Ellie watched the doctor exit the room, then slumped back onto her pillow and closed her eyes peacefully. A sigh escaped her lips, a sigh of relief and joy. This, she thought, must be the closest thing to perfect happiness she had ever felt. She was content. Mostly.
Only a month earlier, Something had gone seriously wrong with Ellie’s heart, and she had been rushed to the emergency room. After her heart was stabilized, and after a few tests, the doctors knew what had gone wrong. They hadn’t told her exactly what was wrong, but they had told Ellie and her parents that she would need a heart transplant. They had said the need for a heart transplant was very rare for children, but that Ellie would need one to live. Three days had gone by, and the doctors still hadn’t found a donor.
Then something amazing had happened.
A donor had come basically out of nowhere, and the surgery took place. It was successful, and the doctors had told Ellie that she would be able to go home in about a week. That week was almost over now..
Ellie opened her eyes and looked around the room. It was almost time to go to sleep, but Ellie wasn’t tired just yet. Reaching over to the small table next to her hospital bed, she pulled a book into her lap.
The book was brown, leather bound, and on the front cover, instead of a title, was a red symmetrical heart. Not a realistic one, of course, but a cartoon looking one, the kind you draw in first grade. The pages looked old, but weren’t rotting, and the book smelled better than anything she had ever tasted, sniffed, or smelled. The book was perfect. Almost.
It was— quite ironically— about hearts. Only in this story, most people had two hearts. One inside them, pumping blood, and another outside their body. The ones outside were crystals, about as big as a man’s fist and shaped like the kind of hearts children drew, not realistic in any way. In the story, the crystal hearts were a way see the state your emotional self was in. If the crystal one was broken, then so were your emotions. If it showed signs of wear, it meant that you were feeling beat-up. Most people had found their crystal hearts, but some were still searching for one that fit them.
Ellie had been reading about a man who had fallen in love with a beautiful woman. He had proposed, offering the girl he loved his crystal heart. In that moment he learned that the woman loved him too. They arranged to be married, and were as happy as any engaged couple could be.
Then family business had called the man’s fiance across the country, and there was no way he could go with her. They parted, promising to write to each other until either he could visit her, or she could come back to him.
The nice man had written letters faithfully, and his betrothed had too, but as the days turned to weeks, the man saw his heart change. One part cracked a little, and another hummed constantly. The glow faded and dimmed every so often and he didn’t know why. Strangely, in addition to this, he grew more and more detached from the letters his fiance send each week. He cared for them deeply, but something was different. It was almost as if he had stopped loving her.
In desperation, the man had gone to a professional. The doctor told him his heart was damaged, and that certain functions were out of order. He was told he would need help from the best of the best to repair it.
Then, as the man had set off, heart in hand, to find a heartsmith, Ellie had been interrupted for dinner. She hadn’t been able to read until now, and the suspense was the only thing out of place in her blissful, relieved head.
Ellie was slightly frustrated at the story. Everything seemed to be going wrong for the couple, and on top of that, the man didn’t have a name. The story always spoke of him as “he,” or, “the man.” It was strange, Ellie thought, that two people who were engaged to be married could speak so much without saying each other’s names.
Ellie opened it to where she had put the bookmark earlier— Just past chapter three, and resumed reading.
He walked down the crowded street slowly. Several people had told him that a good heartsmith worked somewhere along this particular street, but the man hadn’t been able to find the place yet. The street was bustling with energy, full of people going about their happy business. Buying, selling, smiling and laughing. He looked at signs as I passed the differend shops, but none of them were heart-related in any way. Then a young girl caught his eye.
She was dressed vibrantly, in a bright red knee-length dress with a heart-shaped apron hanging around her neck. A big white bow hung from the collar of her dress, the sides reaching all the way past her shoulders. Her hair— bright red— was braided into two strands, both ending in small heart shapes. In her hand was a brown woven basket full of crystalline hearts. They glowed with life. They were real. The girl’s eyes sparkled cheerfully as she cried her business out to the crowd.
“Buy a heart here, good gentleman,” She would say to someone, then to another, “Would you like to buy a heart?” No one was stopping to buy, but she didn’t seem discouraged. She just went on advertising her wares. The young man gently pushed his way through the crowd toward her and stepped up to introduce himself. Before he could speak, the young Heartseller did.
