Spare Parts / by Ainav R.W
The moon watched over the River, high in the sky as he approached the bridge.
In it’s metal box the heart constricted.
Can a heart get cold? He wondered leaning on the railings holding the box over the dark waters below.
“Are you cold?” he asked the heart aloud but it merely pumped away, sending blood it no longer contained through vessels it was no longer connected to.
He let go of the box, closed his eyes, and waited for the splash.
Walking away his hand fluttered to his chest, feeling for the newly installed metal lying beyond cloth and skin.
Three weeks after his trip to the bridge and the disposed heart is not enough.
He can now feel the feeling in his gut.
For hours he works away in his lab, constructing theories and throwing them out.
Night bleeds into day that bleeds into night as he tries to reach the source of the problem and find a way to uproot and replace it.
What is a gut? Where does the feeling settle? Is it an organ? Or is it the sum of them all?
With no definitive answers at hand he resolves to replace them all.
Working so hard at the challenge at hand he almost forgets about the feeling at all, but when he stops for sleep, when he can work no more, the feeling is there, and he remembers the urgency and desperation of it all.
Three months after his first trip to the bridge he returns, a large bag filled with different shaped metal boxes strapped to his back. As he walks his insides tick and click, thrum and shudder with distinctively metallic sounds.
Once more he closes his eyes and waits for the splash believing that the feeling is safely within the metal boxes sinking away, buried.
This time it is not quite The feeling, but his skin, that itches and tingles with something amiss.
“What do you want?” he yells at it, tearing at it because he knows, he knows that what his skin is missing, what it is craving is touch.
There are many ways to alleviate such aches, and he tries them all.
They work for a while, but after a while it is no use, the skin has to go.
So he sets to the task and he labors night and day away, all the while his skin tingles and it crawls.
For days he pours over the machines, until he is once again standing on that bridge.
He hears none of the racket his new skin makes as he moves, he cares not for the metallic clatter it makes, only for the tingle and itch and all that is gone.
Another part of him falls away.
He is so consumed with the upkeep of his new self that it takes a long time for the feeling to resurface, for his eyes to grab hold of him in the mirror.
He does not see a tin man before him, only the sadness in the eyes staring back at him, remnants of the man that use to be.
The sadness bores into him, accusing, as if to say: “I’m right here; you are not rid of me. I have been here all along”.
Again he finds himself working on a way to remove a part of himself; he has become so skilled at the task that the solution occurs to him almost immediately.
He cannot see the distant, hollow reflection of himself as he leans his hand over the water, holding what he truly believes to be the final box.
The splash sounds stronger and quite final to him.
He walks away.
Every part of his body bangs hollowly as he lays down to sleep that night.
A detached smile etches itself across his face as he falls asleep.
Gone. The feeling is gone, he is quite sure of it. Sure of it right up to the moment when he wakes up screaming.
His lungs are burning, he cannot breathe. The feeling has taken heavy root in his chest.
Sitting up he places his head in his hands and tries to think.
He tries to steer his thoughts toward a solution but his mind is in a panic, why won’t any of it work?
Head in hands he sits there for a long, long while
It is almost dawn when he climbs over the railings of the bridge to hang over the water below.
He had thought and thought that night and it finally came to him after so long.
If only he had spent all the time he had tearing out pieces of himself and building new parts to replace them on finding the real source of the problem, if only he had truly addressed the feeling and tried to face it, solve it, change it, fix it, he might not have found himself crashing into the water, reaching for the old parts of himself in a final attempt to feel whole.