The Lonely Heart Exchange

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
ok. so after stating i 'do' comedy writing i havent yet uploaded anything in that genre, but hey. what are you gonna do?. Anyway this is a short from a while back about mysterious men in red suits. which is also not comedy. what can i say, I'm a sucker for tradition.

Submitted: January 23, 2010

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Submitted: January 23, 2010





Mark sat slumped against the wall, staring at her motionless body. His heart was racing and blood was thumping in his ears with such volume that the shouts of the paramedics were nothing but distant rumbles. He couldn’t stand it, such a delicate creature lying there as if she was a puppet hastily thrown to one side with a tangle of splayed limbs. He scrambled over to her, his unsteady legs buckling from the sudden movement as he forced his way through the wall of paramedics and police officers. They tried to hold him back, telling him in calm voices to let them do their job, let them help Jenny. However he knew it was no good, she was gone. He knelt beside her, ‘No, no, not like this’ he whispered, cradling her face. The porcelain skin which was so usually flushed with pink looked dull, whilst her eyes which once sparkled with such warmth and laughter stared blankly with cold indifference. It was then he realized that nothing remained of the woman he loved, that the Lonely Heart Exchange was right after all.


The Lonely Heart Exchange was a growing phenomenon; journalists had attempted to delve into its strange and mysterious world many times. However, when any of them were considered too close to getting under its skin, it would disappear, leaving no trace of its existence. This left many contemplating whether it had ever really existed, or whether they had simply just wished it to be true for the benefit of a ‘good story’.

Only people involved truly knew the work of the Exchange. Not the common myths and speculation muttered by gossiping women in supermarkets, but the truth, the so called ‘good’ they spread amongst their clients. Their work was based on a little known scientific discovery, a kind of mantra which spewed unashamedly from every piece of literature and representative of the Exchange, ‘The heart is the centre of all emotional feeling, and this alone shapes the people we love’.

Psychologists believe that emotion is located in the frontal lobe of the brain. The Exchange on the other hand, believed that feelings are controlled by the heart and then sent to the brain, not just the obvious feelings of love and passion, but the quirks that shape an individual, the seemingly little and insignificant things which make us love them that little bit more.


Mark was one of the more unwilling clients, the Exchange preferred to see him as a challenge, rather than a dead loss. His fiancée Caroline was rushed to The Holy Saints Hospital after a horrific car accident. She was one of the lucky ones, if in the circumstances you could call anyone ‘lucky’. She held on far longer than many of the other victims who unfortunately slipped away before the jolly ‘Lonely hearts’ representative had the opportunity to proposition them and their distraught relations.

 It was soon diagnosed that Caroline had extensive internal bleeding; she slid in and out of conciseness in waves like a slow sweeping tide. A doctor delivered the bad news hours after her admittance and gave his condolences, during which, Mark noticed not a fragment of emotion graced his face.

It was during one of Caroline’s more alert final hours that an Exchange representative wearing an extravagant and some might say; inappropriately cheerful red suit approached her. When Mark returned to his bedside vigil that evening, Caroline recalled the offer that had been made to her by the Exchange. He was utterly disgusted; in his eyes the idea was just so unethical. In truth however, it was his denial of Caroline’s fate which masked his decision on the matter.

 She pleaded with him to reconsider ‘I just want you to be happy’ she said over and over, in the vague hope Mark would loose his preconceptions and reconsider.

‘I won’t be happy without you’ he would stutter back claiming that she wasn’t in a fit state to make the decision that she wasn’t thinking straight.

‘But you’ll have me, I’ll still be with you, isn’t that what you want?’ her voice was getting weaker as she slipped slowly back into the clutch of unconsciousness. Mark sat still for a while, listening to the monotonous chirp from the heart monitors and gathering his thoughts. His mind was spinning he couldn’t grasp what was right or wrong anymore. The idea of not losing Caroline was of course incredible, but it wouldn’t be his Caroline. It just wouldn’t be right.


