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August 15, 2022

Heart Line

By Pete Armetta

"I told you it was bad."

"Yeh, but it's okay. I don't mind being here, staying with you."

Laura picked up the pitcher of iced tea from the nightstand and freshened his glass. "I can get more ice and lemon wedges if you want, you need to stay hydrated, that's what the doctor said." She handed him the glass and walked over to the window, raising the blinds, allowing the sunshine to enter the room. "It's a pretty day today." She walked over to the bed and lifted and fluffed up his blankets.

He brightened and struggled to sit up. "No, Laura, you don't have to do that."

"I wanna do it," she smiled.

She sat on the edge of the bed next to him. "The doctor said it'll be a few weeks and you'll be good as new. You gave them quite a scare!" She smiled, but it was a question. She'd learned more about his past the last few days than she ever thought she could, meaning his "truth."

"It's happened before, I'll be okay."

"Well I didn't know."

"There's not much to know."

"I wish I knew."

"Listen -- we're all gonna die from something, right? We don't know how or when. I'm in a good place with it, that's what matters. I mean in my soul."

He took her hand and looked at her, searching her face. She hid from his eyes at first, then couldn't resist and looked back. They sat this way for a brief, drawn-out second.

Laura held his hand in hers and played with and traced the creases and lines on his palm. "This one's your heart line," she said. "It's a long one. That means you're lucky in love. Are you?"

He laughed out loud. "Well, I've done okay. I don't know, you tell me." They'd only known each other a few short months, and meeting her he could only call lucky. "You don't believe in all that hogwash do you? Palm reading? It's just hocus-pocus, isn't it?"

She smiled, bittersweet. "As much as anything else I guess. Who's to say what to believe?"

"Laura, don't worry. It'll be okay. Like I said, I'm right in my soul. Right with God."

"Well it's not God that's gonna get you better."

"It sounds like you don't believe in God, Laura."

"I believe in following doctors orders."

"Having faith is always what's kept me going. What keeps you going?"

"Well, not all that." She pushed the hair back from his brow and kissed his forehead. "I feel about all that like you do about the heart line."

"What do you mean "all that?" He turned grim. "Then how do you go on living?"

"What are you talking about? You're born, you live, you die. That's how I see it."

He lay back down in the bed. The doctor said he could only do a little bit each day and he was tuckered out already from just this little bit. Laura picked up the ice bucket and headed into the kitchen to replenish it. He gazed out the window thinking about how blessed he'd been, not only lucky in love as she mentioned, but in general. He'd made it this far, right?

Laura returned, bucket in tow, and placed it on its perch on the nightstand. She sat back down on the bed, while he continued his gaze out the window.

"What are you thinking?"

"Not much."

"Your expression, it's so thoughtful. You look miles away."

"Actually, Laura I'm thinking about what you said. You really believe that? There's nothing more to it? You're born, you live, you die?"

"Sure I believe it, what's not to believe?"

"But what about the implications of that?" Now it was her turn to look out the window, while he studied her face for a clue or a hint or for some greater insight. "If that's the real truth, then why live at all?"

"What do you mean, implications? What are you talking about?" She laughed, but it was nervous. "You're blowing this way out of proportion."

His expression had changed. It was now one of curiosity, as if he were seeing her for the first time. Mixed with the look, was it sympathy? Contempt? What in the world? She suddenly looked awkward and uncomfortable.

"I'm not blowing it out of proportion at all."

He reached for her hand and held it in his. He closed his eyes and spoke soberly, as if only to himself. "I was falling in love with you, Laura, but not after this. I couldn't live with the implications."

Article © Pete Armetta. All rights reserved.
Published on 2014-09-22
Image(s) are public domain.
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