“Oh man, its so cold out!” My best friend Rachel leans over, trying to balance her weight as she lugs the bag of newspapers while we walk along the sidewalk. We both walk quickly, half-hunched over to shield our faces from the misty autumn rain.
“Hopefully we can get these delivered quick!” I stuff my hands into my jacket pocket. Luckily, I’m wearing my heavy raincoat, lined with a thick layer of fleece.
“You know, Whit, you really don’t have to help me deliver these! It’s my paper route, and it’s so cold!”
“Nah, I don’t mind!” I laugh, “Besides, we get to talk about the kinda stuff we can’t talk about at school!”
She breathes an exaggerated sigh of relief, “Ok, good. I don’t like doing this alone!”
Right as we’re about to enter the senior citizen apartment to begin the deliveries, I feel it start without warning.
Uh oh. Please don’t be what I think it is!
Just like that, my heart takes a quick jump inside my chest. I know it’s the telltale sign that it is about to start the freaky rapid beating it has been doing sporadically for the last couple months. And it’s about to start up again.
Don’t start. Pleeeaseee don’t start!
But my heart doesn’t listen to my pleas.
Like I expected, it begins beating so rapidly and forcibly that my chest begins to hurt. It’s like I just finished running a marathon, but I barely just began walking. I hope I can walk it off. Maybe it will stop soon like it always had before.
Rachel and I walk through the hallway of the apartment building as we place the newspapers outside the rooms of subscribers. My heart still hasn’t slowed, and I begin to feel short of breath.
“Rach… uhhh… you know that heart thing I get sometimes? It’s happening again…”
Her eyes dart quickly to meet mine. “Do you think you can walk back home? Your mom is probably home by now, right?”
We walk back outside, once again shielding our faces from the rain. Rachel looks down at her own fleece jacket. She tries to lighten the mood, forcing a laugh.
“Well, Whit, I bet you’re glad you have that nice rain coat! I’m so cold in this!”
“Yeah, it’s thick, right? But I bet you can actually feel my heart pounding through this jacket!”
Rachel takes her hand out of her jacket sleeve and places it on my chest. Her eyes widen in shock.
“Oh my God. I had no clue it was that bad! Maybe you should go to the hospital.”
“I don’t know. Usually it doesn’t last this long.”
I’m scared. I don’t know what is happening to me. Rachel and I walk the short way back to my house, and I see my mom sitting at the kitchen table, coffee mug in hand, reading the newspaper.
“Mom, the heart thing is happening again and it’s lasting really long this time.”
I hurriedly unzip the thick yellow jacket and throw it to the floor as I run to my mom.
“Feel.” I thrust my body towards her, hoping she can somehow make it stop.
“Honey, I should take you to the emergency room.”
* * *
Two days later, I have to wear a heart monitor to school. Circular electrodes are stuck to my chest, connected to wires that hook up to a plastic machine clipped onto my belt. It’s a little scary. And all my friends ask what is going on.
“Well, I get this scary heart thing, so the doctors want to see what my heartbeat is like over a whole day.”
* * *
I go back to the doctor to find out the results of the heart monitor’s readings. I have supraventricular tachycardia, which I guess is a fancy word for a really rapid heart beat. Duh.