The heart is the size of a fist. It’s a lesson that everyone learns in second grade science. And everyone has made a fist, stared at it, and held it to his or her chest for the sake of context. Sometimes I clench and unclench my fist to mimic the pumping valves. Or does the aorta do that? All I remember is the size.
Robin Williams had that line in one of his stand-up specials: “God gives man a brain and a penis, but only enough blood to operate one at a time.” Actually, God gives us enough blood to operate many things at once. Hearts, fists, dicks, you get the picture.
Susan and I had some of our best sex the night before last. I was intense and focused, yet caring and receptive. I started gently, and toward the end, we locked eyes and she demanded more. When we finished, she smiled, kissed my shoulder, and asked where that came from.
She had left her e-mail open last Thursday. I wasn’t mad, and I’m still not mad. Really. There were entire threads with her co-worker Tom. Innocent stuff, generally, but the more they communicated, the more smiley faces and winky entendres there were. He supplied most of them, but she didn’t write anything to discourage his flirtations. But it’s not like I blame her, I’m not exactly husband of the year. But I have a role to fill, even if that’s one of my lesser qualities.
On April 5, 2:34PM Central Time, she had confided to Tom that I fly off the handle sometimes. It must have weighed on her mind, since she e-mailed it even though they were likely just down the hall from each other. In a way, that’s more intimate. She could have gotten up, filled her coffee mug in the common area, then stopped into his cubicle to share her concerns and frustrations. But she had to take the time to type and compose it—the emotions couldn’t wait for a forty second walk.
I sit outside their office and wait. I’m expecting them to leave together or alone, but that doesn’t matter. I hold my fist up to the rearview mirror and clench and unclench it. My heart is dictating to my fist. They’re not physically close, but they’re the same size, working in harmony, and even with that in mind, you expect me to explain myself?
James Yates is an MFA Candidate in Creative Writing (Fiction) at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois. He also serves as a Fiction Editor for Longform.org. James' fiction has appeared in Hobart, and his nonfiction has appeared in The Fanzine and Necessary Fiction. He lives in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.