Heart by Christina Trujillo
Once there was a girl whose heart stopped beating. It stopped on a Tuesday. Three in the afternoon. No one noticed, so at first she said nothing. Assumed it was fine. She had a check-up on Thursday anyway, no need to panic.
The doctor told her, “Eat more vegetables. Green ones. Hearts need greens to grow.” The girl did not want her heart to grow, she wanted it to beat because her fingers were growing cold. Cold like green left in the refrigerator for too long. Her heart was refrigerator-green.
The girl wore coats and mittens because her heart had stopped. Must keep the blood warm, the doctor said. The girl had to carry a sign that read; My heart has stopped. People saw it and let her onto the bus first. Off the bus first. Parking spots with blue lines.
“Get a dog,” her mother said. Her mother liked dogs. The girl did not need a dog. She got one anyway. It licked her cold fingers once and cringed. On their first walk together, the dog ran away.
It was a Sunday.
“Get some exercise,” her father said. Her father liked running. The girl did not. She bought running shoes anyway. The shoes pinched the backs of her heels until they were raw and red but she did not bleed. She couldn’t anymore.
The doctor stopped picking up her calls.
“Talk to someone,” her sister said. There were flyers for groups. Lots of groups, one for everything. The girl did not need a group. She needed warmth. It was hard to remember how it used to feel when she had a heart. The girl went to a group.
The group met in a large room. The walls were painted refrigerator-green. There were chairs. No one sat in them. There were drinks. No one drank them. Everyone had a sign.
My fingers have stopped.
My lungs have stopped.
My eyes have stopped.
Oh, the girl thought. It’s all of us.
Christina Trujillo is a graduate of the Sarah Lawrence College MFA program. Her work has been published in Dark Phrases and through Dynamite Entertainment. When Christina is not writing, she works at UC Riverside as the Coordinator of the Graduate Writing Center, where she supports students with their academic and creative writing.
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