The tin man sighed. He missed Dorothy. He missed Princess Ozma. He missed the Good Witch of the West.
Most of all, he missed not having a heart.
Oh, those were the days! He'd tromped the Yellow and Purple and Green Brick Roads of Oz with never a thought of female beauty. He never serenaded a patchwork girl at midnight in the rain, or threatened to kill himself if a girl general didn't give him a kiss. He suffered nary a twang of conscience and not a single sleepless night of desire. He was a great, glorious, heartless brute.
The wizard had tried to warn him. Just one more thing to get broken, he'd said. Think how useful that space inside your chest is for storing lunch, spare parts, a paperback book. Why give that up? But the tin man hadn't listened.
Now he wished he had. His heart had been a clock originally and its ticking was a constant reminder of passing time. Passing time made him think of mortality. Mortality made him think of love.
The problem with love was—
The alarm went off in his heart. Unhappily, the tin man abandoned that chain of thought. It was time for romance once more.
© 2002 by Michael Swanwick and SCIFI.COM.