Alex stared out of the dirty window in his third floor apartment. The noise from the streets below floated in on the wind, sounds of traffic and everyday bustle. The water had finished boiling about five minutes ago, but Alex continued to stare outside; transfixed on a moment in time far removed from anything in the here and now. Something was missing, or perhaps a miss he thought. He’d watched it play out a hundred times before, the movie in his head rolled forward; staging the moment time and again when his heart had collapsed. Bodies all around, pavement; yellow in motion, blurring around a corner. Lost…
The phone on his desk rang, splintering the images, sending them cascading down out of the window and out of view. He looked over and saw his phone next to the piece of paper he’d been avoiding for the past few days. Alex ignored the phone and made a cup of tea. Light was coming in from the window to his left and felt good on his face. He sighed and sat back down at his desk. The blank paper loomed in front of him. One missed call, nothing important. Nothing that will change his day and not the person he wanted. Suddenly the smell of flowers and formaldehyde washed over him. On warm days, the funeral parlour below him would open their back doors; today the sun was dripping down like butter on the city. Alex shook his head trying to shake away the smell, the masking of death and decay with flowers; the beauty of a funeral against the ugliness of death. He’d been looking for interruptions all day, but enough was enough.
Sipping his tea he picked up his pen to begin. Where to start though? he thought to himself. He had everything before him, the paper, the envelope, the stamp with the inaccurate face of the queen poised in time at twenty six. He had everything but the words. Words usually betrayed him, like cheap sentiments they were always conjured so freely. Tongue tied and twisted when the face appears, loosing his breath.
‘’Well, they’re not here now!’’ he spoke aloud to the empty room, only the pigeons on the window sill seemed to hear him, ruffling their feathers in supposed agreement. Here was the opportunity to say everything, overkill if need be, but time to get this out; it had been like a cancer corroding the heart. Suddenly a shadow passed over his window, darkening the small room. Alex looked over, spilling his tea slightly. Entering the frame and coming into to his room was a heart the size of a football, it throbbed as it descended inside. Alex watched as it came in, making only the rhythmic sounds of a heartbeat. It wasn’t the medical kind like that of a human heart sliced up by tiny lasers in hospitals, more of the ones that appear above people’s heads in cartoons.
Despite its crude appearance however, the insides were swirling around like of a washing machine with torrents of blood, motioning backwards and forwards in their swell. It stopped a few feet away from him and started to get darker and darker. For some reason images started flashing through his mind; silhouettes of faces, a date in a diary, tears over his own face as he watched from above like a spectre. The images pulsated through him like a radiation wave from the heart. His head ached.
Blinking back to the moment, Alex watched the heart; mesmerised. It was changing from a bright red, blurring down into a deep rich maroon colour. It remained in the air in front of him for a few minutes and then began to shake slightly, vibrating statically like the buzz from a telephone line. Alex held out his hand to touch it when a blinding flash of light crashed outward and cracked the room around him. Suddenly the heart started to move. Alex exhaled, paused only for a moment and began to follow it.
Opening the door and down the stairs Alex rushed, the heart floating through objects without a care like in a video game. Out in the mid day sun people around him seemed not to notice the Hannah-Barbara world into which he had descended. The heart it seemed was his apparition alone, his illusion, his spiral into madness. Down the street, past the newsagents that sold tatty imported porno magazines stuck next to cheap greeting cards for ‘A special niece’ and ‘ A Birthday boy’. He caught up to it for just a minute, he reached out to touch it before being pushed back by a force that felt like the heat from an oven, smothering his pores and taking his breath away for split second. Like many things it seemed, he could see, witness and be in the presence of the heart; but never touch. At least not without pain.
A spark was beginning to glow from within it now, at the bottom tip it began to throb and sway with the motion of its movements. Alex couldn’t take his eyes off of it, much to the annoyance of the few pedestrians currently making their way on that particularly warm March day. He rushed on, not giving a care to those he banged aside. A mum with a pushchair dropped the middle class façade her tailored clothes offered and shouted enough fucks to turn the most desensitised passer-by’s head. Alex was oblivious to it all, the spark had triggered something within him, and a memory was coming into focus like a body out of the fog.
If only the people around him could take a picture Alex thought to himself, as his life un-paused and free-fell into the future. If they could take a souvenir to remember this moment. Alex breathed out as the tears crawled down his face. The memory he’d only allowed himself to remember in a picture book, and very rarely, had exploded before him. Vibrant colours illuminated a world distant and familiar. An array of images blended into one another, his face with theirs. The words ‘I love you’ spattered the floor like an emotional downpour. The moment when he knew he loved them, told them and was pattered on his head for his efforts. For a few seconds it seemed the words would be returned, the lips pursued and suspended in a opera of tension, translucent trails to happiness; the quiet suggestion of infinity. He had to walk it back from the edge, the help of an invisible force pulled him down. What he’d witnessed had happened to him, not too long ago; but it had all seemed so foreign to him them.
Suddenly, he was back in the street, the heart hazy now in the sun. The blue sky seemed to overwhelm him and press down on his body. Why was this so important now, on this day? Hearts break everyday, his had been shattered for a while; the pilot light flickering just to keep him alive. Everything happens for a reason, he shook off his dizziness and continued to follow; the heart responded by increasing its speed.
The noise and clattering increased as he reached Baker street station. The familiar sight of London maps in stranger’s hands as the vacant eyes swept the surrounding buildings. Alex sped on, past the lines snaking outside Madame Tussauds. Clicks and whistles of foreign tongues culminated into the passing traffic. The heart it seemed was starting to fade….