Reinventing Duncan

She stood outside the movie theater and looked up at him.  She knew his face.  It was the face of her best friend.

It was dark and chilly, and the night would end soon.  She shivered, but instead of pulling her jacket tighter, she reached inside, and then inside her sweater, and then inside her chest.  She wrapped her hand around her heart, and slowly brought it out.  She had thought about this.  She was certain.

She slipped her hand inside his, and when he looked down, he realized what she had placed there.  He pulled a long piece of string out of his pocket and slowly, carefully, wrapped it up.  She knew it was safe with him.

Time went by.

On a day when everyone exchanges hearts, he handed hers back.  She did not know what to do with it.  It beat differently than she remembered.  So she left it wrapped in the string from that first night.  And she waited.

Time went by.

He asked for it back.  Or she offered it.  It didn’t matter.  It was his again.  Only this time, he tied a small loop at one end of the string and slipped it over his finger.  She saw this, and assumed it was for safe-keeping.

Time went by.

One day, he opened his hand to look at her heart.  It wasn’t as precious to him as it once was.  He stared at it for a moment, and then extended his arm and turned his hand over, letting it fall.  From across the city, she felt a tumbling in her chest.  There was a yank when it hit the bottom of the string, and he watched with amazement as it rolled back up toward him.  He caught it, and from that moment, it was no longer a heart.  It was a toy.

Time went by.

The tumbling in her chest happened two more times before the hollowness took over.  On that day, the heart no longer followed the string up to his hand.  So he tied it to his rearview mirror.

Time went by.

She stood outside the movie theater.  She looked up at him.  She knew this face.  This was the face of love.  And for a moment she was sad.  She had no heart to give him.

Then he reached into his jacket and pulled out a shiny pair of scissors.

After she cut the string, she handed it to her love.  He took it long enough to wrap it in ribbons and bandages, and then gently put it back into her chest for safekeeping.