Visions of the Heart
a novella by Charles Keenan

episode 4
    Philomena was happy to see Nate when he picked her up, and they arrived at the restaurant around 7:30 while chatting about personal, local, national and international news. It was the same restaurant where they had spent their memorable New Year’s Eve just a few weeks ago and memories came flooding back when they smelled the delicious foods being prepared and served inside the restaurant’s front doors. Philomena always looked beautiful to Nate, but he blushed when she mentioned how sharp he looked as they were shown to a table. Soon their waiter arrived, giving them each a menu before leaving to return with a carafe of wine for them to enjoy as they perused the evening’s entrees. Leaving and returning once again he politely took their orders for dinner. They both ordered the same entree and their waiter left the table to disappear into the depths of the kitchen while Nate and Philomena continued the small talk they had begun during the drive. Nate could not contain his excitement any longer and as their conversation searched for a new direction Nate mentioned that he was looking into a special gift for Valentine’s Day, making it Philomena’s turn to blush. To quickly clear up any misunderstanding Nate smoothly placed both prototype Heart Monitors on the table next to their wine glasses, and Philomena looked confused. Nate began to explain the strange events that had taken place earlier that day and the one week agreement he had reached with Mr. Hobonukium, the shopkeeper of the electronics store. When he described what the two devices were designed to do Philomena wasn’t sure how to react - was Nate trying to fool her or was it now possible to see inside the human heart? Nate saw her incredulity and felt that turning on the devices would be the best way to show their function, so he reached over and hit one “on” button, put the lanyard around his neck and placed the device over his heart. Like in the store, the images were blurry at first. Slowly a background came into focus, while in the foreground was an image of Philomena. The monitor was beginning to interpret the feelings of Nate’s heart and was showing scenes from earlier that day. It showed the tall skyscrapers among the diversity of stores and people that had surrounded him, and in front of the city images there was a fluid image of Philomena. It was not an animated image, nor was it a still photograph. It was an image that was constantly changing its expression and fashion. A smile would morph itself into a contemplative look while a summer dress would evolve into an autumn outfit that was soon covered by a winter coat. As he looked down to see the images form he glanced at Philomena who was riveted to what was appearing on the small screen hanging at his chest. Breaking the spell he said, “This second monitor is for you”, while switching on the second device and lifting the lanyard towards her. Without hesitation Philomena placed the lanyard around her neck and let the monitor rest over heart.
    The small screen grew brighter and fuzzy images began to sharpen. At first it looked like an image of where they were sitting while waiting for their dinner to arrive, but then Nate saw that there were empty plates on the table. He was surprised to realize that the image on Philomena’s monitor was from New Year’s Eve and then he was surprised to see a fluid image of himself in the foreground. Like Philomena’s image on his own monitor, the image of himself appeared in motion and continually changed from hoods, gloves and scarves to jackets and even a sunburned image of himself in a bathing suit. He chuckled when he realized that now he was the one mesmerized by the colorful images on Philomena’s monitor, and wondered how many minutes he had just been staring at the screen.
    They were so involved with the new heart monitors that they barely noticed when their dinner arrived and paid little attention to the gourmet delights they merely nibbled at. The concept alone was overwhelming, and there was so much to absorb - but Nate began to explain how to use the button and switch. The power-on button was easy enough, but then there was a switch that changed the input from one monitor to the other monitor. Setting it to the left-hand, or "here", position caused the monitor to display images from the wearer’s heart, while switching it to the right-hand, or "other", position caused the monitor to display images from the matching monitor, allowing Nate or Philomena to see into the other’s heart. Some might become afraid at this ability, but not two young people in love. They both set the switch to see the other’s heart and then lifted the monitor off their chest and turned it around so they could see - this, however, caused the monitor’s reception of their own heart to become dimmer. So if they selfishly wanted to only view their partner’s heart the signal from their own heart would be difficult to see. Difficult but not impossible. In the bottom corner of the display there was a small symbol of a battery that indicated how much charge was left on the device. Mr Hobonukium had explained that they should be charged overnight like a cellphone and that the charge should last a full day until it was time to charge it again. So, while the thought of seeing the other’s heart images of dreams was intriguing, the monitors would not be functional during the nights while they were both sleeping. While they were eating they sat across from each other and kept the switch to the left, which kept them looking at one another. They finished their meal quickly because they wanted to push, test and experiment with what these new devices could do. After paying and tipping they left the restaurant and went to Nate’s car, deciding to drive to one of their favorite malls for an ice cream cone.