Strawberries on the Side

She came home after work one day

And decided that something was a little bit ‘off’

with her (metaphorical) heart-

because everyone knows, the heart has nothing to do with it really-

except for occasionally when you feel a tightness in your chest,

and even then it’s really the brain playing tricks on you

(sneaky brain).

She stared at herself in the mirror,

frowned,

and bit her lip.

She took her largest pair of scissors – the yellow ones with the chip on one side-

and cut her heart neatly out, with a trail of nerves and arteries dangling from it.

It was seeping crimson all over her brown rug

(It was her favourite rug).

She lay down some newspapers on the floor with care, to soak it all up

(she was a very tidy person).

She held it flat on the palm of her hand and surveyed it critically for a while.

It was warm, and flushed, and it dripped red down her fingers,

Creating a brown crisp covering in places.

She shook her head, and let out a deep breath,

An exasperated click of her teeth, and then she set efficiently to work.

She took that heart and she tossed it in the washer

(Luckily she had some loose change lying around- the machine was known for its exactitude)

She chopped some haricots, and carrots, and put them in to boil with the rice.

She also cleared up the newspapers and scrubbed the dried spots off the floor

(she was nothing, if not efficient).

Thirty minutes later, she retrieved the heart.

It was sopping wet, but a lot of the vessels had come loose, she noted with satisfaction.

She neatly snipped away the rest.

The heart looked almost translucent now.

She turned it over and inspected it for damage.

There wasn’t much- just one smallish hole

(and of course the gaping ones that had connected to the vessels).

She wrung the heart, squeezing out all the excess fluid.

She fancied she saw silvery things fall into the sink as she did this-

Spontaneity, warmth, vulnerability, affection-

but she hadn’t been sleeping very much these days.

She turned it over in her hands and noticed that it looked skinny-

what is a skinny heart, anyway?

She smiled to herself, and hung it out on the balcony.

A crow flew by and pecked at the hole.

It cocked its head to one side suspiciously, didn’t seem to deem it edible, and flew away.

She went off to take a shower, and got distracted by a phone call.

An extremely satisfying thirty minutes passed by, cursing the new girl at work, and the deadlines piling up.

She hung up, and suddenly remembered the heart.

It was dark outside, by now.

She retrieved the cold thing, and placed it on the dresser, while she laid the table for dinner.

Once she was done, she came back and looked at herself.

She did up her hair, fastening the tendrils in place with bobby pins.

She rummaged for the face she’d tossed carelessly aside a while ago

(She hadn’t thought she’d need it again).

It was lying in an open carton by the balcony door amongst old birthday cards, raffia and cobwebs.

She dusted it clean, and pasted it back on, taking care not to catch her hair on the tape.

It looked beautiful and mysterious, and gleamed in the yellow light.

She looked at the heart- it seemed smaller somehow-

Like a deflated balloon.

When he came home, rolled up his sleeves, and sat down to dinner,

She chattered on about the funny thing that happened at work that day,

and that movie they had to see sometime soon.

For desert, she said she had something special.

She served him her low maintenance heart on a small white plate,

with fresh strawberries on the side.

He ate it while reading the paper,

with a strong coffee- black.

After he’d finished, he smiled and pushed the plate away.

“Delicious”, he said.

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