The New Generation of Classic Short Stories

Vol. 16, No. 4

An Impending Change of Heart

by Emily Ruskovich

Zachary usually waits for me at the end of his road. But today I'm early and he's in the pasture; I see him running through the dust, waving his arms. I stop, yet he runs just as fast as before, as if I'll change my mind. I roll down the window and smell the water that's filled the ditches. In the summer heat, white cows with muddy shins are drinking it. Zachary shoves his way down among them, splashing through to get to me. He climbs the stiff barbed wire, knowing just where to put his hands, then leaps off like nothing I've ever seen. He gets into my car, out of breath and smelling like weeds.
     "It happened again," he says as he slams the door. He leans forward in the seat with his eyes wide.
     "Where was he this time?" It's always the first thing we talk about. I check the rearview mirror and begin driving up the rutted road.
     "On the couch," Zachary says. I can tell that he's rehearsed this just for me. "He saw a man pour something on his face. He said it looked like mustard soup."
     "Mustard soup!"
     His dad has been keeping track of what comes into his mind when his heart stops. Which it does now once a week.

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