Beat – Part Two
And it did for a brief moment…but then the heartbeat between my ears danced off on its own, a wild gavotte entirely separate from Anna’s.
I looked up to her, my heart sagging in my chest. She was still staring down at our clasped wrists in confusion.
“It’s nice to meet you, Anna.” I said finally, unable to hide the disappointment in my voice.
She blinked back a thin line of tears and chuckled self consciously.
As we sat at the table I caught Dale’s apologetic eyes and I could feel the blistering anger rolling off Sam in waves. Her brows were knit together in fury.
“Yeah, real nice.” She turned sharply to Anna. “I’m sorry you’ve deemed my friend unworthy of you just because you don’t like the sound of his heart.”
Anna’s eyes were wide. She was cornered like a tiny animal before the jaws of a snarling predator. My mouth hung open, amazed at the new level of Sam’s audacity. She stood.
“He happens to be kind and funny. He’s a hopeless romantic and would treat you better than any man you’ll ever know, but you’ll never get to see that because none of you can ignore that stupid noise in your head long enough to make a logical choice!”
Sam’s shrill speech ended in a crescendo. She cleared her throat and without looking at any of us, she excused herself and left the cafe thirty minutes early for our first class. After a moment of silence, Dale whistled.
“Well, she’s really outdone herself this time.”
Anna was trying hard to keep her lip from trembling.
“I’m sorry,” I said to her. “I should probably go make sure she’s all right.”
“Yeah, you better,” Dale sighed. I gathered my things and left the cafe with my dashed hopes still inside.
As I rushed across campus, I didn’t think about the girl with sweet eyes who I was never meant to spend my life with, but instead, of Sam. We’d been friends for a lifetime and never had she said so many kind words about me. Granted, they’d been shouted into an unsuspecting stranger’s face, but still. It had caught me off guard.
I wondered what would become of Sam. We’d all been told the stories as children. Those people who never found their second heartbeat. They’d become shadowy figures in my mind, untouchables, pushed to the edge of society. Some, we were told, were holed up in their homes alone for the rest of their days like hermits. Some traveled from place to place, slinking into underground clubs where people would stumble around in a drunken haze, feeling pulses like lifeless mummies. And some simply went insane, driven mad by the constant beating of a heart they’d never find. At least, that’s what we’d all heard.
Sam had scoffed at all the tales even as a young girl. She was obstinate, determined to make her life her own. Who knows why we were told those stories or if any of them were even true. Maybe to scare us. Or warn us. One thing was certain, Sam had never let me touch her heart.
As I hurried along, the thrumming in my head raced then slowed, beat like a humming birds wings then slowed to the tempo of a clock’s second hand. But there were things on my mind, muted questions and musings that Sam’s outburst had tugged to the forefront of my thoughts. For the first time in my life, I wished the unyielding beat would be quiet.
I walked into the lecture hall and found her sitting in her seat, the first one to have arrived. I sat beside her and let the silence draw conversation out into the air.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “That wasn’t very… polite of me. I was out of line and-”
“Sam, really, its okay.”
I had long ago accepted Sam for who she was and even at times admired her perseverance, her self assuredness.
“Thank you,” she nodded gratefully.
It wouldn’t be a scene Dale and I could tease her about, she’d made that much plain.
“So, you think I’m funny and kind?”
Soon, the other students began to flood in and take their seats. Ben and Ashley walked in last, hand in hand. They’d found each other when they were children. Somewhere between pulling hair and shoving, they must have felt their hearts and then everything changed, so they told it. They were perfect equals, matched for life. When I saw them looking into each other’s eyes, my heart ached. Thats what I wanted, what I’d dreamed of.
Our professor closed the door behind him and dove into that day’s lesson. I was a few minutes into jotting down notes when I realized something was wrong.
The familiar calm thumping in my head that would normally be helping my focus began to quicken like it had that morning. Only now I could truly hear it, truely feel it. It pumped furiously as if just beating was arduous work. My pen fell from my hands as I pinched my eyes shut against the deafening noise and escalating pressure in my skull.
“Eric,” Sam whispered. “What’s wrong?”
But I couldn’t answer. My hands flew to my temples, holding my mind together. It seemed to be shattering under the labored beating of her heart. And just as the beats were about the overlap, they stopped all together…
next: BEAT – PART THREE
previous: BEAT – PART ONE
more by NOELLE CURRIE
photograph by Ryan McGuire