Most of us prefer to keep our hearts inside our chests, and with good reason. If you always know where yours is, you’re unlikely to misplace it when life gets a little hectic. Since your chest goes with you wherever your travels take you, so does your heart. This makes it easy for it to weigh in on all your major life decisions without your having to think too far ahead.
If someone wants to steal your heart, they have to do it the old-fashioned way by giving you flowers or telling you exactly what you want to hear for as long as it takes to win you over. They cannot, for example, simply break into your home, figure out that you happen to keep your heart in the cookie jar, and take it while you’re out late at the club dancing your bones into dust.
However, not everyone is interested in convenience. Some people — like Henry Hamill, to name just one — would rather enjoy other advantages, so they choose to keep their hearts elsewhere.
Henry kept his in an old-fashioned wrought-iron birdcage that hung from the ceiling in one corner of his office. He fed it twice a day and was always mindful of the temperature in the room, as hearts don’t particularly like it when it’s too hot or too cold. At night, he’d cover the cage with a black, felt cover so that the light from the morning sun wouldn’t wake the heart too early.
Henry understood other people who’d made similar decisions with their hearts chose more traditional storage methods. A safe was a popular choice — the more secure and the better concealed, the better. One very brave woman across town had actually chosen to put hers into the deep freeze at the suspended animation center — a bold but risky choice.
But Henry liked the cage. It was aesthetically pleasing and matched the décor in his office. It also let him keep an eye on his heart and communicate with it as often as he saw fit. He thought there was something very poetic about a writer who kept his own living, beating heart as a sort of pet. Creative types often had intense relationships with their hearts that made it hard to carry them around the all-natural way, but they nevertheless needed easy access in case they needed to get in touch with a particular feeling in…