Stolen

There’s sleet hitting my window. It’s 6:38 in the morning. The alarm is set for 6:45, but I guess I’ll get up and make tea.

The first step of the day is the hardest. When I was twenty, I did the Appalachian Trail in a summer. Ultra light, I ran much of it. Now my knees threaten to give out on the way down the hall to the bathroom. It takes all morning to untie the knot in my back, which could snap with a cough or a sneeze. My shoulders are painful connections. It hurts when I lift my arms to wash my face. I have Plantar’s Fasciitis in my left foot. But my heart is well, and free.

I pull my robe tight across my chest with one hand and light the stove with the other. As the water warms towards boiling, I go to check the mail, which I didn’t check yesterday.

Once a year, for the past twenty-five years, I have received a postcard from a different part of the world. The first was from Burlington, Vermont, another was from Gibraltar, still another from Auckland, with others from points in between. This one is from India.

The early sun is fighting its way through the clouds and sleet. I sink into the chair near my front window. Some of the outside air is sneaking in. I’m grateful for my robe.

On the front is a picture of my heart (they all have pictures of my heart, how she makes these postcards, I don’t know) in front of the Taj Mahal. She is not always in the picture, but in this I see her red hair is now gray. She looks twenty pounds leaner than she was the day she left, with muscles I don’t remember, but which must have been there all along, underneath everything. She is in the foreground, the Taj Mahal in the distance, and a reflecting pool is in between. The perspective is such that it looks like she is taller than the building. She is holding my heart in the air, above the dome, and, in two dimensions, it looks as if it, my heart, could either balance, if she chose to let it go, or get pierced on the tip of the spire. The look on her face hints that she is contemplating the possibilities. But they’re just thoughts, she won’t let it go, she will pack my heart away and carry it to the next place.

I hear a whistle. The water must be ready.