A Hearty Kind of Flashback

February 19, 2013
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The musical orchestrations of New York City traffic surrounded Wilbur as he made his way down Columbus Avenue and towards his home on 103 Street. He had less than two blocks left and could already see his apartment building in the distance. Turning towards the street corner, Wilbur found himself in the front of a heard of people waiting to cross the street. The street light spent it’s sweet old time changing to red, leaving many of the more impatient New Yorkers to dash across the street as cars flew past, their horns blaring. When the light finally changed, signaling for the pedestrians to cross, Wilbur strolled merrily across the street, becoming distracted halfway by a dispute between a hot dog vendor and an elderly businessman on the corner of the block. He stopped in the middle of the crosswalk to get a better look, completely oblivious to the many taxi cabs, cars, and in this case a huge Associated Grocers semi that were all revving up to go as soon as the light turned green. Finally noticing his predicament, Wilbur began to hurry across the road once more, but his attempts proved to be futile as the light quickly flashed to green and the semi roared towards Wilbur.

At the last second Wilbur turned to look towards the semi, the world around him slowing down as he noticed the familiar logo on the truck’s side. In that moment the world went from slow motion to paused, everything but him and the truck fading away to blackness. He could not hear the distinct sounds of traffic anymore, nor see the crowded city sidewalks. All that was left was him and the truck in empty black nothingness, not a soul to distract him from his memories of a time long since passed. At last the truck faded away, and Wilbur found himself once again tucked into his bed on the morning of that one faithful day so many years ago.

Stretching his limbs and rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Wilbur tumbled out from underneath his cocoon of blankets and shuffled his way towards the bedroom dresser, grabbing the robe that had been tossed aside sometime last night and throwing it on as he walked into his bathroom. His feet padded across the cold tile floors, jumping to safety on the furry blue rug in front of his sink. Grabbing his toothbrush and toothpaste, Wilbur spit his retainer out into his case and began brushing. After a good five minutes Wilbur slurped up a sip of cool water from the faucet and wiped off his face with a towel, which he then proceeded to chuck over his shoulder. Staring at his reflection in the mirror, Wilbur gave a wide yawn, one that was shortly cut off by a frightened scream. Stumbling away from the mirror, Wilbur proceeded to slip on the towel flung behind him and come crashing down to the floor.

“Wilbur? Wilbur are you alright?” His mothers distressed voice called from downstairs.

“I’m fine.” Wilbur yelled back as he picked himself up off the floor and cautiously inched his way back towards the mirror, hoping that what he had saw was nothing but a figment of his imagination.

Glancing in the mirror, Wilbur knew what he saw was no dream. There, in the mirror, was Wilbur, everything about his awkwardly, lanky, seventeen-year-old body remaining the same except for one major difference. A piece of his heart, no bigger than a quarter, was missing. Wilbur stood stock still for a few more seconds before racing out into his room and promptly performing a thorough search. It was only until after all the books had been pulled off his shelves, the sheets and pillows of his bed scattered throughout the room, and his closet emptied of all clothes that he flopped down on his bed in defeat. He had searched his room, but to no avail. His heart was not there.

“Where could I have lost it?” Wilbur grumbled to himself, “And how will I ever find it again?” He rolled over on his stomach and buried his head into the mattress when an idea struck him. Jolting up, Wilbur exclaimed merrily, “Why, I’ll I’ve got to do is backtrack my steps! Yes, I must have lost it sometime between walking home last night and going to bed. If I act quickly, I still may have a chance of finding it!”

Stumbling off the bed and out of his room, Wilbur barely had the time to throw a clean pair of clothes on before he was bolting down the hall, racing past the kitchen yelling a quick goodbye to his mother as he ran out the door, down their apartment building stairs —the elevator had long since been broken—, and out into the busy streets of New York City.

Wilbur stopped for a moment in the middle of the sidewalk before breaking out into a jog as he hurriedly tried to retrace his steps to every place he had visited last night. Running down the streets Wilbur ran towards Central Park, finally reaching his first stop no more than twenty minutes form when he had first stepped foot out of his apartment building. Huffing and puffing for air, Wilbur dragged himself across 59th Street Columbus Circle and towards one of the many street vendors. On the very corner of Columbus Circle, at a small booth selling “100% genuine” leather handbags sat a small, plump man who was currently very preoccupied in trying to convince an older woman into buying one of his knock-offs. The man wore a large, gray t-shirt that was decorated with an assortment of stains, and had a cigar hanging from the side of his mouth.

“Ronnie!” Wilbur shouted as he pushed his way past the crowd and over towards Ronnie’s booth.

