The Commerce of Hearts

Liana Mir

Liana Mir reads, writes, and wrangles the muses from her mundane home in the Colorado Rockies and, occasionally, from the other side of the Barrier.

Series Listing

Falhaer - 03. Kingdom

Of Many Colors

Land of the Five Cities - 03. Kingdom

Baker of Souls

Land of the Five Cities - 04. Rebel Council 02

The Commerce of Hearts

Land of the Five Cities - 04. Rebel Council 03

A Pretty Word

Story Within a Story - Esiran Desert Myth

Night Bride

The Commerce of Hearts

Ah, have mercy on us, powers, we who deal in the commerce of hearts.

A young mother, scarred by the need to provide for her children, sells her wounds—again.

Land of the Five Cities - 04. Rebel Council 02
Breath Fantasy
Flash Fiction Short Story

The woman who enters my shop is young in body, but she is not young. I have seen battle; I know the scarred.

Her eyes are pale, wounded, weary. She moves as though every muscle in her body aches and glances away from the delicately carved stone bottles nestled among swaths of fine fabrics. Instead, her gaze lingers on the circular glass slabs set beside with gently calligraphed names: vredé, inul, hoshult. Selflessness, duty, peace. Fingers glimmer out to touch, then rapidly withdraw.

“You have been to a collector before?” I ask the needless question, needless as I am Mavren, a collector, and recognize the faces of those I have laid waste.

Her gaze flits upward, shuddering past the old uniform of an Enforcer, that remnant of my former life as the hands and will of the King, then onto my face. There it stays.

She strides forward abruptly in a rustle of coarse cloth and sets her small bag of yet coarser weave beside the one tilted stool I retain, where she proceeds to sit. Her eyelids drift shut. “Leave the duty,” she says.

Ah, have mercy on us, powers, we who deal in the commerce of hearts.

Her clothes, almost more slender than she, betray her humble means, her figure declares her motherhood, and her eyes are the eyes of the heartless, lacking much of the spark of humanity. We are much alike in that.

My palm closes neatly over the skin above her heart. With my flesh, I feel the sharpness of her intake of breath, but with my soul, I feel the acrid potency of her love. She has children who need food and clothing and shelter in these hard days. She has a husband whose work does not bring enough to give it to them. I hunt through the welter of emotion, its vibrancy, and little wonder she is wounded. She has sold her fear, resentment, joy, gratitude, wonder—everything. Everything but duty, love, and the pain they cause her.

I could take the duty. It would fetch a handsome price, enough to keep her a few months before she swept the path to a Collector again. I leave it, yea powers, I leave it.

Love. Pure, undiluted, potent love. It warms my soul and fills me, then I step away and breathe it out into a bottle, stopper it with a black clay infused with implacable.

The mother’s eyes open and are cold, but she has a duty to her family and will care for them. She chose well.

I pay her enough to provide for a family of five for more than a year, long enough to bring new work or much enough to educate the  children to care for themselves. She nods her head and walks past the shelves of hearts, unheeding and uncaring when hers joins them.


Breath Fantasy

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7 Responses to The Commerce of Hearts

  1. Rabia says:

    Poignant and sad.

    • Liana Mir says:

      That is exactly what I was hoping to capture. The idea of the heartless, once it came to me, demanded something to capture it.

  2. Beverly says:

    It took me a little while to wrap my head around that world but once I did it hit hard. Well done. And welcome to the flash friday community!

  3. Alison Wells says:

    Wonderful central concept here and a concise but moving and complete story. Touching.

  4. Pingback: The #FridayFlash Report – Vol 4 Number 12 | Friday Flash

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