Our second favourite entry is awarded to Sul-Guöd – congratulations!
Recycle me a plastic heart – Sal-Guöd
‘Abigail is all tucked in’ Liam said, softly sliding the bedroom door closed. ‘After all that time in the hospital, she still does that thing when she pretends to be asleep’ he smiled ‘and as soon as I left the room I could hear the tablet switch on. It’s nice to know some things haven’t changed.’
‘Little bugger’ Arthur chuckled, his glasses perched on the end of his nose. He was reading a natural geographic book about the history of recycling.
Liam, all too used to his husband’s weird reading habits, winked and said ‘our little bugger though. I bet she never did that with the nurse’ he ran his hand along the wall, changing the window hologram from evening to night.
‘Would you have, what matron what’s-her-face? Scared me shitless’ Arthur said, miming an over emphasized shiver.
‘You know’ Liam paused, ‘this sort of stuff used to annoy me. Make me think we were bad parents’ he slid into bed and rested his head against Arthur’s shoulder. ‘you know, we either go in and tell her off, tell her that bedtime is for sleeping, or we let her play on that thing all night…’ he sighed.
‘Oh shut up, you, Mr March, are a great dad’ Arthur snapped, ‘and so am I for that matter’. He gave him a quick peck on the forehead.
Chuckling Liam continued, ‘But now, I guess I’m just happy she’s back, bad habits and all’ Arthur reached over and put down his book.
‘Me too honey’ he whispered, ‘but we’ve never known what we are doing, why should we now?’ he asked.
‘Because we almost lost her?’ Liam said, listening to Arthur’s heartbeat speed up. ‘would things have been any different if we had been, fuck I don’t know, better? Some sort of messed up karma.’ Arthur let out an agitated breath. His body felt rigid, coiled up like it was ready to jump out of the bed and run. ‘Sorry,’ Liam mumbled, ‘things just feel weird now.’ he pressed his head closer into Arthur’s chest ‘I remember doing this while she was hooked up to all those machines, laying against her and not hearing anything. It still doesn’t beat you know, it just sort of …whirrs’
Arthur lay still, his breathing slow. They stayed like that for a while. He could have been asleep if it weren’t for his eyes wide open starting thoughtfully off into the distance. ‘You know, it takes 450 years for a plastic bottle to decompose.’ he said finally.
‘So, it only took 12 years for Abigail’s heart to decompose. It’s kind of fitting don’t you think? That the very thing that almost killed the planet, has saved our daughter’s life?’ Liam stayed quiet. ‘I was reading about it, great fields of rubbish, ‘dumps’, thousands and thousands of pounds of crap, all discarded and polluting the world.’
‘I remember. You forget, I’m older than you. They removed the last bit of plastic from the ocean when I was in primary school… I made a diorama.’
‘You dork’ Arthur smiled, ‘but my point is that all of that rubbish was recycled and made into something new. And Abigail, scary as it is, is one of the first people to have this painful remnant of the past, recycled and reconstituted into something that is literally keeping her alive… it’s amazing.’ he breathed.
‘I know’ Liam said, ‘and I am so grateful for this all, I really am, I guess I just miss her heartbeat that’s all. And what if something goes wrong, what if her body rejects the heart, or it doest work properly, or…’
‘Everything is going to be fine,’ Arthur interrupted.
‘Just let me be scared’ Liam snapped, ‘other than you, she’s all I’ve got… I don’t want her to simply be an experiment, or or a testament to how far we’ve come, or the wonders of recycling, I just…’
‘You just want our daughter back’ Arthur finished. ‘and so did I. But there she is, two walls away our daughter is right this second pretending to be asleep.’ Arthur pulled Liam in closer, ‘she’s going to wake up tomorrow, tired with big bags under her eyes and complain that we don’t have any chocolate spread’
‘We don’t have any?!’ Liam exclaimed.
‘And then,’ Arthur continued, ignoring the protests of his husband, ‘after a whole day of putting up with her family doting over her, eating way too much welcome home cake from your god-awful Aunt, we’ll tuck her into bed, and she’ll pretend to be asleep once more. She’ll do all that, again and again, and much more, all with that whirring thing in her chest.’ he paused, ‘they recycled her a plastic heart, but it’s one that still loves you’
‘Everything will be fine,’ Liam said after a moment.
‘Everything will be fine.’