Issue 1 cover


by Nadine Darling

Issue 1 :: Autumn 2007 (stories)

What happened was this: I woke up and the arrow was there, wedged through my breastbone and into my heart like a trowel. And, you know, I was shocked but not surprised. I thought, Well, this explains that sinking feeling I've had for the last thirty years. I grabbed for the phone and it fell. I eased onto my side and searched beneath the bed until I felt it tip into my hand, then I called work and told them I'd be late.

"Not again, you won't," said Randy.

"There's an arrow in my heart today," I said.

"Yes, and last week you had a sore throat. Do you like your job?"

"I like it all right," I said. I ran my fingers down the arrow's shaft and plucked a bit at its fletching. The feathers felt very familiar. There was something very festive about them.

"If you like your job, you'll come in and do it," said Randy.

"Okay," I said.

"That's not the tone of a team player."

"Okay," I said, and "Goodbye," and I hung up.

I found a blouse and cut a hole in its breast. Then I cut a hole in my coat.
It wasn't a surprise to anyone, certainly not anyone who knew me. Examining the arrow, Dr. Clark was almost delighted by his foresight.

"Didn't I tell you?" he asked, as I sat there in a snowflake-printed gown on a table lined with paper, my arrow tenting the fabric like a ghost or the barrel of a gun. And he had told me. He'd told me once during a physical. He'd said, "Of all my patients, you're the one I see with an arrow in her heart."

"My, it's a good one," he said.

"Thanks," I said.

"Aluminum, by God, and built to last!"

He clipped one of my X-rays to a lighted board and showed me where the arrow had pierced my pectoral muscle and my chest plate and entered my heart on a slightly downward slope. He did not seem to think it serious. Quite the opposite. My arrow was lodged in the right ventricle. From what I've gathered, if you have to sustain a traumatic penetrating chest wound, that's the place to get it. The great vessels remained intact; there were no rib fractures. My arrow is what is referred to as non-invasive. My heart accepted this foreign object almost immediately. The tissue of my heart pushed up against the arrow and grew around it, frayed vessels touched and reconnected, blood flowed, muscles closed around the submerged shaft like a soft-palmed fist and held it. There is something neat about that, I think. Something mournful and surrogate. It's ruined my life, you know, but I appreciate the sentiment.


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"Arrow" is roughly 3000 words.

Nadine Darling is broke-ass and sick with love. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she lives in the greater Boston area with her husband and fellow writer Kenneth Darling, who, with respect to Aimee Mann, saved her from the ranks of the freaks who suspect that they could never love anyone.