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Her Heart - Part One
That was the really faint sound I grew up with. Each night I rest my ears against the pillow, that is the sound I hear. I hated it. For I had associated it with every weakness I had. The inability to breathe without a good spray. My body crippled, not due to my limbs, but my useless heart refuse to function properly enough for me to run and play like all other kids.
I grew up with a lot of anger and hate. Yet I was not allowed to feel them, for strong feelings would weaken me, thanks to the fits that attacked me I get emotional. I watched everyone else roaming under the sun. While I, the weak one, rest at home, sheltered like a baby. Of all the sports I was missing, the one that brought the biggest pang was basketball. I loved that game. The adrenaline rush just watching the players. The elegance, the grace, the teamwork. Everything!
Just for one day, I wanted to run free, with no constrain. No fear that I should die just because I exhausted the redundant organ in me. I wanted to play basketball. Dribble it, shoot it to the basket, laugh when I get a three pointer in. I always wondered if I was not sick, if I was not who I am, would I be able to master basketball? Maybe then the girls would look at me different? Instead of those intimidating glares, or embarrassed sympathetic glances, I would get the admiring stares. I enjoyed imagining them drooling over me.
So instead of being a normal kid, I grew up with a vivid imagination. My mind was the only thing I could fully exercise without the risk of dying. So my brain worked out all too often. Even at nights I gave it no rest, dreams of being a strong man, fantasy I knew deep in me that I could never achieve. I did not own emotions, for I refuse to acknowledge the purpose of my heart since it was because of its pathetic illness that had destroyed my entire life. I instead felt with my head, using my mind to rule over the heart. And because the soul usually seemed attached to the heart, I did not have that either.
There was only one escape for me. The blessed Internet.
That was my life. I built my empire there. As a kid, computer games were my only interest. But as I grew and upgraded myself into online games, I found interaction with others via the web very… luxurious. No one knew who I was, no one knew what I was. I could had been a monster of all they know. I could had been anyone. And since I had a good control of my vocabulary, I was soon a professional online playboy. I broke so many little girls’ heart. I would usually aim at those klutzy noobs, who seemed to enjoy my protection of their avatars. Then we would have “meaningful” conversations in chatrooms. Eventually they all wanted to meet up, especially after we were officially ‘together’ as a couple. Silly bunch of girls. Cute though, most of them. They sent me pictures that roused me to excitement. But I had to refuse them. I would not ruin my reputation as Casanova. How could I expect them to love someone who could not even breath on his own? So it sometimes hurt, especially when the gal was adorable, to reject them so harshly just to protect my self-esteem.
There were a few who threatened suicide. But since they had not contacted me ever since, I sometimes did wonder if they did as they had warned. But still I did not wish to rouse them from their sweet dreams. Fine, truth be told, I did not want to wake up from my very own sweet dream. That was what the web was for me. The best dream, that I did not ever wanted to wake up from.
I did have some acquaintances in school. Girls mostly. Guys tend to shy away from me. It would be those sweet innocent little girls that approached me. But I was a quiet boy to them, someone very sick, someone they needed to care for out of manners, and out of their gentle motherly nature. All the same, I shut them out all the time, not letting anyone in through the emotional barrier I had built against all those I know. That was the best, for all of us. No one could hurt me, and I hurt no one. Win win situation!
Then one day, a new transfer girl came to our class. She was the sunshine sort of girl. Those that walked into a room and beams would shine out of her and made the whole place bright. She talked a lot. Too much for my liking. But what really surprised me was her inconsistency. In general she was a loud person. The first day she came in, she was all quiet, normal for anyone who was the new person. Then she made some friends and became the chatterbox she was. But after a while, she got moody. The really scary sort. Like there was this one time she was napping in class. When someone woke her up, she glared at the guy with this “do-that-again-and-I-will-kill-you” look. No one dared to bother her from her sleep then on. And she would hide behind some books for hours, talking to no one, ignoring everything that was going on. And she sometimes did not flip the pages at all. She just sat there stonily like a statue.
She quite intrigued me.
So she had her bunch of friends. And she socialized well with the cool gang. So I did not pay her much attention after the freshness of her arrival went stale. Imagine my surprise then when one day she just randomly yelled at me.
“Hey, you! You look like a drug addict, you know! You do drugs?”
I was considering if I should answer her or not as I smiled politely. Half my mind was churning for an answer, the other half musing why she would ask such a thing. Then, one of her friend walked up to her and whispered something in her ears. Like as if I was ignorant of what he would be saying.
“Oh! Cool! I mean, it’s not cool to be sick. Just cool that, you know, you look like some drug addict. White, dark eye circles, unfocused eyes, blur look. Oh, plus you’re so thin and long!”
“I take that you mean pale instead of white. And tall, not long.”
“WHITE! Pale is for girls who had been hiding from the sun. And LONG! You got like long limbs, you look like you got stretched, kinda like a flagpole, you know? Man, was gonna ask where you get your supplies and stuffs actually.”
“You’re into coke?”
“Yeah! Totally! Get curious how it feels. Never tried. Wanted to, but too chicken. Mm, so you got cardiac problems eh?”
“Oh, you know the word? People usually just ask me if I got weak heart.”
“Just cause I talk a lot doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. Plus you don’t seem like someone with a faint heart, just born with some problems.”
“It’s no biggy. But you’re probably just one of those weaklings who enjoyed hiding behind their illness, making a big fuss of themselves. Then again, you probably just like being depressed. Or you just like acting cool?”
What the? It took me a moment to digest those words that came out of her mouth. Usually, I think of sentences as a flow of music, people would speak to me in a kind of legato way, it felt soothing and soft. But her, hers was probably staccato: light and playful. But to a patient like me, it was as if she insulted my entire family tree or something, judging the rage I felt then.
Who was she to criticize me? What the hell did she know? Did she think I wanted this stupid sick body? How dare she call me a coward! Had she no compassion for someone who was so visibly suffering? I felt my heart racing. Shit! An attack was about to come.
Just as I felt the fit reaching out to take over my body, I heard her voice in my ringing ears. I watched her lips moved, open and close. Then I realized she was speaking to me.
“Lolly, breathe. Deep breaths! Here, drink this. I warmed the water for you already.”
And she was holding my chest with her palms she had heated by rubbing them. I just dumbly followed her instructions. Oddly, the rising panic in me faded. So did the threat of a fit. I blinked hard, trying to say something but I felt so wasted.
“See? You can take criticism quite well. Adious!”
And she just turned to go, like nothing out of the blues had happened. Had she predicted it? How did she know what to do? Why had my emotions subside to give way to a strange sensation when those little hands were pressed on my chest? Questions zoomed about in my head as I sat there. From a distance, her twinkling laughter floated to me. I felt another stir in my heart. Pretty odd one too, unlike any I had. It was like my heart was a frozen stone, and she had poured warm water over it. Was it just to tease, or did she had some other intention?