A FRAGILE PIECE
He held it close, fearful it might fall, wrapped in his worn flannel shirt. He hurried under awnings, sporadic shelter from the rain; he was forced into gutters when the sidewalk became too crowded.
It was a Friday night, and they were officially over. Done. Finished. She made a clean break, asked him to leave, her voice too calm, too collected. When she said, “We need to talk,” she reached inside his chest and ripped it out. She threw it on the floor, bruised it, stomped on it. Blow after blow, his heart took the pummeling. And then she gestured to the dark doorway and the cold hallway.
He hurried home, unaware the flannel was beginning to soak through. The red stain mingled with the pattern. His spirit broken, his mind elsewhere, his foot found a crack in the pavement and he fell spectacularly. Rain-soaked, with a twisted ankle, he lay sprawled on the sidewalk. Then he noticed the flannel shirt and its contents were no longer in his possession. The shirt lay crumpled in a wet mass beside him; the cargo had rolled a few feet away, at the curb. Even in the dark he could see the organ give one last pump, and then expire. A fragile piece of his heart washed away in the gutter that night, along with his relationship.