I approached the woman popping her gum and placed the plastic bag on the counter between us. She stared blankly at me.
“Can I help you?” she asked me.
“Yes, hi. I’d like to return this please.”
“What is ‘this’, sir?” she said.
“It’s my heart.”
There was silence, distant registers clicking and beeping in the background.
“You would like to return your heart, sir?”
“Yes, that’s correct,”
“Is something wrong with it?”
I laughed, and then I laughed some more.
“Oh yes,” I said, “There certainly is. The damn thing is too fragile. Every bad day, every tremor from a shaky friendship cracks the thing right open. I feel like it’s once a week that I’m trying to super glue the damn thing back together. It’s too sensitive. Too effective, I guess. I hate the thing,”
She popped her gum.
“Would you like to exchange it for a different heart?”
“No, I really don’t think so,”
“We have a large variety of hearts, sir. I don’t mean to impose but maybe you’d be happier with a different model,”
“Look. I appreciate your concern, but I’m sick of the thing. It gets me into too much trouble. I’ve got an extremely effective mind and that has been leading me well so far, so I really don’t think I need a heart at all,”
“Well, sir. Do you have your receipt?”
“Yes, sir. Your receipt. All returns require a receipt and must be within 90 days of purchase,”
“Well, I’ve had this heart all my life, and I definitely don’t have a receipt,”
“No receipt, no return, sir. I’m sorry but there’s nothing I can do for you, but have a nice day,”
“Please. Just take my heart. I don’t trust myself with it,”
“Sir, I’d recommend maybe you try a pawn shop,”
“A pawn shop? A pawn shop? You’ve got to be kidding me. You think I would just send this heart off to a pawn shop? To be thrown on a shelf to collect dust. To be placed in a glass case next to a Nintendo 64 or an alcoholic’s kidney? They won’t give me shit for it either! I guarantee you they won’t give me a third of it’s value,”
“But sir, you said yourself, it’s too fragile,”
“It’s not too fragile! That’s not what I meant. It’s a good heart. I can’t have someone walking around with this heart in their chest not knowing its value. Some idiot kid who is gonna just play wall ball with it. Some sadistic collector who is just gonna put it on display. This heart is a return, not a pawn,”
“I can’t help you, sir,”
“Hey, do me a favor…” I looked down at the woman’s name tag, “Rhonda. Rhonda, do me a favor. Take this heart home. Give it to someone who deserves it,”
“No, Rhonda! Don’t you ‘sir’ me! I need this heart gone. It’s toxic. I can’t get anything done with the damn thing. I need you to take it,”
“Sir!” she said, her nostrils flaring, her eyes on fire now “You can’t return your god damn heart! It’s not a fucking toaster! It is YOUR heart. It is not MY heart. It is not anyone’s heart but your own. Who the hell do you think you are, anyways? Demanding something because you’ve given up. Because you have not a single clue what you actually have there. You are slapping life in its fucking face, SIR. This is not how things work. You are stuck with that heart. It is part of you. So you better stop trying to pretend it’s something to sell, something to abandon. It is a gift, and not everyone is so lucky to have such a gorgeous heart. I swear, the entitlement you feel to not feel. It blows my fucking mind. You know what? Lock it up. Go purchase a safe and throw it in there for a week. Tell me how that works out for you. Have a conversation about your heartless life with a friend. Grab a couple drinks. See how that goes. See how terrible your life will become when you are just going through the motions but never experiencing anything. Give me your eyes while you’re at it! Return your fucking throat to me. I’ll give you in-store credit on that one! You cannot just give up like this. You are so ungrateful for the thing that makes you so much what you are. And beyond all of this, you don’t even have a god damn receipt! Get out!”
I said nothing. I wondered what I’d be feeling if my heart wasn’t packed up in front of me. I just stared at Rhonda, a deer in retail headlights.
“Get out of my store!” she yelled again.
I began to walk away, heart in hand.
On the drive home, I buckled my heart up in the passenger’s seat. I drove 10 miles below the speed limit the whole way home. When I got home, I opened the door to my chest and I placed my heart inside. I put on my favorite record and I lied down on my bed, smoking a cigarette. My poor lungs taking the beating like body guards for my heart. I felt the blood pumping through my veins. I fell asleep and I dreamed of all my past lovers and waking up recharged I started my life up again.
COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2015