The mirror.

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“Your heart and my heart are very, very old friends.” 

~Hafiz

Once upon a time there was a girl, who kept her heart like a pet.

She fed it a diet rich with affirmations and compliments, called it a pretty little heart, and hired the sweetest, most attentive of sitters. You see, the girl was often not home, having so many other things to do, attending tea parties and writing her memoir titled “Keeping High Society.”

The girl lavished praise upon the little heart, on the rare occasion she was present, but the pretty little heart often grew lonely in her absence. Some nights, she would sneak out the back gate, turn up the collar of her trench coat, and disappear into the night to console her soul.

She would wander the piers near the shipyards, off the bay of San Francisco, listening to the cargo ships rumble their drum section to the symphony of seals singing. She strolled in the dark, humming along to the noise of the docks, with her fedora pulled low, and only the lit cherry of her cigarette visible under the shroud of fog.

She made her way into a corner jazz club near the water. The doorman grunted a greeting, the neon flickered and buzzed, and the emptiness of the room was overwhelmed by sweet memories and old booze. In the corner she spied another heart, a man’s heart, all ragged and scarred, a little black around the edges but strong. He nodded and gestured to the empty booth across from him.

“Buy you a drink?”

“Why, yes, thank you,” said the little heart. “Don Julio, on the rocks.”

His eyes narrowed a little as he looked her over, as if he could take in more through the slits than when they were open all the way. He offered her a smoke.

“Camel?”

“Perfect.”

The waitress settled the tequila and a whiskey on the table and shuffled off to do nothing. He said, “Where have you been? What ‘a’ ya seen?”
“I’ve been walking, on the pier, over there. You know the one. Just listening to the music in my head.”

He closed his eyes as a smile played at the corners of his lips. He seemed to be drifting now, savoring the information like the liquor in his glass.
“Oh, yeah. That pier. Yes, I know the one. I’ve been there too.”

They sat on in the night, nursing their wounds in the comfortable, silent intimacy of old friends.

 

Author: Ann Marie Matthews

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