, missing heartbeat. She found, however, that he had put nothing in her heart - nothing at all. She wondered how he had kept it for so long without putting a single thing in. Remembering she still had his, she opened it.

Also nothing. This can't be! I put so much in! She turned it upside down and shook it, desperate to get back something, anything, of herself that she had poured in. All that fell out were lies and hatred and disappointment. It wasn't even his real heart. The last thing that fell out was a truth - that he had already switched it out and given his heart to someone new. She wished she hadn't looked so hard.

After a dreadful amount of trying to tinker with his the way hers had been before, she gave up. It wasn't the real thing, maybe never had been, and so there was nothing she could do to hurt it. She felt terrible for trying, but still gave it one last stomp before she picked herself up once again, and went forward alone.

Chapter 9

Time passed and the girl realised she was a woman - had been for a while. It had been childish to think she needed one other person to share her whole heart with. She took out bits and pieces with people she met along her way, and together they examined them. A lot of these people did likewise and the sharing, though not whole, was enough to make her feel less lonely. Many times, their discoveries and input would make the things in her heart feel bigger, more important, beautiful. Every so often, the things were turned ugly by others' eyes, and the woman would drop them behind her to rot.

She met another woman who she believed to be the strongest person she had ever met. Her new lover's heart was tricky, but the woman wasn't interested in her heart, at first. She made a gift of her rebuilt heart (which was soft again, and warm, and almost as light as it had once been) and honestly didn't want anything except her lover to keep it safe. She never even got a glimpse of the other's heart, until the end, and then she saw a version of her own old, fucked up heart, except further gone. She handed it back, shaking her head kindly. Only when her lover returned the woman's heart, reluctantly, did she notice how it had been corrupted. All good things twisted, tainted. Some gone without a trace.

She sat again. Alone. And started to untwist and wash her memories. To try and get the things back to how she wanted them. It was slow going, as usual.

Chapter 10

When the time came to go forward once more, she was even more selective than she was after that first time. Not just in to whom she gave her heart (no one, ever), but in to whom she showed any bits at all. And honestly, she didn't want to see anyone else's heart ever again.

It was after a time, a quite long one in the scheme of things, that she gave out pieces - not for showing, and not the whole thing - but pieces she thought maybe other people could find more use in. To her astonishment, she began to get pieces from others in return. Useful pieces. Helpful pieces. Healing pieces.

Chapter 11

The woman stands with her back to the forward, surveying the distance she has come with this heart - the only one she will ever have. The distance is vast. It is filled with patches of blackness and torment, but much more of it is vivid and beautiful and more colourful than she could ever see while she was in it. I traversed this whole way and barely ever was I looking around. It is magnificent. She glances at her heart. It is warm and soft and just the right weight to carry, even if it has a number of hard parts here and there. It was always the right weight; it was i who was weakened at times. She squares her shoulders and prepares to turn toward the forward. She knows she never needs to take in this sight again - her heart will hold it if she ever needs another glimpse.

When she turns, she is awed. However large and amazing she felt the backward seemed, the forward is so much more vast and breathtaking! It boggles her mind and lightens her once again beautiful heart. And she starts forward again, alone, but not lonely, and with her eyes up and taking in everything they can. Maybe...she thinks. That thought is all she needs.

{Not} The End