Warnings: a line that could be taken as past dub con
Elise allowed herself one break down a year. It’s been that way ever since she could remember. Her mother said it was because she allowed herself to fall in love so easily, but Elise couldn’t help it.
Every time it was over she would pick herself up, put the pieces back together and move on, but there was always collateral damage. Something would always roll under the closet or behind the couch, never to be seen again.
She made the mistake of letting this happen in front of her now ex-boyfriend and he took a piece before she could collect them all. She’d walked away before she realised it was a piece of her heart and now it was too late.
He’d buried the piece deep inside his heart, irretrievable. Sometimes he’d poke at it and she could feel the ache, but she was never going back.
She was twenty nine now, and had lost more pieces than she could count. There was a crumbling hole in her side from the time she went shopping and nothing looked good. There was a small hole just above her left ear from the time she fell apart at university, and a hole the size of a quarter in her shoulder blade when her first boyfriend had pushed her past the point she was comfortable. And there was that piece of her heart.
Her heart, which had been shattered and put back together so many times it didn’t even look like a heart anymore. Sometimes she wondered how anyone would want something so ugly and misshapen.
“I’m not whole,” she told Jake when he first asked her out.
He smiled. “I don’t mind, neither am I.”
She looked closer and saw how the outside of his right hand was gone, how there was a chunk of his knee missing.
“Someone else stole a piece of my heart,” she tried.
“I don’t want him to have it, but I can’t get it back anymore, it’s only a small piece anyway.”
“Okay,” Jake said, “how about I give you a piece of mine instead?”
“Oh, I’ve never had a piece of anyone’s heart before.”
“I know you’ll keep it safe.”
She knew it was reckless of him to do it; she couldn’t even keep her own heart whole, how can she be trusted with someone else’s?
Then he took out his heart and she saw it was just like hers, broken apart and put back together so many times. He had even more pieces missing than she did.
“I dropped it a few times,” he admitted, “and I tried to fill the gaps with things, but that only made it worse.”
“It’s beautiful,” she said, “I can’t take a piece of it.”
“But-“ he started, “what do we do? We have two incomplete hearts between us.”
“We keep our hearts,” she said, “and we go out for dinner.”
It wasn’t until another year that the idea came to her. The hole in her side was slowly filling in again, and Jake’s hand was slowly getting stronger to compensate for the missing piece.
“What if we combine our hearts,” she said, “to make one whole.”
He looked up at her, his eyes hazy from sleep. “How?”
“Some of mine, and some of yours,” she said, “we can share it.”
“There’d be no going back,” he said.
“I know,” she replied, and felt her heart stutter, a moment of doubt.
“Okay,” he said, “let’s do it.”
She felt her heart settle. Nothing has ever felt more right.