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The Heart Peddler And The Heartsmith

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Fantasy Realm
An adaptation of the "Would You Like To Buy A Heart?" comic strip found on 9gag, with a few minor changes. The story is set in a not-so-unfamiliar fictional 19th-century western world, advancement in science, technology, and medicine has made people cast aside their 'heart'.

Submitted: August 02, 2017

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Submitted: August 02, 2017

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Once upon a time, there was a young girl who made a living from peddling hearts. These weren't the beating, living organs that she and everyone else had in their chest, but something entirely different and yet subtly similar.

She had crimson red hair that fell to her waist, and pale pink skin. She wore a red dress, red shoes and even had a large red bowtie on her collar. With one hand holding a basketful of shimmering hearts and the other hand holding aloft a heart-shaped heart that floated just above her palm, she wandered up and down the marketplace, calling out to any passer-by.

'Would you like to buy a heart? I have quite a few beauties to offer!' She would call with a gentle smile.

It was a busy day, but no one stopped to consider her offer. It was not because they already have hearts. On the contrary, the girl's basket possibly contained more hearts than the total number of people who have a heart in the entire marketplace.

On that note, it is also likely that the hearts she now offered were once discarded by these very people.

In this day and age, with rapid advancement in science, medicine, and technology, most have cast aside their hearts in pursuit of other worldly pleasures. There was no need for it anymore when other forms of happiness were so easily obtainable.

'Good eve, sir, would you like to buy a heart?' She asked a middle aged gentleman clad in a fine black suit and shining black shoes, but his eyes were dull and he disregarded her without a glance. Dull eyes were one indication of a person lacking a heart. That gentleman was probably one of many who had cast aside their hearts.

A young gentleman caught her eye. He was young and tall, probably a few years older than her, clean shaven, blond haired, smartly dressed and well groomed. But what caught her attention were his eyes, they were bright and lively, but also pained. It was the sign of a broken heart. She made her way to him.

'Sir! Would you like to buy a heart?' She asked sweetly.

The gentleman looked down with surprise as if pulled out of a dream, and shook his head with a regretful smile. 'I'm sorry, but I already have a heart, though it is in need of repair. Do you happen to repair broken hearts as well?' He asked in a jovial manner, but with a hint of desperation.

'Oh, no sir, I only sell hearts!' The girl replied in a surprised tone.

'I see…' The man sighed and made to turn away.

'But if you go down that path, you will find the workshop of a heartsmith.' The girl indicated a narrow alley behind her.

'A heartsmith?' The gentleman exclaimed. 'Thank you, young lady!' He bowed his head and turned to enter the alley.

'You're welcome, sir!' The girl replied with a bright smile, but her eyes were blank. That was because she, too, did not have a heart.

Sometime later, the gentleman arrived at the end of the alley where there was a single door leading into a workshop. The signpost above the door read 'Heartsmith'. It was a dull coloured building with some artistic designs on the door, flanked by a pair of stained glass windows.

The gentleman knocked and entered the workshop.

Within was a young smith working on a piece of metal using a blowtorch and a pair of pincers before a wooden workbench. The smith wore thick goggles and gloves, and had an apron over his front. The bench was filled with all sorts of tools and scrap. He did not realize someone had entered the smithy.

'Um… excuse me?' The gentleman called from the doorway.

'Huh?' The smith turned off the torch, put down the tools and lifted the goggles off his head before turning towards the door. 'Ah, a customer!' He greeted cheerfully. He had tanned skin, dark hair and lively eyes. 'Welcome, sir! What can I do for you?' He asked with a friendly grin.

'A young girl told me you repair broken hearts?' The gentleman inquired expectantly.

'Ah, the heart peddler said that? Yes, that's what I do, though I haven't done any in a while! I'm the heartsmith, pleased to meet you!' The heartsmith introduced. The gentleman introduced himself as well. 'So, what seems to be the problem, sir?'

The gentleman placed his hands over his chest where his living, beating heart would be, and drew forth his other heart. It was torn down the middle and lined with cracks and scratches and tears. 'Well…?'

The heartsmith examined it closely with a heavy frown. 'Oh boy, this one looks pretty badly damaged…'

'So… you can't repair it?'

'I didn't say that! It… might be repairable, but it'll take a while…' The heartsmith replied uncertainly. 'Could be a few weeks or even months…'

'That, might be a problem.' The gentleman murmured.

The heartsmith tilted his head. 'Is time a problem, sir? Are you planning on getting married?' He joked. In this day and age, marriage was more like an act than a real ceremony.

The gentleman looked away shyly. 'Why yes, actually.'

The heartsmith was caught off guard by that unexpected reply. 'Oh? Congratulations!' He couldn't remember when the last time he heard someone got married properly.

'However, as the wedding grows nearer, I find this heart incapable of loving…' The gentleman quietly explained. 'And if that is the case, how can I love my fiancé?'

'Hmm, I can see how it would be a problem.' The heartsmith agreed and scratched his head. A broken heart could not love properly, after all. 'Well, I suggest you leave it here for now, I can't make any promises, but I'll do my best.'

