The Heart of a Young Girl
“It was difficult for you. I know. A great deal to ask, particularly from someone in your position. And I am thankful. Very thankful.” The tips of her fingers found his arm, and with considerable feeling, she said, “You’re my hero, Quentin Maurus. My savior.”
The hero wasn’t going to visit her apartment. Not tonight. But then Farah opened the car door and climbed outside.
He and the headlights stared straight ahead.
She bent down. A gruff voice promised, “Tea.” Then she left, walking slowly toward the blue house.
It was impossible not to catch Farah. She took his hand, the grip just firm enough to be felt. He said nothing. Silence was the most natural part of this beautiful world. She was energetic and radiant, touching his shoulder while putting her mouth near his ear. “The first couple to make love in space. Don’t you envy them? I do.” Then from some unbearable joy came the words: “It would feel so wonderful, climaxing in free fall.”
Quentin would say good night at the door.
But the apartment door was open and she was inside, unconcerned that her husband remained in the hallway. Like the older sister responsible for feeding the family, she set to work, filling a pot with water and setting it on the stove, and while the water heated, she started calling out the types of teas in the inventory.
He drifted inside.
She looked at him and winked. “Shut the door, darling.”
The latch tripped, but he didn’t lock the bolt.
She noticed. It was a marvel, the woman’s capacity to absorb every detail in her surroundings. She glanced at the locks and winked again, never mentioning that he should sit but showing him how much he was welcome. She was perched on the edge of her sofa, one hand waiting to grab his hand when he finally joined her. She smiled at him and then smiled at the far wall. The water hissed. Quentin walked slowly in one circle and began another, looking at the dust gathered on every surface. Then he saw the dusty picture of her parents and the roses exactly where it always was, and he realized that nobody had lived inside this room for months.
“Yes,” Farah said suddenly.
He gave her his eyes.
“We should do something special tonight,” she said. “Something remarkable.”
Quentin stopped walking, watching as she unbuttoned her shirt, breasts and bra pushing into view.
“Your wife is in a mood,” she claimed, little fingers kept working at buttons. When the shirt was open, she reached behind her back, undoing the bra, cups resting on her heavy breasts. “The wife will do whatever the husband demands. At least for tonight, yes.”
“Possibly.” Farah winked and peeled away the bra. Thick makeup had done its best to obscure the scar across her sternum. The fat nipples were blacker than he remembered. She breathed deeply when she wasn’t talking. When she wasn’t telling him, “I have a friend. You saw her today, in fact. A Korean girl. Very pretty, very adaptable. What do you say, Quentin? The three of us together, celebrating this good evening?”
He sat beside her on the sofa.
She gave him one hand and a fine warm smile, and Quentin stared at her chest and the bra. Then with the authority of a true husband, he let his fingertips play where they wanted, reaching past the nearer breast, stroking that slick cool scar riding the battered sternum.
“How?” he asked.
She didn’t respond.
“That’s what I want. Tell me--”
“I know what you're asking,” she interrupted. She didn’t want to sound sharp, but she wouldn’t let herself feel self-conscious either. That’s what he took from her uncomfortable tone. Reaching up, she used both hands to coax his hand to retreat. Putting his fingers against her panties seemed like a worthy distraction, far less personal than touching the scar. Only then did she say, “I had some heart trouble. When I was a girl, almost ten years ago.”
“I guessed as much.”
But Farah didn’t want his surmises, particularly if they were correct. Truth belonged to her, nobody else, and her instinctive first reaction was to spread uncertainty, creating an environment where lies thrived.
“What did you guess?” she asked.
“Persian medicine is the best in the world, I’ve heard.”
“It is,” she said.
“Your heart was sick, and you were close to death. But your father and mother bought a healthy young heart, another girl’s heart, and the finest surgeons in the world sliced that girl open while she was alive, and they hacked into your chest, tearing out the sick piece of you and putting in the healthy red muscle while that girl on the other table died.”
He touched the scar again, feeling the quick beat.
She said, “Yes,” to the story. To the hand. Or maybe it was a general, “Yes,” meant for much more. She was still smiling when she added, “Or perhaps one of my valves was broken and the surgeons replaced it with a pig’s valve. Maybe that’s the story.”
“Well, that sounds reasonable,” he allowed.
“Except I like yours better,” said Farah, grabbing her left breast and half-standing, turning towards him, shoving that salty black nipple past lips and teeth.