The Heart is For/Giving

The heart is for giving, but rarely forgiving. Especially when betrayed. But the thought of being deceived in love was the furthest thing from Turner’s mind as he made a reservation for two at Bleeding Heart, a romantic French restaurant near the Museum of London that he chose deliberately based on the name, and the fact that he wanted to take his wife, Sharon, to the Crime Museum exhibit there. He thought it would be the sort of “quirky” thing she might like. She wasn’t your usual woman, after all. Turner knew that from the moment they met at Secret Solstice 2015 that she was going to be his. She danced like a hippie as Miss Kittin sang “Frank Sinatra” and wore Prada with the carelessness of someone wearing Esprit. Her aloofness was intoxicating to Turner, a self-made millionaire after inventing a new component for a conveyor belt to make it go faster. Every woman in London seemed to know his net worth whenever he walked into a pub. It was nauseating, and often prompted him to stay at home instead.

But Sharon. Sharon didn’t care. She had more money than he did. And it was only further accruing every time her mother’s song from the 80s, “Shoulder Pad Sophisticate,” played in a commercial or movie. And with more movies being set in the 80s, you could guarantee the song always got featured. Lately, even more than New Order’s “Blue Monday.” Though her mother’s stage name was simply Laurie, her full moniker was Laura Hendel, and she died in 1995 from a drug overdose when Sharon was six years old. She inherited everything on the spot as her father was merely a, for all intents and purposes, sperm donor. He met Laurie while bartending at the Whisky a Go Go. She was in the prime of her fame and coked up enough to find someone in the service industry worth taking back to her house in Santa Monica. Sharon hated that house, and sold it as soon as she turned eighteen and her grandmother could no longer legally control her. From there, she bypassed the cliche move to New York and went straight for the U.K. to study at University College London based solely on the fact that Justine Frischmann had attended. She never settled on a major, but dabbled in everything from anthropology to urban planning. Nothing sustained her interest, however, until she moved to Camden Town in 2009, where the Amy Winehouse era was still driving the wide availability of drugs. She tried them all casually, but eventually grew bored. It was then that she decided to start her own clothing company, as is the wont of most rich girls. After trademarking the brand Kate Moss: Coke Fiend, Moss sued Sharon in a highly publicized legal battle that Sharon miraculously won after conceding to make the slight alteration from Kate Moss: Coke Fiend to KM: Coke Fiend. The clothing line is now, in a cruel twist of irony against Moss’ former partnership, being sold exclusively at Top Shop.

In between the years from ’09 to ’14, Sharon had her fair share of men and, of course, women. But at age twenty-six, she found herself yearning for stability. A craving that was contradicted by her desire to go to Secret Solstice and drop acid. But, in retrospect (and with the guidance of her astrologer), she realized this was intended to be her last youthful folly, as it was where she met Turner. He was eight years older, and looked incongruously old among all the other revelers. She fell in love with his anachronistic aura almost immediately, which is why she ignored him when he pursued her. That is, until Sunday night, when it was all coming to an end and she invited him back to her heated, amenity-rich tent (she didn’t want to be a total socialite by staying in a hotel). It was there that he proved his sexual worth to her. They were married one week later in Portugal, on the hilltop of Castelo de San Jorge. No one attended the wedding and those first few months were characterized by respective obsession that left them no room for anything else other than each other.

However, the flame was diminishing as Valentine’s Day rolled around. This was why Turner was so determined to rekindle the fire, even though he knew Sharon despised the triteness of manufactured holidays such as this. But it was a matter of perfect timing, and he had to use it to his advantage. Of late, she had been spending more time at her studio, working on new designs for KM: Coke Fiend. When he asked to see her work, she balked, insisting that his opinion would serve her no value. Turner couldn’t help but feel the singe of such a comment, particularly since his own work life was suffering from total atrophy. He felt no inspiration to invent anything new, which meant he had to find a different life passion if he was going to be consumed by something besides Sharon.

