I really do have a stone heart from a beach. However, that is the only connection between my life and this. In fact, the entire idea was largely inspired by another heart-shaped stone (though this one was more Valentinian) and the memory of that one myth where the guy turns to stone from unfeeling. I hope you enjoy this story!
It was about a year ago last summer that I first discovered it. I was walking along the beach, as I often do during cool summer mornings, picking up rocks and skipping them over the water. As I went, I happened upon a rather strange specimen: a rock in the shape of a heart. Not a cupid heart, mind you, that girls put over their “I”s and on St. Valentine cards. No, this was shaped like a real human heart, and it seemed as though it were ready to start beating at any moment.
It was a good red color, too. If you’ve never seen a real heart, it’s rather ugly, like most of our insides, but this rock was red. I supposed it was due to all the iron in its composition. Anyway, it was a beautiful color, complimenting the strange shape very well. So I decided to pick it up and bring it home to put on my shelf.
Now, my home is really a private bar on the lake shore. I live in the apartment above. My shelf is really a series of display cases on a wood plank screwed to the wall so that people can admire the things on the beaches. I’ve got all sorts of things there: seagull feathers, clam shells, mussels, and other interesting rocks. One is in the shape of Harrison Ford’s face.
I really doubt that managing a bar is any boy’s dream as he grows up (it certainly wasn’t mine), but I grew into it. This was largely due to an appreciation for life, and there is sure a lot of life at a bar. Everyone has a story to tell, if someone will just lend an ear, and sometimes even if they won’t. Sure, I have to deal with the occasional drunk who calls anyone anything he feels like, but that’s why I have a bouncer. Though they are giving me business, I don’t encourage them to return.
I’ve had some plenty strange customers in my day, but the strangest of all certainly has to be this one fellow. He came in not too long ago, all gloomy and the like. Now, this wasn’t particularly odd – I’ve seen all sorts of men in this mood coming in and going out. Knowing that the best thing for men in that situation to do is for them to talk about their problems, I asked him what the matter was as I took his order.
“It’s nothing,” he replied. That’s the answer I usually get.
“Well now, I know that’s a lie,” I said. “What happen to you? Lose your job? Friend die? Girlfriend break up with you?”
“I broke up with her.”
“You feeling guilty then? Think you might have hurt her?”
“I think she hurt me more than I hurt her, but I definitely deserved it.”
“What did you do?”
It’s a general rule of thumb that everyone wants to share their story, especially when it weighs heavy on their hearts. All most need is an excuse to tell it, and I had just given this fellow that excuse.
“Well, you see,” he began. “I used to be a very different person than I am today. I thought I knew everything, I was king of the world. I could get away with just about anything. No one would dare challenge me in anything, even my girlfriend.
“You see, while I was with my girlfriend, I was having a relationship with another woman. I thought I was so clever at hiding it from my girlfriend, and that the only time she found out was when I decided to finally break up with her. Needless to say, she was not happy.
“I didn’t realize for the longest time that anything was wrong with her. I was young and dumb, and I thought she could get over it. She did, after a fashion. Instead of loving me, she hated me with a passion.
“After about a month, she confronted me on the whole thing. We were on the beach, bordering this very sea. I was feeling rather bad at this point, since my new girlfriend had just broken up with me for some other guy. I had planned to ask my ex out again, but she had different intentions.
“’Do you ever care for anyone but yourself?’ she asked me.
“’I care about you,’ I told her, though I’m certain I was lying.
“’If you did, you wouldn’t have cheated on me. You have a stone heart, Connor, a stone heart!’
“At these words, I could hear a tightening in my chest. It seemed as though my heart was turning to stone, because I felt my pulse drop to nothing. Then my ex walked up to me and shoved her hand into my chest. Like in Temple of Doom. Only, instead of a beating heart, she was actually holding a heart-shaped stone. But it was black and disgusting.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “So your ex ripped your heart out of your chest? That’s not possible. How did you survive?”
“I don’t know,” Connor replied. He peeled back his jacket, and then his shirt, revealing a large hole in his chest, the dark cavity showing a lung and ribs, but no beating heart. It really was gone.
“Anyway,” he continued. “I was so shocked, that I didn’t try to stop her as she threw the stone as far into the sea as she could. And I never saw her again after that.
“At first, I thought I could manage without a heart. But then I realized that I couldn’t feel anything. Nothing stirred my emotions, except for the sadness of this revelation. It’s hard to feel excited when you don’t have a heart to beat any faster, or to pump adrenaline in you.
“So eventually I knew I had to find my heart. I searched all over the sea, and all the beaches, but I’ve never been successful. And now I despair of ever finding it.”
I listened with pity. This man could certainly use some help. And I thought that I had just the right thing. I went over to the shelf, taking out the red heart stone. Back at the counter, I presented it to the man.
“Is this what you’ve been searching for?”
“I don’t know. It was black when I lost it – but this is the right size and shape.”
“Try it. See if it fits.”
He took the stone and put it in the cavity. Almost immediately, after I blinked my eyes, the stone was gone, replaced by a real heart! I smiled, and so did he.
“Thank you!” he said. “Oh, thank you!”
“Don’t worry,” I replied. “I’m always ready to help a friend in need.”
Now, I don’t know what became of this man when he left, although that heart was beating quite fast as he left. But wherever he is, I’m sure he’s happy. God bless him.