First, I explored the outskirts of your heart.  On my back a survival kit, cobbled together:  magnifying glass for closer inspection, metronome to check for constancy, drawing pin to puncture holes in faithless walls, to escape in case of emergency.  I set out from the point at the base, which overlapped charmingly because your heart had been drawn freehand, luscious blunt pencil on expensive paper.  Dotted around the outline of your heart were tiny stars and celestial swirls, rough but recognisable.  At night I navigated by them, swooning and charting their musical movements, tracking my progress up the side of your heart, while the ground leapt ba-BOOM ba-boom, ba-BOOM ba-boom.  The perimeter was vast.  I should have plotted the outline first, made sure your heart was all there, a left the same as the right, no deformities, no perforations, no concertinas, no cesspools of waste or razed patches left by previous travellers; this was method unsanctioned, exploration unmapped.  It was uphill all the way as I rounded the first great swooping loop, the sensuous bulge of your top-right heart.  There, plant life was sketched, necks of vines and tails, legs of branches, ribbons that entwined and enticed, some scribed with tiny names: Amelia, Belicia, Chloe.  I felt their small mouths breathe on me.  Ghost animals.  Here I sprouted new determination, hungry for the secrets I imagined, heady with heart fever.  Finding a steep gully, I slid down, deep into the cleft of your heart, the centre-top part where the pencil had indented the paper with a confident stroke.  I careened and blurred, on either side of me the cavern walls, flating and deflating ba-BOOM ba-boom, ba-BOOM ba-boom until at the pit of the cleft I fell in a heap, hid face in sleeve, and swept my free arm out through a hit-and-miss field of bats, mice wrapped in handkerchiefs that dismayed violently at my presence.  This territory had not played host for a very long time.  As the curtain of bats dispersed, I saw the skeletons of past loves, some slumped sadly, others rigidly upright, still clutching books pressing flowers, ticket stubs to films, hurriedly scrawled notes, even a dusty guitar.  This part of your heart was deep darkest red, almost black. I couldn’t see a foot in front of me when I stumbled on a golden thread and began hauling it, arm over arm.  As I pulled, dreams leapt around me, spirals and dots, miniature fireworks and petaled evaporations exploded, graphite on wood.  The detail scared me; this was no cartoon heart I’d won.  In my hands the rope pulsed ba-BOOM ba-boom, ba-BOOM ba-boom and I knew the centre of your heart was caught, heaving at the end of the string.  I began reeling in my prey until with a final tug, the centre of your heart appeared, twitching tender and liquid, beached and scarlet and bleeding ba-BOOM ba-boom, ba-BOOM ba-boom I reached out a hand to touch it.


Zoë Meager

Originally from Christchurch, Zoë Meager recently completed a Master of Creative Writing at the University of Auckland. She agrees wholeheartedly that ‘animals are good to think with’, and enjoys using short stories and flash fiction to explore the human-animal conundrum. Other work appears in The Island Review.

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