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acrylic paints on hotpress watercolor paper
white gel pen
Maddy Lynn was an intelligent girl on all matters save one. When it came to boys she had a heart that was easily swayed. Her twin sister, Meredith, though not as book smart, had a heart that was true and fast. She had given her heart to the neighbor's son, Caleb, and this is where it stayed, tied to him by a string that hung from about his neck.
Unfortunately, Caleb was more like Maddy Lynn in the ways of the heart and it was around the full moon in October of their second year that he spoke to Meredith of his truth. "I no longer love you," he said, turning away. Meredith, reaching for him, grabbed instead her heart and it broke free and felt hot in her hand. "Please," she begged, holding it out to him by the string once more, but he was already gone.
Meredith moaned and moaned. She couldn't stop even when she tried. The sound just kept getting louder and louder, reaching higher and higher til it made it's way to the tops of the trees and the blackbirds resting there all cawed and flew away. The heart in Meredith's hand just kept burning hotter and hotter, scorching her skin. She could not shake it free. Frightened, Meredith ran through the woods until she came to the stream just below the barn. She immediately stuck her hand with the heart into the water and at once the moaning stopped.
"What is done is done," Meredith said, finally untangling the string from her hand and leaving her heart to sink or float away. She did not wait to see which, heading with an emptiness back toward home.
Years passed and found Meredith alone. Rarely did she leave the farm or venture out to new places. Her sister had married and moved away. Her parents had died of the fever. She had, at least, ceased to think of Caleb except sometimes when the blackbirds would rise up in the fields. Their caws would bring tears to her eyes but only for a moment, only until she would remind herself that she did not have a heart, she could not feel that old pain.
One day something quickened and changed in Meredith and she could not figure out the cause. Something she had eaten? she wondered. Or perhaps something carried on the wind?
Whatever the reason, Meredith found herself admitting she was lonely and growing lonelier by the day. Suddenly she wished for her heart back so that she could give it to another or just have it for herself. Down by the stream Meredith would pace, occasionally she would wave a stick through the water in hopes that her heart was still there and the string would catch hold.
One night Meredith had a dream. In this dream a white bird, a ghostly twittering creature, came to her while she sat by the water's edge. It sang to her sweetly and then they sat together quietly for a time. When at last it did speak it said, "You have always had more love to give. Didn't you know, dearest one? Love is without end." Meredith did not believe him and kept shaking her head. No, no, it is not true.
"Sing now to me of love and I will prove it to you," the tiny bird proclaimed, hopping on one leg.
After a time, Meredith agreed and opened her mouth to sing. In a blink the bird flew in! Just as quickly, he hopped out again and in his beak was a string of the finest thread. The bird gave it a tug before letting it go. Meredith felt the tug and an instant warming in her chest. Why, it had been there all along! The heat spread til it filled her entire being with joy. This happiness caused her to twirl herself about and laugh like she had never remembered laughing before.
When Meredith awoke in her bed she did not rise at once. She looked at the sun shining through the windows and the squirrels playing on a branch outside. She could smell autumn coming on the breeze. She placed both hands on her chest and smiled, breathing in deep.