"Heart Mechanic" said the sign above the door.
In place of a sinking feeling my eyes just move on.
There's an old neon clock on the wall, half burned out.
"Hearty Stout Beer" it tries to say.
And in place of a smirk my eyes just move on.
A small clatter, couple clicks, and a boot stomp beckon
my attention to steel plate door.
Hip first, elbow after, she backs into the room,
wiping grease off her hands before fixing her hair.
"All done!" She says, "finished up quicker than expected."
"Yep. Ran into a few problems but everything just seemed to fall into place."
"oh. that's good then."
"You bet. Almost like it wanted to be fixed, ya'know?"
"So all that's left," she sighs, "is to put it back!"
"Are you ready?"
"Alright, I'll be right back."
She walks back through the steel door, and begins to tinker.
My eyes float around the room once more.
Blue and white tiles hold my feet up, faded with wear,
probably faded since new.
Beside me, a small table laden with well browsed magazines.
"The Beat on Heart Science," says one.
"What regular maintenance can protect you from," I read aloud.
Fluorescent lighting through yellowed plastic guards saturates the walls.
A coffee stained coffee maker stands lonely on the counter,
a small red light beaming from one of its corners.
A boot kicks the door, then the handle jiggles before turning.
She walks into the room with my heart in her hands.
"Are you ready?" She asks, "this is always my favourite part!"
"i think so."
She reaches into my chest and starts pulling out blood lines,
connecting them to the empty chambers
of my off brand heart.
"There we go! Now, have you ever done this before?"
"Okay, well I'll help you then. Here, give me your hand."
She takes my hand and puts it on my heart.
"Okay, now together we're going to prime it, okay?"
"On three, we're going to gently but firmly squeeze for about one second, then we're going to let go. We'll do this three times and you'll be set, okay?"
"Three times. Got it."
"Alright, one... two... three," we squeeze and I feel
a rush of blood fill one of the chambers. It's warm.
"One... two... three," we squeeze again and my hand slips.
If she wasn't holding it I might have dropped it.
"Head rush, hey?" Her voice is fresh paint.
"Don't worry about it, that happens. Here, two hands now."
We both hold my heart with both hands each,
finger tips touching. Warm. And soft.
"One... two..." She looks at me, she's beautiful. "Three."
Her eyes are small globes, I see in them every place I want to be,
and her lips, a compass rose, a daytime northern star.
"There we go!"
Her words are sunlight at the mouth of a cave.
She tucks the blood lines back into my chest and the heart clicks into place.
"How are you feeling?"
What a question.
"How do I feel? I feel... I feel through a body that couldn't feel anything before you. I feel warm, I feel warmed, I feel like I was a boulder in a glacier, and this fresh blood has thawed me free. I feel like I am cascading down a mountain with no control over speed or aim. I feel like I have no control, I feel like I'm scared, I feel happy though. I feel happy that I feel."
She smiles, West to East, "that's good!"
"I feel!" I can't help but laugh, "I feel like your smile is a bed of coals that..."
"mmhmm?" She's waiting.
"Like your smile is an oasis in..."
"Your smile... is... oh."
"Does everything feel okay?"
"I don't know."
"****, okay, here, let me have another look."
She peeks inside my chest again and puts her ear to it.
She taps my bare heart with naked fingernail and pauses for a moment.
"Oh, shoot. We flooded it."
"Yeah. It's no big deal, we just need to wait it out now. Should only take a little while."
My focus lands on the clock.
"but it's late. you should be closed."
She walks towards the coffee stained coffee maker and begins to pour.
"I love what I do," she says as she looks back at me, "I won't tell if you won't," and winks.
"Want some coffee? It sometimes speeds up this whole thing."
She fills another cup and walks back over to me, steam wafting behind her.
A slight hum from the clock.
The sound of her blowing at her cup to cool it.
"So," she asks, "what do you think about after having someone else's hands on your heart?"
"umm, i'm not sure."
"I've never had to have it done, myself. I guess I'm just lucky. Do you think about anything?"
A slight hum from the clock.
The sound of her blowing at her cup to cool it.
She looks up from the paper cup.
