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A Heart so White  
by C.R.M. Nilsson

You wear your heart on your sleeve,

her grandmother admonishes her as she cleans gravel from the skinned knees and patches them up. There are still tears in the girl’s eyes and she sniffles slightly. The bullies pushed her and her knees hurt so badly and there was blood. She was scared, doesn’t nana understand that?

She needs to toughen up, the old woman tells her. She can’t let people bully her around. She can’t fold like a paper flower whenever somebody is too rough with her. What she needs to do is to be able to withstand, be strong and then retaliate in kind.

She wears her heart on her sleeve,

is said later in life, as well. But this time it’s said with a sort of admiration. She cannot lie to save her life and whatever she feels shows on her face. It makes her honest and true and pure. For once it’s not seen as a weakness, but it rather makes her company more desirable.

I really do wear my heart on my sleeve,

she tells herself when she meets the love of her life. She cannot speak to him: her tongue tied and tripping, stuttering through simple sentences. It’s making her feel like an idiot and she flushes hotly. The man glances at her and takes his coffee, since she’s a barista serving him.

The next day, he’s back. Once again she makes a fool of herself.

But he returns, one day after another, until the stutters and the blushes go away. Then he smiles and touches her face. He caresses her cheek. It makes her laugh, slightly from pleasure and slightly from amusement. His eyes are warm and kind and she touches the hand that touches her face. A slight spark travels through her arm and she smiles.

“You wear your heart on your sleeve,” he comments lightly.

She smiles broadly and nuzzles his hand.

“Maybe I do,” she replies.


Copyright C.R.M. Nilsson 2010

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