A Heart in 6 Parts

A Heart in 6 Parts


I take my silver heart out of its box and wind it up until it begins ticking. Right away I give it to a grey-eyed boy in P.E. After a change of heart, I ask for it back. His badminton partner serves it to me, lightly. For a moment, it soars.



My heart has a will of its own. It sets its own green heart on Leif Garrett, the entire JV tennis team, and the strangely magnetic older man at the video store. Sometimes I chase after them—my heart and its heart. Other times I let them go. They get tromped on, but only grow wilder and tougher.



In my thirty-first year, my heart’s stolen by a piano player. One terrible night I yank it from his pounding hands and run. Once home I see my heart is black and blue, and can’t stop beating an irregular tune. It keens off-key when it realizes we’ve left its heart behind. I lock my heart away in the Peruvian sideboard, only bringing it out to rub with a soft cloth at the holidays, along with my grandmother’s hopelessly tarnished silverware.



One spring, my heart thumps so loud the old blonde sideboard sways and cracks open. I nearly have a heart attack as my heart races through me and leaps out the window. I sprint after it. The cavernous hole in my center sinks—as I realize my scarred, dark organ is headed to the piano player’s flat.



At the corner of 24th and Des Moines, with the sun a bloodshot eye as witness, my heart stops but then tries to beat the light. Mid-intersection it’s hit and shattered by a Little Debbie bakery van. Tiny, purpled bits punctuate the pavement. The driver helps me pick up the pieces, even giving me a heart-shaped sugar cookie, as a start.



Over the next few weeks, the bakery van driver and I keep time together, until my battered heart is as good as new. Through the years I bare it, cry it out, wear it on my sleeve. But never close it away again. Recently, I’ve given portions to my children and their children and even a few stray tabbies. Gladly, generously. Until the final second, when I feel the last of my heart flutter like a golden moth—the moment before it goes out.

Lynn Mundell's work has been published in Booth, Eclectica, Fanzine, Hobart, Split Lip Magazine, and Tin House online, among many other literary journals, with more coming soon in Permafrost and December's Bath Flash Fiction Award anthology. Lynn lives in Northern California, where she is co-editor of 100 Word Story and its upcoming anthology, "Nothing Short Of: Selected Tales from 100 Word Story" (Outpost19, April 2018).


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