There have been many moments in my life, especially in the past few years, when I wanted to hook myself up to a device that might keep my heart beating. Some days, I am so weary it is a struggle to breathe. I am exhausted—the tedium of my job, this life I’m pretending to live in a city that only wants to chew me up, the cruelty of everything, my mother, and how far her shadow casts even when I have no idea where she is.
As we stood in the museum, dark and cold and cavernous, my whole body was heavy in a way it had never been before. J grabbed my elbow, squeezing lightly, and it’s like she was trying to take some of the heaviness away from me. We walked slowly toward a display of scalpels, glinting as they lay beneath the glass, still so sharp the slender blades practically hummed.
I pointed to the scalpel on the end of the display. “It’s amazing, isn’t it? It takes so little to cut a person open.”
J stared at her feet. “You’ve changed.”
We continued walking. “So have you.” When we reached the artificial heart, an intricate structure of glass and steel like the building I worked in, we both leaned against the glass like little kids, our foreheads leaving oily prints on the surface of the case.
“I came here because she’s back and I don’t want her to be back and I don’t want to deal with her being back alone.”
“This is an amazing artifact. The vision it took to make something so beautiful, so necessary, I admire it.”
J sighed, her shoulders slumping like she was now feeling all of my unbearable weight of being. ”Please,” she whispered.
I reached for J’s hand, marveled at how our hands, how nearly everything about us was replicated so exactly. “You’re never alone,” I said.
It was a comforting lie for both of us and she was kind enough not to mention the uncomfortable truth, that when she needed me most, I had disappeared and left her as neatly cut open as a chest cavity, wide and bloody, waiting for the pulse of a new heart.