Heart-Shaped Box

Wake Up Call


"How's Tre?"

Cassie looked up from her fries. "Hm?"

"I mean... you've been dating him for a while.... anything happening?" Kemmy winked.

"Actually, we have." Cassie blushed. "He's the most amazing guy I've ever met. I think I'm in love with him."

"Congrats," Kemmy replied encouragingly. "I'm happy for you girlie. But don't go asking me for any help now... you're on your own at this point, cuz I've never been in love before..."

"Sure you have," Cassie returned with a knowing smile. "Kurt."

Kemmy sighed and put her Coke down. "You know... I'm pretty sure it's going to happen...at some point... I'm going to wake up and realize I'm in love with the guy... but that day hasn't come yet."

"You've been acting a lot differently since you started dating him."

"Really?" Kemmy raised her eyebrows. "Good or bad?"

"I haven't decided." Cassie studied her. "You used to be a lot more... reckless, and happy I guess. Now it just seems like you don't care about anything."

Kemmy laughed bitterly. "Well, you got that right."

"Is this all because of your crush on Billie Joe?"

She sighed. "No... I haven't even seen him since... what, a month ago. We haven't talked, except for a few times over the phone and a few emails."

"It's too bad..." Cassie's voice trailed off. They both knew what she was talking about.

The kiss seemed so long ago. Everything did. Her life seemed so far away... and Cassie was more right than she knew. What did matter to her, anyway?

She was shocked by the first person who popped into her head.


Kemmy lay awake, her headphones in, listening to Heart-Shaped Box.

The cage of her emotions. The emptiness of her apparent lack of them. The lack of Billie Joe. All this was the heart-shaped box.

I've been locked inside for so long, Kemmy thought, for the first time feeling something...desperation. Loneliness. Pain. For the first time in my life, everything is going right and I can't stand it. I'm not happy... why?

She couldn't bear to answer her own question.


When she told this to Kurt, he agreed and said something along the lines of "yeah, I know what you mean... but why aren't you happy?"

"I dunno," Kemmy replied with a shrug. "I guess I... well, I used to have so much fun making music, but it's not fun anymore...."

"Why? Your band's getting pretty popular, you're pretty famous, you've got cash, you've got people singing your songs everywhere, what more do you want?"

"For it to be fun writing those songs again...." Kemmy sighed. "I used to write them with a certain emotion - but I feel so apathetic and empty these days. I just have to... force myself to write sometimes...."

Kurt checked his phone. "Yeah..." He stood up. "Hey, I gotta go, babe."

"What's the matter?" Kemmy asked with a laugh. "You never call me babe."

"What's wrong with me calling you babe?"

Kemmy put her hands up defensively. "I just wondered. Sorry."

Kurt sighed. "I'll see you later."

"Love you."

He didn't reply as he walked off, but instead of feeling worried, Kemmy just shrugged it off. 'He's probably just tired...or something.'


Despite her initial indifference, Kemmy eventually decided to pay him a visit. The next morning, she drove by his house. Nothing seemed odd about it this time - his car was parked in the driveway and the lights were off (Kurt liked to sleep in).

"I'm being stupid," Kemmy muttered to herself. "It's nothing, I'm sure..."

She opened the door, which was unlocked. "Now that's odd."

Kemmy walked in. It was deathly quiet, except for snoring coming from Kurt's room. She laughed softly. He did snore kind of loud.

She'd been in his house many times... it didn't seem that different.

Except for a few things, which had Kemmy been thinking straight, would have noticed. Two dirty plates in the sink, an extra jacket on the coat rack, an extra pair of shoes...

She slowly opened the door.

Kurt was sleeping, as she'd expected. But she hadn't really expected to find him sleeping with his arms around another girl.

It took a minute to register.

For a few minutes, she was frozen with shock.

"Kurt?" Her voice was shaky.

He stirred a little, but didn't wake up.


"Mmm..." He sat up and smiled. "Morning..." Then his eyes widened. "Oh, shit--"

"Now things really make sense," snapped Kemmy. "I feel like even more of an idiot than I thought - wow, how blind could I have been? Well, bye, sorry for ruining your morning."

She left before Kurt could start attempting to defend himself, although that would have been funny.


"I'm not mad at him now," Kemmy said thoughtfully. "In fact, I need to thank him... I was finally able to write a good angry song."

Cassie laughed. "Now I want to hear that. But I'm sorry about Kurt.... I mean, you guys were so good together--"

"Please." Kemmy smiled weakly. "We didn't fight or anything, but really, I liked it better when we were just friends. There weren't ever really sparks in our relationship... not even when we...yeah. But I feel normal again."

"So, you're going to go for Billie Joe now?" Cassie asked a little unhappily.

"Ha. No. The last thing I need is to see that guy again."


There was a knock at her door.

Kemmy opened it cautiously, but once she saw who it was, she opened it, looking relieved. "Oh, thank goodness... I thought you might be Billie for a sec. I mean... that would just be so ironic, wouldn't it?"

He shifted uncomfortably. "Uh--"

"I mean, he's the last guy I want to see right now," Kemmy explained. "I just found my now-ex-boyfriend sleeping with another girl this morning, and if I saw the guy who is responsible for most of the cracks in my heart, you know, I might just go crazy--"

"Kemmy!" yelled Billie Joe. "It's me!"

She turned around, looking shocked. Her eyes were wide.

"Don't you recognize me?"

Her eyes dropped to the floor. "Yeah," she said finally. "I guess... this whole thing with Kurt... it's driving me insane."

"I heard," Billie Joe cut in. "That's why I came over - I wanted to, you know, be here for you."

"Oh, that's so sweet," Kemmy said a little bitterly. "Well, I don't think--"

"Dammit Kemmy! You shut yourself up and don't let anyone inside anymore! No one knows what you're thinking nowadays, except maybe Cassie. I know you're hurting. Why can't you just talk to me?" Billie Joe cried.

"Fine," Kemmy replied unhappily. "I'm upset, but not at Kurt, at myself! I understand why he cheated on me - he wants someone who can actually feel for him and want him! Not some shell like me..." She laughed despite the tears in her eyes. "I feel so numb...but I hate myself for doing that to him for so long..."

Billie Joe hugged her. "Then maybe this is for the best," he said softly, holding her. "This isn't the way I wanted to see you again.... but it's better than nothing. I've felt so dead without you."

Kemmy sniffed. "Why can't you be more like Tre," she joked. "I can tell this kind of stuff to him without wanting to kiss him..."

"Mmm, I'm glad," he murmured in reply. His lips moved to kiss hers, but before he could, Kemmy pulled away. Billie Joe looked right into her eyes, half afraid that she was about to protest.

"I love you," she confessed, and kissed him. "I don't care anymore about all the impossibilities and rules involved - I just know that you're the only one I'll ever want this bad..."

"I love you too.... so much..."