Today the artificial heart is a reality.
And it looks nothing like what Charles Lindbergh designed years after he flew across the Atlantic. I noted that his drawing was dated today, 50 years ago.
There was a commotion behind us. Two elderly staff members asked us and everyone else to please head to the exit. It was closing time.
“Fuck,” J said, her phone in one hand, a charger in another. “This is going to die. We have to meet her here.”
J rolled her eyes at me. Not angry, but almost hurt that I didn’t already know. That I couldn’t read her mind on this.
Of course I knew who we were meeting. But I needed to hear her say it. I needed anybody else to say it.
We walked down the museum’s visitor center and I found an outlet near the ground behind a display of anatomical drawings fashioned into discount postcards. At three for $1.99, they were a steal.
“Here,” I said, crouching down. She handed me her phone and I plugged it into the wall. It’s blank screen flickered on. It was coming back to life.
J stopped a passing guard. “Excuse me, what time is it exactly.”
The guard made a show of looking at an imaginary watch on his official-looking guard jacket sleeves. “It’s time for you two to get on, then.”
“Can we just have a few minutes?” J asked. “I need just need to charge. We’re not from around here.”
The guard nodded toward me. “What’s his problem.”
J turned to me. “He’s just shaken up. He was downtown during the attack. Don’t worry, officer.”
The guard certainly liked being called officer. “OK. Five minutes. While I clear the museum. After that you two are out.”
“OMG thank you,” J said.
Groups of people made their way past the visitor center and toward the exit. The guard looked at us once more before walking out of the visitor center, shaking his head.
She turned to me in triumph.
“Who, exactly, are we meeting?”
“You already know,” she said.
“Yeah I know. We’re meeting Michaela.”
“No,” she cried. “What is wrong with you.”
“You said she didn’t want us to be late,” I said. ” That would would imply two things.”
I decided to use my fingers for effect. “One, that she is who we are going to meet. Two, that she is not fond of tardy visitors.”
“How many times do we have to do this? Here,” she said, holding out her hand, “give me the letter.”
“Not Mom’s. Give me Michaela’s letter. The one you sent me the picture of.”
“Trust me Stephen.”
She never called me Stephen. I opened my bag but the letter wasn’t there. I must have forgotten to grab it after the explosion.
“It’s at the office.”
“Oh no,” she said, unfolding a piece of paper. “Is it like this one?”
I grabbed it from her and recognized the words, the looping letters. It was a photocopy of my letter. “How did you get this?”
“You gave it to me before you moved to Chicago,” she said, looking directly at me. “She’s gone Stephen.”
“There is no Michaela. There hasn’t been for years. You can keep fooling yourself into thinking you’ve stumbled upon a letter, or an earring, or anything else but it doesn’t change the truth.”
She put her arms around me. “You need to let go.”
I felt another hand grip my shoulder.