"i'm thinking about how this table has four legs, and so do we, and how those legs," i'm an idiot, "..how those legs hold up two magazines, and ours hold up two people." i am an idiot. "and how those magazines were written by people, like us. and yet," hello, my name is help me, i’m an idiot. "and yet the table holds a better conversation than us right now, because i don't know what i'm thinking.”
"what i think," i tell her, "is that i'm an idiot."
She laughs, "Well I don't think you're an idiot, I don't think I ever would have thought of that. And I've even read through those magazines! Trust me, they aren't all that good for conversations."
"Yeah, I mean, would you imagine the same person who writes instruction booklets and manuals," she picks up one of the magazines and tosses it down again, "would make for good conversation?"
"I guess not."
"Exactly, who wants everything to be so straightforward and objective? Might as well just be robots!"
"Yeah, I guess so."
"So, whe- wait, did you just laugh?"
"Just then, I thought I heard you laugh. You did, didn't you?"
"No? I mean, maybe? I guess?"
"Good," she smiles, "that means it's working."
"Oh, that is good."
"Yep. So, where do you think you're going to take this thing?"
"This heart. The one we just fixed. Well, the one that we're still waiting on to work again, but yeah."
"Where am I going to take it?"
"Yeah, like... Do you think you'll take it to Blake's coffee?"
"Down the street?"
"Yeah, that one."
"Um, I guess so. They've got good coffee."
"Do you think you'll maybe take it there tomorrow?"
"I mean, I can, I think."
"Say, around twelve thirty? I think that would be a good time. They pull their muffins out just before then so they'll be really fresh."
"I'll have to try one."
"I'll show you how to pick the best ones, there's a secret trick to it."
"You'll be there?"
"Maybe... I always go there for lunch."
"Mmm, that'll be nice."
"Hey! Look at that!"
"You just smiled! And not even a little smirk, you really smiled! That's great!"
"Did I? Oh, I guess I did! I am!"
"Look at me again, tell me what you see. I mean, if you want to."
I do, I do, and I do.
"I see... your... face?"
She laughs. "Okay, what else?"
"I see... Wait, does it need to be something I see?"
"Oh, well, I guess not. You can tell me what you think about anything I gue-"
"Your laugh," I say, "is a flickering street light, and I a moth."
"Oh..." She watches me.
"Your breaths, while we held my heart, were slow tides, crawling in and out of my open chest."
"And... Your smile..."
She smirks, then smiles.
"Your smile is tomorrow. It is a coffee shop date that I won't stop thinking about."
"You know what I think?" She looks down.
"What do you think?"
"I think it worked. It sounds like your heart's working fine."
"I think so too."
"Are you dizzy?"
"No, not really. Am I supposed to be?"
"No, sometimes it happens and I'm not supposed to let anyone drive off if that's the case."
"Oh. I'm not driving."
"Are you being picked up?"
"No, I'm walking. I'm just a few blocks away. It's nothing."
"But it's raining."
"That's okay, I'm looking forward to how it'll feel, I don't know if I've ever really felt it before."
"Well, in that case," she walks around the office and begins turning lights off, "do you want to walk me home? I'm just a few blocks away too, but I hate the rain."
"Alright, are you ready?"
We walk out the door into the dark.
It's cold, and wet, and noisy. My feet are damp and the world looks lonely.
It's windy too, it's a wind that hates me. It's trying to push me into a post.
She locks the door behind us.
Steel bits moving into place to keep us out. To keep us outside in this cold.
"Whew!" She pulls up her collar, "it's more windy than I thought!"
"Yeah, it's cold, isn't it?"
"It didn't look this cold from inside either. What do you think? Still want to walk me home?"
"I... It's really dark."
"It's cold too, and windy."
She looks at a puddle.
"It's dark and cold and windy and the world feels lonely and miserable, and I don't know if I've ever felt like this before, but I don't like it for what it seems to be."
"...but even though it's dark your voice is sunlight," I grab her hand. "And it might be cold but your hands are warm."
She looks at me again, it's dark but I think she's smiling.
"And I know the wind won't let us keep still but you made my still heart beat again, and even if this world is as lonely as it feels right now you're here and that's enough for me, so yes, I would love to walk you home. I don't know if I've ever wanted anything more."
"Good," she squeezes my hand, "me too."
I love that this gave me free range with a lot of what was said.