Heartless

She loved a boy with no heart. That was her story. Everyone in the village knew and  stared as they walked past. Still she persevered, still she loved. “I don’t need to be loved in return,” she told herself, “I’m stronger than that. I’ll just love him because, like everyone else, he deserves to be loved as well.”

There were moments of weakness, of course, moments when truth slipped passed her veil and made her doubt how long she could go on loving without any chance of a return. That’s when hope would see her weakness and creep past the door and into her heart. She hoped she would someday find him a cure, find him a heart, even. But she was a sensible sort of senseless girl. She kept these moments of hope in check.

What about him, you ask? He knew that she loved him, he didn’t understand it, but he knew of it. He’d seen enough of life to know what love was. He was a good sort of boy. He tried to push her away at first, for her own good, but she just brushed it off and assured him of not getting hurt. He said, he didn’t know how, but if he was in her place, he could never be in love with someone who was heartless, it made no mechanical sense to him. She brushed it off again. Eventually, he got used to having her around.

They would go everywhere together, do everything together. Her mother and father had shunned her for loving a heartless boy, so she lived with him now. Two young people living together, without being married, it was unheard of in the village, it was taboo. Everyone looked at them with disdain and publicly shamed them whenever possible. She pushed on, he didn’t care.

She was talking to the village idiot one day, the only man in town who would still be good to our odd couple. He told her a story of a powerful wandering magician who had stopped in town for a few days. He had heard many tales of his great powers. “They say he can walk on water. He can even turn it into wine”, the idiot told her enthusiastically. “You should see if he can give your boy a heart, if anyone can do it, this magician can.”

She didn’t want to hope, but it was too late, she’d let her guard down. So, ran home, pulled her boy by the hand and ran to the magician. At first glance, she was taken aback. The magician was a short, frail-looking man. He didn’t seem to have enough strength to hold himself up (he was leaning on a staff), she wondered how he performed all these great feats that rumours spoke of. Pushing her doubts aside, she approached him with her boy, and told him their story. He listen patiently, growing more and more grave with every passing sentence. When she finished her story, he looked like the saddest little man who had ever lived. He sighed and told her he was sorry that he could do nothing for her, no magic can grow a heart out of nothing. “Don’t you understand?” she cried, “I’ve invested my whole life in him. I feel empty on the inside, yet, I am not empty on the inside. I have an aching heart that’s waiting to be loved. It’s wasting away within me. And yet, there is no way for this pain to end.”

“Leave him”, said the magician “Love another”.

“I cannot”, she replied “My heart belongs to him.”

“What is the use of wasting a heart so? A heart is made to love and be loved in return. But, alas, you will not listen, and there is nothing further I can do for you. I must ask you to leave.”

Her heart, sank further than ever before, she took her boy’s hand, and began walking away. Half way to the door, she thought she heard the magician mumble something. She turned around to ask him what he’d said, but he wasn’t there. She sighed, they walked home.

She felt exceptionally tired that night. It must be the loss of hope, she thought to herself. The next day, life went on. The village continued to scorn them, she went about her daily tasks, and the boy? He seemed unfazed by it all.

Days went past, she felt more and more tired. Her boy helped her through. She seemed to be just as much in love with him as ever. “He’s growing more and more handsome each day.”, she would think to herself.

Days became weeks, she got worse, he was there, getting more handsome, according to her. Others in the village began to notice it as well and started murmuring.

One morning, she felt too weak to get out of bed. He looked down upon her and stroked her hair. “What’s happening to me?”, she asked him.

“I don’t know”, he replied. He put his hand on her chest to feel her pulse. He was puzzled.

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

“I can’t feel anything”, he said.

“That’s because you don’t have a heart”, she joked. “Let me check.”

She put her hand on her chest and waited. And waited. In an instant she knew. She looked at him, at his handsome face. “You have my heart”, she said.

“I know, you’ve told me that several times. Right now, we need to check your pulse.” he replied.

“No,” she continued, “you don’t understand. You have my heart. It’s in you now. It was that magician. He didn’t want me wasting my heart so he’s made it so that you have it now.”

He looked confused, stared at her.

She reached a hand out to him, “What do we do now?” she asked.

“Nothing”, he replied “the magician was right, you shouldn’t waste a heart. And I told you earlier, if I had a heart, I couldn’t love someone without one.”

And just like that, he walked away. And just like that, she stopped.

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