Saturday 25 June 2016

'What The Heart Wants' by Cassandra Parkin

When I wake from the anaesthetic, I find I like new things. High and imperious with morphine, oblivious to my body’s shock at having my ribcage wrenched open, veins and arteries severed, new connections forged with the flesh of another, I float and fly and contemplate the things I will seek out when I leave:

-          Broccoli. I have never liked broccoli before, but now I positively crave it
-          The colour red
-          The texture of silk
-          The sensation of air flowing past my body as I ride a motorbike extremely fast down a long deserted stretch of motorway
-          You

You are the most mysterious of my new desires. How can I know what you look like, when only the tireless glistening flesh-pump that beats in my chest has ever known your presence? But when I close my eyes, there you are, slim and tall-ish, hair so brown it’s almost black, huge blue eyes and a pointed chin that makes me think of a cat. Perhaps I glimpsed you as they wheeled me in to theatre. Perhaps as I, trembling with hope and terror, waited for the sudden artifice of chemically-induced sleep, you brushed past the trolley where I lay? But surely this can’t be possible, that the wife of the donor should glimpse, even for a moment, the lucky recipient. Surely they manage these things better than that. You’d think.

            I find you by scouring old reports of dead motorcyclists, and compiling a shortlist. (I have the heart of a thirty-two-year-old plumber now, but my brain still belongs to a fifty-one-year-old research scientist.) After that, it’s just a matter of sitting outside a series of houses until I see you, my darling lovely one, walking down the path to the car parked outside.

A short drive takes us both to a plushy gastro-pub, where a beta-looking man receives your melting smile, your hand on his arm, your mouth against his. The jealousy that stabs my heart is temporarily purged by another stabbing; my long serrated knife in his tyres, one two three four and away, all the while fantasising that it’s people I’m killing, him first, then her.

            I have no idea where I got the knife. This when I start to suspect my donor was, in life, probably not a very nice person.
Strictly speaking, none of what’s about to happen is my choice. I don’t want to be sitting on your leather sofa, wearing only my new red silk boxer shorts, craving the chicken and broccoli stir-fry you used to make for him. My plan is that afterwards, I will take the motorbike you haven’t yet got around to selling, ride it hard and fast down a long straight road and, while my strong fierce heart bathes and glories in adrenaline, kill my donor for a second time. But right now, my new heart’s the strongest part of me, and it wants what it wants.

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