I am selling hearts out of the trunk of my car. They are wrapped in plastic Ziploc bags. Some are broken.

I don't clean the hearts before I sell them. Sometimes the customers ask if they can disinfect the hearts. Can they spray them with Febreze? Run them through the dishwasher? I shake my head, say, No, no, no.

They say, But why?

Brittany is leaving me for a boy who smells like Lysol and plays bass in a band called The Babymakers.

You're not enough, Brittany says. You're just a silly boy selling hearts out of the trunk of his car.

She packs her toothbrush and curling iron and bras that were hanging up in the bathroom.

She's sorry, really, but these things happen and he has long hair.

The hearts I'm selling are sad. Some dry up; the edges chip away. They lose their color.

Why are these hearts gray? a man asks.

I shrug. It's warm out. I have the hearts in buckets of ice, trying to preserve them, but it's really no use.

It's my anniversary, he tells me. He wants to buy a heart for his wife. I can't buy a gray heart, he says, much less a dying one.

The hearts I'm selling out of the trunk of my car aren't that bloody, which seems to surprise most of the customers.

They must be fake, they say. Why isn't there more blood?

I don't know, I say. I'm not a heart expert.

But you sell hearts! Shouldn't you be an expert at what you sell?

Shut up, I tell them. I'm closed. I shut the trunk.

No one is buying my hearts. I sell them on the side of Taft Street, between a McDonald's and a widower who sells watermelons out of the bed of his truck. I try to trade a heart for a watermelon, but the widower shakes his head, packs up his truck, and drives away.

The hearts are breaking. No one wants to buy them. I make a sign on a poster board. It reads: HEARTS HALF OFF.

There is a Girl Scout troop panhandling cookies outside of McDonald's. One of the blondes walks over and stands in front of my trunk, staring at the hearts. She is holding a box of Thin Mints.

Wanna trade? she asks.

She points to a heart that is resting on the spare tire. The heart is cracked, but not all the way broken.

I think she might be able to save the heart. I take it out of the trunk and hand it to her. She removes it from the Ziploc bag. It is beating in her hand. She drops it on the floor. The heart is beating faster. She steps on it.

The heart surrounds the sole of the Girl Scout's sneaker like putty. I think of Brittany and the bras that are no longer hanging from the shower rod.

A black SUV pulls up, a U-Haul attached to the back. It is stacked with lungs packaged in Saran Wrap.

My palms are sweaty. I look at my hearts. I tell them, Beat, damn it.

The man who is selling lungs is walking toward me. A cigarette hangs from his bottom lip, like a dog's tongue. He smells like a cologne sample from a magazine ad.

Hearts, he says, looking into the trunk. Cute.

I'm trying to save the world, I tell him.

The man who sells lungs laughs, takes a drag of his cigarette. No one wants to feel anymore, he says.

It's not like I forgot how the hearts got broken, I tell a pretty girl with many, many freckles. It's that I don't know how they got broken.

She smiles at me like I have an ugly baby.

I want that one, she says. She points to a heart toward the back of the trunk. It's small, held together by veins that never had enough time.

Copyright © Gregory Sherl 2008.

Title graphic: "Half Life" Copyright © The Summerset Review, Inc. 2008.