'The Man with Two Hearts' by David Ford
He closed his eyes and wondered where she was now.
The last time he’d seen her she was on the train, sat on a fold-down seat between carriages. The place ordinary commuters sit to avoid the world around them. Now the train was empty but still she was there in the void between carriages. He waved and she smiled. Cold tears ran down his cheeks, curved and wound their way to the corners of his mouth.
While others found different routes and he could feel those losing parts of themselves to his pores as they moved down the strained sinews of his neck and stained the collar of his work shirt. He tried to smile, the muscles of his mouth moved in all the right places.
She was framed by the window so he could see only her shoulders, her sweet black hair that he could almost smell, and that face small, slightly rounded with pronounced lips and eyes to be lost in. As she looked at him she saw through his pretence. This was no brave face. She saw sad eyes, she saw longing and loss, and she saw pain tearing, screaming and raging direct from the heart.
Then, for the first time since ‘that’ conversation, she began to cry. Heart rending sobs drawn from her diaphragm. Her eyes full of tears and in that moment the light hit them and crystallised those beautiful browns into stunning diamond whites.
Only then did he feel his spirits rise. He wasn’t spiteful but the pain briefly subsided as he began to believe her words from an hour earlier. “I love you, I don’t want to leave.”
“Don’t go. Please don’t do this.” Fragile words, cracked to the core. Choking and falling.
“But I have to…I have to be somewhere else but I’ll be there, waiting, when you’re ready. I know you don’t believe me but I will. Don’t come too soon. You’re better, you’re stronger than that. I’m not.”
Only now as the train hissed and slowly moved away could he believe what he’d heard. If the heart is a commodity then now, in this life, her heart was his.
He looked past her slender body, leant forward with her hands on her face and her elbows on her knees. He thought of how she’d looked in the hospital bed.
The train was soon lost in the distance and she was gone.
His eyes opened, damp with tears. He rose from his knees, brushed off the grass and threw soil on to the coffin. Then he walked away – a man with two hearts.