The first time Arlene gave her heart away, she was six. Diana was her best friend, forever and ever and ever, and Arlene told her a secret of the most secret kind. A secret about Diana’s daddy, and how Arlene had seen him with Megan’s daddy, kissing being the movie theater one night while she was on her way to visit her uncle at his barbershop next door.
Diana had yelled and screamed, crying that Arlene was a liar. She had taken Arlene’s heart, red-gold and soft, and thrown it against the wall, so hard that a chuck of it broke off and fell to the ground, splattering dark red-brown mess all over the floor, almost like a water balloon. Of course, Arlene hurriedly took the rest of it back, put it back into it’s safe, walled place in the center of her chest. But she still walked around with a hole in her heart, pulsing and leaking important things down through her ribs and into her belly. She was the only one not surprised when Diana’s daddy and Megan’s daddy went away together, although she didn’t say anything at all, because of all of the important things that were dripping out of her heart might come spewing out of her mouth, like the time she almost drowned and coughed up all of that water. So Arlene kept her mouth shut tightly and just nodded and smiled. Mommy and Daddy don’t really notice, because they were too wrapped up in the scandal, and anyway, Arlene tended to be a bit of an odd child.
The second time Arlene gave her heart away, she was thirteen. His name was Matthew, and he was beautiful. Years later, she didn’t remember what he actually looked like, no concrete features. Just a type of beauty that was almost angelic. She gave him her heart, hole and all, her hands shaking and her lips dry. He took it in his hands and carefully put it in his pocket, promising to keep it safe. Some small part of Arlene’s mind wondered why he didn’t give her his own heart, but that little seed of suspicion was washed away in a wave of confusing heat and sparks - she’d never done anything like that, so it was a bit of a rush, and when she went home three hours later, she was still wearing a slightly dazed expression and trying to separate the fog in her head from the rest of her thoughts.
Matthew gave Arlene her heart back a week later. She didn’t remember what they argued over, or where it came from, but after the fight, she was holding her heart in her hands again. It was banged up and there was an even larger piece had been taken off - it had snagged on some button or zipper in his pocket, and now Arlene held her heart in her hands, where it was leaking important fluids all over her fingers. It hurt, hurt worse then it had ever did with Diana, and as she returned her heart to her chest with trembling hands, she promised herself that she wouldn’t ever give her heart to anyone, and this time she really, really meant it.
Arlene didn’t intend to give her heart away the third time, when she was sixteen. She had been walking home on a rainy day and had seen the bundle of wet fur, crying piteously and floundering about in the remains of a half melted cardboard box. How could she have done anything but pick it up?
She named him Jacob. It was a nice, respectable name, and he was a nice, respectable cat. Once he was eating proper meals, he rounded into a gentleman, complete with a white bowtie, bright against his otherwise uniformly black body. Arlene loved him fiercely, loved him with all of her broken, ragged heart. One day, she was shocked to find her heart in her hand once again as she stroked Jacob. Jacob expressed interest in it; he sniffed it and began to purr. She gave it to him, carefully, and he accepted, just as carefully.
Jacob took care of her heart, careful and loving as only a feline could. He took care of it for his whole life. All seven years of it. It was an accident, the neighbors said; Jacob had gotten out, and It was a dark night, and, well, how can a man expect to see a black cat in the middle of a black night? Arlene didn’t cry this time - she was just numb. Before they cremated the body, the veterinary technicians cut Arlene’s heart out of Jacob’s body. When they handed it back to her, there was more of it with Jacob then there was in Arlene’s cupped hands. She cried when they burnt the body, and she buried the ashes under his favorite tree. By now, her heart was almost completely gone. There were ragged tears and holes and rips, but it was almost gone. But it didn’t matter that much, not really; that year, the dark things came.
Larxene doesn’t remember her past life - she only remembers pain. She doesn’t care, though. She doesn’t care about anything, because some little nagging voice in the back of her memory tells her that it isn’t worth it, because all it results in is pain. So she laughs her merry little laugh and decides that no, she isn’t going to hurt - she’ll make the world hurt, and make it hurt hard, while the inside of her chest aches for that frayed, ripped thing.