by Olivia Pope
You first notice your heart in your throat when you are making love. Swallowing a heart is no easy thing and the more he kisses you the more you think it might fall out. In the end you pull away, pretend you need to cough.
You’ve been in the same position before. It was five years ago and you were young, so you let it fall right out. You were in bed then too and the look on the guy’s face surprised you because you hadn’t realised what a mood killer a heart could be. Of course, a heart is not romantic – it is bare, fleshy and beating. He looked down at it, his nose curled. He carried on like it hadn’t happened, but afterwards he said, ‘We should take a break.’
You learnt not to do that again. You haven’t come close since anyway, because no one has been the same. Men have spit their hearts in front of you in the meantime, and you’ve always been kind because you know how easily it’s done. Now, you find yourself at risk again. You knew this one would be a problem the moment you saw him; there is a look in his eyes that’s too much like home.
It takes him a month to pull your heart out completely. Frankly, you’re surprised you’ve lasted that long. Eventually, swallowing stops working; your heart is showing at the ends of your words. You wonder, when a heart normally sends a man running, why he insists on drawing it out. Surely he can see, from the melting in your eyes, what he is doing?
He spends that month telling you his secrets and kissing you like he means it. He spends that month in your bed. His tongue, you imagine, has been darting little chords down your throat, and they have tied you up. You don’t know if a month is too soon to say; no one told you that love, when it happens, takes no time at all.
When your heart does emerge, you have given up fighting. You have forgotten the look on the face of that boy when your were nineteen. You have forgotten the embarrassment of shovelling a heart back in. The pull of the chords is so strong that you could no longer consider those things if you wanted to. Your heart is rising of its own accord and you could swallow the ocean, but even that wouldn’t wash it down.
The two of you are rolling over when it tumbles out and, embarrassingly, lands on his chest. There is a mutual moment of realisation as you both gaze at it. The room is dark, but if there’s any doubt about what it is, its beating thud gives it away. You consider grabbing it, but he’s still looking and it’s too late. You feel more naked than you did before. Your hands cover your breasts.
He takes a long time to do anything, then he sits up, leans on his elbows, and coughs. You don’t see, at first, what’s happened. You are so pointedly not looking at your own heart that you don’t see the one next to it. You are so pointedly not listening to the beating that you fail to hear, just slightly after the first thud, the second one. In fact, you miss all this completely until he picks up the second heart and places it in your hands. You look at him, still not quite sure what to think, and see, through the darkness, your own heart cupped in his hands.
Olivia is a 25-year-old writer who recently gave up a job selling her soul in retail to pursue her dream of writing. Writing is the main part of her. If she’s not writing, she can be found reviewing books on her little corner of the internet: www.youtube.com/oliviareadinglikeamadwomanpope.