art by Bonita Barlow
Naomi woke in the dark and thought that she heard Bill’s heart. She held her breath and listened to the night sounds. A car went by on the road, the headlights making shapes on the ceiling. A dog barked. She heard the steady tick of the grandfather clock. That must have been what she heard.
She listened to the sound of the clock. It was nothing like Bill’s heart. She remembered when he was alive, resting with her head on his chest. The mechanical heart transplant did not beat like a regular heart. It clicked and clacked as the mechanical valves opened and closed. She did not mind that it didn’t sound like a regular heart. The click-clack was comforting to listen to at night. It meant that he was alive.
She smiled as she remembered him making love to her. His heart would speed up, clicking and clacking to beat the band. It would reach a peak, and then he’d sigh, and the clicking would slow down, and the clacking was not so loud. She’d lie there under him, listening to the steady click clack, click clack.
For hours, she tried to sleep, but she was always listening. She could not sleep through the night without the sound of Bill’s heart.
The mechanical heart could last for seven years. The battery would run for a month on one charge. Bill had only lasted two years. His heart worked fine, but his kidney’s failed him and he died. Now, Naomi could not sleep.
She got up from the bed and put on some old clothes. She went down and put on Bill’s old ski jacket. It was too big for her, but it was warm and comfortable. She drove to the cemetery and sat on Bill’s grave.
If she held her breath, she thought she could hear Bill’s heart coming up from the cold ground. She put her ear to the grass and listened. At first, all she could hear was her own pulse, but then, faintly and far, she heard the steady click clack, click clack.
During the funeral, Naomi could hear the sound of it coming from the casket. The undertaker had asked her if she wanted to donate it, but the hospital had not wanted the heart back. It was an older model and not worth anything. She told him to leave it where it was. It had been newly charged, and now three weeks later, it was still clicking and clacking.
Naomi slept until the sky started to turn pink. She got up from the ground stiffly and rode home.
It snowed the next day, but Naomi slept on her Bill’s grave. His jacket kept her warm on the hard ground. She swept away the snow so she could rest her head on the earth. The frozen ground made the sound a little louder and she fell asleep listening to the click clack.
A week later the heart stopped. The batteries were dead. There was no click clack and Naomi went home to her own bed. She stared at the dark ceiling and listened to her own heart, waiting for it to stop, too.
The snow melted and the daffodils bloomed on Bill’s grave. She spent her afternoons whispering to him, hoping to hear that old familiar click clack. She slept sometimes, but mostly she didn’t. Her friends stopped calling and she often forgot to eat.
In late April, she got up one night and went to visit Bill. She wore his old ski jacket, but the night, although cool, was not cold. She thought that she would die soon if she didn’t sleep, but she didn’t care. She didn’t want to live without Bill. She thought about his heart. All it needed was a quick charge. She still had the charger.
The next night she came home from the cemetery and washed her hands in the sink. They were covered with mud, clay and something else. She put a bundle in the drawer next to her bed and then plugged it in. She smiled as her head hit the pillow.
She reached over to the drawer and opened it a little, in order to hear better:
Click Clack, Click Clack.
on the FREEZINE of
Fantasy and Science