“Not now kid, can’t you see I’ve got a costumer?” Ronnie hissed at Wilbur, blowing a large puff of smoke in his face. “Now this one right here, this ol’ beauty is a one of a kind, ya never gonna see another like this.” Ronnie said with fake kindness as he addressed the woman.

“He’s lying, old Mitch down the street can give you one in blue for half the price.” Wilbur said, pushing the confused lady down the street toward another vendor stand.

“Hey kid, whaddya think you’re doing? I was doing business!” Ronnie said, grabbing Wilbur by the arms and shaking him, giving him a slight smack to the side of his head before letting go.

“No, you were doing a scam, and that’s not the point.” Wilbur retorted. “The only reason I’m here is because I think I may have left something here when I visited last night.”

“Better not of been anything of importance, or I might have already sold it by now, kid.” Ronnie joked.

“Hilarious as always, Ronnie. But no, it’s nothing like that; don’t you see something missing from me Ronnie?”

“Now that you say it…” Ronnie said as he caressed his chin, eyes scrunched up in concentration. After a couple seconds of thought and examining Wilbur he gave out a boisterous laugh. “Well looky there, what do we have! Wilbur is missing a little piece of his heart!”

“Yes, but have you seen it?” Wilbur questioned. He was becoming more and more anxious with every minute that passed by.

“Wilbur, my boy.” Ronnie started as he slung his meaty arm around Wilbur’s shoulder. “You don’t really seem to understand this whole lost heart concept, now do ya? I can promise you I haven’t seen no heart around here in ages, not even my own! Now, you go looking for ya heart, you here? But don’ be surprised if you find it somewhere you’s not expecting it, understand?”

“I guess I understand…” Wilbur said, trailing off. Where would he not be expecting to fins his heart? The sewer?

“Good! Now you get along with ya goose chase.” Ronnie said, pushing Wilbur out into the crowded sidewalk to be swept away in the throngs of people. “And don’ you come back till ya find this heart, ya here?”

Wilbur turned around to give a wave back to Ronnie, but found himself already out if sight. Sighing, Wilbur continued down the street, going block by block and retracing his steps as he searched for his missing heart.

“Have you possibly seen it anywhere near here?” Wilbur asked Petunia, the blonde waitress who worked at Wilbur’s favorite pizza place.

“Sorry Wilbur, but no one’s seen it. Ol’ Buddy in the back just laughed when I asked him if he’d come across it. I hope you find it though.” Petunia said.

“That’s fine. Thanks Petunia.” Wilbur said as he walked out the door, the sound of Buddy’s — the owner of the restaurant— laugh trailing behind him.

It was about a quarter to noon when Wilbur had run all the way up to time’s square, and his stomach was grumbling from a day of running around. Why he had not grabbed anything at Buddy’s Pizza Place he did not know, but as the initial adrenaline shock from this morning began to wear off, Wilbur felt even more helpless and weak than he had before. Stopping by the corner of the large M&M’s store, Wilbur quickly spotted who he was looking for and scurried his way through the crowd.

“Hey, Sid!” Wilbur yelled over the sound of the music that was being played by the street band. On almost every block you could find homeless people and street performers begging for money, and Wilbur’s friends were no exception. Sid, a boy who swore he was twenty but looked more like fifteen, liked to call himself the street bands manager. He had come to New York from Ohio just last year, spending all his money on a train ticket with nothing left but lint in his pockets when he actually got here. This was basically how people got into the street band, and even little old untalented Sid was able to worm his way into one.

“What’s up man?” Sid yelled, his head banging to the beat of the music,

“I need to know if you’ve see my heart. I’ve lost a piece.” Wilbur screamed over the deafening music. They were standing directly in front of on of the mobile loudspeakers, which was probably not the best place to have a conversation.


“I said, have you seen my heart?” Wilbur yelled once again, and this time it seemed that it finally made it to Sid’s brain what he had been saying.

“Nope, haven’t seen it!” Sid yelled back, waving goodbye to Wilbur as he ran away form the deafening music.

His confidence even lower than before, Wilbur hurried off to the last place possible for his heart to be. On Columbus Avenue was the art gallery he worked out, and the first place he had visited the day before. If his heart wasn’t there, then it wasn’t anywhere.

“Please,” Wilbur pleaded to the janitor who was just locking up the building. “Did you possible see a heart in there? I must have dropped it somewhere.”

“Sorry kid.” The janitor replied in a gruff voice. “No heart in there.” He began to walk off, but at the sight of poor Wilbur’s face, he gave on last word of advice before leaving. “Your hearts not just going to be lying around on the floor someplace kind, try looking someplace that matters.” With that, the man walked off.

“Someplace that matters.” Wilbur scoffed as he strolled moodily down Columbus Avenue in the already dimming light. “How am I supposed to know where that is?”

