The heart on the stomach

I remember exactly the first time I saw her.

She was on a side with her back on the wall in that busy club in via Marini. I didn’t go there often because the music was always too loud and I could always find somebody throwing up in a corner. It made me sad for my generation and gave me a feeling of defeat and dark loss. So I said goodbye to my friends and I left to get some fresh air.

She was there, outside, hugging herself in a very large coat that must have been three sizes bigger than hers. It must have been her boyfriend’s, I immediately thought. The light rain didn’t seem to bother her, she was absorbed in looking at the cars running past her: with a quick movement her eyes met the lights of each of the vehicles. Perhaps it was just my impression, however that detail stroke me to the point that I felt part of her far away world. I was smoking my cigarette and biting my nails inattentively. I couldn’t stop looking at her, but she didn’t notice me. She was engrossed by something I couldn’t see, and I desperately wanted to find it out, reveal it and eradicate it.

She looked sad. Or maybe not sad, I couldn’t tell... she looked lost.

Yes, exactly: she looked lost. And out of reach. The time went by and she didn’t move. She was still leaning on that wall as if it was holding her and she would have fallen otherwise. I lit another cigarette.

I was getting impatient: I wanted her to turn around and see me so that she would know she wasn’t alone in this world. My imagination travelled. I was trying to give answers to the thousands of questions that were spinning in my head: what did she do for a living? Was she waiting for someone? Why she didn’t go back inside? What was holding her back?

She was often biting her lower lip and moving her piercing to the corner of her upper lip with her tongue. It was a monotonous gesture, a habit that aroused me a lot. I stretched my neck muscles to control myself and stop me from running towards her to meet her. Suddenly she turned towards me. My eyes met her stomach which her black top underneath her coat left exposed. She had a tattoo that made me smile: two or three dog prints. I could imagine her walking a big dog. Soon after, I spotted another tattoo. It looked like a heart: the heart muscle. I couldn’t see it in its entirety, but it was easy to imagine. She had a heart on her stomach, like a silent weight looming on her body. I wished I could take her clothes off, hug her, kiss her and get lost in her gloomy eyes. I wish I could stroke that pulsating heart. With pins and needles in my hands, I kept on stretching my muscles. My second cigarette was almost finished. At that point, she seemed to have come back to life. She turned in my direction and started walking. She was looking at the floor with her hands crossed on her coat to cover her stomach. I couldn’t wait for that stupid tube train to get past.

It was a second: she walked past me. She stopped and grabbed my hand but I didn’t turn around. She stroked her stomach with my fingers and I could feel the scar of that heart tattooed on her skin. She left my hand and disappeared back in the club. She turned around one last time and smiled at me. It was a sad smile, some sort of message that went lost in the dark of the crowd.

I remember exactly the first time I saw her - it was also the last one.