The gentleman visibly relaxed. 'Thank you, truly.' He said sincerely before passing his heart to the heartsmith. 'Please take care of it.'

'Of course!' the heartsmith reassured. 'I'll have to examine it first, so just drop by tomorrow or whenever it's convenient for you.' Just after he said that, he started coughing, and did not stop for a long time.

'Are you alright, Mr. Heartsmith, are you ill?' The gentleman asked worriedly, ready to step forward to help.

'I'm fine, just inhaled some dust!' The heartsmith chuckled lightly while waving aside his concern. 'Anyway, I should get to work. Come back tomorrow and I should have an idea how bad the damage is.'

The next morning.

'Would you like to buy a heart?' Called the crimson haired girl in the marketplace. Her basket was still filled with hearts, but her eyes were as dull as the people she was offering hearts to.

From the crowd, she recognized a familiar face. It was the young gentleman she met yesterday and he was heading towards her, or rather towards the alley behind her that led to the heartsmith's workshop. He stopped in front of her and smiled pleasantly. His eyes were also dull.

'Has the heartsmith agreed to fix your heart, sir?' She inquired with a polite smile.

'Yes, he has, young girl.' The gentleman replied. 'Thank you again for recommending him. It will take a while before my heart is fixed, but I have confidence.'

'I see!' The girl exclaimed. 'Then in the meantime, would you like to buy a replacement?' She offered and lifted the basket before him. There were hearts of all sorts of shapes and sizes, and all well-kept.

'Wow, where did you get all these hearts?' The gentleman asked.

'I pick these up everywhere, sir.' The girl answered. 'Most of the time they are already broken beyond repair, but these are nice and unscratched!'

'I see… since it will be a while before my heart is repaired, if I buy one of these hearts to marry my fiancé, and then replace it later when mine is repaired, will my feelings for her remain unchanged?' The gentleman asked.

The girl was surprised by that suggestion and quickly shook her head. 'Oh no, sir! That would not work! If you take any of these hearts, and change it later for another, your feelings for your fiancé will not be the same.' The gentleman was visibly disappointed by her answer. 'Don't worry, sir, be patient until the heartsmith has finished repairing your heart, and then marry your fiancé!' She said optimistically.

'Yes… I will, thank you again.' The gentleman bade and made his leave. The crimson haired girl waved lightly before continuing to peddle around the marketplace.

'Good afternoon.' The gentleman called when he entered the heartsmith's workshop.

The heartsmith was working at the bench, face filled with concentration as he examined a single heart that was balanced on a metal tripod, the gentleman's heart. The heartsmith turned at the sound of his voice, and a regretful smile crept into his boyish features.

'Ah, welcome back, sir. I've just finished examining the damage to your heart.'

'I see… so, what do you think?' The gentleman held his breath in anticipation.

'Hmm, how should I put it…?' The heartsmith grumbled to himself and scratched his head. 'There are numerous fissures and an oblique tear through the middle, but those are repairable with the right tools and material. The problem is, some vital internal components are damaged.'

'I see… which components exactly have been damaged?' The gentleman inquired.

'Well, the main one is the component responsible for loving. And honestly, a heart that cannot love isn't really a heart, if you get my meaning.'

'I understand. What about the hearts that the young girl, the heart peddler, has?' The gentlemen inquired. 'Surely the components you need can be found within those?'

The heartsmith smiled thinly and shook his head. 'A heart isn't a machine, sir. It's not so simple as to take apart one, use it to repair another, and expect it to work normally. The hearts that the heart peddler peddles have not felt love before, for they were discarded by their owners before they could. Do you understand what I'm saying, sir?'

The gentleman nodded slowly and whispered. 'So I will never be able to love my fiancé… if that is the case, I should call off the wedding. She, she deserves better…' He sighed.

It would have been normal if the gentleman had wept, but he did not, and that made it all the more saddening for the heartsmith to witness. 'Wait a minute, sir!' He called as the gentleman was about to leave. 'I will fix your heart. There's still something I can do.'

The gentleman's expression switched from depression to shock, and then to elation. 'Thank you, dear heartsmith!' He cried and went to hold the heartsmith's hands like a drowning man clutching at flotsam.

'Don't mention it!' The heartsmith replied with a bashful grin. 'I'm happy to help a kind sir like you.' He added before turning to regard the broken heart on the bench solemnly. 'It's been years since anyone walked through that door with a heart needing mending. Nowadays, people are casting aside their hearts to pursue wealth, knowledge, and fame. Tell me truly, sir, is it better to cast aside one's heart in pursuit of these things? Is love really not needed in this world anymore?'

'I… I used to think so.' The gentleman answered honestly. 'But that was before I met my fiancé. She was beautiful, kind, lively, and with a heart full of love and compassion. But I cannot bring myself to feel for her the same as she does for me, and that was when I realized, that without love, I can never truly be happy.'

Sometime later, the gentleman left the workshop. Within a week, he will return to collect his repaired heart and be married to his fiancé.

