Marcel Winatschek

The Empty Heart

The Empty Heart

If I want to, I can become friends with many people in a very short time. No matter in which place, no matter in which situation, no matter with which counterpart. Then I’m funny, rousing, and open-hearted, as if we knew each other forever.

I share intimate stories and secrets, confess my biggest sins and fears, and make them feel like I understand them. I would leave no stone unturned, no matter how unattainable, to make them happier just by having met me. Even though we’ve just seen each other for the first time five minutes ago.

I used to almost pride myself on being able to actively shut down my shyness, lethargy, and social phobia and have it turn into the complete opposite all at once. Thanks to a self-taught trick I call spontaneous mental distraction, which works by thinking of something completely different just before doing something stupid or illogical, I do the bravest, craziest, and most likable things without being able to reflect on it beforehand. Because it’s simply impossible in terms of time.

These deeds then feel completely natural and not wrong at all. And in retrospect, I’m always glad that I dared to do it because it allows me to get close to people who would otherwise have remained inaccessible. It’s fun to have the world turn in my favor. And I used to think that this absolute accessibility made me a better, smarter, and, yes, even more popular person.

Because of this system-defying trait, I quickly became an authoritative part of many different circles of friends, some of whom were formed only because of me. I was happy when people got out of their way to do something with me, courted my favor at parties, or were in love with me just because they thought I was the first and only person on this planet who understood them and their problems. The feeling of emotional arrogance eventually became quite normal for me.

A crushing truth, I initially dismissed as humbug, became a sad certainty over time: I’m a ghost. An empty heart wrapped in flesh without any hint of empathy. A bus full of loudly howling orphans could explode in front of me, and not only would I not care, no, but I’d even be annoyed by why the little buggers are burning up in front of me right now, of all times, and have to block my path so acutely.

The only reason I make friends with other people so quickly and easily is because they mean nothing to me. And if I do get a crush or two on someone, I analyze her intensely until I finally get to the bottom of her maddening fascination, only to drop her like a hot potato afterward. Because I have eaten it up. And then it just becomes, at best, boring or, at worst, unbearable.

Today, thanks to social media, when I look back at the various circles of friends of which I was once, at least I thought I was, a fundamental part, they often still exist - just without me. The photos that used to adorn their faces pressed close together next to mine now, years later, have to make do with one less fake smile. Friends, with whom I had spent merry summer nights and spun countless legends, became strangers from one day to the next as if I had never existed.

I practically sucked them dry and then moved on. Like an unscrupulous emotional wanderer who just felt, partied, and fucked amid his loved ones and the next moment, when no one was paying attention, suddenly disappeared.

Never to be seen again, on the way to the next adventure, only to pull off the same stunt as before - only with different faces. At least I have led a few strangers to each other, so my emotional greed had something good after all. That’s at least what I want to believe.

If I want, I can make friends with many people in a very short time. No matter in which place, no matter in which situation, no matter with which counterpart. Then I’m funny, rousing, and open-hearted, as if we knew each other forever.

Sometimes I wonder if I have any kind of character at all or if I’m just a soulless shapeshifter, so to speak, who only ever echoes what brings him as close as possible to his current target. Preferably into the favor, thoughts, or genitals of his opponent.

Always the right answer ready, always a cheeky saying in stock, always the correct tightrope walk between compassion, seriousness, and humor. And if I give the wrong response and feel the resulting inner pain of mental backlash, I learn from it, adjust a few set screws internally and correct them the next time I try. But is that really me?

The question of who one is is as old and clichéd as life itself. I’m probably just a Frankenstein’s monster cobbled together from book quotes, TV wisdom, and sayings I picked up somewhere from someone I once thought was good, who merely pretends to be human but is nothing more than a parasite somehow kept alive, feasting on the fears, dreams, and problems of others.

Then, like a ravenous predator, I pounce on the first depressed victim that crosses my path, rip it apart skin and hair, and gorge myself on its remains so that something finally fills me up again. A new body, a new thought, a new warmth. The main thing is something other than the tasteless nothingness to which I have already become accustomed for so long.

But the breath of satisfaction lasts only a short time and then disappears as quickly as it came. For nothing can fill this seemingly endless void within me, especially not a counterpart who only wanted to be loved, held, and saved, and is now nothing more than a vague memory in my continuous bloodlust. So, disgusted with myself, I move on to the next pretty face, hoping that this time everything will be different. For sure.