The heart exchange

The heart exchange

A Story by Farrah Grahm

I think I love him

My heart skips a beat when his hands slip slowly across my skin. I shiver when I'm away from him, seperated by inches, and am still when he embraces me.

i thought I loved him.

Or maybe it was just circumstance. He fell into my life and never quite found his way out agian. I once conceded it was me who found him although he thinks it was he who chose me. Maybe our chance was meeting was supposed to be just that. A meeting. Just like the others. We were to share a steamy night or two passionate and in lust and then part ways and divert our glances in the streets.

I might love him.

How can one be sure?

When each and every day there is dreadful news. People are dying. And he may be next. Who in their right mind would submit themselves to that? Is it my habit for self preservation that keeps me from giving my heart to him? He will take it into battle. It couldn't be safe there.

i refuse to love him.

I make my way down the street that leads to my apartment. Salvation once lived there. Now there are those constant questions. Why are you here? Why haven't you left yet? Why has everything changed? Why can't you see it?

I walk on the left side of the road, even though I know I shouldn't. past the fire department, a safe haven. Over the bed of gravel that lines the road. My pace has slowed, As if the speed of my thoughts has robbed strength from other parts of me. As long as I'm thinking this fast, I couldn't possibly keep up in stride.

The building is approaching much to rapidly. The stairs have shortened in height. I'm suddenly there. Luckily, I've got a cigarette to use as an excuse. I can finsih it before I go in, and allot myselg an extra three minutes of me time. Then I can go in and decide if today is one of those days I need him to hold me.

It has ceased being a want. It's always a need. Either I need him, almost cannot survive or think straight without his lps on mine or his arms around me. Or I don't need him. Don't want to look at him. Don't need him around me at all.

Poor Mrs. Tessman, during more sensible times, Miss Gabler, knew the torture. The torture of spending every waking moment with the same person.

But if she loved him, would it have been the same?

Its simple, easy as taking the CD's out of his truck and his toothbrush out of my bathroom.

But not that simple. We've created a life togetheProxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0 On accident, he's begun calling my bed his. He's begun puttin ghis things in my drawers. He has begun inserting himself into my life, and the roots are healthy, and won't rot out.

The thoughts sicken me. I suck the last remnant of nicotine from the cigarette, burning down into the filter, and throw it out. The door is still there.

And he greets me with open arms and the excitement of a three year old. Naive and immature glee comes over the grown man's face, and he pulls me into a hug so tight my arms hurt.

He never notices my feigned excitment in return.

Then its back to the daily toll. We cuddle on the couch, pointless movies go in and out of the DVD player, interrupted by a few war games. This is everyday.


It's just like every other day. I will come home. He will hold me. He will act as if he never wants to let me go, all the while I will wonder why. Our interactions leave very little room for him to get to know me. And all I really know about him is the way post traumatic stress disorder has changed him, and how the army will.

But today, today is a little differnt. He leaves today. He who has not been granted my heart. I will wait for him, obediently, because that is what's best. But I will not fear, because my heart is safe in my own chest, until I know it will be safe in his hands. Which will not be until I get over this insecurity, this envy, this hate. Envy for the stae, to whom he gave over his life. Hate for him, a constant taunt. a tease, "here is love, but you will never really know it".

Today, I get onto the bus, route 47 as I always do. The bus stop is just before the fire department up the road from my apartment, but we are still about fifteen miles from there, on the hghway, a junction between the big city and the small town I live in.  The highway is a bridge suspended over two other highways. Safe as it has always been. At the back of the bus, solo on a purple bench, I close my eyes, and think of his plane ride away.

I wake up to panic. A groaning sound reverberates the large vehicle, moving from the front to the back, defying physics to grow louder as it reached me. Everyone is huddled in the back, holding on to something, anything for dear life. It feel slike a normal afternoon, there are arms embracing me, I am curled up on something similar to a couch. But the arms are unfamiliar, and in this embrace I shiver with terror.

I look up at a dozen more frighten eyes, all lookin gout into the windows where each man's fate will be decided. Each man, becoming a huddle mass of one, all speaking in the same unintelligble, fevered pitch of prayer.

"Our Father, who aren't in Heaven" a homeless man shouts over the chatter. "Haloed be your name."

A mother near me tells her son goodbye. Goodbye, she says. Why? Why would you leave a three year old child alone?

I move, half an inch, to see out the window better. We are tipped over the edge of the highway, hanging on by the rebar in the highweay guardrails. the metal has punctured the body of the bus, as the engine and abou tone third of the bus hangs over the edge. We are teeter tottering. Teetottering like a see saw. It was an enjoyable concept once.

Now, a single movement could send us all plungin gfor our death.

"the Glory, and the power are your dear Father, Now and forever.  Amen." the homeless man is silent. he lays down at the front of the bus, and closes his eyes. The groaning suddenly becomes louder, and the bus tips foward. Terror leaps through the hearts of them all, and they press their bodies against the back of the bus, waiting for the promised rescue team to pull them safely from the windows, but no sirens can be heard.

the groaning continues, rises in pitch until we realize exactly how far past the breaking point we've come. The us will not stop until it again reaches equilibrium, somewhere below us at terrifying depths. The bus lunges foward, we rock back, the bus lurches, and we can't help to lurch with it, aiding its fight, sending us hurdling, and in a late mometn of recognition we rock back.

It's too late.

The end comes, and the homeless man lays prepared. I close my eyes, and accept the strangers embrace.


He got the news at eleven thirty that night. When he landed. He was going home to no one she had been lost. Lost with several others in a terrible bus accident on the highway.

He had been hangin on by a thread. Riding the waves of terrible memories, and finding comfort in providing it for her.

He should have been more careful, this has never happened before. He has given her his heart, and lost it with her. Now he was an empty cavity, fighting an empty fight. He had hoped to become a hero for her, but she would never know of his acheivements, she will never trace her fingers along his wings, his metals. She was gone.

And he was sick. To the point of no return. He had worked so hard to bring her to him, to keep her. But all in one moment, it had all been taken away.

It took three bottles of rum to do it, but one night, he put it all away. If he must live heartless, than there must be no point in living at all.

© 2009 Farrah Grahm

Author's Note

Farrah Grahm
This is a VERY rough draft, written between classes. Nonfiction turned fiction in the hopes of saving some sanity. I had to expel some of those thoughts, and make them the thoughts of someone else, than kill them all by killing her. Very therapeutic, but I hope something good came from it as well.

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i hope you finish it then, you really have somwthing good going. really. therapeutic indeed young writer...

Posted 14 Years Ago

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Added on November 2, 2009


Farrah Grahm
Farrah Grahm

Miledgeville, GA

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