Carousel Heart by Rachel Van Sickle

She was born with a carousel for a heart. Fuchsia unicorns
pumped her blood, rising and falling as they orbited
the mirrored panels that hid the gears and bearings.

Her body kept time with the prestissimo music. She interrupted
her teacher’s lectures, danced to songs only she could hear, brought
her classmate’s to tears with impressions of the principal.

When taping her into her desk didn’t work,
the men in white coats
gave her a round yellow pill.

The tune became ritardando.
She still twirled when she walked,
but her chatter ceased in science class,

and she remembered to raise her hand—
even if she still blurted answers before the teacher
called her name.

One day, the unicorns turned blue. She tried to fly
off the balcony, but her brother, who had a normal
heart, grabbed her before she could spread her wings.

The doctors added a purple pill.
The carousel played fermata
one last time, then stopped.

The girl no longer spoke nor skipped,
but her grades improved.
They no longer had to tape her to her desk.


Rachel Van Sickle is a freelance writer based out of Toledo, Ohio. She received an MFA in creative writing from Louisiana State University. While there, she also served as Assistant Editor for New Delta Review. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in The Baseball Chronicle and Linden Avenue Literary Review.

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