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Cardiac Arrest

Originally submitted to NYC Midnight’s 2019 Microfiction contest. (Genre: Romantic Comedy, Action: Blowing up a balloon, Word: disaster)

His hand wanders into a frayed pocket, finding a cable. Shit, a stent from the op this morning. He smiles, leaning forward across the pub table to reveal it to her like a magic trick.

“What’s that?” she says. 

He pulls at the end of the cable and a tiny balloon inflates. “I fix hearts with it,” he says as he slips off the mesh casing to display it between the ridges of his finger. “Cool, huh?”

There’s nothing left of him at the end of the shift except dirty light blue scrubs, lame jokes, and pockets-full of whatever shouldn’t have left the operating room. But the odds are slim that the governing agency running his hellhole of a hospital would ever find out. He’s a star surgeon.

She looks like a thrift store associate. 

Sitting across, she looks less glowing than the profile picture that popped up on his phone in-between patient rounds and the forgetful conversations with his overly-eager residents. Or did he see her when he was swiping with one hand and taking a piss with the other? Who cares, she wouldn’t ever know.

He leans back. He could settle, if she was willing to do it, and end this Groundhog Day of swiping. 

But she’s not looking at him anymore, she’s looking down. He thinks he doesn’t want children with a woman like that because they’ll get bone spurs from looking down at their phones too.

“How’s the date?” the text says.

“Disaster,” she replies.