#WEP – Write…Edit…Publish AUGUST Challenge — CHANGE OF HEART
A Change of Heart in Bright Eyes’ Lifetime
By J Lenni Dorner
I get out of my car then turn around, wanting to get back in. My palms sweat, reminding me of the hand that won’t hold mine. I pop a mint into my mouth. When it’s gone, I will move.
The mint dissolves. I force myself to turn around, this time facing the blue entrance door. No more crying over him. He’s made his choice. It’s time to live my life. Turning the steel handle on the door sets all my hair on edge. I’m really doing this. But without him. He took all my best years. No! I go to the mirror near the entrance to look into my eyes. I’m alive, that’s what matters.
“Hey, Bright Eyes.” I turn around, hearing my instructor address me. I open my mouth to reply, but nothing comes out. This is not the time to fall apart. I’ve already been broken. Today is about rebuilding.
I turn the red jumpsuit around, inspecting it, before putting it on. I’m a restless jumble of nerves but excited too. For so long now, I’ve dreamed of doing something wild. Turning around and around in midair seems perfect. I know I’ll be helpless against gravity. And I’ll be strapped to my instructor like a child in a parent’s sling. I’m glad my instructor, my beau, Ethan, is so handsome. But I’m angry that thoughts of my ex continue to creep into my head. I need to be out in the air, to let out a cry of freedom. My instructor, I’m sure, can see the fear in my eyes.
“Check out this view, Bright Eyes!” The closer to two miles high we get, the more I fall apart. He wants me to turn around, face the windows rather than the inside of the plane. If we land wrong, I could literally fall apart.
“I need you,” I whisper as he checks the tandem straps. My need for another person is more than ever, but so is my need to be on my own for the first time since I was twenty. I hold on tight as we jump. The wind catches us. I let go of the forever I thought I’d have with Kota. The small bits of my exposed skin tingle, almost burning with life, making this feel right. If this fresh, clean air is the last scent I smell, it would be worth it. Nothing that feels this freeing could be wrong. Ethan steers us toward the landing zone. A cloud casts a shadow. It’s as if Kota is punishing my good time. He left me alone in the dark. Our end was explosive, it made the machines I was hooked to nearly give off sparks. But the cloud moves, perhaps because I need it too. My forever, whatever years I have left, they start tonight.
Ethan and I walk away from the jump site. I promised, weeks ago, I’d tell him why I wanted to do this after the jump was done. “I feel like I’ve waited forever to hear the reason,” he says.
“Once upon a time,” I begin, inhaling his scent of leather and honeysuckle between words, “I thought I was in love. But it fell apart. There was nothing I could do, because I was having a change of heart.”
“The light went out on your love?”
“For Kota it did. He left me in the dark, to face death alone. But the surgery went well, and I’m still alive, here with my new heart. But there was nothing I could say to win him back.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Bright Eyes. Have you turned your life around since then? Is that what skydiving was for?”
“Well, every now and then I still fall apart.” My eyes fill with tears. “I still, sometimes, let the loss of our fifteen years together tear me apart.”
Ethan hugs me. I want to tell him that I needed it, and that I need him. But, more than ever, I also need to be by myself, to prove to myself I can be strong alone. It feels so good when he holds me tight. I want to tell him that I’d like this to last forever. We could be right together. Or my new heart could be rejected, and then it’d be wrong to leave him a widower. Maybe we’d make it to the end of my life. But my health would be a shadow on us all the time. I’m like a ticking bomb. His lips mash against mine, his kiss giving off sparks. I really need him tonight. But what kind of forever could we start tonight? No, tonight was about my forever, not ours together.
“In the beginning, when Kota was falling in love elsewhere, and I was hospitalized and falling apart,” I take a deep breath, moving my arms between us. I have to get this out. “There was nothing I could do. Parts of my actual heart were dying, no longer working on their own. And Koto, the light in my life, he took his love to somewhere dark. He left me for a sex doll. Not for another man, or even for a woman, but a Dutch Wife. A robot from Japan. And there was nothing I could say. Unlike me, it won’t die. It has no heart. It will never need an organ transplant.”
He undoes the top of my jumpsuit, lifts my shirt, and slides his hand to my scar. “I prefer a heart, even transplanted.”
I look away, still ashamed of being left for a doll.
“Look at me, Bright Eyes.” He catches my chin.
“I wish he’d lied! I wish I were in the dark about his new love. I’m inferior to a doll!”
“No, Bright Eyes. Turn your thinking around. He left when it got hard. That isn’t your fault.”
“Osiris. I don’t care for nicknames, especially not Bright Eyes. I’ve shed too many tears for such a name.”
The inspiration for this post was not only the prompt “change of heart,” but also part of a true story and the following song:
If you were curious about the wordplay and certain repetition, now you know what I was aiming for– a deconstructed version of the song with a twist.