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Image by Isabel Rock
‘Your heart is a mysterious pyjama fort in the midst of a cold white room’
Imagine a bright, white, painted warehouse with metal pipes snaking round the ceiling like the dislocated innards of a dead trombone. There are black stains on the walls from the seeping of the damp and the air is thick with echoes. In the middle of the room, there is a billowing crimson shack with a black wooden door. You walk into the room and your footsteps sound twice every time they fall and you hear a voice in your head saying this, little lady, this is your heart.
You walk up to the door and feel the brass knob all weighty in your palm: a thing that was born to be turned. You turn the knob and step inside and the walls ripple, the way panic ripples in the shadows of collarbones. From the inside, the walls are pink and it is warm. You walk down a snaking corridor and you can no longer hear the sound of your feet; you walk and you can smell the smells of your past; you walk.
His particular reek, almost rancid; his sweat as it fell on your skin while you fucked. Her hair, cigarettes and fjords, soft insistent whisky breath, oh my. That room, when you were just seventeen, incense and patchwork blankets and unwashed dishes and flat beer, the smell of his bedsheets, his sofa, his floor.
These are the things, some of the things, that are breathing and beating inside the heart that the voice in your head said was your heart, and perhaps it is right. You walk deeper into its clutches, unwary as you have ever been, because you are a fool for breadcrumbs and your feet have never found a way not to follow.
It is a huge and harrumphing thing, and if you had learned before now a little restraint, perhaps this would be a different sort of heart. Perhaps you would be walking into a nice wood panelled library with Dewey Decimal shelves to find your letter, your numbers, run your finger along the spines until: there. A neat, sanded box you could take and slip in your satchel. A work to be carried around, not a work that must carry you.
But you are not that girl and you are here, inside, so keep crawling. The passages become smaller; you are on your knees, again. The closer you get to the centre, the hotter it gets, and perhaps the crux of your heart is a furnace where all old romances spend eternity in flames. Or perhaps not. Perhaps this is the place where the blacksmith works, his hot oven ready, forging new things to fool you, creating new brands for your skin.
It is hot and you are crawling, but it is not so bad here in the centre of your heart. You expected there to be barbs like crooked fingers beckoning from the walls, broken glass, tears to make the floor slippery and wet. Instead, the depths of your heart are like a blanket fort built for every one of your friends to come cosy down in, bring a pillow. You thought it would be frightening to face but it is not horrid, just huge, and even that is a comfort in its clear, certain way.
You reach the chamber in the middle of your heart and it is warm and glowing and downy with fabric. As you lie down on the duvet, you hear laughter coming from somewhere on the other side of the world. Fluff up the feathers and let your lips smile, and make yourself comfortable. Tell yourself that you’ve done it. You’ve found your way home.
Jane Flett is a philosopher, cellist, and seamstress of most fetching stories. Her poetry features in the Best British Poetry 2012 and is available as a chapbook, Quick, to the Hothouse, from dancing girl press. Her fiction has been commissioned for BBC Radio, performed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and published in PANK, Word Riot and wigleaf’s Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions. She is one half of the riot grrl band Razor Cunts, a founder of Queer Stories Berlin, and the poetry editor for Leopardskin & Limes. https://janeflett.com
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