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The Heart

The heart was small and made of paper. I found it on the floor of my apartment,
struck by the similarity: It matched in shape and color the heart that she’d discovered
stitched to the sleeve of her robe. We’d brought our cat to the vet the week before
and were handed back a box of ashes. We were looking for signs.

The city at that time was emerging from winter. We left the vet. I walked her home
through the cold streets. We stood beneath a church’s eaves, listening to the singing.
We crawled together across the floor of her apartment, rolling the rug
our cat had slept on. I hadn’t been that close to her in months.

In the weeks after, small things happened. A moth she’d thought was dead
rose from the floor and landed on her shoulder. The green tree outside my window
grew white overnight, heavy with blossoms. The sky darkened. Stars came out.
Late one evening, she called me just to talk.

When we’d separated, the cat had remained with her. People asked me if I lived
alone, and I told them yes, though it is also true that making breakfast
or returning home, I’d sometimes speak out loud to the absent cat, telling it about my day,

as I sometimes also, late in the warm evenings, would find myself
in the study, where I’d lift the ring from where I’d buried it, deep in the desk’s
bottom drawer, and examine the diamond in my palm like a living thing.

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