Winter Thaw

May 22, 2012
By Anonymous

They started selling paper hearts for a Valentine’s Day fundraiser. They would accept a crumpled, wrinkly buck in exchange for the chance to write one’s name on the crisp pink heart with a large stamped band-aid over it. They accepted a crisp preppy dollar for the same opportunity. It became quite popular as the boys all wanted to show the girls what a kind heart they had and the girls just fawned over the cute pictures of the kids they could save with their donations. The teachers were all asked within the first week of donations to contribute, and they teachers reached into their pocketbooks and wallets for a contribution. Some just couldn’t seem to find their wallets, though they were only shallowly buried below a thin layer of papers which wanted to be graded.
Next, they hung all the hearts up, about one foot of space in between each. The school was outlined in a one-inch thick strip of black corkboard into which the staples dug. The committee gleefully grabbed signed hearts by the handful and while listening to a popular radio station and chatting loquaciously, they added this festive décor which quite combatted the February grey outside. When those who hadn’t been concerned about the fundraiser before saw the cheery coronaries, they became reminded to bring in the dough. Maybe. The members carried stacks of hearts with them wherever they went and set them tantalizingly on their desks.
The last heart was sold February 20th, right before all payments were due. The committee cheered as they stapled between the Chorus room and the wood shop. Glad to be done. Its donator had been a timid girl, who had been consistently forgetting the money for her donations purely because of her freshman absentmindedness.
Bend went the spring. Click went the staple. Ouch went the heart. Just kidding, paper doesn’t talk.
The moment the spring feasted on the cork, a junior, whose name is not important, had been walking through the math hallway. He didn’t notice that one of the hearts had hit the ground behind him. The staple simply gave out and the heart went careening and caressing to the floor in graceful sweeping motions. The committee, of course, had no clue, and it met no eye until the night shift. The eyes were those of the janitor.
Lying on the floor was a cheery pink heart with the cool black sharpie letters “Mark Howard”. A ‘cool’ kid. A partier. The kind you wouldn’t welcome into your home to interview as your daughter went upstairs to grab her purse, if you could see what was in his soul and not those all-American boy looks. Nevertheless, a kid with a lot of girls chasing him. In fact that’s why he bought the heart. To make a certain brown eyed girl’s heart melt.
She had seen it in passing time between Calculus and P.E., but tomorrow she would see it no more. In fact, tomorrow, only 199 of the 203 sold would remain on the walls. The principal had told them that the hearts could cheer the school until April 15th, when flyers for baseball workouts and driver’s ed would compete for the attention of the general student body.
However, by that date, no heart remained on the walls, and they would vaguely ask each other why that date sounded familiar. It had not been the conquest of the tough guys to rip down as many of them as possible. No long-legged cheerleaders plucked their rivals’ hearts off the wall. No conniving, rebellious, stewing and bitter freshman had even noticed the pink shapes.
Indeed, the leaflets had fallen of their own accord. Like the deafening silence of snow, they were found one at a time, and simply discarded. Said one janitor to his friend, one late night, “Dang! This school’s wastin’ so much on them new technologies, and it ain’t gonna spend the dollas to buy themselves no decent staples!” Other than that forgotten late night exchange, the hearts dropped without discussion.
But it was not the staples that determined the hearts’ tenure on the walls. You see, the heart can tell the motivations and intentions that the brain fails to see. None of the students let the lengthening days shine light on the fact that the hearts were hope for a child in a third world country, but how fortunate each and every one of them were to have their own heart beating in their chest, capable of love, and capable of compassion. And that, my friend, is why the hearts grew heavy and the insincere dollar mementoes never lasted past the winter thaw.

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