It’s a blessing to sleep, but sometimes waking up is better.
Ona is the mother of two boys: Jaime and Yossi.
When the boys were growing up, Yossi had been the warped, slightly comical tail on an otherwise perfect dog, dragging along behind the body golden as it grew strong through endless hunting and fighting games in the fields and ditches and dilapidated barns around the village. People loved and trusted Jaime, but Yossi - that febrile, fuzzy-edged boy – Yossi they preferred to keep at a good stick’s length. Yossi they saw as the lumpen weight you need to measure the riches in the opposite pan of the family scale of happiness.
Jaime and Yossi both went off to fight at the same time, but whilst Jaime won medals, Yossi was medically discharged and sent home early.
I am a stranger, but somehow I know this story. I am here in an ambulance to drive Yossi to hospital.
But he’s missing.
‘Please find him,’ says Ona. ‘I know he’s round here somewhere.’
I drive round the village. The place is deserted, raked with heat, a monstrous kiln piled full of baked white bricks and dusty dogs and streets of impacted sulphur. I pass an abandoned field, so blasted the hedges are just clumps of grey wire. Someone has been digging in a corner; by the edge of the hole I see a pile of suitcases. I wonder what that could mean?
I drive back to the house empty-handed. As I approach I see Ona standing talking to a man in blue scrubs, his surgeon’s mask pulled down below his chin. As I jump down from the cab and walk up to them he smiles and hands me a plastic DHL envelope.
‘Here. We operated, but it was too much. I’m afraid that’s the best we could do.’
There is something sloppy and warm in the package. Is this Yossi’s heart? But it’s so small? I gently press the top of the envelope. The contents slip from side to side beneath my fingers. It’s like rolling the knotted veins in the back of an old man’s hand.
I feel a pulse.
I put the envelope down on the floor and begin pressing up and down on the top of it with my index finger. The surgeon stands over me and laughs.
‘It’s pointless,’ he says. ‘It’s a blue heart.’
So I put my face to the top of the envelope and gently blow into it.
The beat inside the envelope gets stronger.
I carry on with my these micro-compressions, furious the surgeon won’t take me seriously. Doesn’t he care?
The thing in the envelope jumps and twitches. Finally I stand up and hand the envelope back to the surgeon.
‘There’s got to be a chance,’ I say.
He takes the envelope and shakes his head.
‘Do you think hearts are like memory sticks? Do you think all I need to do is find a new body, plug this thing in and send him on his way? You are seriously confused, my friend.’
I look at Ona. She shakes her head, and draws a finger across her mouth as if to say: Enough. No more.
I wake up. My mouth is dry and my lips are glued and ripped.
I wonder if I’ve been calling out in my sleep. I unfold my arms and struggle to sit up. The air is a stew. There are dark shapes in the chairs around me, but no-one else stirs. I raise the dial of my watch close up to my face and read the time: half past five. I’ve been asleep for twenty minutes.