Turning to cross the street, Wilbur’s mind was so wrapped up in his own self-pity that he did not notice the green light still motioning for cars to go. Crossing the street, he made it halfway before he heard the sound of something large and heavy speeding towards him, and looked up to see an Associated Grocers semi come barreling down the street towards him. Frozen with fear, Wilbur snapped his eyes shut and braced for the worst when out of nowhere he was pummeled towards the sidewalk, someone landing atop of him and crushing him into the cold cement.

“Wha-?” Wilbur mumbled, his voice muffled from sidewalk he was being pushed up against. The other body finally rolled off of him after a while, and then continued to hoist him up of the ground.

“God, you sure are stupid.” Said a distinctly female voice. When Wilbur could once again see straight he saw in front of him a girl who seemed to be about his age with beautiful long, dark brown hair, coco colored eyes, and an extremely unhappy look upon her face. “How bout’ you try paying attention to where you’re going next time?”

“Oh, yeah.” Wilbur stuttered. “That might help.”

“Might help he says.” The girl said as she rolled her eyes and began walking off, only to be stopped by Wilbur’s outstretched arm.

“Wait, you saved me.” Wilbur stated.

“No dip, dummy.” She retorted.

“No, no, no. What I meant was, um, thank you, I guess.” Wilbur said, scrunching up his face after hearing just how horribly awkward that sounded. Looking down at the ground, it was then that Wilbur noticed something different, so different he almost did not believe it to be true.

His heart was whole once more.

“My, my heart.” He stuttered incoherently, much to the annoyance of the girl. He was trying to connect the dots to where he had found it, but it was only when he looked once more at the girl that he finally came to understand what Ronnie and all the rest of his friends had meant. “You’re my heart. You were the one thing that could fill the hole in my heart!” He exclaimed joyfully.

With this, the girl pushed him into the road and began strolling off in the other direction as Wilbur narrowly missed being hit by an oncoming taxi. Catching up to the girl he jumped in front of her, apologizing.

“Maybe I should have said that differently.” Wilbur said.

“Pervert.” The girl said as she tried to walk around Wilbur, but was stopped yet again.

“No, I promise you, I’m not a pervert.” Wilbur said, “It’s just, I had woke up this morning and when I noticed my heart was gone, I freaked. So, I spent all day looking for it, and just when I had given up you popped out of nowhere, and ba boom! My heart is back.”

Shooting him a questioning glance, the girl then crossed her arms across her chest, and asked but one thing of him. “Prove it.”

“Prove it?” Wilbur said, gulping. He did not know of any way to prove his story to be true. Twiddling with his thumbs, Wilbur stuck his hands into his pocket, ready to be kicked into the street yet again when he felt something in his pocket. Pulling it out, he found it to be a single quarter.

“A quarter? That’s it?” The girl questioned sarcastically.

“Yes!” Wilbur said, elated. He knew exactly how to prove himself. “When you woke up this morning, your heart had a hole in it too, didn’t it; one the size of a quarter, on the right side?”

“Why does that matter?” The girl questioned.

“Because, that’s exactly when and how much of mine I lost! If I lost a bit of my heart, then you must have too. Also, why else would you have risked your life to save mine? Because you’re a good person? Sorry, but I doubt that’s why. I think you saw that I was missing my heart too, and you knew that without me, you would never have a full heart again!” Wilbur said, a big grin flashing on his face when he had finished.

The girl said nothing for a while, until she spoke but one word. “Molly.”

“What?” Wilbur questioned, before it struck him what the correct response was. “Oh, I mean, Wilbur.”

The girl, Molly, then gave a small smirk before turning around and beginning to walk away. It was only until she was a good ten feet away that she turned around again, beckoning towards Wilbur.

“Well, are you coming or what?”

In a matter of seconds Wilbur had relieve an entire day, and entire day that had been the beginning of his entire life. As the semi came barreling towards him once more, he felt no sadness for himself, only joy for all he had done in his life. Everything began to speed up once more, the semi coming closer and closer as the world returned to it’s normal colors and the sounds and screeches of city life could be heard once more. As the semi came barreling towards him, Wilbur snapped his eyes shut and braced for the worst when out of nowhere he was pummeled towards the sidewalk, someone landing atop of him and crushing him into the cold cement.

The only things Wilbur could hear were the sounds of someone saying, “God, you sure are stupid.” and then a laugh that sounded like the tinkling of golden bells, followed by one of the warmest hugs Wilbur had ever experience.

“How about paying attention next time?” The voice said once again, as Wilbur blinked open his eyes to see Molly standing in front of him, a grin upon her face.

“That might help.” Wilbur said with a grin upon his face as she helped him up, both of them walking away hand in hand, their two hearts joined as one.

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