The day I knew the heart could break.

1 Feb

We drove through a starry night until he turned into a patch of field with nothing but stalks where ripe corn once hung. I froze, paralyzed by the realization of a moment I somehow knew I’d return to. Self-consciousness hung on me, heavy, as if I saw myself years away looking on two people sitting in a car together—at one place I’d never again go. The weight of this, almost unbearable, caused in me a kind of panic, a frenzied desire to still time just this once, for my own sanity. But life isn’t literature. I couldn’t wrap words around it, making it stay so I could understand. All I could do was watch myself from afar as he slid away. I looked out the window when I couldn’t look at him. I saw an empty clearing. Just beyond lay a field filled with broken plants, chewed looking, thin, scattered and alone underneath the light of a half moon, in-between patches of melted ice and snow. And then I looked into the sky, a wide, open country sky where space gives color to the stars. It was too exquisite. I didn’t want the stars so beautiful that night when a sob was catching in my throat. My eyes fell away from the stars, and I turned to look at him, hand extended along the back of my seat but never again meeting the palm of my hand. Suddenly I felt what I knew before only existed: the heart really can break.

Why, I wondered? Had I a heart all along? Why hadn’t I felt it so acutely ever before, as if every nerve ending were bursting with flame? I longed for relief, but it didn’t come. I heard the ignition start, knew he turned a key, knew that gas poured from the exhaust into the freezing air. But I was somewhere else now, and for a long time the field with broken stalks was blinded to the stars.

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