By SHELDON LEE COMPTON
The doctor says he can’t hear anything. He presses the stethoscope harder against my chest. Not a thing, he says, and his mouth hangs open. It actually hangs open like a question. An echocardiogram shows the problem.
When he tells me, he says, “Instead of a heart, you have . . . a can of pasta.”
Before I can get my jacket off at home, Ann is at my elbow. When I tell her, I try to keep my voice calm, hoping my attitude might rub off. But it doesn’t. She laughs first and then gets mad, saying I make the stupidest jokes. I show her the echo results.
Who knows what it feels like for a can of pasta to break. Maybe it can’t. Maybe it won’t. But she’ll come back. I just have to convince her my heart has always been what it is now and what’s it matter anyways because the heart doesn’t really have anything to do with love in the first place. The heart is for cartoons and bad poetry.
The hospital calls before Ann does. “It’s not a can of pasta,” they say. “It’s a can of green beans.” They say I should come in right away.
But I know it doesn’t make a difference. Green beans won’t bring Ann back. They won’t help her forget and once – just once – get mad first and then laugh.
Sheldon Lee Compton is a short story writer and poet from Eastern Kentucky. His recent work can be found in Unbroken Journal, gobbet, Peach Mag, Live Nude Poems, New World Writing, Gravel, and elsewhere. His fourth book, A True Story: A Novella, can be downloaded for free at his website slcompton.wordpress.com.