Alone in his workshop, the heartsmith smiled lightly. There was still some love left in the world. His expression then turned to worry as he lifted a hand to his chest, where his own heart was. 'But will it be enough?' He asked himself quietly.

A week later, the heartsmith returned the gentleman's heart.

The repaired heart radiated brightly. The many fissures around it were healed over and there were lines of crimson where they used to be. The tear down the middle was sealed back together and glowed bright yellow like liquid gold.

How is it, sir?' The heartsmith asked as the gentleman placed his heart within him.

'It… it's amazing!' That was all the gentlemen could say. His eyes were bright with life and mirth. He seemed to have become a totally different person from before.

The heartsmith sighed with relief. 'Really? That's great!'

'I can feel my heart overflowing with emotion! With this, I'm sure I can love my fiancé, and make her happy!' The gentleman assured.

'Aye, I'm sure you will.' The heartsmith reassured him.

'Thank you, truly, Mr. Heartsmith!' The gentleman thanked him sincerely with all smiles. The gentleman then frowned worriedly and regarded him closely. 'Mr. Heartsmith, are you alright? You are pale, and look thinner than before.'

'Oh, don't worry, I'm just tired, with work and everything.' The heartsmith waved his gloved hands dismissively. 'Now go and get married to your fiancé, sir, and live a happy life!'

That was the last time the heartsmith saw the gentleman ever again.

A few days later, the heartsmith was sitting down on a small crate outside his workshop. Nay… it wasn't his workshop, not anymore. In a few days, it will be torn down and rebuilt as a boutique. After decades of being a heartsmith's workshop, passed down from master to apprentice, it was time for it to close down. He was well compensated for it though, since the price of property was extraordinarily high these days.

In a week or so, the heartsmith will spend his remaining time in a ward. His condition was getting worse and worse each day, and soon his time will come. That said, he was filled with satisfaction.

'Thank goodness, I've repaired one more heart before I kick the bucket.' The heartsmith smiled ruefully at his own joke. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a little girl with long crimson red hair and carrying a basket of hearts walking towards him.

'Poor heartsmith!' The crimson haired girl called pitifully as she approached to stand in front of him. 'How noble of you, to share parts of your heart to repair another!'

The heartsmith looked up at her and smiled. 'Look who's talking. Why do you collect, clean and sell hearts day in and day out, without ever a customer, even though you don't have a heart of your own?'

The girl pouted and muttered. 'Because none of these hearts will fit me'. True enough, her body was small and lithe, none of the hearts in the basket were small enough for her.

'I see…' The heartsmith was thoughtful. 'Then maybe, would what's left of this heart fit you?' He asked, lifted up what remained of his heart and offered it to her. It was small and frail looking, since much of it had been used to repair the young gentleman's broken heart. However, there was still enough left for love, and looked about the right size for the crimson haired girl.

The girl was stunned with disbelief. 'You, you're giving me your heart!?' The girl exclaimed as tears of shock and joy began to fall from her eyes. 'Why… why are you so kind?'

The heartsmith grinned. 'Because I am a heartsmith, of course! You possess no heart, and soon I will no longer need one, so it makes sense, no?' He then regarded his heart with gentle eyes. 'It is weak… and fragile, but I know you will take care of it. So would you have this heart, young lady?' He placed his heart in her small hands.

The red haired girl nodded weakly and placed the heart within her. Her dull eyes began to gain colour. They were bright red, brighter than all of the hearts in the basket. And then she smiled, full of mirth and joy. It was truly magnificent to behold.

A young girl closed the book she was reading, and slowly leaned back into her bed. Gradually, her mind returned from the realm of imagination to the real world.

Blip, blip, blip. That was the sound of her heartbeat, monitored by a machine. A bag of clear fluid hung from a stand beside her bed, its contents being delivered slowly via a long plastic tube that ended in a needed within the back of her left hand.

Someone knocked on the door before opening. The man that entered looked very similar to the gentleman from the storybook. He was wearing a long white coat. 'Good evening, miss, how are you doing today?' He asked kindly.

'Ah, hello doctor!' The girl greeted cheerfully and answered that she was fine.

'Tomorrow is your big day.' The doctor said as he did a quick check on her heart rate on the machine, and ensured her drip was sufficient. 'Thank goodness, we found a heart for you just in time.'

There is a huge shortage of hearts needed for transplants these days, and especially so for little girls like her. If she did not have the operation within a few more days, her life would be at risk.

'Yes, the heartsmith is very kind.' The girl replied.

'Um… who?' The doctor inquired, a little perplexed.

The girl shook her head shyly. 'It's ok. People don't remember him, not even those he helped.' She held the storybook close to her chest. 'But as for me, I will always remember him.'

 

The End

 

Author's endnote:

My personal take from this piece is that one should always remember to have compassion and kindness, even when times are difficult, even during times when the world seems so cruel and heartless.

Thank you for reading.

AJLKS

 


© Copyright 2017 AJLKS. All rights reserved.

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