My Heartbreak


I lean back against the black velvet seat of my heartbreak, run my fingers across the rosewood dashboard. When I touch the accelerator, my heartbreak whines to life and rolls forward with the dignity of an antique hearse.

Most projects fail.

My heartbreak’s thin tires unspool the electronic pavement behind us as we roll through checkpoints and portals. We approach the gleaming façade of the Centurion Foundation. My heartbreak snarls and leaps forward, now lean and streamlined, clearing the bollards, crashing into the stylish burgundy-velvet-and-chrome landing site. In the queue, the line of supplicants squeezes against the wall as we pass. Kristy and I waited there for so long, checking our texts, our email, twice a day. My heartbreak hurtles over the security boundaries, and as we roar by, the haughty No Entry guardians in their braid-covered uniforms, their helmets surmounted with crimson scrub-brushes, scurry for cover. The doors break open before us and we shoot past the flimsy stage where the funding meetings are held.

Most communities fracture.

Beyond the stage, we streak along a glowing blue hallway. My heartbreak leaves behind the Centurion Foundation and enters the thin, expensive air of the Centurion Club. Alarm klaxons sound, distorted by my heartbreak’s bullet-resistant windows.

Most men break their word.

Men and women in suits, who sold their innards one at a time for a chair in the Centurion Club, leap out of our way as we roar past. Warriors, mounted on fierce white horses, melt out of the wall. The riders, all women, all bare-breasted, black hair streaming back from golden diadems, raise their bows. Their arrows screech along the glossy sides of my heartbreak. Do they look a little like me? Trevor said once I had an archer’s eye for the key question. He also said I should be more like Robin Hood. I should have known then.

Beside me on the seat lie a bow and a full quiver. I reach for them, but this is Trevor’s fantasy. I don’t need to fight the warriors this way. I don’t need to fight them at all.

The hallway plunges down, and so do we. Blue light vanishes, replaced by darkness as the passage spirals, recursive and tentacular. The riders fall away behind; arrows fade to smoke. We soar downward.

Most projects fail.

The windows fall away on either side of my heartbreak, and through the hurtling darkness a stentorian voice blares. “Trevor!” the Brazen Head of Trevor’s Mom commands, “Rein her in!”

Before us rises a wall. My heartbreak gathers its haunches and leaps, shooting like a missile, like a spear, like an arrow at the very top layer, which shatters into transparent shards. My heartbreak spreads its wings, and we glide into the shining darkness of the Centurion treasury.

In a cramped alcove in one corner of the vault, Trevor leaps up from the third-grade desk he sits at. Past him, along one wall, three shelves hold a liquid that gleams silver and gold. Next to it, on a diamond plinth, like a sunrise through wildfire smoke, the Brazen Head of Trevor’s Mom glares. “Stop her!”

Trevor bolts out of the alcove and runs in front of me and my heartbreak, patting the air with his hands. “Wait! Baby, please, just listen—”

The roof of my heartbreak shivers away into nothingness and I rise like a charioteer. Trevor runs backwards as we advance. 

“Our proposal went into the ‘No’ stack on the first round, and you said nothing!” I shout. 

“Baby, please, you don’t… Dad wasn’t in a good mood that day. Speaking up wouldn’t have gained anything.”

“Sammy did. Sammy tried.”

Still staggering backward, Trevor shrugs. “He’s just a poor relation, he’s got nothing to lose…”

With the grace of a great bird, my heartbreak glides to a landing.

The Brazen Head of Trevor’s Mom speaks, and it sounds like a tuba in a closet. We’re too close to hear the words. My heartbreak hip-checks Trevor into the wall. Its snarls grow as we near the shelves of silver-gold liquid. This close, I see that the shelves extend beyond view, oceans of electrum light.

My heartbreak is fierce, like a tiger, strong, like a dragon, and hungry.

It inhales.

Most communities fracture. Ours didn’t, even when I first brought in Trevor. It was only after we’d waited through the entire grant period, and Sammy told us what happened, that the alliance cracked. Did they blame me? I don’t know. I blamed me.

Streams of silver-gold flow toward us and vanish under my heartbreak’s hood. Thicker and thicker they grow, faster and faster they rush. 

Most men break their word. Trevor did, when it mattered most.

“Stop!” The Brazen Head of Trevor’s Mom screams. Its jutting brows fold down against its nose, which is eaten by its mouth as the globe sucks inward on itself. It shrinks to the size of a tennis ball, shudders, and rolls off the plinth onto the dark floor.

My heartbreak preens.

“Baby, please. Wait. Stop. See reason—”

The final reservoir of wealth on the bottom shelf streams away, undulating into the engine of my heartbreak, leaving only a bumpy layer of blue and red lights, like faceted barnacles. Trevor’s voice leaps half an octave, his urgency a visible vibration. He throws himself against the shelves.

“Oh, God, no! Not the trust funds! Not the trust funds!”

The barnacles flake and crack, scraps flowing toward us, filling the maw of my heartbreak. 

With a wave of my hand, I turn my heartbreak and we rise. Closer to the world, the twin exhausts of my heartbreak will spew funding, three years’ worth to each and every grant, including us—while the Centurion Club implodes into insolvency.

In my rearview I see Trevor kneeling, sobbing, by the shelves, one hand scrabbling on the bare wood for the particles of blue or red. 

As my heartbreak and I rise… he looks heartbroken.

Marion Deeds

Marion Deeds is the author ofComeuppance Served Cold,published by Tordotcom Books. It’s a Prohibition-era story with magic, speakeasies and women who upend the power structure. Her short fiction has appeared inPodcastle, Daily Science Fictionand several anthologies. Marion’s fiction takes place in the penumbra of reality, at the border of speculation and otherworldliness. She enjoys playing with language.

She is a regular at the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. Living in Sonoma County, she enjoys walking in the county’s wonderful regional parks, feeding the local crows, reading, and finding good art.