Concept Art Writing Prompt: The Girl Who Kept Her Heart in a Jar

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

We're going a bit fanciful this week with the Concept Art Writing Prompt, spending a little time with a girl surrounded by broken hearts. What kind of story can you spin for this lady and the beating organ she keeps locked away?

This week's illustration is "Incubation," by Kmye Chan, via Design Your Trust. See if you can devise a short story based on Chan's illustration, and post your story in the comments.


Here's mine:

Every time he replaced their hearts, he replaced their heads. It seemed wrong not to.

The hearts were his own mechanical wonders, and they'd stay alive in their discarded jars, fractured and shattered and strained beyond recognition. But each time he put in a fresh heart, the girl opened her eyes with a completely different gaze than the one she'd possessed with a previous heart, and it gave him the eerie impression that she was a ghost haunting an old body. He couldn't bring himself to touch her lips with his. So he'd line the broken hearts up along the wall and he'd take the head out back where he'd carved out his own little cemetery of heads.

Sometimes, when he had trouble sleeping, he liked to scare himself with the thought that the hollow wind was truly the sound of the heads singing to him, luring him out to the makeshift graveyard. But he was too rational to hold on to such superstitions for long, and when the adrenaline of his childish fear was spent, he'd slip off into slumber.

This meant that each time, he had to find a new head for her body and he'd have to wait for a young woman to die. That wasn't to difficult. There was always something out killing beautiful ladies: consumption or influenza or a freshly escaped lunatic. He liked to fancy that the Reaper had a particular preference for beauty, but again he was too rational to entertain the notion for long.

This one was slender, with dark hair that, even in death, continued to tangle and curl. He had hoped for a redhead; it had been too long since he'd had a head whose coloring matched the body's original owner. But he noted with satisfaction that she was lean, just like his lady love had been. She would be a fine partner.

After he'd tightened the screws, but before he sent the enlivening jolt to the heart, he painted her blue lips pink, and then ran a hand down the still taut flesh of the body's legs. "These are your legs now," he whispered in her ear. His thoughts turned to Dara, just as they did each time he performed this rite, thought about how those powerful legs had thrashed and kicked at him in her final moments. Dara had teetered at the top of the stairs, those perfect legs trembling, fawn-like, in their spiked heels. "No one has enough love in their hearts for you," she said, in a growl that quivered her abdomen. "A heart would explode from the love it would take to love you." When she turned and, in the same instant, missed the step below, he'd reached out his hand to catch her, but half a breath too late.

Her heart, he supposed, was already broken. But he could make another heart. A pity her head broke as well, leaving behind the head and dancers' legs. He watched as the shards of heart bobbled in their jars and thought Dara might well be right. But that was no reason to stop trying.

Then he turned on the power.