This tiny event is an experiment with memory and how a very tiny, but universal, event – we all have a beating heart – becomes a specific event that reveals the person, the relationship, life stage.
The tiny events after the second are evoked by it, or at least they could be. I could write them in different ways, of course. Number 5 I could write like this: I moved my head on the pillow just slightly so I wouldn’t hear my heart beat and I thought of my mistake. And on like that.
I could write each one so that I link the memory directly, within the brackets of the narration, to the stimulus, the sound of the heart in the ear when it’s pressed against the pillow just so. But I’m not going to do that here. I want to see what happens if I don’t.
So imagine, my sweet reader, that you are me, lying in bed, moving your head just a bit so you won’t hear your heart beating because it makes you think of death instead of life. And then imagine that this numbered series is the trajectory of your thoughts as you lie there with your eyes closed, avoiding the immediacy of your own heart, instead tracing an arc of thought of other(s) hearts beating.
1. My heart contracts.
2. My heart beat in my ear when I put my head on the pillow. I shifted so I wouldn’t hear it.
3. Sonogram: Julian’s first heartbeat – a flash of light, like a signal mirror – a meaning-reflection.
4. Stethoscope: One heartbeat, two hearts. One hiding behind the other? Was I inaudible? Were we synchronous?
5. I was late for the exam and had to run. When I got there I put my hand on my chest and said “my heart.” Except that isn’t what I said. My French teacher stared, corrected – mon coeur pas mon corps – and my face got hot with embarrassment at mistaking body for heart- an American enunciatory elision of a French vocalic distinction.
6. They had already been together a year and a half before he found out she had been faking it the whole time. He realized it one day when “her heart was beating out of her chest.” He said he was devastated. She giggled and looked at him and smiled. He smiled and looked at her.
7. In the morning I wait for you to wake up. You open your eyes, turn toward me, stretch your arm out. I move to you, put my leg over you, my head on your chest. I listen to your heart and it skips beats.
8. During the performance you slipped your hand between my thighs. You leaned over and whispered – I can feel your heartbeat in your pussy.