Another Heart — This One Eaten
I’m not bitter anymore. I mean I was. I cannot lie. But I’m over it now. I really am. Once upon a time everyone knew my business and yet no one thought of me. No one considered me. Not for one second. When people told the tale, it was almost as if I didn’t exist, I was just “the wife” and that’s it. I didn’t appreciate that, let me tell you.
Yes, yes, I was married. I’m a widow. My husband was murdered with a lance through the chest. And not nobly, in some kingly joust — no, no. He was murdered by his best friend in the woods in the dark.
Not that he didn’t deserve it. That treacherous betrayer had been sleeping with best friend’s wife and was on his way to do it some more when that lance went through him.
I’m not bitter about the murder. The murder I understand. I’d have done it myself if I had a lance and the opportunity.
Nor am I bitter about the heart eating.
Oh, sorry, my husband’s murderer had his cook prepare my husband’s heart in a delicious sauce and then my husband’s murderer served it, finely sliced to his wife, my husband’s lover. She is said to have savored every bite before her husband told her what it was. She declared she’d never eat anything else and threw herself out the window. Maybe she was worried about crapping out her lover’s heart later, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have killed myself over such a thing. I certainly wouldn’t have killed myself over that adulterous weak-lunged codpiece. He was certainly not worth all that. Certainly. He could be fun in bed when he wanted to be but he didn’t always want to be, as she would have found out sooner or later if he hadn’t been murdered.
I’m not bitter about his lover eating my husband’s heart — not even because I’d have rather done it myself with a lot less tenderness and care. I’d have preferred to tear it out of his body and rip into it with my teeth. But it’s fine. She ate it in a delicate sauce. And then threw herself out a window and broke herself into pieces. I’m really not bitter about that. If she thought he was worth all that, she could have him. Well, I suppose she did.
No, none of that is what I was bitter about, back when I was bitter. No, no — it was the way old Rossiglione, my husband’s best friend and my husband’s lover’s husband….it was the way he just ran away from the situation he created. He left his wife’s body at his castle and let the rumor mill churn until everyone knew what had happened between his wife and my husband. The people of the village were so moved by this tragic tale that they took my husband’s body to Rossiglione’s castle and just went ahead and laid him to rest with Rossiglione’s wife. And they couldn’t just leave it at that, either. No. They had to put up a plaque so that absolutely everyone could learn the story and never forget it.
And that stupid plaque is still there to this day.
But I’m not bitter about it, no, no.
My son is, though. If my husband’s mistress hadn’t already eaten his father’s heart, he might be tempted to do it himself. Poor boy. It’s not easy to grow up famous for your father’s transgressions — to feel less important than the worst thing your father did.
So — maybe I am bitter — but I’m bitter for my boy who is much more than the thing his father left behind. We were just cast-offs to the whole silly story. My husband and his lover made famous. Rossiglione made free of all of it by running away and my son and I left to map up the mess. But I’ll not be bitter, no.
(With thanks to Boccaccio for Filostrato’s 4th day, Ninth Story)