He kept it in a closed metal casket at the side of his bed. Adorned by nothing other than a cheap lock, he would show it to all his many girlfriends without ever a trace of shame.
“Your heart?” They’d often joke.
“No, my conscience,” he’d tell each in turn.
I countered her argument by claiming I had no heart.
Only when she’d gone did I realise, perhaps, I hadn’t.
I loved her. That’s why I had to kill her.
Isabella’s pros outweighed her many, many cons. After all, one may only sing the praises of one’s maid to so many people before they wish to meet her. I had extolled Isabella’s virtues from the moment she opened her big, blue eyes and smiled at me. I melted that day and have many days since.
Isabella busied herself about my mansion with the verve of a bee overloaded with nectar. She buzzed from here to there with her feather duster in one gloved hand and cleaning cloths and bucket in the other. She would start her cleaning before I awoke, tend to my needs when I did, then return to her incessant sanitations. At first, she was a godsend. Later, she was a hazard.
The problem with Isabella was everything. She understood that I required hygienic conditions for my work and took that knowledge to quite dizzying heights. One day, I walked in to find she had scrubbed so hard that the raised patterns of my carefully chosen wallpapers had been extinguished, buffed away, gone.
My decorating conundrum paled into insignificance once she started on my guests: faces, buffed; nails, trimmed; clothing, stripped and washed. The latter proved the final straw for one elderly dowager who walked out of one particular party with more than just an agog visage. Orders were given. Isabella was to be expunged.
I apologised to my guests, some senior clergy and parliamentarians amongst them, promised to do the deed that evening and made my excuses to bring the shindig to an early conclusion so as to facilitate said task. If only it had been that easy?
As I looked into Isabella’s beautiful glass eyes, those that had once been my beloved wife’s, I crumbled. I wept like a fool as Isabella tried her best to comfort me, her metal arms almost wringing my neck in her supposed embrace. She meant well, but as usual was not made for such things.
I reached around her back, slipped my fingers under her blouse and flipped the termination button, then backed away.
Isabella had no understanding of what occurred. As the steam of self-destruction engulfed her, she even fetched her mop and bucket and began to dab at herself. She only saw something that was not right, as did I.
Once Isabella’s violent juddering ceased, her head coming to rest with her eyes open and fixed on my own, I did the one thing I should’ve from the start. I opened up the trapdoor between her steel breasts, extracted that which powered her, my darling wife’s heart, and held it in my hands one last time.
If only those fools had known my wife wasn’t the only one to be resurrected that day, but they did not. With that I reached under my shirt, flipped the auto-destruct and waited for the boom before heaven to engulf me. It didn’t hurt, not this second time around, not too much, anyway.
I’m tired, so tired, looking at a screen full of things I do not want to read. There are stories, twisted tales, those who seek attention and those who pretend not to. There are those who in any other format I would deem perverted, yet, here, I am supposed to accept. This is not what I want. This is so not what I want.
There are words piled before me, words I use, but not in the order I would use them. There are sentences and syntax set to pictures, both moving and still, songs and celebrations, lives from here, there and everywhere, and none of them mine. There are lives lost and lives found and some somewhere in between. I try to indulge them, help even, but it is with a heart steeped in regret. Why? Just because. I need no reason nor excuse, I’m beyond that, no debts owed.
Answer them all, they say. It’s for your own good, they scream. Get involved. Sell yourself. Porn your life for the greater good. And most do. And most will. But I won’t.
So, in the arms of exhaustion, I realise, all I want to do is write. It is the only thing I’m good at, and the only thing I wish. I have so much to exhale. Such a lot. This is what I must do. And this is what I shall.
Take a breath. Close your eyes. Put your fingers to the keyboard. And smile. At last.