Caroline lost her battle a day later. When the news was broken to Mark he instantly fell to the floor and wept.

Meanwhile, in the hospital mortuary Caroline’s body lay lifeless on a cold steel table, whilst her precious heart was gently placed into a refrigerated container by a man in a rather dashing red suit.


The Lonely Heart Exchanged had many branches, one in every hospital in the country. This ensured the best possible chance to find the perfect recipient for every heart they harvested from clients. Every client had there preferences before they passed on, ‘find someone tall, she likes tall men’ or ‘don’t let her be prettier than me’. There were so many people awaiting heart transplants, stuck on waiting lists a mile long. Many died after months of waiting without any glimmer of hope for an organ. It was the perfect opportunity; The Exchange had the power to give a new lease of life to two separate individuals. Individuals who were no longer alive just merely existing, either through grief or just endless waiting. By giving hearts so full of emotions and lust to patients on the verge of death, it gave them the life they were entitled to, whilst modelling the ideal companion for the grief stricken person the donor left behind.



It was two years later that Mark met Jenny; it happened completely by chance, much like it does in all the best love stories. They were both on the twelve twenty bus to Camberley when just as it was bumbling down Portesberry Road the engine let out an almighty clunk and the bus ground to a halt. Neither Mark nor Jenny was close enough to their respected destinations to walk the rest of the way, so they decided to sit it out till the replacement bus arrived. After two painfully quiet hours, Jenny assessed whether any of the passengers were eligible for a conversation. there were only two other passengers still onboard, one being a man with so much alcohol in his system he was possibly flammable, so she opted for Mark.


Mark was sat right at the back huddled into the corner trying to read. His entire appearance was haggard and crumpled, even his book was so battered it looked like it had been on a fast spin in a washing machine. To anyone else he would have appeared to be the last person game for general ‘chit chat’, however jenny strived to see the good in people and she soon softened  Mark’s unapproachable façade and they sat talking for hours. It was the first time Mark had let his guard down with anyone since loosing Caroline. He had spent many months avoiding the outside world and skulking into the background. With Jenny it was different though, Mark found himself being polite without it feeling strained or unnatural, he was relishing in the conversation, and it was almost as if he had known her for years. . .


Relationships are amazingly complex and fragile, easily damaged by the littlest of things. It was one of these seemingly insignificant little things which led to the demise of Mark and Jenny’s newly flourishing relationship and ultimately, Jenny’s life.

After a while it seemed to Mark that the closer he got to Jenny the more distant she became. This didn’t concern him at first, however it only took that one tiny doubt and worry to escalate and niggle away and soon it was all that consumed him.

Jenny was becoming increasingly guarded as each month went by. She started hiding her post and disappearing for hours at a time. It was only when Mark spotted her arguing furiously with a man in an infamous red suit that a feeling of dread rose from the very pit of his stomach.


It was never Jenny’s intention to deceive Mark. She had waited for a transplant for three agonising years before reluctantly taking up the Exchanges dubious offer. After the operation she refused any information on the donor and her new ‘match’, she thought it wrong to impose on a man still consumed with grief. It was only by some horrendous twist of fate that she ever met Mark. Jenny was perfectly oblivious to the situation until she answered the door one morning to a grinning man dressed in red, who gushed about how pleased he was to hear that she had had a ‘change of heart’ and was getting on so well with her ‘new companion’.


After hours of tears and confrontation Mark and Jenny were still no closer to reconciliation once the truth was out. Suddenly in a whirlwind of shouts and screams Jenny was clutching her chest and struggling for breath. It was thirty minutes later that she lay dead swamped by paramedics. Unbeknown to Mark her body had slowly been rejecting Caroline’s donor heart over the previous months and the argument was too much for her frail body to cope with. Mark had lost the woman he loved for the second painful time.


A year later a young woman was sat clutching her boyfriends hand in a dimly lit room of Holy Saints hospital. It was gone eleven O’clock when the door creaked open, and in stepped Mark dressed head to toe in a stunning crimson suit.






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