Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Heart

There once was a heart. It was cracked, bruised and dry. It was kept in a metal box that sat on one end of a park bench that no one really sat on anymore.
The park was a little ways away from a school and any number of students could have paid attention to it. But they didn’t. They didn’t really give it a second glance as it sat there on its bench. A few had ventured towards it but changed their minds when they saw the large padlock on the front. It wasn’t actually locked, only jammed in a closed kind of position. The truth was that the girl who the heart belonged to didn’t have the key in the first place.
            Everyday she walked by the park on her way home from school and everyday there was someone sitting by her box. She never really noticed or paid attention to it. She didn’t want anyone to know it was her heart.
            Everyday he saw her walking by the park with her friends. They were always laughing and she was always smiling but there was no sparkle in her eyes.
            He had been there the day she had come running into the park, by herself, holding that box. The tears constantly rolled down her cheeks as she made her way. She finally fell to her knees in front of that bench, shoulders shaking from her sobs. He watched with a heavy heart as she opened the box and placed her heart inside it. It was since that day he had sat next to the metal box on the park bench, the quiet beating barely audible.
            One day, he pulled the box onto his lap and inserted a key into the lock. He turned it and heard a faint click as the jammed, partially closed lock fully opened. Setting it aside, he lifted the lid and looked in.
            Tears appeared at the edges of his eyes as he saw the full condition of the heart. It was in rough shape, covered by welts and bruises. Cracks marred the once smooth membrane and it was obvious that it was in desperate need of moisture. As his tears fell, the heart became softer. It was no longer dry, watered by his tears.
            It was at that moment that two feet appeared in front of him. He lifted his head to meet the girl’s slightly suspicious but vulnerable gaze.
            “May I take care of it?” he asked, gesturing to the heart in his lap.
            “Will you actually?” she replied, not trusting him.
            “I have been all along.” He returned her searching stare with one that radiated warmth and she slowly sat down next to him. Carefully, he set the box on her lap. “Why don’t you take it out?”
            The girl’s shoulders drooped slightly and hung her head before sitting up straight like she had forgotten she wasn’t allowed weakness and then was prodded back into resolute pain. “It’s safe there. Nothing can get in and hurt it.” She avoided eye contact, looking in the opposite direction.
            He smiled sadly and placed his hand gently over her small, cold one. She looked back, feeling the warmth envelop it.
            “Keeping your heart in this box only hurts it more. It won’t heal unless you take it out.”
            The girl tried to look away as she felt tears spring to her eyes but couldn’t. There was such warmth and kindness, true love, in his eyes.
            “Why isn’t it in there?” He pointed to her chest where it should have been.
            “It’s defective. It betrayed me.” Her voice cracked. “It isn’t to be trusted.” she whispered to no one in particular.
            “I can teach it. I can teach it to do the right things if you’ll let me.”

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