Part 1 Paper Heart Break
She was quirky and adorable with shining auburn curls and animated grey eyes. Typically she wore band T-shirts and ripped jeans, professed her love for the Beatles to whomever would listen and gesticulated with wild abandon when she became excited. The first time I spied her across the quad she was discussing the works of Dante, her arms flinging akimbo in her passionate defense of the man and his works. I had to meet this spirited woman who looked like an angel and argued like a sinner trying to get through the gates of heaven, so I joined her group and contradicted her. She turned those intelligent eyes on me and told me with cool appraisal, despite her swinging arms and hands, I was an under-appreciative ass. I nearly lost an eye. Best first date ever.
It wasn’t long before I lost my heart, too, and I was ready to commit. On our wedding day, she gave me a folded heart with four words: my heart is yours. Over the following weeks, months and years, she showered me with paper hearts and soon our home was a-flower with the fruits of our love. A child, we decided, would complete our family tree. Two miscarriages and a still-born child later, and we stopped trying. She retreated into herself, and her vivacious grey eyes dulled. Her movements stilled, and she sat for long hours staring out the window. It had been over a year since she’d given me a heart, and I mourned its absence.
Guilt bridged the gap between us. I worked longer hours and came home after she was abed, unable to bear her sadness and the loss of her love. Only the hearts remained to mock what we once shared. I threw them in the trash when it became clear she no longer trusted me with her heart. If possible, she shrank further into herself until the light I called home all but dimmed. I moved out the next day, grief stricken and lost. When she didn’t call or seek me out, I knew there was only one way to help her heal. I had to let her go.
When the lawyer handed me her response a week later, my knees buckled and I wept. For within the confines of the letter-sized manila envelope, lay a signed and dated folded heart. She had scrawled a message in the white spaces between the legal jargon severing our union.
(C) Sara Ackerman, 2017