As the 14th approached, Sharon grew increasingly distant. Still, she seemed enthusiastic enough when Turner told her of his plans for the night. But, in truth, she was dreading it. The man she really wanted to spend the day with was one of the investors in her company, Brandon Fiore, a 33-year-old with thick chestnut hair, a medium build and the tanness of someone with Italian descent. She had casually let him eat her out a few times after various business meetings, but hadn’t dared to go to the next level for fear of developing a conscience over hurting Turner.

And yet, the more she denied her desires, the stronger they became. Maybe that’s what led her to drink so heavily at the Punch Bowl in Mayfair that afternoon. She started around one o’ clock and, by three, she was calling Brandon. He met her without delay and the two got a hotel room at Claridge’s, which they took a minicab to in spite of its walkability. But perhaps Sharon was too drunk and ashamed to take that walk with Brandon at her side. When it was over, she felt worse than she thought. Adultery. What a fucking banality. She never thought she could be so prosaic.

Brandon added to her anxiety by attempting to be affectionate with her as she fiendishly smoked a Gauloise from her cigarette case. She batted his hand away and began to put on her silk red dress, which she had designed for herself expressly for this day. The weather still cruelly freezing, she paired it with a black knee-length fur coat from Hermès and leather Alexander McQueen boots. She wished she could be has happily infidelitous with her men as she could be with her labels.

Without saying goodbye to Brandon, she flounced out of the room to get to her next engagement: dinner with Turner. She had several missed calls from him, and was truly dreading having to look him in the eye. Because the second she did, she would have to decide if she could go on living with a lie or if his gaze would beat the truth out of her. Rather than calling him back, she decided simply to show up. When she saw a concerned Turner waiting outside of the restaurant, she ran toward him and practically screamed, “Sorry I’m late.”

Turner was taken aback by her manner. It wasn’t like her to be expressive or admit fault in any way. This change in her demeanor alarmed him, but he pushed it aside to take her by the hand and say, “You’re right on time. Well, except that we missed the chance to see the crime exhibit.”

They entered the dimly lit restaurant and were escorted to a corner table. As the maitre d’ took Sharon’s coat, Turner noticed a spot of blood on her chest. “Sharon. You’re bleeding.”

The maitre d’, as though waiting his whole life to say it, pounced on the visual by noting, “There’s bound to be a few bleeding hearts here at the Bleeding Heart!”

Turner glared at him and grabbed a napkin to wipe her chest. She backed away from him and insisted, “I should go to the bathroom.” She bolted for the “water closet,” covering her chest with both arms as she did so.

When she got to the mirror, it was a startling sight to see. Not only was blood on her chest, but it seemed to be coming from a steadily developing hole near her heart. The only other woman in the bathroom, a stodgy old lady with vision too impaired to really notice the gravity of the situation, left as Sharon tried to stop up the aperture with a wad of paper towels. Her frantic state dwindled as she took pause to look at herself in the mirror and say, “You deserve this.” And she did. She had been a careless little whore her entire life, and the one time someone decent wanted to give himself fully to her, she threw it away on a whim. It was then that she stuck her hand into her chest and pulled out her heart. Calmly, she held it in her palm and ambled back to the table where Turner was anxiously awaiting.

When he saw that the red from her dress was no longer distinguishable from the red on her body, he gasped in horror. She plunked her heart down on his bread plate the way one might a hand of cards on a blackjack table. “This is my Valentine’s Day gift to you. You’ve always wanted it. And now you have it.” With that, she collapsed to her demise, gracelessly leaving this world as quickly as she had entered it. Turner eventually found out through a series of private investigations why she had done something so dramatic, so out of character. And, in a way, it made him forgive her. What she did to exhibit her contrition far outweighed the act itself. And so, ultimately, it was a very happy Valentine’s Day indeed for Turner, who subsequently kept Sharon’s heart in a glass encasement on his bedside table. He now fully possessed it just as he had always wanted to.

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