“Sir,” she cried, “Would you like to buy a heart, sir?” She didn’t wait for an answer, “I might have one that fits you. . . Let me see. . .” She rummaged away in her basket, brow furrowed in concentration.
He quickly raised a finger to stop her and replied softly.
“No, I’m not here to buy a heart, I already have one. But do you, by chance, repair hearts?”
She looked at him confusedly for a second before replying, then smiled and shook her head.
“Oh, no, sir, I only sell them. But,” She pointed down the street a ways. “If you walk that way you should be able to find the Heartsmith.”
The girl nodded, her braids bobbing up and down. The melancholy man looked at her and smiled.
“Thank you, young lady.”
“You’re welcome!” She said happily.
She smiled brightly before bidding him farewell.
The man walked in the direction she had pointed me until he found the shop. It was expensive-looking. Glass windows and intricate carvings decorated the small, fancy building. Above the door was a bronze sign showing the word “Heartsmith.”
The man felt excitement bubble deep in his chest, then winced as a pain shot through his side. Something was wrong with his heart, but he had finally found the Heartsmith. Everything would be fixed soon. Then he would be able to go home and write another letter. Breathing in deeply, the hopeful man entered the Heartsmith’s workshop.
A bell tinkled cheerfully as he opened the door, and he stepped inside hopeful of a quick and easy repair. As he entered, he saw a young man sitting at a table in the center of the room. The Heartsmith was bent over a table covered in tools. Intricate knives, sandpapers, pencils and wrenches. Three trays of red dust sat in the center of the table, along with some vials of water. The item he was working on was a bright red glowing heart. It sat in a small metal stand, raising it up a few inches and holding it upright. The young man looked up and took off his red-tinted goggles.
He was tall, and dark haired. His face was diamond shaped, accenting his cheekbones. He was dressed in a plain white shirt, loose fitting and slightly oversized, with brown trousers. A vest in a matching brown hung loosely around his chest. An apron was tied around his waist, and had some red stains, probably from the dust in the trays. He smiled and stood to greet me.
“Welcome, sir,” He said with gusto, “What can I do for you?”
“Well,” I said, “A girl told me you repair hearts?”
“Ah, yes. What seems to be the problem?”
The betrothed man showed him his heart. It was a pitiful sight, cracks laced the surface and chips had been broken off some of the edges. One massive split down the middle threatened to break the crystal heart in two. The glow that should have been so bright was so faded, it hardly seemed to shine at all. The light haired man looked up at the Heartsmith expectantly, waiting as he examined his cracked heart. The Heartsmith was leaning down as he looked at it, his brow creased with worry.
“Ooh. . .” the Heartsmith said worriedly, “This one looks pretty damaged.”
I felt my hope whither. “So you can’t fix it?”
He looked up at me desperately, raising his hands defensively.
“I didn’t say that! It might just take a while.”
I looked at him.
“That. . . Might be a problem.”
He nudged me with one shoulder and spoke with a teasing tone.
“Are you planning on getting married?”
I felt myself blush slightly. Was it that obvious? “Yes, actually.”
The Heartsmith looked surprised. He had been joking. He rubbed his hair with one gloved hand.
“Oh.” He said awkwardly, “Congrats!”
The light haired man looked back at the Heart in his hands. It looked like it was dying, and he felt worry cloud his thoughts. The man poured his problem out to the Heartsmith, explaining what he thought was wrong.
“I feel every day less capable of loving. My heart is broken. The letters I read from my fiance aren’t as important to me as they should be, and I know it has everything to do with this heart.”
He nodded slowly. He looked kind of puzzled. “I can see how that could be a problem.” After a second he continued. “I’d suggest that you leave it here for a while. I can’t make any promises, but I’ll do my best to fix it.”
The man must have visibly relaxed, because he smiled at the man’s reaction.
“Thank you,” the relieved man said gratefully, “Take good care of it, Heartsmith.”
“Of course!” the Heartsmith exclaimed, then waved goodbye as he went into the second room.
The man left the shop quietly, hoping and praying that his heart was in good hands.
On his way down the street, he passed by the girl again. She beamed at him and waved. He smiled and waved back.
The next day the heartsmith heard his bell ring again as the door opened and shut. Looking up, he saw the man with the broken heart. In his hand he held a box.
The man spoke timidly. “I’m sorry for bothering you again so soon.”
“Oh, I don’t mind. Come in.”
He stepped over to a chair and sat. “I brought you some treats.”
