To Pull Apart a Perforated Heart

There wasn’t a pattern. So Momma sketched and schemed, doing the best she could with what she had, wasting nothing.

Measure twice, cut once.

For my insides, she used a hodgepodge of recyclables. Twist-tie joints, pink rubber band tendons, and PVC pipe bones.

Be economical.

When Momma made my skin, she used sturdy broadcloth. Not with flowers or stripes, but plain cream to better stain with time. The seams, backstitched beneath armpits, held firm. The planes of me (stomach, back, thighs), pilled under friction.

Avoid close contact.

Wanting to save me from her mistakes (loving too freely, too fiercely) Momma spent the most time on my heart, fashioning it from velvet crisscrossed with perforations.

Pull apart as needed.

I grew, dismantling the vermilion heart. First, I removed a slice rotted with cruel words, and then a flap wilted by disappointment. One tug of thread unraveled the aorta, and I purged my love for an arrogant man. It took less to peel away Momma, the superior vena cava discarded like dead skin from sunburn.

Soon only a swatch of ventricle remained.

Lonely and longing to recreate love, I salvaged scraps of corduroy, elastic ribbons, and button covers. I didn’t have Momma’s clever fingers, her way with needling. Clumsy, I soaked the bits in Liquid Stitch and reformed the four chambers. One storm was all it took to undo my rag-rug organ, leaving behind only a frayed morsel.

Now, I hold tight to the last tatter of heart.

L.L. Madrid lives in Tucson, Arizona. She has an affinity for desert creatures and other feral things. L.L. is the 2017 recipient of the Luminaire Award for best prose. In her spare time, she edits a peculiar micro-journal called Speculative 66. llmadrid.weebly.com