Plastic Heart

This is my story that was first published by Firewords Quarterly. It’s a print magazine so they owned the rights to it for three months but that time has elapsed and I decided to put it on my blog. I hope you enjoy my tale, Plastic Heart. They edited my story before publishing it so this is the unedited, less polished version.

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The soft-spoken man in the bow tie at the factory had told us that we were destined for a coddled life. We would be cherished and worshipped by whomever chose us. Others would be envious of the attention that was placed upon us, as our kind always outshone the less desirable ones. We were headed for a privileged life of comfort and aristocracy, I remember him saying. I thought about that man in the red bow tie as my desperate fingers gripped the edge of the stainless steel pot.

I can recall the day my owner chose me. I stood regally in my eye-catching box on the middle shelf, others of my kind surrounding me, all of us ready to start our own journey. The cellophane kept me from leaping into the arms of any wholesome child that sauntered by, my plastic smile yearned for a home. Eventually, I spotted my future owner, the ponytailed girl in the yellow dress, staring at me with ardor in her young eyes. She pointed at me with a mischievous smile and a pink-tipped finger as her mother gently pulled me from my resting spot. She caressed the box as we drove to my new home, me and my owner were to be tethered together for eternity.

Those first few months together were all I had hoped for. She brushed my blonde hair with a microbrush, always delicately. She spoke to me in soft tones as if we were best friends, my manufactured flesh never an obstacle. I can fondly remember my owner putting various elegant gowns on me and a bejeweled tiara. At night, we would curl up together under the warm blankets and she would kiss me on the cheek and regale me with the tales of a child. I would listen to her until she drifted off to sleep and dreamt of mysterious things. There was a brief time when I had hope that our life together would always be like a fairy tale, that we would share the spoils of an enchanting journey as one being, chained by a mutual affection. If only my owner would’ve stayed young and innocent forever, remained pristine. But as the years peeled away her moods turned dark and her anger intensified. She stopped brushing my hair.

If a boy at school dismissed her or a teacher admonished her for something trivial, she reached for me to exercise her rage. If mommy or daddy grounded her for a week because she didn’t clean her room, those seven days became an unrelenting display of merciless and senseless violence, She never reached for her teddy bear or any other plush toy to mete out her condemnation for authority. My owner seemed to focus solely on breaking my plastic heart, severing my will. She developed a taste for sadism, a hunger she never fully quenched.

There were many nights when I tried to camouflage myself in the cream-colored shag carpet, her tossed aside lime-green flip-flops helping to obscure me. My escape was always a futile endeavor, she could root me out in a manner of seconds, like a bloodhound, when torture was heavy on her mind.

Once, she twisted my head off and then glued it on backwards, possibly sending me a message, a silent warning to watch my back. She would plunge thumbtacks into my eyes and a put a lighter to my hair. She would let her dog, Bartholomew, chew on my legs, her canine accomplice in savagery. My body slammed against the violet-colored walls on a daily basis. She would fling me with an aggressive flick of her thin wrist and I would pray for a soft landing, mid-flight, to no avail. She would use the handle of her brush to pound away at my abdomen and my resolve. I wished she could tell me why she enjoyed inflicting pain on me. What happened to the cute girl in the yellow dress from years ago? I miss that version of my owner.

She glared at me with emotionless eyes as I clung to the steel pot. All those years of abuse had reached the end game. A pan of famished canola oil was to be her final barbaric act.

My feet had already melted away and my hips were beginning to dissolve. She had placed a misshapen tiara on my head before placing me in this steel death chamber. She said I was a Barbie after all, a princess.

My plastic fingers were weakening as I glanced at my owner with my backwards head. She stood there quietly, her arms crossed in front of her, she appeared bored. Indifferent. My mind drifted to my other factory friends and sisters. I hoped they had found a loving home and a kind owner. I thought of the bow-tied man and how wrong he was about the life I would have, he never mentioned that humans could inflict such an abundance of misery and torment upon anything within their reach. They seemed to revel in others misfortune, it consumed them.

My owner smiled. I locked onto her eyes, trying to make her feel guilty or maybe a flash of regret would reveal itself in a watery eye or a hand reaching in to save me. Her smile never wavered, her body remained still. It was time to let go.

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