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Written on the Heart

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It was the first line of a poem, Papa decided after having it translated. This is what Mikhail believed as a child, before the camp.

Later, in what was left of his youth, with what tenderness remained to him, he imagined it was not a quotation. He pictured a perceptive stranger. A fearless touch to his arm and kind eyes that saw his burdens. Perhaps a teasing smile.

Instead, his soulmate comes to him at forty. The doctor turns swiftly to greet him in the infirmary, smile sharp as the bonesaw in his hand.

"How much does your heart weigh?"