The heartsmith looked up from his project. He looked curious but pleased as the man handed him a pastry. Taking a bite out or the side, he felt his mouth explode with flavor.
“You are kind. Thank you.”
“Oh, no,” said the light-haired man with a shake of his head, “You are kind. It is I who should thank you. Without your help. . . .” He trailed off.
The heartsmith nodded understandingly. “Although. . .”
“Is there a problem?”
The Heartsmith folded his arms and grimaced. “Some vital parts are missing. Especially parts of the ‘love’ function.”
The light-haired man felt his hopes begin to deflate. “I see. So I will never be able to love my fiance?”
He paused, and a silence stretched for several moments.
The man scoffed at himself. “She deserves better.”
The Heartsmith looked up suddenly, a slightly guilty look on his face. Suddenly words burst out of his mouth, almost involuntary.
“I will fix it for you!” His voice quieted. “There’s still something I can do.”
Hope filled the customer’s eyes. His heart would be fixed! In a rush of gratitude, he reached forward and enthusiastically shook the Heartsmith’s hand.
“Thank you, Heathsmith!”
The Heartsmith waved a hand, feigning a relaxed manner. “Don’t think about it. I love to help kind people like you.”
Once again thanking his benefactor, the man left, turning back to say that he would visit again in the morning. The Heartsmith said goodbye, and tha man left.
Standing in the doorway, the Heartsmith felt his own heart. The thought echoing in his mind was all he could contemplate.
Will it be enough?
In the morning the Heartsmith held out a glowing, red, crystalline heart. It was fixed. Not a blemish remained, each crack was gone, every chip in its surface masterfully repaired.
The man’s gratitude could not be contained as he saw his heart in the Heartsmith’s hands. In a voice of awe, he spoke.
“You did it, Heartsmith.”
Heartsmith puffed out his chest and smiled over confidently. “Or course I did. I said I would.”
“It’s amazing. I can feel my heart brimming with love. I’m sure my fiance will be happy.”
For a moment, a look of wishful regret passed over the Heartsmith’s face. “I’m sure she will.”
“I’ll see you at my wedding?”
Beaming, the man departed once again.
The Heartsmith instantly slumped down onto a crate at the side of his shop. Only barely holding back a groan, he put a hand to his heart.
The bell at the door tinkled and footsteps approached him.
He looked up at his visitor. It was the heart-selling girl. She was looking down at him with a hurt expression. With a shock, she saw that his eyes were red with crying, and tears glistened in his black eyes.
“Why do you always share pieces of your own heart with others?” a gentle reprimand.
He looked up defiantly and smiled through the tears. “Look who’s talking! How come you sell hearts even though you don’t have one of your own?”
She put on a pout, glaring at her friend. “It’s because none of these hearts fit me.”
He looked to the side. “I see. . . . Then maybe. . .” He reached a gloved hand up to wipe the tears off his cheek. Then reaching to the side, he held up his own gem-like heart. “Would what’s left of this heart fit you?”
Her eyes widened with joy and surprise, and tears of her own appeared.
“You’re giving me your heart?” She brushed a strand of her red hair behind her ear as she asked him.
“Yes,” he answered, voice full of emotion, “If this one is alright with you?”
She hurled herself into his arms, hugging him with tears of joy in her eyes. Yet another time that day, he was thanked by someone he had helped.
“Thank you, Heartsmith!”
Ellie shut the book. Looking up, she realized that it was now dark outside. She had read for about half an hour.
Her red hair fell forward into her face for the thousandth time that day. She brushed it back. Her soft hospital gown reflected the moonlight that was coming through the window and lighting the room.
A nurse came quietly into the room, and let out a small laugh when she saw Ellie awake.
“How are you doing, Ellie?”
She laughed again. “I’m good. Tuesday was a big day. You were so lucky to find a donor so soon.”
Ellie nodded her head in an example of childhood confidence.
“Yes. The Heartsmith is very kind.”
The nurse leaned forward. “Who?”
“It’s OK, people don’t remember him. Even those he helped forget him sometimes.”
Ellie lifted the leather-bound book up to her chin, her smile radiating happiness. In the moonlight the heart in the center of the cover seemed to glow.
“But I will never forget him.”
Author Notes: I based this off a comic I saw. I don't know who wrote/drew the comic, so I can't give direct credit to them, but this story is mostly not an original work of mine.