Heartless

this-is-myself_by_markwazhere2

I was at a bus stop
The kind that crumbles in the sun, even though it has a cover for shade
When she sat next to me
And started talking

At first I didn’t respond
Because sometimes, if you don’t respond, they go away
But then she said,
“They don’t have hearts.”

I asked, “Who doesn’t?”
And she said, “In the factory, they are leaving out the hearts.”
I didn’t know what that meant
I should have left then

But our bus was here
And she got up and I gave her a helping hand. I didn’t mean to. I just did
She liked that I did that
And told me the rest

“Those tiny men they sell now,” she said
“They don’t come with hearts anymore.
They figured out how to keep them going without hearts.”
“But that’s not possible,” I said

“Everyone needs a heart that beats,” I said
“They don’t,” she continued, even though my mind was already looking away
“Because they are so small,” she said, as though she was saying “I have cancer.”
“How do you know?” I asked

She looked at me as though I had not been listening
“I work there. I worked there when they still had hearts, but now they don’t.”
“Have you seen this yourself?” I asked, still hoping she was drunk or blind or dead
“Yes. I had to assemble some myself. It’s not that hard. The juice and the egg and the glass…”

I didn’t understand, but I did
“So they are coded to grow and develop and emerge as tiny adults, but without a heart.”
“Now you are getting it. They act a little different too. It chills my heart.”
I didn’t want to understand, but I did

I went home, and I looked at him
I picked him up, and I pressed my ear to his tiny toy-sized chest. Nothing
“Do you have a heart?” I asked him. It
“I love you,” it said

“Do you have a heart?” I repeated
A little louder this time. Words with a beat, trying to jumpstart his, just in case
“I love you,” it repeated. I tried to feel its pulse
Nothing. I got nothing

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