She comes into my room and starts drawing a heart, supposedly mine. We talk about her day as she stands there, making lines with blue marker on my newly-cleaned whiteboard. She erases and re-proportions, altering the size and shape so that it meets her requirements.
He told me he’s leaving. I expected it, knew it would come. But that day was always far away, a hazy reality that I only occasionally acknowledged. Now it’s a solid, firm wall that has no doorways or weak points, an impossible blockade that we’ll reach all too soon.
She begins sectioning off her artwork, labeling each space and assigning it a percent. Ten percent of my heart belongs to books, fifteen to boys, so she says. Friends and family receive a whopping forty-seven percent. She makes sure to give herself a generous portion of my affections. She is the one making the diagram, after all.
I think it’s the date that does it. Something so specific and unchanging about a month, day, and year. Maybe it’s because I’d allowed myself to imagine that it wouldn’t happen; that mysterious day in the future would just be pushed further and further back until maybe it would be time for me to be doing the leaving instead of him.
She insists on making her numbers equal 130 percent. It’s too hard to divide otherwise, she says, I can’t give enough to your family and friends if it’s only 100. You deserve 130 percent, that’s the kind of person you are.
I cried after he told me. I hate that I cried.
She laughs shamefully because she didn’t leave a place for God. She struggles for a minute, then settles on making him surround my heart rather than occupy a space within. God should take up your whole heart, really, but then I wouldn’t have room for anything else, she says.
I’m sure I’ll be fine and life will go on. It always does. But I wish my heart were more like the one so neatly diagrammed for me. Life would be much simpler if love were simply a matter of assigning boundaries and percents. Maybe I could handle losing friends if I had more than 100 percent of myself to give away. Perhaps change wouldn’t be so frightening if all it meant was erasing and adjusting numbers.
She gazes at the finished drawing, chest puffed up with pride. Take a picture of your heart, she says, or don’t erase it.
Keep it forever, never changing, always the same.