I wrote the following story as part of the ‘A Story A Day September’ challenge, but instead of using the prompt, I used a poem for inspiration. The poem was written by a blogging friend, Callum McLaughlin, and you can find it here.
Gabe peered around the thick, velvet curtain into the room beyond. The colour and texture reminded him oddly of his mother’s living room set; a pair he’d once feared as a child. They cast a heavy shadow across the cream carpet, like someone was waiting patiently behind the folds. Waiting to pounce.
Shaking his head, and wondering why he was thinking of an old set of curtains, he examined the shelves to his right. Gabe worked up a shiver when he realised the shelves were packed with jars; colourful jars that were lined in neat rows to resemble candy in a sweet shop. But Gabe wasn’t here for candy, and he didn’t care about sweets, he didn’t care much about anything anymore.
His gaze roamed the room to land on a high counter, behind which an elegantly dressed gentleman stood. The man’s face was creased in a frown of concentration, but he had a friendly air which Gabe found encouraging.
“Excuse me, kind sir,” he said, stepping up to the counter.
The man’s head snapped up. “Yes, what is it?” His green eyes were cold, impatient. Not friendly at all, Gabe realised. The opposite in fact.
He hesitated, unsure of how to proceed.
“I don’t have all day,” the man snapped. “What is it you want?”
“I…I’ll be needing a new heart,” Gabe said, pressing a hand to his chest. “This one is broken.”
Gabe flinched, then looked down at the thick wad of paper the man slammed onto the counter. “What-”
“Look,” the man said, his green eyes frosting over. “I don’t need to know your life story. I’m not interested in your broken heart. I just need to know you’ve thought this through.” He paused, but when Gabe said nothing, he waved an impatient hand toward the stack of paper. “Sign this and we’re good to go. But, understand this. Everything you’ve felt with that heart,” he pointed to Gabe’s chest, “will be gone. The highs and lows, triumphs and disappointments. All the connections you’ve made. Gone.”
Gabe swallowed, torn between his desire to rid himself of the heartache, and the knowledge of everything else he had to give up. His gaze flickered to the wall behind the angry man, to a sign above his head.
He cleared his throat. “What about…what about the memory wipe?”
“Fine, but you still need to sign on the dotted line.”
Gabe looked down. He could see no such line among the rows and rows of text; it made his head hurt.
“Just remember,” the man continued, annoyance coating his tone. “It won’t cure what’s broken, you’ll just have no memory of it.”
Gabe stared at the man, and an unfamiliar buzz of irritation travelled along his skin. It was suffocating. His vision began to blur an instant later, until the scene faded to an ominous, empty black. That at least was familiar.
“Come on, buddy. Rise and shine.”
Colour exploded again and Gabe found himself staring up into eyes of startling green. Only these weren’t the eyes of a stranger. They belonged to his best friend, and they were shadowed with concern.
He felt disappointment claim him. There was no cure. It had all been a dream.
“I didn’t know if I should wake you,” Sean said, stepping back. “I know you haven’t slept in days, but you were babbling about some crazy shit and you scared the hell out of me.”
Gabe sat up, fighting off a wave of despair. “It was just a dream.”
“Yeah, well, it sounded like a nightmare to me.” Sean sat beside him on the couch. He motioned toward the widescreen television set. “Do you want to help me kill a few zombies?”
“Not right now.”
His friend shrugged and kicked his legs up onto a beanbag. “Okay, buddy. Whatever.”
Gabe turned his head. “Don’t you have a class today?”
Silence hung between them. Gabe wanted to tell him he was okay, that he should go to class. But he couldn’t. So instead, he relaxed back against the cushions and considered his dream. Gabe didn’t really believe a new heart would fill the emptiness inside him, or that it would sever the attachments he’d made. But, he wouldn’t have signed on the dotted line, he decided. Some connections were too valuable to give up.
Thanks for stopping by.