The Same Heart

Thursday, January 29, 2015

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The Same Heart
Chapter One

The story starts like this:
I’m sitting on the worn, leather couch in the back of the dimly-lit LuLo, the bar owned and operated by the closest thing I have to a friend. Six empty shot-glasses, a scotch, and a half-empty martini glass are scattered openly on the table in front of me. The guy I’m sitting with has his hand up my skirt, and I don’t even know his name.
“Hey,” he says, and I can feel his breath hot on my ear. It smells sweet, like tequila. “Wanna get out of here?”
Yes,” I slur, and kiss his lips.
He smiles and helps me up. We both walk clumsily toward the door, his arm around my waist, pressing into my hipbone; my weight pressing into his for steadiness. I wave to my friend Ben, the bartender, as we pass by, and he shakes his head. He knows I’ll be back.
Outside, the street is wet and the air smells fresh. It must have rained. I take a deep breath and look up. Sometimes, there’s quite a view of the stars. Tonight, I only see angry, dark clouds, and a flicker of lightening. I shiver and stumble on the sidewalk. The guy- I think I’ll call him Sweet Breath - grabs my arm to steady me. I giggle.
“What’s so funny?” he asks.
“You,” I say. “You’re sweet.”
Another giggle. Sweet Breath smiles and pulls me against him. As we round the corner of the building, he presses me up against the brick wall and smashes his lips against mine.
I don’t remember the rest.


Across town, in a room without windows, a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes is drinking warm tea from her favorite mug, the one painted red and decorated with hearts. She likes to cover the hearts with her fingers to feel the warmth. The only hearts she’s known have been cold.
She picks up a pen, and stares at the blank page in front of her. How do you say goodbye when you know you won’t be missed? She sets the pen down, and takes a sip of her tea.
Perhaps you don’t say goodbye at all.


That night I dream of fire and water that falls from the sky in equal destruction, catching a photo that flutters from a two-story window. The image of a family once complete flickers with flames being smacked by the storm. By the time the rain smothers the flames, all that’s left is the image of a lonely little girl with faceless hands gripping each of her shoulders.
I gasp and wake with the ruined photo in my mind, and the sound of the rain smacking into the windows. I sit up as I wait for my eyes to adjust and realize two things: I’m naked, and I’m not alone. When the clap of thunder shakes the room with vibrations, I also realize the storm wasn’t just a dream. Instinctively, I pull the red sheets up to my chin and tuck my knees into my chest. I toss my long, brown hair over my shoulder so the thick curls fall like a curtain down my spine, and brush my long bangs away from my hazel eyes. I rock softly forward and back, hoping to disappear as the thunder booms. When a crack of lightening lights the room, a tiny squeak escapes my mouth, and the figure beside me stirs slightly. I snap my attention to the sleeping Sweet Breath, wishing I had left before the storm.
Why do I do this to myself? I think. What am I going to do now?
There’s no way I can manage to walk home right now. I feel sick, though I can’t tell whether it’s worry or the residue of a drink-too-many. When I feel the bile rise in my throat, I roll off the bed onto the carpeted floor, and crawl to the door I’m hoping is the bathroom. It is. I’m able to lean over the toilet bowl just in time.
I flush the toilet, and grip the edge of the counter, pulling myself up. I rinse my mouth out with water from the sink, and stare at my reflection in the mirror. My face looks paler than usual, my eyes red and rimmed with dark, sleepless circles. 
I need to stop doing this. I tell myself.
I walk back to the bedroom, glad to see Sweet Breath hasn’t woken. I catch a glimpse of the tattoo that covers his tanned chest. In black ink, it stretches from breastbone to breastbone with the center design looking like both a flowering heart and the regal face of a lion; the sides curling from the center like vines or whiskers. My gaze travels upward to the dark stubble on his face, the curve of his lips, and the long eyelashes resting atop his cheekbones. His dark hair covers his head like the shadow of a skull against his pillowcase. The matching sheets cover the rest of him, but I have a faint flicker of a memory of rippling muscles as they moved over me and large hands that cupped the curves of my skin. I shiver, and crawl into bed beside him.
I don’t feel good, and I need to sleep. I need to go home, but I can’t face the storm. I just want to make it through the night.
I know so many people who think the rain is beautiful, but I’m not one of them. A good psychologist could probably link my phobia to the night my parents died, but what does it matter now? Somewhere there’s a rational part of me who believes the rain is harmless.
But I still fall asleep begging for my life.


The girl across town sees only beauty in the rain. Every storm is a tribute to her life. Every raindrop is a tear she’ll never cry, every shout of thunder are the words she’ll never say, and every flash of lightening is an electric love she’ll never be allowed to feel.
As the storm rages on outside, she looks up at the ceiling. She can’t see the storm from where she lays, but she can hear it, and when she closes her eyes, she’s convinced she can feel it.
“Thank you,” she says.
The flame from the candle beside her bed flickers and then goes out. She closes her eyes, and lets the storm fill all the dark spaces in and around her.

She won’t be begging for her life tonight.

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