I had no idea how hard it was to find a realistic heart shaped
mold. A good one, with arteries and shit. I wanted something that
looked like it was about to throb, I wanted a jell-o mold with a
pulse. I didn't think it was too much to ask for. When I finally
found a cake shop that took special orders, I told the woman just
that. She laughed and took down my number, said she'd call when
the mold came in.
The day she called, I immediately jogged down the stairs of my building. I scooped up a package of red gelatin, cherry, from the corner mart, and hopped on the bus that would take me down to Wake n' Bake Cake Shop. I asked the pale dreadlocked woman at the counter if I could wash it in the dishwasher. "Microwave safe, dishwasher safe, oven safe. This fucker is indestructible." I picked up the hollow heart. It was a black silicon mold, floppy and unstructured in its detail.
"It looks like it'll melt," I said.
"It's stronger than you'd think," said the cashier.
I slid my money across the counter, and fingered the left
ventricle as I waited for my change.
The mold was just the size of my fist. I remember reading something about that. As it turns out, a woman with a big heart does not have more capacity for love. She will just die sooner.
At home, the jell-o was mixed with care, and the mold was propped up with something I had hastily constructed from duct tape and an empty shoe box. The cashier hadn't mentioned the mold's one structural flaw: an inability to hold itself together.
The water on the stove whistled. When poured into a glass bowl, boiling water exhales like a child. Like me waiting for my mother to finish gassing up the car. I breathed on the window and used my nose to carve "HI" into the condensation. Later she would scold me for greasing up the window with my face.
The gelatin was poured into the Pyrex bowl. The powder dissolved; the redness clouds into all corners. I whisked. My left arm was getting sore. I wondered briefly if I was dying. I kept whisking. I whisked so long my chest starts to stiffen. I was definitely dying.
I had heard that passionate sex can double your heart rate. I had also heard that orgasming once or twice a week can save a man's life. They never said anything about women, but I assumed that having two orgasms a week could hardly hurt anybody. Most recently, I had learned that women are much more likely to die of heart disease than men. And, a woman does not keel over clutching her left arm when she has a heart attack. A woman will feel nausea, pressure of the heart, jaw pain. They never mention that in sitcoms. On TV, everyone keels over. Everyone clutches his left arm.
The fruity liquid was poured into the mold. The auricles were filled. The aorta was brimming. The pulmonary artery was red and smelled like cherries. The whole heart was red and smelled like cherries. I found myself a little nauseous as I slid the mold onto the empty shelf in the refrigerator.
Jell-o takes four hours to solidify. A nap was in order. I dreamed that I was a red blood cell. Your red blood cell. Your body is a 60,000 mile race track of vessels, and I was coursing through you. Your heart was beating twice as fast as it does when you're just sleeping. With this orgasm, you are living forever. I was running through you like an Olympic sprinter. Only there is no wind to hold me back. The current pushed me forward; the world is awash in red. I was saving your life.
The egg timer rang. I climbed off the couch, pulled the mold from the fridge, and shook it for good measure. It had set. I dipped the outside of the mold into warm water, and plopped the heart onto a small white plate. It looked good enough to beat.
When you came home I grabbed your backpack and threw it onto the sofa. I pulled you into the kitchen, sat you down at the table. "Close your eyes," I said. You humored me. As I walked towards the fridge, I took a moment to look you over. Your blunt nails were tapping the table in mock anticipation. Your soft lips had curled into a cocky half smile. I sat down across from you, placing the heart in the middle of the round table. "Okay, open." You looked at the flesh in front of you. "What's this?" you asked.
"It's my heart… I'm giving you my heart." You laughed, walked over to the silverware drawer, and sat back down with a spoon. You carved away at the apex, shoving a wiggly blob of jell-o into your perfect mouth. I felt like this should mean something, but instead of thinking about it, I just watched complacently as you ate the rest of my heart, one ventricle at a time.