My Heart Is Good and Yours Is, Too
By: Laura Eppinger
Last week I turned in the keys to my old place so we could move in together. Time to let your one-bedroom go, too, but first we’ll have to liberate it. Let’s just say, you keep a lot of clutter.
It’s not like I haven’t seen your bathroom packed with more skincare products on one shelf than I’ve purchased in all my life to date. I snap on rubber gloves so we can get to the bottom of it all, make sure your floors are lemony clean. You look down at your feet, embarrassed.
There was a time I’d gag or call you messy piggy. I’ve been a rotten girl with a mean streak. I don’t joke or judge right now.
Thus far I thought the only way to keep love alive was to look the other way. But now I’m holding a furry glass in my hand, and pitching it in the trash instead of trying to save it. Who knows how many months it’s been since you poured yourself a Monster and drained it?
I stare directly at this neglected bachelor pad. It’s time to get to work. Your playlist makes me swoon: Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins. You sigh like you’ve tasted something sweet when “Perfect Drug” begins.
You attack the kitchen, ensuring every chopstick is wrapped with its mate. I linger while your back is turned, to hear you chiming in. I sing along too, in wonder and recognition.
So I take the bedroom, sweep up an impossible amount of hair (while I don’t keep enough to gather a ponytail). There isn’t a crevice without your DNA; it’s peeking out of the fibers of the yellow rug, wedged into corners of board game boxes, and lacing the weird arches of your PC-gaming chair.
I joke: you’re lucky I don’t practice that kind of magic, because I could use your hair and make you do anything I wanted.
You can do that anyway. Just ask.
But I’d kneel to kiss every goddamn Magic card. (It would take days, your decks seem endless.) Every spike in Gundam armor, every Pony figurine. Of course you are not your stuff, but I want to touch all the things you touch, every manga cover with its teal lettering.
Trust me, I am surprised to find love at 35. The weight of all that time. After the slow creep of decades of men who made me wilt. After inviting vampires in through my window, knowing I was worth less than the dirt of their graves. After the burn of diet soda in the throat, a rebellion of stomach lining. After all those cigarettes stained my teeth, the hunger in a ruined mouth.
Here I stand, left to rediscover my own skin. I loved songs about toxic love before I’d even been kissed. Did I use them as a blueprint?
The parched years are over. My vampires, all staked.
I cradle the next stack of DVDs, tuck them into a box for storage, then zip ribbed sweaters into plastic bags. The stitching is ordinary, the stitching is safe.
But here is a new thrill: desire without compulsion.
I’ll ask you later if you’ve read that recent interview with Trent Reznor where he sips green juice and beams about being a dad. But not now—in this moment, we’ll stick with the beat.
We hear: I got my heart but my heart’s no good. We’ll sing it but not live it.
Our hearts are healthy as yolk, wholesome as ginger in rice.
My heart is good and yours is, too.
Laura Eppinger (she/her) is a Pushcart-nominated writer of fiction, poetry and essay. Her work has appeared at The Rumpus, The Toast, and elsewhere. She’s the managing editor at Newfound Journal.