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Heart’s Desire

by John D. Ritchie

It is not commonly realised that having your heart’s desire is actually rather jading.

Imagine that you can walk into any venue in London, Paris or Rome and be greeted as an honoured guest; managers so oleaginous that greasing their palms is superfluous.

I drank and fed at pleasure, and rode and lounged at leisure; I was fêted in the theatre and indulged in the gambling house. Oh, at first, I enjoyed these attentions; I am human after all. But with the passing of time, they became... passé. Even women, eventually, failed to satisfy.

But all things, good and bad, must come to an end. We had arranged to meet at midnight, October 31st, 1899. Ten years to the very second from when we made our compact.

His knock and my clock strike precisely together; my guest is a consummate showman. He doffs his hat to me and places it and his cane on the hall table. I have sherry and biscuits prepared, and I move to pour a glass.

‘Enjoy it,’ he says, ‘it is your last.’

‘Indeed,’ I reply, ‘that may be your expectation, but-’

‘But —’ He stares at me. I avoid his eye. ‘We have a contract do we not?’

‘We did, but I declare it void.’

‘On what grounds?’ His voice is silk laid upon gravel.

‘In the contract, Mephistopheles, you promise me my heart’s desire. But, I have no desire in my heart to accompany you to Hell.’

I expect to see him rage and bluster, but instead he simply smiles.

‘You are not the first to think you can outwit me with sophistry; I have merely to wait. Ten years is as a blink of an eye to all eternity, and yet you are already bored. Have your heart’s desire. Eventually, I will have mine.’

Copyright © 2006 by John D. Ritchie

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