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I stood next to a man at a bar with a four-dollar beer in one hand, my coat in the other, and no good way to grab my pills at 10:00 p.m. I’d spent a lot of nights at bars that week and I’d missed my 10:00 p.m. deadline more than once. It’s the easiest thing, the only thing I have to do, really, to stay alive—just take the pills at the same time every morning and every night in order to have the perfect amount of medicine in my system so that my body doesn’t suddenly wake up and say, Fuck this heart, rip it up, it doesn’t belong. And still, sometimes, I forget, I slip up, I’m late. If 10:00 p.m. becomes 10:15 p.m., that’s okay, that’s not too bad. If 10:15 p.m. becomes 11:00 p.m., that’s no good, that’s missing the half-hour window I was once told I had. Then I take them with a swig of beer, a sip of whiskey, a shot of tequila once, and I think, Well, look at you, you undeserving idiot. But I’ve been lucky, we say, I’ve been so very lucky. Not one bit of rejection, not a one, sometimes in spite of me.

I didn’t know much about the man. Or, rather, I knew a few small things and one large thing. We’d both had heart transplants. It’s not really bar talk.

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Excerpt from “Your Hearts, Your Scars.” Copyright © 2022 by Adina Talve-Goodman. Forthcoming Jan. 24, 2023, by Bellevue Literary Press. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.