The Shape of the Heart

April 22, 2018
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It looks like a heart. That’s what he had told me, his fingers dancing across the birthmark on my left cheek. To me it had always been a nondescript blob, marring the otherwise unremarkableness of my face. But to him, it was a beautiful heart.
I feel his chest: no heartbeat. Blood pours from the holes in his skull, staining his thick, brown hair a deep crimson. His eyes have rolled back into his head and his hands lie limply by his side on the hardwood floor.
I remember the first time that I had felt those hands. How his fingers brushed mine as we walked out of the crowded restaurant to a soundtrack of French music and boisterous conversation. He had held the door and met my eyes and for a moment I swear I couldn’t breathe.
Can’t breathe. My breath comes out in short, unnatural bursts as I fumble with the cold glass of the phone. 9-1-1 Trembling fingers press the screen hard.
“What is your emergency?” Her voice is calm and cool. Like ice pressed against my ear.
“My husband” Breathe. Breathe. “He’s-He’s been shot”. The words leave a bitter taste in my mouth.
Ice Lady on the other end of the line seems relatively unfazed by my situation. She asks me for my address in the same cold tone she’d answered the phone with, no sympathy whatsoever.
I look back at him. His lips are turning blue. I remember how those lips had spread into the biggest smile when he’d dragged me out onto the dance floor in that big barn. He had swung me around, laughing so hard I thought we would both burst with happiness. He was such a great dancer.
Blue and red lights dance across the wall as the sound of sirens becomes deafening. They march into the house. Glove clad hands brushing every surface, turning over every wine glass and picture frame. Turning my house into a crime scene.
“Excuse me, miss” The cop approaches me, taking slow, careful steps as if I’m a wounded animal. “Is there anything you can tell us about what happened?”
I shake my head, feeling tears rush to my face. No. No. No. I want to scream. I ball up my fists and stare blankly at the bloodstained floor.
“Do you think you’re feeling alright enough to come down to the station?” His voice is soft as he tilts his head in a futile attempt to meet my eyes. Wordlessly, I hand him the baby monitor on the coffee table and shuffle out the door, the bright lights from the police car stinging my teary eyes.
At the station, I’m led into a large conference room, crawling with people talking in low, sullen voices. As soon as they see me, their expressions change. Some seem sympathetic, others concerned, but the majority are intrigued. I sniff and try to shrink into my cold, plastic chair.
The room falls silent as the footage from my baby monitor is projected onto the wall. There’s my husband, seated at the kitchen counter, head propped up on his elbows as he stares intently at the little television in the corner.
I think I’m going to be sick. Breathe. Breathe.
A figure enters the shot, creeping slowly, stalking its prey. Its hands are wrapped tightly around a gun, its fingers dance on the trigger.
They zoom in. Click. Click. Click. The pixelated face slowly reveals itself. It’s a woman. A woman with a heart-shaped birthmark on her left cheek.






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