There was a boy. And there was a girl. Many stories begin this way.
The boy was a sad, beautiful boy. He carried something small and bruised in his hands. The boy stumbled through the forest, tripping in the ivy and knocking his head against the trees. The boy staggered through the desert, falling down and walking on his knees. The boy crawled through the artic cold, blowing on the slight, battered thing in his hands.
One day the boy met the girl.
She was passing through the cornfields when she saw something pale amidst the green. She stepped closer, and realized that it was a white hand, palm upward. The hand belonged to an arm, and the arm attached to a very-much-asleep boy. His other hand was fisted tightly.
“Boy,” she said, and pulled on his outstretched hand until his eyes flew open. They were black as night with no white at all and shone as though he was crying. His oil slick eyes roamed around a bit wildly until they landed on the tan face of the girl.
“Hello,” she said, and studied him seriously. Then she smiled. “I think that you could use some help.”
She took the boy home, gave him a bath, and gave him a name. She called him Sky because he always looked so sad, like the stars look sad. She thought of how the moon was always alone, never invited to tea, an eerily beautiful voyeur. Sky was just the right name.
The girl didn't have a name herself, and it didn't matter because the boy couldn't speak. He just held whatever it was tightly in his hand, careful never to drop it.
“May I see what it is?” she asked him, and after thinking it over, he slowly opened his fingers.
It was a heart made out of red crystal, only now it was fissured and tender to the touch. The fire inside the heart had almost gone out, and even as the girl looked at it, a small bit of it crumbled to dust and fell away.
“Oh,” said the girl. She looked at the boy. “Sky,” she said, “I might be able to fix this. It could take me a while. May I try?”
He watched her with his strange eyes and then he nodded. The girl gingerly took the heart into her warm hands.
“I will take it into my shop where it will be safe. I will bring it back to you when the moon is the same shape that it is now. All right?”
Again the boy nodded. The girl held the heart close to her chest and ran back to her shop. She carefully set the heart on a scrap of blue fabric, and surveyed her many tools. Then she got to work.
Every evening she worked on repairing the red crystal heart, and every day she spent time with the boy. He pointed at the birds and she told them their names. He pointed at the water and she showed him how to wash. He pointed at the honey haired girl who lived down the lane, and the girl's eyes stung a bit.
“Yes, she is very pretty. And very, very kind. Her name is Asphodel, which is a type of lily. Me? I am not called anything.” She smiled at the boy. “The sun is going down. It is time for me to work on your heart.”
The time had come. The moon was fat and heavy in the sky. The boy's eyes pulled away from Asphodel's home long enough to see that the girl was walking toward him, something carefully cupped in her hands.
The heart was beautiful, shiny and full of burning life. The fissures had mended, the broken edges had been smoothed and polished. He held his hands out for it, and the girl let her hands linger on his for a second when she passed it to him. Then she pulled them away.
“It is good, Sky. It is strong and able to withstand much, I think.” She watched his liquid eyes drift toward Asphodel, a compass to True North. Her lips turned upward. “I believe it is strong enough to survive if you give it to Asphodel. I think that you should try.”
He looked at her then, gave her a brotherly kiss and sprang to his feet. His footsteps were whispers.
The girl picked her way through the flowers on the way back to the shop, but she never made it. She fell, silently, and her hand found its way inside her shirt to the hole where her plump, healthy heart had been. The small ragged heart was still wrapped in fabric on her table, resistant to filler, resistant to files. Buffing didn't warm it, fires didn't fuse it. Sometimes something so broken can only be replaced.
The flowers were soft. There was no sound.
words: Mercedes M. Yardley, US (abrokenlaptop)
image: Cathrine Lødøen, Norway (snapshots)
another blueprintreview boy-and-girl-story:
This is the Story I would Tell You
in Bed Together Late at Night