By Emma Phillips
He left his heart in Kowloon. She’d asked him to stay, but his wages were paid by the British, who had given him a bonus and transferred him to Dubai. She looked for his heart on the Star Ferry, felt the butterfly wings of its beat in her footsteps, held out her hands in Temple Street Market, hoping a vendor might drop it in them. A heart is slippery, like lychees.
She wondered if he’d stashed his heart on the tram, under the seat where he’d first held her hand. That way, when she grew tired of independence or of slurping noodles staring at nothing but her own reflection, she could find it again. He’d said he would visit, but she was not sure if the handover of power meant return tickets. Perhaps his heart was watching her from The Peak, on the spot where they had learned to admire the city.
A heart was a strange thing to leave behind. If she’d been the one who’d had to go, she would’ve been more practical, left him something useful like a compass or a Rolex.
Her apartment seemed smaller somehow, first July circled red on her calendar. She quit her English classes and dreamed in Cantonese again. His heart kept beating. Sometimes she heard it thump inside the walls.
When she stopped searching, the heart started to follow her. She felt it dripping in the rainy season, heard it echo in a stairwell, sensed it squeeze between her and a friend at the cinema. It was fatter and uglier than she remembered. His heart became an inconvenience, like a stray piece of tissue caught on a shoe. She wore ear plugs, and tried to ignore it.
In the end, she had to remove it. When she finally scooped it into her hands, it wasn’t as heavy as she had thought it would be. She took a moment to study its mass, the pulp of its surface, shiny and bloody. If she wanted to, she could squeeze it until it burst like a melon. That would be messy. She wrestled his heart into a bag, taped it shut, and threw it as far as she could into the harbor.
Ah, love and loss….Nice work, Emma.
Well told. I wonder how many hearts were left behind in the handover.
All The Things They Couldn’t Hand Back
By: Emma Phillips
The story has lots of imagery of love while losing someone. I could see whats going on in some parts of the story.
Congratulations on getting this story getting accepted by Best Microfiction 2022!