Cupid’s Arrow: Love Your Heart Month
“February is American Heart Month,” an exsanguinating man tells me
while we’re standing on line in the ER. “You’ve got to respect your
Two arrows stick out of his chest with a gurgling sound when he
breaths. He soaks up the blood in a towel underneath.
“Are you okay?” I ask.
“There’s a hole in my heart,” he says. “Once my heart was full
I was swollen with the illusion, that this fluid, this froth, this shortness of
breath was what I mistook for love, not her ignoring me. While my
fingers and toes clamped down with envy, my legs swollen with pride,
my liver swollen with visceral yearning, the feelings for here were
crowding every organ inside me.”
“Are you a poet or something?”
“No, just a dying man who loves his wife. I also repair elevators.”
He’s quite pale. He refolds his soaked towel to sop up some more
“Why isn’t your shirt red?” he asks.
“I’m not the one bleeding.”
He explains how she shot the arrow right into his heart.
“I told her I loved her, that she was my Penelope, and I her Odysseus. I
told her I’d kill her if she ever left me.”
“And then she shot both arrows through your heart?”
“Not exactly. She decided to leave me, so I shot her first. Then, I shot
“And then before she died, she shot you back?”
“That’s right.” He smiles a weak smile with tears welling in his eyes.
“She put a second arrow into my heart. ‘Because you told me you
loved me,’ she said. ‘And, that you’d kill me if I ever left you and even
as I turn cold, even as your damage extinguishes my breath and my
own fluids obliterate those life-sustaining waves as well as the thoughts
and everything I once knew about us–even as the wind dies still,
somehow, I’ll manage to sail from one phase to the next, to let you
know how much I’ll always love you.’”
Now I’m choking up. “She said all that before she died? That’s quite
Before he can respond, it’s my turn on line. I get my tetanus shot and
when I look behind they’re helping the man lie down while the police
handcuff him to a stretcher and he’s surrounded by the media.
“Let all Americans know,” he says, “this is American Heart Month, and
you all need to take care of your health, to live longer healthier lives.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, taking
over 17 million lives a year!”
He talks for a long time, until the hospital mascot, some guy dressed
naked in a diaper and a wig, pretending to be Cupid, tiptoes over and
rips the arrows out of his chest.
© Richie Smith
© Richie Smith