Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Post #5: Is My Heart Broken?

“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 guess?”

* * *

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.


  1. Hello Whitney!

    Your writing is a pleasure to read. You mix up your sentences with quotes and changes of emphasis and tone. It is never boring to read your work!

    I think for this particular piece, despite your strong writing, I ended up asking that typical question of “so what”. You describe the incident really well, but you don’t put it into context for the reader. After the vivid experience you describe for the reader, the quick and almost dismissive way you talk about being with your friends and going to the doctors doesn’t do justice to the fears you must have been feeling. Were you friends worried? Did they abandon you or rally around you? Did you worry all-day about your heart monitor, constantly aware of it tracking every beat? What about the anticipation in the doctor’s office before he tells you it’s not that big of a deal? I think with alittle bit more context and perspective at the end would really make this piece even better and bring the reader in even more. Hope that was constructive for you!

    - Jeremy

  2. Hey Whitney,

    You're writing in this piece is definitely strong. Your use of dialogue and internal monologue always helps show how you are feeling.

    It's very interesting to see how you downplay a health incident like this. Some people would want to make it really melodramatic, but you keep it very personal and not too dramatic. I think that a stronger conflict would help this piece. I think a lot of Jeremy's suggestions have merit. When you say "I'm scared" I think you can build more conflict here by describing it. What's at stake for you? Great story though

  3. Whitney,

    I like how you stuck with the same tone throughout your piece. The indifference with remarks like "duh" etc, give the sense that you are a youngish- teenage age and are trying to not care about the scary things that are happening to you. At some parts you do let the reader know that you are scared, and this seems to be like the fear scratching at the surface of you trying to be indifferent. I think that the tone works in this case because I think that that is the way lots of people deal with scary aspects of their lives: to try and pretend like it doesn't bother them. It did feel a little like you left us hanging with the built up tension/suspence of the scene leading to when you tell your mom about your heart, but you are limited by the word limits of these blogs so it is understandable.

    Good Job

  4. I really like this piece. You do dialogue so incredibly well, letting the reader get a sense of your voice. You don’t have to tell us that you’re young, the reader can already tell.

    I do, like some of the others, have an issue with the ending. You did such a great job of ramping up the tension throughout, but the ending really felt like you were undercutting that tension, like you had to wrap things up in a hurry. Maybe that’s the case, since we’re all writing on a deadline after all. Maybe if you got a bit reflective for a sentence or two it wouldn’t have felt like such a sudden ending. But that’s my only complaint; this is a great post!

  5. Hey, this was a very interesting piece. Your description in the begining was very good. I felt very cut off in the end as well, but I really liked reading it. You are very talented at creating stories that are showing and not telling. Good job.