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Sara K. Penrod

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By Sara K. Penrod
Friday, June 02, 2006

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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An allegory about the power of love to change a person's life.

Once upon a time, there was a lost girl. She wasn’t a child anymore, but she wasn’t quite ready to be a grown-up. She was very sad, and she didn’t want to live anymore. She took a sharp knife, plunged it into her chest, and cut her heart out.
She instantly regretted what she had done. The knife fell to the kitchen floor, and she ran out of the house with her heart still beating in her bloody hands. “Help me!” she cried. “Help me!”
“Be quiet!” the neighbors shouted. “Go away! You’re naked and you have a hole in your chest.”
The policemen came after her.
“Help me,” she cried. “Please help me.”
“Be quiet,” the policemen said. “You’re crazy, you’re naked, and you have a hole in your chest.”
They took her to the doctors, and she was sure that the doctors would make her better. “Help me,” she cried. “Please.”
“Be quiet,” the doctors said. “You’re hopeless, you’re crazy, you’re naked, and you have a hole in your chest.” They put a bandage over her chest, and when she held out her heart to them, they put it in a cardboard box and gave it back to her. They sent her away.
She went back home to her family. “Help me,” she said. Her voice was hoarse from crying out for help.
“Be quiet,” they said. “You’re shameful, you’re hopeless, you’re crazy, you’re naked, and you have a hole in your chest.” They put tape over her mouth and sent her away.
She didn’t know where else to go for help. She was alone and afraid. She shivered in the cold. She wandered into the forest and fell asleep under a tall tree with branches that stretched far out around the trunk.
When she woke up, a man was sitting beside her. He had covered her with a blanket, but she was afraid of him.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
She looked up at him. His eyes were honest.
“I’ll take the tape off your mouth, but it will hurt.”
She nodded warily. He tore the tape away from her mouth, leaving her lips raw and bleeding.
“What’s in your box?” he asked.
She opened it up and showed him. “I’m going to bury it,” she said.
“Why don’t we fix it instead?” the man asked.
“It can’t be fixed.” The girl picked up her heart, and it was cold. “Look. It’s not even beating anymore.”
“I can help,” he said, “if you let me.”
“Oh, you don’t want to help me,” she whispered. “I’m shameful, I’m hopeless, I’m crazy, I’m naked, and I have a hole in my chest.”
“I don’t care about those things,” he said. “Let me help you.”
The girl looked down at the dead leaves around her, and she was quiet for a very long time. Then she looked up at the man and said, “I don’t know how.”
“I’ll show you how,” he said. “Give me your heart.”
“Why do you want that?” she said.
“So that I can fix it,” he said with a smile. “I want to help.”
“I don’t think you can fix it. I don’t think anyone can.”
“I can fix it if you’ll let me,” he said. “You’ll have to trust me.”
She shook her head. “I just want to bury it.”
The man didn’t say anything. The girl brushed leaves away from a spot at the base of the tree and dug a hole with her hands. She buried the box with her heart in it. Then she curled up and went to sleep again.

When she woke up, the man was still sitting beside her. The hole in her chest hurt worse than ever. She looked up at the man, and he looked back at her with kindness in his eyes, but neither of them said a word. Cold tears fell on the girl’s cheeks.
“Why does it still hurt so badly?” she asked after a long time.
“Because you need your heart,” the man said.
“But I don’t want it,” she said. “It makes me hurt too.”
“It hurts sometimes,” he said, “but if you take care of it and use it right, it will make you happy, too.”
“No. Not my heart.” She put her head back down on a pillow of dried leaves. Once again, the forest grew quiet for a long time. The hole in the girl’s chest hurt terribly, but she tried not to cry.
The man reached out to her. “Take my hand. We’ll do it together.”
“My hands are dirty,” she said.
“That’s okay,” he said. “Take my hand.”
Slowly, she reached out and placed her trembling hand in his. His hand was warm and strong. He smiled. With his other hand, he scooped away the dirt the girl had packed in around the box. When he had unburied the box, the girl knew what to do. She lifted the box out of the hole, opened it, and took out her heart. She placed it in the man’s hands.
He looked her in the eyes, smiled, and nodded. Then he looked at the heart in his hands and blew on it. The heart began to beat again.
The girl was amazed. “How did you do that?”
He smiled at her again. “Love.” He unwrapped the blanket from around the her body. He put the girl’s heart back in her chest and patted in dirt around it, the dirt that she had used to bury it. He enfolded her in his arms, and the hole in her chest healed. It didn’t hurt anymore.
“It doesn’t hurt anymore,” the girl said. “It always hurt before. How did you do that?”
The man smiled. He took the girl’s hand and led her out of the dark forest. “Love.”

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Reviewed by Regis Auffray 6/3/2006
I find this most compelling, Sara. Thank you for sharing your story. Love and peace to you,


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