Christopher M Drew
After the procedure, your husband stands over the bed cradling a glass box. Inside the box your heart beats, beats, beats.
I told you I'd keep it safe, he says.
For your wedding anniversary he reserves a table at his favourite restaurant. He places the box in the centre of the table and raises his glass.
To us, he says.
The waiter serves your salad, his steak. When your husband cuts through the raw flesh, blood marbles out onto the plate.
He lifts the steak to his mouth, tongue bared, teeth wet.
The glass box lies in fragments at your feet.
It's mine, you say.
He takes a knee and scoops up your heart, removes the splinters one by one.
You can't be trusted, he says.
Your father was a surgeon. When you were a teenager he would dissect your body. He would lay out your organs on the kitchen table and sip his coffee while you weighed and measured each piece.
Your heart, he would say, is the size of a fist.
The new box is an inch thick on each side. Your husband taps the glass. Chink, chink.
Bulletproof, he says.
You don't tell him that bulletproof doesn't exist. That there is only strength. Only resistance.
It's time to try again, he says. Don't you think?
He turns you around and when he has finished he rolls away and listens to the cavity of your chest, traces the Y-shaped scar with a cold fingertip.
He says: It will be different this time.
He says: I promise.
A knife-sharp pain cuts through your stomach. Dark blood streaks the white toilet bowl.
He sits on the edge of the tub and squeezes your hand.
I'm sorry, he says.
He squeezes so hard your knuckles crack.
Where do you think you're going? he says.
He holds your heart in one hand and a pistol in the other. You open the door and step outside.
Keep it, you say.
As the taxi pulls away, he follows behind, screaming, your heart staining his open cuff. He fires a single bullet into the sky. The empty shell scatters at his feet.
On the freeway, you open the window and breathe in the cool, clean air.
Something flutters inside you. Something you haven't felt for the longest time.
Christopher M Drew
lives in Sheffield, UK. His short fiction has appeared in journals such as Forge Literary Magazine, Splonk, trampset, Lunate Fiction
and SmokeLong Quarterly
. His work has been selected for Best British & Irish Flash Fiction 2019, and Best Microfiction 2021. You can connect with Chris on Twitter
, or through his website (linked).