I knew right away. I didn’t know how, or why, or what we would find when we got there, or if she’d be waiting for us, but I knew.
“Come on,” I said, handing her phone back to her. “Red line.”
We walked to Jackson in silence. Of course I had questions, more than I could think to ask, but a new flume of feeling had come up through me when I saw the destination on the map, a cold and hollow anger that was too familiar to discount and way too painful to call a mood. I was so mad—so mad at so many things. J wasn’t immune, and now this new confidence only added to it. She had braced herself against the world with the kind of self-assurance that always seemed fake to me, whenever I saw it on a person walking by. Maybe that was just because I didn’t know how to find it for myself.
We didn’t talk for the trip. The closest we came to even making eye contact was when I leaned over to hand her my CTA card over the turnstile. On the train, we sat side by side, down at the waists of a sea of high school kids who were laughing and playing on their way home from school. J looked at them blankly and I wondered what she was thinking. My thought: sometimes I hear laughter and I can’t make sense of it.
We got off at Clark & Division and I led her up LaSalle to the museum. We were going to see an exhibit.
How was I so sure? I’d been to this place, The Museum of Surgical Science, seven goddamn times since I’d been in Chicago, that was how. The first time was just because it was the type of place that you could never see when you lived in Dayton, and in those early weeks, the only way I could make Chicago make sense was to seek out what a tourist might call its “blah blah cultural treasures.”
But that was just the first time.
I came for the quirk of it all. I kept coming back for the fake heart.
Don’t you know? Charles Lindbergh flew around the world and all that, yeah. But he also invented a device. Later, when he was older.
For his sister, who was sick.
A machine. A piece of technology that could keep blood pumping in people whose hearts had stopped.
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